Archive for April, 2013

Trekathon 715: Storm Front (1) (ENT)

April 20th, 2013

It’s Archer versus the Space Nazis (™).

To be honest, it wasn’t the gigantic pile of fail I was expecting. There are some nice touches – Nazis in the US is pretty rare, evidenced by this being one of the few times that I’ve ever seen the ‘White House with swastikas’ image here. The gangsters of New York as the resistance was also good.

But there’s still a lot of Temporal Cold War gibberish, nothing very much is made of Archer’s return to the ship other than a hug from Hoshi, and there’s a relatively pointless reappearance from the Suliban. I’m sure that last will turn out to be important, but it’s still dumb. One strong contender for worst line of the episode: “I can’t shut up and talk at the same time’. Urk.

And finally, I think if the Nazis had invaded New York, I’m pretty sure suppressing the ‘coloreds’ wouldn’t be top of their to-do list in the city with the largest Jewish population in the world at the time.

715 down, 22 to go.

Trekathon Season Review: Enterprise, Season 3

April 19th, 2013

Star Trek finally tries the ‘serial story’ thing without reserve.

There are two big problems with the Xindi arc. Firstly, it comes out of nowhere. By that, I mean that we’ve never heard of this species before, don’t know anything about them. Wouldn’t it have made a lot more sense to use Romulans, or some other race established as a clear threat. Not doing that leads into my second problem – at times this doesn’t feel a lot like Star Trek. It feels more like Battlestar or Babylon 5 at times – and those are good shows, but Star Trek should be Star Trek.

(Prior to this long exercise I used to be more dismissive of the ‘Roddenberry vision’ – and while I still think that TNG in particular uses that ‘vision’ to construct an antiseptic view of humanity, there is more to it that I realised. In a sense, this season helped with that – it’s easier to notice something when it isn’t there any more).

But the story itself is pretty good. In fact, the season is generally at its worst when it’s furthest from the story arc, doing an episode that could have been in any season: Extinction, North Star and Carpenter Street (the opening episode was fairly weak as well). Against that are some truly great episodes that are integral to the arc: Twilight at the head of the list, but the five episodes of the final arc (excluding E2 and The Forgotten) are all very strong.

I’m worried about Season 4 (not least because I know it was canceled after that Season). Zero Hour sets up a potential story for the season that could be very annoying. What I’d like is for them to ditch this silly time travel stuff, and instead try and be more of a prequel show. Enterprise makes surprisingly little use of the setting.

In terms of quality this season is pretty neck-and-neck with TOS Season 2 – not always great, but showing considerable promise. Probably just a little behind it, but ahead of TNG’s more uneven fourth year. Yes, that’s better than any season Voyager turned in, and ahead of all but two of DS9. It was a good year overall. 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

  • ENT Season 3

  • 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

  • ENT 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 714 watched, 31,630 minutes, and 96.85% complete. 111,473 words written. 23 to go. And next is the final year of TV trek. For now, at least.

Trekathon 714: Zero Hour (ENT)

April 19th, 2013

The Xindi arc comes to an end, as the weapon reaches Earth.

I’ll say something about how this whole season turned out in my season review shortly. But I thought this was a fairly good ending (until the last five minutes) to the season – the story was wrapped up in a satisfactory way, and there’s even now a good explanation as to why we never heard of this ‘Expanse’ in other series. Perhaps a little action heavy overall, but with some good sequences. And I thought splitting the action into two ‘threads’, the sphere builders and the weapon, was good. A little more interconnection with them would have made it better though

(Oh, and c’mon. Just because a species eats live animals does not make them evil. That opening sequence was unworthy of Star Trek).

Which brings us to the cliffhanger – to which I say, yuck. I hope this isn’t the season long plot for next year, because few things end up as tiresome as space Nazis. Especially when they’re actual Nazis as well.

Callbacks: We see the signing of the Federation Charter – and learn it was Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites who founded the Federation

714 down, 23 to go.

Trekathon 713: Countdown (ENT)

April 18th, 2013

Some Xindi try to launch the weapon, while others help Enterprise’s attempt to destroy it.

My main disappointment with what was generally a fairly enjoyable episode is that we didn’t get to see more of the aquatics. They’re actually the most ‘alien’ of the Xindi species, compared to previous Star Trek. And it would have been fun to see a bit more of their culture and technology. But there’s not much season left, so I suppose there isn’t really enough time.

As with a good serial story, some previous elements that weren’t clear come together (T’Pol’s mission in the previous episode), and other parts are less clear (not quite sure why Hoshi was grabbed for changing the code). Oh, and the ‘white cloud sphere builders’ stuff just appears silly.

(I’m still not a big fan of the ‘primates versus not primates’ stuff, but at least the Insectoids came around. Briefly).

713 down, 24 to go.

Trekathon 712: The Council (ENT)

April 17th, 2013

Archer confronts the Xindi council.

This is what Babylon 5 used to call a ‘WHAM’ episode. A clever drawing together of a lot of the threads from the season, with appropriate consequences. And a quick pivot onto a slightly new path for the conclusion of the season.

My lingering discomfort is the anthropomorphism – it seems cliche for the insectoids and reptillians to be the ones that can’t be convinced about the truth. It would have been better in some ways if one of those were the ones on our side, no matter how expensive the special effects.

The T’Pol subplot was puzzling. I expected this to be the ‘sudden last minute evidence’ that would persuade some of the council. But instead it doesn’t seem to go anywhere this time – it’ll presumably pay off before the end of the season.

Callbacks: Exhaust vents on a giant sphere? Oh no, that’s the other thing. There’s also one of the purest red shirt deaths in quite a long while. And T’Pol actually directly quotes ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’.

712 down, 25 to go.

Trekathon 711: E² (ENT)

April 16th, 2013

It’s Tomorrow’s Enterprise, as Enterprise runs into an Enterprise crewed by everyone’s great grand children.

A potentially great concept that, after a fun twenty minutes or so, finds that it doesn’t really have anywhere to go with the setup. There isn’t much of a sense that this is a crew full of the descendants of Enterprise – other than Lorian none of them get a convincing back story. Archer’s descendant in particular seems like a very missed opportunity to tell us something about Archer.

As with The Forgotten, the episode ends up feeling like filler, just putting something in the gap between Damage and the next episode.

(The episode was not helped by the fact that I was reminded of Babylon Squared, the most important of the early ‘mythos’ episodes in Babylon 5, and the one that showed just what you can do with time travel in TV SF).

Callbacks: The first half-human half-vulcan. And obvious parallels to DS9’s Children of Time.

711 down, 26 to go.

Trekathon 710: The Forgotten (ENT)

April 15th, 2013

Archer makes an alliance with some of the Xindi.

Like the previous episode, there’s a lot going on. Unlike the previous episode it just didn’t quite hang together as well. The major plot is nicely advanced, with Mulder-Xindi convincing Scully-Xindi to believe (maybe I should watch the X-Files next, hmmm…). But beyond Degra’s growth and change, there isn’t very much new here.

The other plot, that of Trip coming to terms (at last) with his sisters death, was a by-the-numbers affair, seen in many many other shows before and after this. Add in a fairly pointless excursion outside to fix part of the ship, and it feels like an episode overall that was more worried about filling in the gap between ‘A’ and ‘B’.

(Shouldn’t Archer be the one writing the letter, not Trip?)

710 down, 27 to go.

Trekathon 709: Damage (2) (ENT)

April 14th, 2013

Enterprise tries to repair damage, as some of the Xindi begin to doubt.

Wow, a lot happened. Let’s take it one at a time.

First, the Xindi are looking a lot more interesting now, with a bit more internal dissent and conflict. A lot better than I feared from their first appearance.

Second, the T’Pol thing comes from nowhere. That’s a pity, because it could have been set up a bit more along the way. But then the clues are there in their own way – but this feels like an ex post justification to me, rather than a long planned plot development.

But the core of the episode is the dilemma that Archer faces – stand up for his values, or take the steps necessary to save Earth. This isn’t something that could have been done in the first couple of episodes of the season, it’s taken time to get to a point where this development makes sense. Great stuff.

(A couple of asides: I was hoping for a few episodes of Archer as printer, but this is also good. And this is the most damaged that a Star Trek main ship has ever felt).

709 down, 28 to go.

Trekathon 708: Azati Prime (1) (ENT)

April 13th, 2013

Enterprise finds the Xindi weapon, and Archer goes on a suicide mission to destroy it.

Another two-part episode, another difficult write-up.

Enterprise’s achilles heel has been the time travel plots. I think the original motivation was to give the writers some degrees of freedom relative to the established ‘future history’. There are some good ideas in what the show has done. But the delivery has been poor – in particular, I don’t think ‘Crewman Daniels’ as the agent from the future has ever really worked properly.

Once we’re past the deus ex delorean there was some good stuff. Archer’s farewell is heartfelt, although undermined by the knowledge that this is a TV show that isn’t at the end of a season. And I’m very glad that the ‘diplomatic’ approach is how things are going to play out, at least in part – it’s a lot more Trek than the other options. T’Pol’s reaction was unexpectedly strong – too strong?

708 down, 29 to go.

Trekathon 707: Hatchery (ENT)

April 12th, 2013

Archer goes a little buggy, and the crew re-enacts Crimson Tide.

Another one of those great stand-by episodes – the Captain might have gone nuts, and the crew has to decide what side their on. This one strained its credibility a little, particularly given the previous emphasis on decontamination for even small things – hard to imagine how Phlox missed this one.

But Reed has some comeuppance for his attitude towards the Major. And the episode keeps Archer’s obsession from being too obviously mind control until at least the second half of the episode. Not the greatest episode of all time, but I certainly didn’t end up hating it.

707 down, 30 to go.