Archive for February, 2013

Trekathon 664: Shockwave (2) (ENT)

February 28th, 2013

Enterprise saves the future.

For a time travel episode that was surprisingly free of overly complicated plots. You could have rewritten the entire episode with Archer just being stranded off on another planet without very much effort at all. So rather than being all Back to the Future II, the episode is much more Die Hard, taking back the ship.

T’Pols arc is continuing along, with he disillusionment with the Vulcan High Command becoming evident to all. As I’ve mentioned before, I like the idea. But by setting it up as ‘her vs all Vulcans’ it becomes harder to see how we’ll ever get to the relationship we see in TOS. Or why they’d ever join the Federation.

Callbacks: first mention of the Federation and the Romulans. And I’m pretty sure that was the first warp core breach (albeit faked).

664 down, 73 to go.

Trekathon Season Review: Enterprise, Season 1

February 27th, 2013

Better than I expected. A lot better, really.

Enterprise is the one Trek series that I’d never spent much time on, and what I’d heard at the time it was on TV wasn’t good. So my expectations were set pretty low. But the show has generally been good, certainly a lot better than the last couple of years of Voyager.

One of the things that’s helped with that is that it feels like the show is made by people who love Star Trek. Unlike Voyager it’s a show that revels in the whole background created over TOS, TNG and DS9. Every episode brings some new callback (well, more or less).

The other great piece of continuity is the set design, effects and sound. The overall design of the show feels like a carefully designed midpoint between ‘modern NASA’ and ‘TOS’ designs. It makes the show feel like a genuine prequel, but also makes it feel more like ‘future history’ than anything else Trek has done.

The individual episodes have largely avoided ‘awful’, with the exception of Acquisition. There hasn’t been a true classic yet, but The Andorian Incident and Shuttlepod One came close, and the opening Broken Bow two-parter was pretty good as well.

And there are some interesting well rounded characters, each of whom has had an interesting moment of focus so far.

The main weakness has been the overarcing ‘time travel’ plot. Time travel is a fraught area, hard to right and confusing even when done well. It’s been confined to only a few episodes, but it’s been a real mixed bag then.

So where does this season fit in my rankings? The easiest reference is to the other first seasons – well ahead of TNG, a little ahead of Voyager, but probably just behind season 1 of DS9 due to the couple of truly great episodes that season had. So that takes the rankings to:

The very best of Trek:

  • TNG Season 6

  • DS9 Season 2

Strong performers:

  • DS9 Season 5

  • TNG Season 3

  • TNG Season 5

  • TOS Season 2

  • TNG Season 4

  • VOY Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1

  • DS9 Season 4

  • DS9 Season 1

  • VOY Season 5

  • ENT Season 1

  • VOY Season 1

  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3

  • DS9 Season 6

  • VOY Season 6

  • VOY Season 3

  • TNG Season 2

  • TAS Season 1

Really just awful:

  • VOY Season 7

  • VOY Season 2

  • DS9 Season 7

  • TOS Season 3

  • TAS Season 2

  • TNG Season 1

That’s 663 watched, 29,643 minutes, and 90.21% complete. 106.170 words written. 74 to go. Enterprises’s second year, and the last of the TNG movies coming up next.

Trekathon 663: Shockwave (1) (ENT)

February 27th, 2013

Enterprise blows up a planet.

An episode of two halves. Fortunately two halves of reasonable strength for a change. The first part is the crew dealing with a terrible tragedy they think they’ve caused. T’Pol’s lack of understanding comes across as a bit artificial, but we do feel that Archer is genuinely upset about what’s happening.

The second half twists the plot, and suddenly we’re in an action heavy sequence driven by the erratic time travel plot. The action sequence works well, and while the Suliban attack is a bit arch it leads nicely into a fairly good cliffhanger.

663 down, 74 to go.

Trekathon 662: Two Days and Two Nights (ENT)

February 26th, 2013

The Captain of the Enterprise goes on vacation on Risa. Well, wasn’t so bad last time.

A straight up omnibus show, with no major plot. It’s a mixed bag – Trip and Tucker turn out to be really sleazy, and pay the price for it. Hoshi picks up a foreign tongue. And Archer gets into a bit of an odd espionage plot.

The funniest bit was the ‘hibernating Dr Phlox’ routine. Great stuff.

662 down, 75 to go. Just 10 per cent to go.

Trekathon 661: Desert Crossing (ENT)

February 25th, 2013

Trip and Archer are trapped in a desert civil war.

So, apparently Trip and Archer did a very very bad survival course. Because Rule 1 of desert survival is very simple: do not leave your vehicle. OK, fine, there was an attack going on – but you could have waited it out a few hundred metres away and then returned to it.

Mostly meh. There are some good tries at a good Archer/Trip scene, but it never quite comes together. We don’t learn anything very much about either person. Which brings me to the other main point of the episode…

Callbacks: OK, so we’re still doing the ‘this is why we have the prime directive’ stuff, with a ‘he’ll have to create a directive of his own’ thrown in if you weren’t getting the point. It’s actually getting a bit old now.

(Clancy Brown as guest alien of the week was pretty distracting. I kept expecting him to challenge Archer to a sword duel).

661 down, 76 to go.

Trekathon 660: Fallen Hero (ENT)

February 24th, 2013

Enterprise ferries a Vulcan ambassador home.

One of the struggles Enterprise has had this season is the Vulcan plots. There’s a great idea there – what was it like before the Vulcans were the firm allies of Earth – but the implementation so far has left something to be desired. There was a great moment in The Andorian Incident, but since then it’s mainly come across as a childish tantrum on the part of Earth – why couldn’t we have cool stuff sooner?

The problem is, I think, that Vulcans just aren’t that interesting on screen. They aren’t allowed to show emotion, and so we never get to see their reactions to things properly.

The situation in this episode is a case in point. We have the Vulcans keeping secrets (for absolutely no good reason it should be noted), Archer gets annoyed at it, and at the end of the day they’re able to save the day. And at no point do we get a better sense of the (low level) conflict between Earth and Vulcan, or how it can be resolved.

(Ah T’Pol. Efficiency down 3%? Must be lack of sex).

Callbacks: Risa as a vacation destination, and our very first “Live Long and Prosper”.

660 down, 77 to go.

Trekathon 659: Vox Sola (ENT)

February 23rd, 2013

A strange goopy alien sneaks on board.

To summarise the episode: T’Pol is kind of a jerk to Hoshi, Hoshi is a bit uncertain of herself. Most of the rest are stuck to a wall. Hoshi and T’Pol work together and the day is saved.

It’s flat and relatively dull writing, but enlivened by what is some fairly effective direction and camerawork. And there’s a showdown between Phlox and Reed that informs us quite well about their respective characters.

Callbacks: the first proper force field we’ve seen.

659 down, 78 to go.

Trekathon 658: Detained (ENT)

February 22nd, 2013

Star Trek Masterpiece Theatre presents: The WW2 Japanese Internship Camps.

In case you couldn’t guess, this is one of those episodes where they didn’t exactly go for subtlety in hiding their theme – it was even namechecked at one point. That doesn’t necessarily make for a bad episode, but it doesn’t help.

The content was disappointingly by the numbers though. There was no attempt at nuance, and as it turned out that there were good guys and bad guys. When you’ve got shapeshifters around it’s almost criminal to not try and establish some kind of sense of menace and uncertainty using them.

The low point was the ‘aren’t you the real racist’ bit from Merriweather. It’s predictable, and it cheapens the plight of the detained population. Maybe they have a right to a bit of mistrust?

658 down, 79 to go.

Trekathon 657: Oasis (ENT)

February 21st, 2013

Enterprise finds a haunted ship.

I was worried about yet another ghost story, and so I was quite relieved when it went in a different direction. But that different direction doesn’t supply enough plot to fill an episode, so there’s far too long a stretch to the main plot elements. And then the reveal happens about 10 minutes before the end of the episode, and we get a way too long ‘what was really happening’ explanation.

I suspect that if I watched a TOS episode, I’d find the pacing is quite similar. But that’s simply not appropriate with today’s television.

Callbacks: the reference to a ‘Holographic Doctor’. Made, incidentally, by the distractingly familiar Rene Auberjonois (Odo) in a poorly judged guest star role.

657 down, 80 to go.

Trekathon 656: Acquisition (ENT)

February 20th, 2013

No, not the Ferengi. Anything but that. Couldn’t we find a way to include Lwaxana Troi instead?

Things this episode did wrong:

  • Had Ferengi at all. Seriously, it conflicts with the timeline, and I don’t like them.

  • Forgot that torpedoes weigh quite a lot, and so probably can’t be easily pushed by a single person.

  • They stole the chair. Seriously. The chair. Not even the Captains chair, either. And they raided the larder.

  • Despite being in Sick Bay, Tucker doesn’t think to just try a quick stimulant to revive people (until its too late).

  • Bringing the Rules of Acquisition in to the story.

  • Saving the ship revolves around the world’s stupidest Ferengi, with a healthy dose of ‘make them turn on each other’.

  • Tucker spends half the entire episode in his underwear.

  • Apparently the entire plot revolves around the crew being so stupid that they pick up a mysterious artefact and don’t exercise any kind of quarantine around it.

  • The dog interrogation sequence.

  • The old ‘fake fight between allies’ ploy.

  • More of that ‘stroking the lobes’ rubbish.

Things done right:

  • The opening sequence actually made the Ferengi seem pretty menacing when they were talking their own language without translation. Surprisingly enough this continued even when it became clear that antics were being performed. Music helped a lot with this, as ominous music was used rather than the normal ‘Wacky Ferengi’ music.

In case you couldn’t guess – this was terrible, and I hate it.

656 down, 81 to go.