ENTERPRISE ~ 2/22/02
Who'd ever believe that they'd create a new Star Trek series that I'd actually like. Something to make me envision again that maybe one day, just one day, we'd make it to the stars and go exploring. I haven't felt like that since the old Star Trek got over taken by the newer, more colorful, candy-colored, novelty driven "new" Treks like ST: The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager. Oh I've enjoyed watching those Treks from time to time, but none of them captured my heart and my dreams from youth that the original Star Trek series did. Until now that is!
Enterprise is everything I could have wished for without it being hokey, unoriginal or trite. It contains things that mean something to "we the people" of the here and now. We're weary of the tedium of life, fearful of the world around us, of change, of difference, of being aware, with and without the remembered horrors of September 11, and continuing events. People are making choices that previous to Sept.11 they wouldnít have dreamed of making. Theyíre taking action for themselves in a positive way, like those heroes on the Flights and in Rescue services that were so tragic that day. Like those songs say, and carry so much more in meaning today. "We can be heroes" for just one day. And all it may take is"Faith of the heart".
Which brings me back to "Enterprise".
Who cares if the opening theme has words? It is so appropriate to the current world crisis, and it beautifully frames a chronology of the Human Race: learning to crawl, walk (sail?), run, and eventually to fly. To pull us out of the mire into which we are digging ourselves. In short, Hope. Star Trek, in its original incarnation was a view to that quest. Innovative. Eye opening. A breath of fresh air. Airing during the space race of the 1960s, it was a whisper of "Maybe we can do it, maybe we can get there after all". Unfortunately it became the victim of small-minded studio execs of the time, then again what film, series hasn't been. There was a series of good selling films, but the cast was aging fast. Then in 1987 we were presented with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Candy colored, bright, over-lit, luxurious, a sensor and answer for everything. The cast was bright-eyed and eager, perfect in everyway. Brilliant products of a perfect future. Even looking back and experiencing the past was a huge novelty for them. It improved with time and had a huge audience: some wanting their dreams realized, to others it was just escapism. The same can be said for Deep Space 9 and Voyager. But I was after something more. How did we get there? What trials and tribulations did the Human Race have to go through to finally start growing up? And outward? I think "Enterprise" is trying to answer exactly that. I like explorers and exploring, finding out where we can go as a race, and what each of us has to evolve into to get there. Stretch ourselves to see if we can. "Enterprise" has one foot in our turbulent world of present day, and the other foot is firmly taking that step forward "where no one has gone before".
The first five episodes have aired, and although I've listened to bones of contention from various sources, I really like the show and think it has something to say, personally and socially. The ship is smaller and more dramatically lit, like the Enterprise from the original series. I like that. It hearkens back to submarines and Naval type craft where space was a premium in an endless ocean. This time the ocean is open space, and environmentals like air and water might also be a precious premium too until the technology improves. The ships will get bigger over time, as will their internal spaces, as the occupying crews get more confident in their homes away from home. And more confident that their air supply won't leak out completely when a bulkhead unexpectedly bursts. Emergency repairs will become easier. This, after all, is the first ship out there. What the ship and crew experience will set the tone of every ship, captain, and crew to come after them. Can you see it in the details? I can. The latest episode to air was "Terra Nova", and at one point, the Captain told Hoshi to open hailing frequencies, etc. It was only subtle, but I watched Hoshi screw something into her ear before she began the hail. I'd watched Uhura do it on the first series many times, and now Hoshi did it and I made the connection. Both of them screwed a link into an ear to listen to the frequency and any responses. On another episode, "Unexpected", a part of the deal with the fractious Klingons included the handing over of holographic technology to the Klingons, so both the Enterprise and alien ship could go their ways in peace. I wondered at the time if this was the reason the Klingons and Romulans had cloaking technology far in advance of the Federation. Interesting huh? In the episode "Strange New World" it's a case of not everything is what it seems, and should be treated with caution. At least that appears to be the moral of the story, and what T'Pol tries to impart to an impulsive Captain and crew. T'Pol attempts to impel the Captain to be cautious, but he just thinks that she is being a Vulcan spoilsport. He learns some precious lessons that episode, and that there really are reasons to tread carefully. And the Vulcans have been doing this a lot longer than humans. This also came up in the first episode, "Broken Bow", when on Rygel 7 (I think) Trip yells at a mother who looks like she is tormenting her child. Trip made an assumption based on his own experiences, which are 99% human, and didn't take into account that the perspective might be different out in space among alien beings. Despite looking wild-eyed, he obviously learned his lesson, because he wasn't as jumpy on the alien ship during "Unexpected".
I've also heard complaints about the decontamination scene between T'Pol and Trip in "Broken Bow". So what. They showed a healthy curiosity during a difficult moment, but both officers, despite the situation, remained professional and kept the majority of the heated discussion on par. However, I think Trip got to do what a lot of male fans will have been achingly curious about, touching T'Pol's ears. Mind you, she got to touch his too. Hoshi being uncertain and unconfident during the episode "Fight or Flight", is another incidence of natural human behavior that is interesting. First up, she is claustrophobic, but tries not to let it get the better of her. This is undermining her self-confidence in her role aboard ship. Perhaps this is to show the audience that the procedural book they're following isn't all written yet and that they have to make it up as they go along. Watched all the way by a Vulcan who can't give them all the answers they need. She could, but our crew needs to be able to make it in space on their own, make their own decisions and live or die by them. That's the definition of survival in space. And it's time for the Human Race to make the grade, if they can. If they get cut, they bleed, but they know how to defend themselves next time. They learn, and they grow. Hell, I can already see the Prime Directive and subsequent protocols silently shaping themselves as our crew stumbles from one episode to the next, and usually win. But for the story, they will sometimes lose. This is what will shape the future, and the future Treks that were.
The stories are credible and workable, even if they seem outlandish. In each episode, the main story line doesn't overrule everything else in the show. There's a tight interweaving of cast, story and details so you're looking at an entire realistic picture of all involved and not just one element or another on screen at any one time. THAT is good directing and writing. Not to mention good acting. By the way, has anyone noticed that Captain Archer gives orders just like Captain Kirk did? Minus the wooden acting.
So don't look at the obvious, look at some of the layering in each episode, and implications that some things may have in the future of Earth and Trek. One day we might get there, but it's going to take belief in oneself and faith, faith of the heart.