Reviews: Star Trek Enterprise

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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.
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