Thursday, July 16, 2015

Star Trek Enterprise: These are the Voyages

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Star Trek. I watched my first episode of Star Trek with my dad not long after the first time I had my first diaper changed. I went to DC when they had the twenty-fifth anniversary tribute at the Smithsonian. It was the first time I ever bought a birthday present for one of my parents with money I made myself. (I paid for the audio tour. It was my dad's birthday.) I have a pretty epic story about the first time I watched Encounter at Far Point. I was ten (almost eleven) when it debuted.  and I can still smell the popcorn we made that night when I think about it. Some would disagree with me (and that's OK) but I'm convinced that All Good Things is the best episode of TV ever. Period. Dot. End of Sentence. I wanted to be Wesley Crusher. (Which was a bit odd since I had a crush on his mom.) I couldn't stand Jake Cisco. (This attitude changed on my second watching twenty years later.) I wanted to be Quark just so I could smack Rom. I had a thing for Captain Janeway too. Smart, hot and not to be trifled with, she was exactly the way I've always like my women. I even watched the animated series growing up when I could. It was hard to find on TV but I did my best. The one series I didn't really watch in it's first run was Star Trek: Enterprise, which seems weird to me now because I remember being excited about not just the show but the fact that it starred Scott Bakula and I remembered him from Quantum Leap. Then again, those were the Everquest years, so maybe it does make sense after all. I wasn't watching much TV period. And dammit, my name is Jim McCoy. I never had a chance to NOT be a Trek fan.

So, when I recently decided to binge watch Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix I'm sure it surprised exactly no one who had spent at least five minutes talking to me.  It was pretty much inevitable once I realized that it was there. I have to say I was pretty impressed. The characters are believable. There is just enough of a hint of what's to come that you can feel it but not so much that it feels too obvious. Captain Archer in particular undergoes an awesome character arc and so do those around him. Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker grows more than any other character I've seen on television from an impulsive young officer to a man that deserves his own starship. There was a lot of good and very little bad. I loved it.

This review however, and now that I'm finally coming to the point, is not about the series as a whole. It is about the last episode "These are the Voyages." I understand that ST:ENT was cancelled early but I can't help but think that this episode was all about taking the easy way out. Seriously. Something that bothered me about ST:DS9 was that they relied too much on characters from ST:TNG. It wasn't overpowering, it was just enough to be annoying. But, at the end of the day, ST:DS9 was its own show and the send off the characters got was awesome and well deserved if a bit melancholy. That is not the case for the final episode of  ST:ENT. Oh, the series was its own series for ninety-seven episodes but it's the ninety-eighth and final one that has me steaming.

"These are the Voyages" is told using the point of view of, not one of its regular characters, but of Will Ricker, first officer of the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701D. Guys? Really? I'm going to put this in the most rational, loving, calm manner that I can. All of that being said I have a question: WHAT IN THE EVER LIVING FUCK WERE THEY THINKING!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Seriously. Consider me nerd-raged beyond all others at this moment.

Listen, I'm not a ST:TNG hater. Nor do I have anything against the character of Will Riker, Jonathan Frakes the actor/director (whose contributions to the Trek franchise go far beyond just his acting) or against the character of Deanna Troi or Marin Sirtis the actress. All of the above are intensely entertaining and well worth my time to watch. I just don't think they belonged here. And what kills me is that there was enough of a story here to work without them.

By way of a brief introduction to the episode I'll just say that Commander Riker is agonizing over a decision about revealing some information to Captain Picard. The episode starts off with a First Officer's Personal Log and not a Captain's Log. That steams me. Every episode of Trek, regardless of actual series, starts off with the Commanding Officer doing a log. Well, except for this one.  That kills me. But even more than that, I can't help but feel cheated here.

ST:TOS died an ignominious death at the end of the third season but every other live action series since has had a definitive last episode. They've all been epic. I've already talked about "All Good Things." It brought back one of the best villains in the Trek mythos and forced the Enterprise crew to be at their best to fight back. The last episode of ST:DS9 ended the Dominion War and saw Ben Cisco elevated into the Bajoran Pantheon. The last episode of ST:VOY saw the crew of the Voyager make it home. The last episode of ST:ENT should have been the story of Archer and his crew helping out an old friend on the way home to attend a very important ceremony. It should have let us emote at the death of another old friend that we had followed throughout the series and what could have been. There should have been a speech at the end and the signing of a document that laid the foundation for the United Federation of Planets and every one of the series that came "after" it. Instead it was about a character from another show and his decision making process. I'm sorry but the show deserved better. The characters deserved better. The fans deserved better. I hate writing this but it's true. They should have concentrated on the characters from Enterprise and not Next Gen. Seriously.

Bottom Line: For the series as a whole: 4.9 out of 5 phase pistols. For the "These are the Voyages" episode: 3.0 out of 5 wilted penii.

Star Trek: Enterprise "These are the Voyages"
Paramount, 2005

Star Trek: Enterprise is available for purchase here:

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