That title may be misleading. I do not wish for Star Trek, the franchise to die. I believe it is in a far better place than ever before. Since the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise, perhaps the worst incarnation of Star Trek yet, it seems to be thriving. With the original characters recast with fresh young actors, a revamped Enterprise, and a different take on the Star Trek universe, things are on the up for Trek fans. The latest film by J.J.Abrams was a blast, and has set the standard for the follow-up very high. With Abrams and co’s experience and success in executing high quality TV, it is only a matter of time before Trek returns to the small screen, in whatever format the producers (or Supreme Court) decide is best. Somehow they managed to take Trek and do what previous producers were capable of doing, and that is making it accessible and cool to people who previously didn’t ‘get’ Star Trek.
So things look to be on the up and up. We Trekkies (or Trekkers, whatever your persuasion) need our Star Trek. We need regular injections of it. What we are getting right now, is good high quality stuff. It’s an exciting time for us. After effectively resetting the entire franchise back to the beginning, what will Abrams & co. do with it? The world is their oyster, of course. My own personal wish is that when Star Trek does eventually return to our TV screens it follows a different ship and different crew, leaving the Enterprise in the movie realm with perhaps cameos every now and then from Kirk, Spock, etc. And I hope they cover the Klingon war. I think we’ve had the hundreds of episodes of scientific pondering, and morality tales. Continue telling these stories, but follow the template set out in Star Trek XI, by telling these stories with a bit of a bang. But that is my own personal wish. I’m sure that whatever shape or form a new series comes in, it will take us by surprise. It will shock and awe us, make us cry, make us laugh, and deliver the same high quality entertainment as Alias, Lost and Fringe.
But we would not have any of this, had Enterprise not been cancelled in 2005. And I was glad when the settings were changed from stun to kill. Here’s my reasons for saying that.
1. “Wrong Ship Name”
That’s right. The entire concept was just wrong. If you’re telling the story of the first crew from Starfleet to journey to new systems, to strange new worlds, etc, etc, then don’t set it on the Enterprise. If you’re going to do that, do what Star Trek XI did and just reboot it all. Go back to the start. What Braga and Berman did was to say “There was an Enterprise you’ve never heard of before and to keep with continuity we’re calling it Enterprise NX-01” No, it doesn’t wash with me.
If you’re telling the story of Starfleets first pioneers, then come up with your own ship name. It’s not that hard. Really.
2. “Temporal Cold War?”
I’ll give them their due, they tried to have an on-going plotline running through the series, of an ongoing temporal cold war, whilst still keeping proceedings episodic. It just didn’t work. The on-going story wasn’t intriguing or interesting enough. It was boring. It was forgettable. The Suliban’s weren’t an especially good foe, and there again we hit on the same argument “We haven’t seen it before”.
At the end of the day, we have been watching Trek set hundreds of years in the future. We’ve seen a lot. It’s a bit strong to expect us to believe that a race that has obviously been so influential on how the Federation came to be, has never been seen before.
Make it a familiar foe, and show us things we’ve never seen before. As Gene Roddenberry once said to Leonard Nimoy regarding the script for ‘The Undiscovered Country’ – “We still haven’t learned why the Klingon’s are so angry.”
3. “Enough with the Kidnapping”
Every other episode, Captain Archer (or another crew member, or Captain Archer and another crew member) were kidnapped and held captive. If you think I’m exagerating, then look at the synopsis for many of the episodes. It was so repetitive and predictable.
I don’t want to see Archer as the ‘MOST CAPTURED CAPTAIN’. I want to see him in the chair, dishing our orders, doing a Kirk and munching on a chicken sandwich.
4. “Tired Before it Started Running”
The trouble is, Braga and Berman had been doing Trek for a long time. And all of their series were essentially the same in style, tone, structure. It was getting a bit tired. From the photography (passive, uninteresting, shot on sound-stages) to the acting, to the Trek-cliché’s (I am the character who wants to be a human, I am the character who works in engineering performing miracles, etc) it was all the same old story. You could interchange Data, Odo, Seven-Of-Nine and T’Pol and not even notice. Ronald Moore tried to get Berman to shake things up when they were doing Star Trek Voyager, telling him to push the boundaries a little, let Voyager get damaged and stay damaged, put this crew through its paces. What we ended up with was a series where Voyager got ripped to shreds in one episode, then in the next all was fine again. I wonder how many times the same FX shots of Voyager travelling through space were used? Hundreds and hundreds. It gets a bit familiar – and then you’re in danger. The series is slowing down for you. It’s not as interesting anymore.
Star Trek Enterprise was not in keeping with the rest of Star Trek continuity. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that technology can go backwards. Has it ever gone backwards in human history? No. It progresses, as we progress. There was no way they could sell us on the fact that Enterprise NX-01 was less advanced than Enterprise NCC-1701. It didn’t work. When you watch the new Trek film, you see the difference between the Kelvin and the Enterprise. There’s a gulf of years and technological developments between the two, and the design aesthetic reflects that. I remember them saying, when Enterprise was being put together, that they wanted it to be like a ‘submarine in space’. Perhaps they meant they were building the sets a little smaller…
6. “It was all a Dream”
Do you remember those stories, where you got the end and it said “And it was all just a dream.” Well it was sort of like that with the season finale of Enterprise. By having the episode wrap things up by having it be nothing but a holo-program was a massive cop-out. Was the whole series just an experience Riker had in the holo-suite? Was it all just a dream? Yes! A bad one!
Reed’s saying “Don’t worry, we’ll be free of this shit soon”
I won’t pick apart the story-lines of Enterprise, because I don’t think all of them were that bad. Of course, many of the story-lines and plots we’d seen before on the other series. There again – bad move. But there were a few gooduns. The ongoing plot of Series 3, with the search for the culprits responsible for a deadly attack on Earth was entertaining at least, and they did attempt to show a race of aliens with different variations (aquatic and avian variations for example).
But I’m glad it was cancelled. It was doomed before it even left dry-dock. The series should have taken us somewhere new, showed us new things. Let’s have a Captain that makes the wrong decisions. Let’s have a crew that break the rules. Let’s have the acknowledgement of homosexuality in Star Trek, as opposed to pussy-footing around it with allegorical stories. Let’s have a ship that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles and can always get out of a jam. I tell you what, mid-season, blow the ship up and strand our crew on an alien planet with no apparent hope of getting back. Do something new.
I’m glad it died. I’m glad it came back. I can’t wait to see what Abrams and co. do with it. I hope they do something amazing. As my hero Mr Spock is fond of saying, “There are always possibilities.”
Star Trek dying has allowed those possibilities.
FOR A GIGGLE, WATCH THIS: