Thoughts on Star Trek:Enterprise, Season 1

One advantage (perhaps the only advantage) to being sick the last 5 days is that I’ve had time to race through Season 1 of Star Trek:Enterprise. A few days back I posted my initial thoughts on the show. I really enjoyed the first season, thought it was very well done, but not without some problems. Now that I’ve finished watching the first season, here are some additional thoughts.

  1. I loved the fact that it is a prequel to the rest of the series. There is often a debate about the order in which to watch such series (or read them if they are in book form) but I have always been of the opinion that they are best enjoyed in the order of creation and not the order of the timeline. This is because you get more insights out of the show. Reading Prelude to Foundation, for instance, before any of the other Foundation novels might be enjoyable but you will miss many of the references scattered throughout the novel that make sense in the context of the whole series. The same is true for Enterprise.
  2. I was surprised by the opening sequence of the show–that it didn’t adhere to the normal openings for the show. Apparently, this was quite the fan controversy when the show first came out. I didn’t like the opening–at first. But I’ve got to admit, it grew on me. Despite being a rather sappy song, I grew to like it somewhat. The fact that it was defiant reflects, perhaps unintentionally, John Archer’s own defiant attitudes.
  3. Tucker can sometimes be too hasty in his decisions to interfere with alien worlds. I think this is a flaw in the storytelling, to some extent. Even today, scientists are concerned about the bacteria our probes might carry to other worlds, like Mars for instance. Surely this concern would carry through to the next century and be magnified when considering alien worlds inhabited by intelligent civilizations. T’Pol argues against much of this but her reasoning is no more enlightened then our own present reasoning. This aspect of the show is perhaps its weakest point, but I will acknowledge that it may have been an easy decision for good story-telling, i.e., more drama.
  4. All of the main characters are great, but my favorite is Dr. Phlox. There is something about his enthusiasm, his optimism and his compassion that makes him very appealing. It is almost no accident that this character is one that comes from another planet that has been part of this galactic melting pot for a long time. His attitude is perhaps the most enlightened of all, including T’Pol. I’d like to see more episodes centered around him.
  5. CGI is used spot on in this show. I’m not normally a big fan of special effects–part of the reason I don’t run out and see most sci-fi blockbusters, which to me seem more about the special effects than the stories. But for a network TV show, I think the special effects in Enterprise were the best and the best-used of any of the Star Trek series. Perhaps this is because the show was produced at a time when CGI was coming into its own and had become cheap enough to use in a network show. I liked that the scenes in space looked realistic enough. I liked that the planets and worlds the Enterprise approached all looked different. Most of all, I liked that the CGI aided in story-telling but didn’t push the story into the background.
  6. I liked that there were scenes that were clearly “on location” outside of a sound stage somewhere. Many episodes had scenes shot in the wilderness, or even in the desert and this gave the show more of a realistic feel than the other series I’ve seen.
  7. It became clear to me watching Enterprise that the key technology of the time was no really the warp drive. It was the scanning capability. Almost every other technology in the Star Trek universe is based on an advanced scanning capability, whether that ability is scanning deep space, scanning the inside of a plasma array, or the inside of a living body. I had never made this connection before and the emphasis on scanning in many of the episodes brought this to the forefront. Scanning is just another way of getting information, so that the most important thing in the Star Trek universe, even beyond the technologies are the scanning abilities–in essence, the ability to collect and analyze more and more information. It seems to me that we are well on our way in that direction.
  8. Favorite episode of the season was probably #13, “Dear Doctor.” There are several reasons for this: (a) it centers around Dr. Phlox; (b) it is told from his point of view, which gives an interesting perspective of things from an “outsider”; (c) it reminds me  of the “Dear Dad” episodes of M*A*S*H which were carried out in a similar vain, which is a pleasant diversion from the straight episodic nature of the story-telling and actually gives the show a specific point of view for the episode.
  9. Least favorite episode of the season was #21, “Detained.” I thought the analogy to interment camps was pushed a little too far and John Archer’s interference in this case was uncalled for–not because the idea of such camps is so distasteful, which it is, but because I don’t think the writers did a good job of showing both sides of the argument, which makes these ethics-based episodes all the more powerful. In this case, a stronger case needed to be made for the imprisonment of the Suliban in the first place. It was too much of a setup as it stood. Also, Dean Stockwell was in the episode, and it didn’t occur to me until part way through that this was a Quantum Leap reunion, with Sam and Al on opposite sides. That part, at least, I found amusing.
  10. I actually liked that most of this seasons episodes were independent–except for a few that followed the temporal cold war arc. It’s nice when shows are episodic like this and not always serials from episode to episode.
I’ve already watched the first episode of Season 2 and I imagine I’ll be watching more in the near future.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Star Trek:Enterprise, Season 1

  1. I understand that soap opera like story telling on TV is considered to be the ‘thing’ (starting with LOST, I believe), but as a child of the of Star Trek: TOS era, I find it mostly off-putting and much prefer the original episodic format (Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Trek, etc.). Even shows like The Invaders presented a long story in episodic fashion.
    I resent the arrogance of the shows creators in their belief that the story they are telling is just so important that I am going to reserve a portion of my life just for them. (I’ve not yet made the transition to time-shifting and probably never will since TV is just not that important to me.)
    Can you imagine ST:TOS as a soap opera? The Enterprise is under attack by yet another unknown entity of as yet undetermined capabilities and Uhura refuses to transmit messages from Kirk because they’re having a spat – about which the viewer knows nothing because they missed last week’s episode; Scotty is drinking again (why?) and the results are numerous transporter ‘accidents’ (are they really accidents?) Spock is rendered ineffective because he’s having ‘Mommy issues’ following an unseen conversation with Bones, Yoeman Rand is pitching a bitch and letting everyone know it (probably has something to do with the Uhura issue but we’re not sure) Checkhov is desperately trying to conceal his smuggling of tribbles and Sulu is hanging around the red shirt quarters, without a shirt, with a sword, way too much. Why? Who cares. I’ll watch Gunsmoke instead.

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