Sunday, February 06, 2005

Jumping the Space Shark: ST: Enterprise

First, the disclaimer. I stopped watching "Star Trek: Enterprise" after I read they planned to create a new race of aliens that would destroy part of Earth. In my mind, that was a mediocre show jumping the shark bigtime. I mean, something like that, something so big that millions of people would die, would be big enough to have at least been worth a mention on the "Star Trek shows that preceded it on TV but were set after. And that was always the problem with Enterprise," a show I'd really wanted to enjoy — it would always be limited story/plotwise by what was already established in the Trek universe.

There have been plenty of possibilities, of course. Seeing things for the first time: Romulans, Vulcans, Andorians, transporters, and so on, though many firsts were already handled on the original show. When I read about the recent storyline involving Brent Spiner as the ancestor of Data's creator, it sounded wonderful, just the thing they should have been doing all along. But by then, I had lost interest.

I had defended this show to friends who never liked it, but after they changed direction, going where they never should've, I couldn't bring myself to watch. I was too annoyed at the disrespect for those of us who supported Trek since the '60s, those of us who grew up believing in the future Roddenberry created.

So the news that Enterprise has been cancelled was merely news that the corpse would finally get buried. I loved Next Gen. I loved "Deep Space 9." I even mostly enjoyed "Voyager" even while admitting it was uneven at best. But "Enterprise" was boring. Boring and oddly detached from the Trek realm we knew and loved. (And WTF was that whole time war thing about, anyway?) And much as I hate to say it, a big problem was the cast. Scott Bakula, an actor I've enjoyed since he starred in an ill-fated comedy called "Eisenhower and Lutz," was too stiff, too complacent, too ordinary for a captain. I had hoped, like Sisko had done on DS9, that his Capt. Archer would grow in the role as he was brought face to face with the wonders of the universe and the unique challenges of being Earth's first starship captain. But Avery Brooks, as Sisko, commanded the small screen. Bakula merely inhabits it with his ordinary guy feel, a Mr. Every Guy. That worked great for "Quantum Leap." It didn't for "Enterprise."

The rest of the cast was average at best, except for Dr. Phlox who has been wonderfully played by John Billingsley. None of the other cast members ever really distinguished themselves, though Jolene Blaylock sure tried hard as T'Pol. For the first few weeks, I couldn't even tell Trip and Malcolm apart (Malcolm's accent finally differentiated him from Trip). Is that anyway to cast a show? (Contrast with the new "Battlestar Galactica.")

The news of the cancellation is a bit old now, but I needed time to put my feelings about it into words. I wasn't sure I even wanted to comment on a show I hadn't watched for 2 years. But it's Trek and I couldn't let its passing go unnoted here.