It’s been a long time

Well, I made my way through the last of the Star Wars Blu-rays last night. The Internet’s preemptive bellyaching about the changes wrought by George Lucas was definitely excessive. I wouldn’t even have noticed most of the tweaks if I hadn’t known to look for them, and they were certainly nowhere near as disruptive as the Special Edition revisions (most of which I still find jarring, having watched the original trilogy practically weekly with my roommates for a year or two in college). I didn’t even mind “No… NOOOOO” — it didn’t feel particularly out of place, and it was nowhere near as hammy as the shout from Episode III that it was clumsily meant to mirror. On the whole, six fun movies… although only the very first two (first two filmed, not first two narratively) are actually genuinely well-crafted movies. How I wish Lucas had taken the time to go back and look at the basic film and editing techniques employed in his original creation.

The real takeaway, however, is that having finished Star Wars, I am free to begin my Trek Trek. So I did. This evening.

Enterprise 0101: Broken Bow (Pt. 1)

Man, I don’t remember this episode at all. I watched it when it first aired, but now that I think about it I believe I was trying to play Wario Land 4 at the same time and thus invested more of my attention on finding a good angle for getting lamp light to illuminate my Game Boy Advance’s screen than I did in what was on the TV. It’s all Nintendo’s fault, is what I’m saying.

So far, the episode (read: its first half) is a lot better than Captain Archer’s expression would suggest above. There’s less of the eggy flatulence you imagine he’s smelling there — in fact, I’d say that the is the strongest Trek pilot in the franchise. Granted, I’m only halfway through the episode and haven’t reached the infuriatingly out-of-place space-boner-rubdown sequence, so I reserve the right to change my opinion later. But it has clearly delineated stakes, does a fine job of setting up an outline for its crew without dragging the pace down by trying to go into too much detail about their personalities right away, and tells a pretty interesting story. I could do without the HYUCK WE HYU-MANS IS REAL SMRT IN SPACE subtext, but I do like seeing the patronizing attitude of the Federation brought to bear on earth dudes. Suck it, Picard!

I also like the details in this episode. The overall design of Enterprise NX-01 herself is a little too sophisticated to come before Captain Kirk’s very mod-looking ship; I guess that’s been explained away by saying starship aesthetics got all fancy in the past because of the time travel in First Contact or whatever. But I dig the workmanlike, NASA-esque uniforms, and the pump-action plasma rifle the farmer wielded at the beginning was delightfully silly. Also, the dog is adorable, so… so far, so good.

I don’t remember Ensign Mayweather at all from my previous viewings of the series. If they do that stupid sci-fi thing of killing the black guy early to show that the situation just got real, I’ll be very disappointed.

9 thoughts on “It’s been a long time

  1. I think “The Cage” still holds up better than “Broken Bow” does, however I do think that BB, and Enterprise in general, is better than its usually given credit for. Its crime was not so much being worse than what came before as much is was its failure to be better, at a time when a lot of the fandom was starting to finally notice the problems the franchise has had ever since TNG.

    And Mayweather doesn’t get killed, he just generally doesn’t do much. For long stretches of the show he’d have one line per episode (presumably out of contractual obligations) and would be forgotten about the rest of the time.

  2. You’re thinking of Stargate Atlantis Boss! Merryweather sticks around for the entirety of Enterprise (and gets a few episodes centered on him as well).

  3. The sexy bits of Enterprise are common fodder for fans to deride the show. But much like your observation of how Star Wars fan-complaints are exaggerated, so is this one. TOS had all kinds of gratuitous and hammy sexiness (for the time) and Enterprise’s bits are about par for the course when put into that context.

    In fact, Enterprise makes a lot of very self-conscious decisions to return to TOS-form. The focus on The Big Three cast members (at the expense of side characters like Mayweather), the huge emphasis on exploration, the return of a lot of TOS-species. For the most part, the show is better and interesting for it. But as long as you’re willing to keep an open mind about it.

    Also, I didn’t find the aesthetics of ENT to be out of place. Their ship looks like a prototypical Constitution class ship. Also, keep in mind other Federation ships in TOS had plenty of non-sleek designs, like the Antares type grain ships:

  4. I love Enterprise so much and do consider it to be my favorite Star Trek series Glad you’re enjoying it so far, the first two seasons have some really interesting episodes that are not what would be considered traditional Star Trek. I’m sounding out here, but look out for The Andorian Incident, Shuttlepod One, Carbon Creek, Dead Stop, The Catwalk and First Flight. I think these are the kind of episodes that really stand out over Enterprise’s run and I think you’ll appreciate them a lot too.

  5. As pilots go, Broken Bow isn’t that bad. However, the series proper just treads water for the longest time, leaving important episodes (like the first Andorian encounter) few and far between stories that are either complete retreads of TNG/VOY scripts or, worse, just plain go nowhere (A Night in Sickbay, I am looking at YOU).

    Season 3 gets real with its year-long arc, and 4 offers a few cool multi-episode stories that are much improved from the first two years of Enterprise. But by that point, the ratings were gone and the execs couldn’t wait to pull the plug.

    • I really enjoyed “A Night in Sickbay.” No, nothing huge and grandeur happened to threaten Earth or the crew. But it was a pretty touching episode that helped build Archer’s character and flesh him out as more than just a one-dimensional adventure-man.

      Archer might be the best Star Trek captain there is from a character development perspective. His character grows, matures, and changes more markedly and in a more realistic manner than any of the others put together. When the show starts, he’s just a naive, doe-eyed young man who more closely resembles a captain you’d see on the Space Shuttle Enterprise, than the Starship Enterprise. He knows almost nothing about commanding a ship, or diplomatic encounters, or the galaxy as a whole outside the Sol System. By the end he becomes a hardened, capable, leader of men.

  6. I remember being quite impressed when I watched Broken Bow, especially when Archer gets mad and decks the guy. It was like the show was saying “Forget about those wussy captains – this is Kirk kinda guy!”

    The first season didn’t quite live up to that momentum, though.

  7. There comes a point where the storytelling really takes a back seat and they just start lifting other material. The Hidden Fortress, Beauty and the Beast…but IN SPACE. What I am saying is, you are a brave soul!

  8. I like the Star Trek series pilot that has the crew come together for the first time, and they’re faced with an overwhelming omnipotent power that is watching them for the duration of the series.

    …..oh. That’s EVERY Trek pilot.

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