Reviews: Star Trek Enterprise
By far the worst Trek series.
The 1st episode established that Archer got his job through nepotism and runs off into space without making sure that he has all the things needed to, y'know, go off into space. The 2nd episode establishes that the transporters work better than the communicators. The 4th episode is an extended joke about Tucker being raped, Tucker getting high, and Tucker being mocked for getting raped, being impregnated thanks to the rape, having his biology being rewritten thanks to the rape, becoming a sexist stereotype of a pregnant mother due to the rape, and finally being forced to publicly discuss the rape with Klingons. By the time "Dear Doctor" rolls around and Phlox advocates letting an entire species die in agony because of his Nazi ideology about the Valakians "evolving" into extinction (evolution doesn't work that way) and the Menk being allegedly superior, it was obvious that the show was doomed. To catalog the sheer number of failures of writing, directing, special effects, and even acting on this show would take more space than this review, but to put it bluntly: The writing was so bad that Jolene Blalock, a Trekkie, knew how to write and play a Vulcan better than the showrunners who were writing Star Trek, but was forced to play the insulting sexist stereotype of T'Pol anyway. The worst episode of Trek, "A Night In Sickbay" is from ENT season 2. Season 3 is marginally better, but still suffers from flat characters and Archer being an asshole. Season 4, when they finally kicked out Berman and Braga, is actually moderately half-decent, thanks to Manny Coto's heroic efforts to salvage the mess, but by that point the show's 3 seasons of bad had surpassed the power of its brand name, and the rating had dropped enough that it was cut, but not before Berman and Braga shat on the franchise one last time with "These are the Voyages". Do not use this to introduce someone to Trek. If you MUST watch it, watch ONLY season 4, and maybe season 3 if you can tolerate Protagonist-Centered Morality. 1/10 would not watch Archer be a whiny racist narcissistic brat again.
ENT's never going to be anyone's pick for a Star Trek gateway drug. Unlike VOY, which despite what the internet would have you believe, was drawing huge numbers to very end, ENT stumbled right out of the gate. In fact, the show was so unanimously hated that it eventually became cool to not hate it, settling into cult status. Proponents might (or at least, they should) point out that it is the most challenging and politically-charged Trek series. This was almost a matter of necessity. Debuting after the 9-11 attacks, in which many and crew members lost loved ones, the show is more ambivalent about cultural exchange and pacifism. Every single species on the show is hostile; they spy on one another, use trade agreements as pretext to undermine each other, and promote their own hegemony. The Federation did not magically appear. ENT would remind you that it was a slow, messy process that took over a hundred years to forge trust between its members. The issue at hand should not be whether ENT was true to Trek, but whether or not it manages to convey ideas well. That's where the writing falls short. Our window into these greatest of events is Jonathan Archer, a man who is not all that interesting. ENT features what is easily the blandest crew in all of Trek; by S.4, T'Pol ended up becoming my favorite. Considering how stiff and monotone Jolene Blalock is as an actor, my preference is more an indictment of ENT than actual praise. Her and Trip are the only characters with any sort of arc. Archer is gradually made to be more hawkish and bitter , but then, he always was sort of hawkish and bitter underneath the Saturday Morning Special morals he trots out every now and then. Archer is the albatross around Enterprise's neck, and it is no surprise that fandom preferred Trip as the gateway character. Connor Trineer's easy on the eyes, and has charisma enough to make you buy into him as an heir to Kirk. Only Gary Sinese rivals Archer as a more boring hero and the fantastic John Billingsley is mostly here as childish comic relief. Jeffrey Combs is rather irritating as a Cagney wannabe — imagine that? Jeffrey Combs? irritating? No matter how big your ideas (and frankly, ENT mined its ideas much less as it could have), a show lives or die by its cast, and ENT had a serious deficit of people I gave a crap about.