Since the birth of Levi, our second son, I’ve been watching Star Trek: Enterprise for the first time. I had seen a few episodes when the series first aired, but never got into it. You could say that I was hostile toward the show when it was announced and aired, but I needed something to watch while I rocked my son at night and it seemed like a good idea to brush up on the one piece of Star Trek canon that I had no knowledge of.
Well, it has been about one and a half months since Levi’s birth, and I have finally completed the series in its entirety, in the order they first were aired.
What follows is just some random thoughts on the series as a whole.
I’ll start with Captain Jonathan Archer. I’m an unabashed James T. Kirk fanboy when it comes to Star Trek captains, and Archer might be the closest to Kirk of any Trek captain barring some from the novels.
So, you can probably guess that I rate him pretty highly, below Kirk and Picard but above Sisko and that other captain … I forget her name.
(As an aside, I’m trying to watch Voyager from the beginning right now and find it … painful.)
He’s a man of action, sometimes delves into morally grey areas, and spends a good amount of time with some members of his crew. He also has a dog (which I liked quite a bit).
I overall liked Archer.
The Rest of the Crew
The rest of the crew is hit-or-miss to say the least.
Phlox is maybe the most interesting and best character on the crew, at times butting heads with the mostly-human crew and sticking to his own guns when he feels the need. He is a good complement to Archer. Many of the episodes that focused on Phlox tended to be some of my favorites. I also found it funny when he would work a joke in about his … complex life at home.
Hoshi and Travis Mayweather were more up-and-down than Phlox, both having some strong episodes with some strong characterizations but ultimately pretty forgettable. Hoshi, of the two, grew the most over the series but still fails to bring much impact. Mayweather is a strong “let’s do it!” character but lacks any real depth over the four seasons.
Reed takes the cake as the other strong character taken from the rest of the crew. He knocks heads with plenty of other people, yet stays ultimately likable as a character mostly because he is stuck between the life he grew up with and the new reality of what life was becoming. I liked him and he got to blow stuff up.
I’m not going to mentioned much about Major Hayes and the MACOs because they were strictly a plot device. With more seasons maybe they would have been given more screen time, but they served the Xindi plot only.
I left two out because they’re joined at the hip as characters. T’Pol and Charles Tucker (Trip) obviously had the overarching “romance” of the show, but it was unusual and unfulfilling for the most part. T’Pol was too cold to really relate to in any way and Trip was too emotional to really try and take serious. They definitely had their moments, but these two were nothing in comparison to the two characters they were meant to emulate to an extent: Spock and Scotty. The scary part is that we had less time with Spock and Scotty and yet I think they were the better characters.
Would more time have fixed things? I don’t know, I feel they were flawed characters to start, and putting a Vulcan science officer as first officer on a starship named Enterprise really hampered them creatively to do anything different. You could really draw parallels between Kirk/Spock vs. Archer/T’Pol and that did nothing to engender fans to the show because that comparison could not go well.
So, two strong characters, two “meh” characters, and two that were sadly disappointing. That’s oddly symmetric.
There were three plots during the four seasons of Enterprise, and I think that was part of the problem. They were: the Temporal Cold War (TCW), Xindi Attack (Xindi), and Federation Founding (Federation).
The Federation plot, to me, was the best one of the three. It has some interesting twists, including the Romulans being involved in many of the problems between the Vulcans and Humans and their involvement in trying to tear that part of the galaxy apart, while showing the role that the Humans take the glue that brings together disparate parties. The Andorians come out as maybe the most interesting species in the series, and Shran as the second-most-interesting alien besides Dr. Phlox.
After the Federation stuff, the Xindiplot is satisfying for showing how peoples can be manipulated to do wrong for seemingly good reasons. It didn’t resonate as well as the Federation storyline because … who were the Xindi!? Why create an entirely new species and a manufactured crisis when you have the whole of Federation history to work with!? It just didn’t make any sense to go there when you could have instead focused your attention on the founding of the Federation, the expansion of Earth, the problems of running a Starfleet, and moved more quickly toward the Romulan War! The storyline was good, and it had some good episodes, but time could have been spent elsewhere.
This brings me to the TWC, really the worst part of Enterprise in many respects. The storyline was coherent, it fell into contrived problems with time travel (can we stay away from time travel please?) and it ultimately had a messy conclusion which left far more questions than answers. What. In. The. World. Once again, another race we never hear from again (Suliban) … and … WHAT!? Just why.
I really feel they should have stuck with the overarching Federation plot and then stuck to the Star Trek formula … individual episodes with a vague overall plot (mission of exploration (TOS), get back home (VOY), etc.). The plots were just so up-and-down that it was hard to keep up with everything or get too much into anything.
I’m a huge Riker fan, but it was a sad final episode to say the least. Why make it a holo program!? Why add in the ambiguity!? How in the world would they have every minute detail from the chef’s perspective from talking with the crew!?
Just a mess.
It felt rushed because it was. I think that the signing of the charter (whether it was the actual Federation charter or whatever) would have been a great ending to the series had they been given the seven seasons Voyager was given (how in the world did that happen … ), but with only four seasons and really only half of the fourth dedicated to the Federation stuff, it just felt too rushed.
I’m torn where to place Enterprise in relation to the other series. Here is my current standing.
- The Original Series
- The Next Generation
- Deep Space 9 / Enterprise
No real surprises there except maybe that I don’t have a real love for Deep Space 9, but Voyager still brings up that last spot (I’m currently TRYING to watch Voyager again … it’s been pretty painful so far), but Deep Space 9 and Enterprise kind of sit 3a/3b behind The Big Two. Will it change over time? Definitely, but Archer was a strong captain with a few compelling characters and one good storyline.
I wish they could have had time to get into the Romulan War because that, along with the Federation plot, were BY FAR the best story lines they could have gone with. Sadly, what we have is an up-and-down series that had potential, but was severely lacking in execution.