As a huge Star Trek fan, I felt it unfair of me to have not watched Enterprise, mainly due to the terrible reputation it has amongst those I know who have suaded me against the show.
So, after re-watching Next Gen, watching DS9 for the first time, and then Voyager for the first time, both of which were amazing, I’m now currently watching through Enterprise.
I feel it’d be best to document that experience, again, due to how bad of a rap the show has. There wont be much organisation to this review, but I’ll try to keep it concise. I might do one for each season.
NOTE: This will obviously contain spoilers for season 1 of Enterprise, parts of Voyager, maybe DS9, maybe Next Gen, maybe TOS! Don’t be silly and read and then get mad at yourself for not reading if you don’t want minor spoilers!
The premise for the show is interesting. It’s a very open-ended exploration concept, like TOS and Next Gen, based on the first days of warp travel with the first warp-capable Enterprise ship.
What I knew of the Enterprise prior to Kirk was that it was manned by Pike, but everything else is a mystery, so I’m open to learning about it.
However, with the “it’s in the past” plot, so too do we lose: transporters being used on people, resulting in many boring spaceflights, no holo-deck/holo-suite, resulting in the lack of filler holo-episodes (though some are aces), no replicators, nothing past warp 5, no dermal regenerators and much much more. It’s interesting to see the crew interact with space travel without these things, but it’s very fleeting. It’s like “haha, oh man, Picard would’ve just transported to the surface” and that’s it. After a while, it’s laborious and boring to endure the crew coping without these mechanisms. Don’t even get me started on the lack of a universal translator.
Captain Jonathan Archer
Captain Archer, played by Scott Bakula, is a very laid back type of captain. He feels less like a starship captain, and more like the leader of a bunch of astronauts. As the first season progresses, and he has to make some tough choices (Dear Doctor for example) we see more of his leadership qualities.
But, for the most part, he just seems very plain of a character to be a captain. Picard had his love of classical literature and staunch Starfleet Academy dedication, Janeway her passion for engineering, Sisko developed from a broken, bitter Starship commander to something remarkible in deed and Kirk, well, he had plenty of personality.
Archer comes across simply as the everyman, which can work, but his personality is almost identical in parts with his chief engineer Charles “Trip” Tucker.
PS Having a bloody dog does not a good captain make. What kind of captain makes a command decision to take a dog on an away mission for the love of
Charles “Trip” Tucker
Trip is fun, friendly, homely and reminds us of those good old Earth values. His character grates wonderfully with the uptight logic of T'Pol, which make these two characters fantastic together.
Later in the first season, however, the writers seem to latch Trip onto Malcolm Reed, which I feel to be a bit of a mistake, which I’ll come to later.
Trip seems a capable engineer and great comedy relief. His relationship with Captain Archer is that of close friends, and even when the Captain is in a super bad mood (Vox Sola, episode 22) he knows he can just swan in there and calm him down. In this way, Trip is really acting less like the chief engineer and more as Archer’s number 1, his second in command.
I can’t help but feel that Trip’s lack of social etiquette and his doggedness for loyalty to his Captain and crew could land them in some trouble if ever put in command. But, as it stands, he’s generally always taken on away missions. Along with Hoshi…
Ensign Hoshi Sato
Hoshi is the ship’s translator, and is relevant in almost every first contact situation, as she must input fancy algorithms into her computer box and work out how to speak alien.
Hoshi’s responsibility is huge, and she genuinely is a frickin’ genius. Her character has some really cool arcs, but they aren’t really developed.
In season 1’s “Sleeping Dogs”, she has a great moment of weakness where she is supported by T'Pol, a moment where she reveals she just isn’t cool with away missions because they scare her, and T'Pol helps her with a Vulcan mini-mindmeld. Firstly, this is a nice moment as it refers back to when Hoshi freaked out earlier in season 1, in episode 3’s “Fight or Flight”, so it’s nice to see this character point didn’t just evaporate.
However, we never follow-up with the T'Pol and Hoshi story, which I would have liked. It reminded me of how Tuvok and Kes started meditating together to improve Kes’ psyche. But, nothing happened. It was seemingly forgotten about for the rest of season 1.
The sad thing about Hoshi, however, though she does have some fun moments (namely her story in Two Days and Two Nights), you can’t help feeling that in Next Gen onwards she would be replaced by a simple computer algorithm.
T'Pol is awesome. She invokes everything it means to be Vulcan; logic, lack of emotion, strength of character, boldness, speaking her mind, and so forth.
T'Pol has the most well developed character arc throughout the first season, where she is posted on Enterprise by the Vulcan high council, and then comes to terms with being okay with that, to eventually enjoying her time on the ship, to inevitably defending Enterprise when the fate of Starfleet’s first foray into warp travel is threatened (Shockwave, part 1).
The only thing that bothers me is the whole “Vulcans are logical, that’s so dumb” conflict that exists between Humans and Vulcans throughout the first season. It’s understood that Human/Vulcan relations are not very friendly, but my god do they go on and on about it.
After having Spock on TOS and Tuvok on Voyager, it’s hard to imagine a time when Humans didn’t actually “get” Vulcans, but this time is now. Many, many of the stories told, though usually sidestories, are about how x can’t abide by a Vulcan decision. Yes, it’s logical, but it doesn’t have heart, blah blah. It gets old fast.
Hopefully, moving into season 2, we see less of this, as the crew become more accustomed to a Vulcan science officer, and stop treating her like the third wheel.
Dr Phlox is amazing, and is played by John Billingsley like a star. The only problem, though, is we never see him!
He’s such a hugely strong character. For starters, he’s a doctor, in what is essentially frontier medicine, from a species we’ve never known (Denobulan), with a great sense of humour and a strong thirst for understanding the Human condition.
From recollection, Phlox is given two main stories throughout the entire first season, and they are the two I remember the highest. The first is his maybe relationship with his female friend, which brought up great intrigue in interspecies courtship from the episode “Fight or Flight” which was very well done and referenced back later in the season, and the second from the episode “Dear Doctor”, which pushed Archer to make one of the first Prime Directive type decisions (which is hard since there’s no Prime Directive and oh gosh isn’t it funny when he says Prime Directive blah blah).
Doctors in Star Trek are typically always underused in the first season. Bashir from DS9, EMH from Voyager, Beverley in TNG, so I can only hope that the writers realise what an amazing character Phlox is and utilise him more, and give him more stories, in the later seasons.
I started off really liking Malcolm Reed. He’s the weapons officer of Enterprise, and that’s it. That’s all you know about him, he likes guns and he’s good at his job. And he’s got a very militaristic set of behaviours, but that’s it.
There’s an episode in season 1 where Hoshi is trying to find out his favourite food, to present to him for a birthday gathering, which showed just how private of a man he really is (Silent Enemy).
However, shortly after, they completely threw away this character developement and made him Trips best friend. They bond tremendously in the episode Shuttlepod One, but it’s such a shame! They built him up to be this mysterious and odd character, who gosh maybe it’ll take a few seasons to crack, but nope, by the end of season one (Two Days and Two Nights) he’s handcuffed naked in a wine cellar with his best bud Trip in a sad case of weird comic relief. I hope his character redeems itself in season 2.
I’m including Travis mostly because he’s listed as a “star” of the show, but for the first season, it doesn’t really feel like he is. He’s a background character with a few lines. I feel they were trying to write Mayweather kind of like Ensign Kim in Voyager; the new guy on the ship, you relate to him, you get where he comes from and his views, but due to a lack of character building and an extreme lack of being actually prominent in an episode, it falls short. The couple of episode I do remember with him in them (Strange New World and Fortunate Son) were okay I suppose. His character needs a lot more depth if I’m meant to feel more for him.
A dog has no place on away missions. I’m sorry, but the episode where Porthos accompanies Captain Archer on an away mission (Strange New World) I nearly flipped a table.
Porthos is okay, I suppose. He’s Captain Archer’s dog, and is generally used for Captain Archer to “talk to” (otherwise known as “we need the audience to know this thing but we don’t know how to write it so we’ll make him tell the dog). It’s weak.
Pets on Starships aren’t uncommon, who can forget Data’s cat Spot, or Captain Picard’s lionfish Livingston, but they didn’t take them on away missions. They stayed in their quarters and were the subject of mild comic relief (Data/Worf/Spot). The less I see of Porthos, the stronger I hope the writing becomes.
The Theme Song
The theme song really lets this show down, I think. I think it’s one of the reasons people mock the show actually. It’s just so gosh darn cheesy. Every other Star Trek has had orchestral music with narration, or even without narration (DS9), but it was simple, elegant "space opera”. This, on the other hand, is like a Bon Jovi B-Side. And sadly, it really shows.
I’m pretty sure they’ll keep the theme song, but damn it sucks. The song is actually okay, but in the opening for the type of show Star Trek is, it just doesn’t fit. That said, the actual intro for Enterprise is actually surprisingly interesting! We see the developement of “The Enterprise” to it’s current warp-capable version, from the HMS Enterprise, to early shuttle missions. It even made me wonder if they’d ever consider a HMS Enterprise, to boldly sail where no person has sailed before. Who knows.
The Prime Directive
The Prime Directive doesn’t exist. We fucking get it. Get over it already. The sooner the Prime Directive gets directified by Starfleet the better, because the amount of meandering around the subject tries one’s patience something fierce.
In conclusion, the first season has been a lot better than I had expected it would be. There were some really fantastic episodes (Dear Doctor, Shuttlepod One, Shockwave part 1, The Andorian Incident) and some really terrible ones (Acquisition, bluh), but overall a very decent Star Trek experience.
Going forward into season two, I hope to see the following:
a hell of a lot more Dr Phlox content, he’s such an underused trove of entertainment
more first contact
less Vulcans-are-so-logical-whats-up-with-that-lol scenarios
more ship upgrades
more battle scenarios (Silent Enemy, another fantastic episode showing the vulnerability of the early Enterprise)
Anyway, that’s all for me for now. Onwards, to season 2!