Trek Talk

If my reader didn't already know, I'm a huge fan of Star Trek. If Star Trek is not your thing, probably best to nip off for a bit, because I'm just going to be rambling on about Star Trek in this post

I recently decided to begin the mammoth task (again) of watching the entire franchise through from start to finish. It's not the first time. I've watched each of the shows at least twice. This time I'm watching everything in time line order, so the first series is Star Trek: Enterprise; the one set before the original series with Captain Kirk

I started that a couple of months ago and have just finished it. It's only four seasons long as it got cancelled before the end of season four. It was cancelled because it was supposed to be pants. In a way it was quite a missed opportunity

The show started with the first human voyage of discovery out into the stars in a warp five capable ship and ended with the founding of the United Federation of planets. After Deep Space Nine giving us a grim and protracted war with the Dominion and Voyager giving us seven seasons of techno babble, Enterprise was supposed to be about the first exploration of space and Humans finding their feet in a wider universe

In many ways it was, but the first three seasons wasted a lot of time with stories that could have been told anywhere in the Star trek franchise, when maybe they could have concentrated on the theme at hand and expended the 'first explorations of space' to a much higher level

The opening episode introduced us to the 'Temporal Cold War'. This storyline never really went anywhere, it was more of an excuse to have some fancy episodes. It also struck me that a war fought through time from hundreds of years in the future, would probably have cropped up in one or two of the shows other series'

The other one was the Xindi story, which took the entire season three. Don't get me wrong, it was a great story, but it wasn't necessary to the theme of Enterprise. It was more on the lines of the Dominion War in DS9

Overall though, I though it was a great show and cancelling it seemed to be a huge over reaction. The threat of cancellation early in season four actually seemed to set the show back on track, so maybe they could have just told the producers to stay in that direction and allowed the show to run it's course. All the Star trek shows seemed to take a couple of seasons to get going. I don't see why this one had to be different.

When Enterprise did stick to the theme of Humans getting out there, it sometimes bordered on genius. We were given many an image of an Earth pretty much like the one we live in now; Towns, streets and bars with everyday people. Smarmy politicians in smart business suits. Decent humans and downright idiots

The portrayal of a normal planet with normal people that you an I can relate to, living in a not so distant future where people can fly around in spaceships, was beautifully done.

Also, the references to things in the Star Trek genre that we are used to, but are just being developed in the Enterprise era. Captain Archer wrestling with moral decisions that would eventually lead to the Prime Directive. Lt Reid creating a 'battle stations' scenario for a starship that would become the, 'Red Alert'. The slow introduction of weapons we are all familiar with, to a ship of exploration. Crew members slowly getting used to the idea of using the transporters rather than the shuttle craft

(Did you know that in the original series, the shuttle wasn't introduced until the second season? It was all transporter until then)

The technology was also cleverly done. The Original Series was made in the sixties, so the technology looked pretty dire because the special effects back then were lacking. Enterprise did a good job of keeping their technology more primitive that that of Captain Kirk, without using 2001 special effects to dwarf 1960s effects

They stayed true to form with it too. The pop out view screen that Spock used in TOS was on the bridge in what looked like a more primitive form, the flat screen 'TVs' with the touch technology, phase 'cannons' they install on the ship and the new phase 'pistols'. Everything is emerging technology, but it's still things we are very familiar with

They failed once in that area though, when they introduced alien characters from the Original Series. We saw the Andorians, the Green Orion Women and the Gorn, all of them done with far superior makeup and effects that they were originally. I'm sorry, but a Gorn is just not a Gorn unless it's wearing a rubber lizard suit.

Enterprise also had it's Marmite moment; the storyline you either love or hate.

I don't know who wrote the Klingon characters in the Star Trek films and  The Next Generation, but that was one of the biggest mistakes of the entire franchise. We had Klingons in The Original Series. Those Klingons were an aggressive warrior race, but they looked pretty much like we do, just with the occasional goatee beard, no cranial ridges, body armour and massive hairdos. They certainly were violent and a race of conquerors, but there was no trace of all this 'Honor' rubbish that they were hung up on in The Next Generation

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So why did the films Change the Klingons? As far as I can tell, nobody knows. If they wanted to introduce a totally new race, they should have given them a totally new name, not co-opted and existing race that we all were familiar with

DS9 Did a comedy episode where they all went back in time to Kirks Enterprise and chose to side step the issue of the different Klingons. When asked if some kind of genetic mutation hit the race, Worf simply says that, "They don't talk about it"

Whatever the reason, that was a huge mistake for the writers and one that Enterprise quite skillfully tried to correct with the story arc about the genetically modified humans and how the Klingons got their hands on the technology and tried to replicate it with themselves, having disastrous consequences that ended up with kilingons looking like humans

I don't know if that plot hole actually needed to be filled, because most fans will have already figure out something for themselves that covers it off quite nicely, but it was a very interesting diversion and in my opinion, very well done. It's just annoying that the writes of the films who chose to change the Klingons, made it necessary

They do like their tie ins with the other levels of the franchise. References are always made between the different series', but Enterprise was packed with them, you almost couldn't move for tie ins with other Star Trek stories, from all the early Federation races, to the Mirror Universe, the origins of Lt Commander Data, the Vulcan First Officer and even holidays on Risa

They even toyed dangerously with some tie ins that could have ruined the continuity of the Star Trek timeline, but didn't. Only just. The Federation had First Contact with The Ferengi in The Next Generation, yet in Enterprise, Captain Archers ship is boarded and ransacked by Ferengi. Due to the lack of communication between the two species, it's conceivable that nobody knew who this race was, even after first contact was made

Captain Kirk also told us that nobody had ever seen a Romulan before, even though the Federation had fought a war in space with them. The Romulans cropped up a couple of times in Enterprise, but always kept themselves discreetly to themselves

It's a real shame the show got cancelled. If it could have just stayed on track with it's message, humans venturing out into space and meeting other races, it could have run the full seven seasons rather than hurriedly packing the entire story into a few last minute episodes under the threat of cancellation

Done correctly, the final episode could have been made into a film in itself. So much wasted potential

So now that's done with, I've got to sit through the original series again. There are some episodes that I've only ever watched on my own, because they're just to embarrassing to watch in company

It's always good fun though