Thanks to the power of Netflix, I was able to condense the 98 episodes of the last installment in the Star Trek TV universe. Over the course of the last 2-3 months I was able to get through the 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise with the crew NX-01, including Scott Bakula as Capt. Archer and his senior officers T’pol, Trip, and Reed.
This series follows the adventures of the first Starship to venture out into the expanses of space and boldly go where no man has gone before. The story is certainly a coming of age adventure of the young Starfleet coming into its own and outgrowing the base guidance from the Vulcans. The strides the Starfleet makes in the adventures eventually creates the Federation that is so well known in the original Star Trek series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I have to admit the opening was a bit long, but it covered the evolution of distance travel pretty well and the namesake of the Enterprise. In Season 3, they changed it up and changed the instrumentation to be more mellow. In season 4, it was also changed to a more militaristic style with images to match. See the episodes, In a Mirror Darkly. Here is the toned down version:
T’pol, the Vulcan science officer, explores her emotions and serves as the eye candy for the majority of the show’s tenure. Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III and Phlox were the two characters I enjoyed the most on the series. Trip was the most loyal and good-hearted character who always wanted to do what was right. His long-time friendship and romantic relationship with T’Pol made for a great story line. Phlox always stood on the side of proper medical ethics, but had a great sense of humor.
I would like to call them Vulcan zombies. In an episode in the Expanse, the crew of a Vulcan ship is found in a delirious state about their ship that was adrift. Vulcans had a negative reaction to a plating material that shielded ships in the Expanse from temporal anomalies. The Star Trek writers marked it off as releasing their emotions basically, but they sure looked like zombies to me.
From the fans side, there is little room for error when casting a captain of a Starship. I think that Scott Bakula did a good job as Capt. Archer, but unfortunately his tenure on a Starship was cut short. Most of the other captains were in more than double the number of episodes. He should be right up there in line with Kirk and Picard, though I feel most Trekkies would not agree.
This was a fun and interesting series. I had seen the original Star Trek series and The Next Generation as a kid. I remember them being much more episodic like a sitcom. There were very nice story lines that created interlaced arches in the narrative. Elements of the story take time to unravel. I was able to keep my attention on that, but I’m not sure what an audience would have done if they had to wait 2 years to see a story unravel. I know that TV viewers now have some of that patience. I can tell that with two of my other favorite shows, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. Both are taking years to write out the story. The difference is there is enough to keep your attention and excitement going.
I was disappointed that the story ended the way it did. There was so much ground to keep going with prior to the In a Mirror, Darkly episodes. (This appeared to be “Jumping the Shark.”) In a sudden dash, we are jettisoned 7-8 years into the future to the ship’s decommissioning. It does give Archer the credit due for what happened in the previous adventures, but too abruptly. Also, (SPOILER) Trip giving his life to save Archer was a little bit over the edge as well. It would have been nice to see some other story line take shape. But, I know that all good things must come to an end.
The thing that I most enjoy is the discovery process in dealing with new people. It reminds me much of my studies in anthropology and makes the episodes all the more interesting. Fortunately, through the magic of Star Trek science and technology, all the normal barriers are removed.
If you are interested in Sci-fi, I would give it a shot. There are even free episodes at StarTrek.com . Start at the beginning. Watch for Phlox’s grin. It will only appear a few times through all of the series.