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Why Star Trek Enterprise Failed

(I’ll keep this brief after the earlier marathon post this morning.)

Enterprise was an attempt to get back to classic Star Trek. It wasn’t a very good attempt because the people making it didn’t understand classic Star Trek very well… or like it very much. Enterprise was how they saw TOS. It was their version of it.

Audiences had fled DS9 and Voyager. The ratings were low. The franchise was in trouble. So they tried to make a classic Star Trek series. Or star trek enterprise azati primewhat they saw when they looked at Star Trek.

Make the Captain an old-fashioned wild card type. Put in a Vulcan. Keep the crew small and mostly human. Make the technology cruder. Have the humans dislike the aliens. Show some skin. Break some rules. Get them to explore space. Show how the Federation got started. Then throw in some exit strategies so continuity doesn’t matter too much. A temporal cold war. Pre-Starfleet starship. There’s your classic Star Trek series.

That summary wasn’t completely wrong, but it was completely incomplete. It was something like Star Trek, but it wasn’t really Star Trek. It was Voyager with a new skin, but without the gimmicks or a large cast. It felt empty, because it was.

Enterprise wasn’t the show that the producers wanted to make. It was the show they had to make. There was nowhere else to go. The gimmicks had failed, so they went throwback. They went prequel, which was popular then. Then after them came the reboot, which is popular now.

Every story, every fictional universe has its built in rules. The parameters that cover how things work in it. First you learn the rules. Then you can break them. Berman and his favorites boasted of breaking the rules. They were going to make Star Trek their own way. And they did. It failed. Then they tried following the rules, but they didn’t know the rules. They never learned them. So they imitated what they saw.

When they looked at the Original Series, they saw a sparse show focused around the ship’s captain and one or two subordinates. They saw crude technology. They saw a lower comfort level with aliens. They saw space portrayed as a dangerous place. They saw sexism. They saw “seat of the pants” tactics and stories where the captain goes to a strange place, is captured, breaks free, acts like a jackass and moves on.

And they copied all those things. One after another. And they didn’t understand what they were doing wrong. They didn’t like TOS and didn’t really get it. It wasn’t a show they could take seriously. It was like the Adam West Batman to them. So they tried to make it a little more serious. And that made it even worse because their idea of serious was Voyager. On top of their bad clone of TOS, they pasted in Voyager.

The Original Series was more than the sum of its parts. It was more than Shatner and Nimoy breaking out of another cell on an alien planet Star Trek Enterpriseand then yelling at the aliens about doing the right thing. It was about more than a human dominated crew in an intergalactic federation. It was more than Uhura in a miniskirt and repeating back what she heard on her earpiece before being forced to make out with Kirk.

When Berman and Braga looked at TOS, they saw the flaws. And they thought, “If this is what the fans want. We’ll give it to them. We’ll have a captain who constantly gets captured and yells at aliens. We’ll have a Vulcan to be uptight all the time. We’ll have a good-looking guy who sleeps with chicks. We’ll try to fix it up a little so it’s not as stupid as the old one, and then we’ll give the dorks exactly what they want.”

But TOS was more than the sum of its flaws or its silly moments. Its core was its ambition. Its fans saw what it did best. But the people who made Enterprise saw it as a dumb silly show and tried to make a classier version of it. A show that fans would agree was classic, but that would also let the producers do their thing. Win-win.

That’s how we got Enterprise. That’s why it failed.

Revisiting Star Trek Enterprise

Last week I wanted to check something in one of my Enterprise reviews and found that Trekweb‘s directory links to my Enterprise reviews seem to be down and a lot of the reviews are infected with redirect malware. I pieced together the reviews, some from older links and archives and put them up. The experience was curiously uninvolving. I remembered some of these episodestar trek enterprise season 1s, but I couldn’t find myself caring about them.

Even when the show originally aired, there was a distance there. Today I have trouble remembering the episodes off the cuff. Looking at the reviews, I remembered them again, one by one, but it won’t take long for me to forget. That’s not true of any of the earlier series which stuck with me. It shows in the reviews.

Going back over some of my old Voyager reviews to try and put them into order, I find myself reacting in one way or another, good or bad. Enterprise episodes get a flat response. I remember faintly that I didn’t really want to review Enterprise. After a few years of reviewing Voyager episodes for Trekweb, the new show didn’t really appeal to me. Steve Perry was the original reviewer. I was asked to fill in when he couldn’t do it anymore. At first it was going to be alternating. But then before you know it, four years had gone by.star trek enterprise two days and two nights

The quality of the reviews is different too. I put more work into the Voyager reviews. They had more to say. The Enterprise reviews are shorter. Curt. Often they’re angry and dismissive. More so than I remembered. But on

some level I did care about the show, because it was Star Trek, even if it didn’t really feel like it or look like it. I went into every episode wanting it to be good, and coming away feeling nothing at all.

Was that my fault or was it the show’s fault? Enterprise seemed like the show that inspired star trek enterprise the crossingthe least passion and interest from… everyone.

When looking for images to stick into the reviews, I found a lot of pictures for every Voyager episode, but fewer and fewer pictures for Enterprise. Season 1 still had some people collecting graphics. By season 4, they had become hard to find. The most frequent Enterprise episode screenshots are usually T’Pol nude scenes. Jolene Blalock criticized the writing on Enterprise and while it improved gradually toward the end, she had a point. What she didn’t say, though I suspect she knew, is that before Enterprise, no Star Trek series had a character who was there to get naked. Over and over again. 7 of 9 came closest and that was a symptom of Voyager’s decline. T’Pol was a sign of complete desperation. Another emotionally dead woman, there tStar Trek Enterprise T'Pol naked Harbingero appeal to fleeing viewers by taking off her clothes. And it didn’t even work.

Despite the erotic massage arc of Season 3  (Yes, there actually was such a thing. It’s hard to believe. It’s even harder to believe that it fused into the show’s version of September 11.) the viewers kept losing interest. And that was also sad. Because Season 2 had been better than Season 1. Season 3 had been better than Season 2. And Season 4 was better than Season 3.

For all my criticisms of Enterprise, the show kept improving. Consistently from year to year, it got better. And still viewers kept leaving because it never got good enough. No other Star Trek series got better year after year. Some had a golden year, like Voyager’s Season 6. Some, like TNG, bounced up and down. Some like TOS, went into a decline.

But the writing was only part of Enterprise’s problem. Star Trek’s writing was always uneven. Every series has had great moments and a lot of average ones. And what people tune for isn’t the writing, it’s the characters.

Orson Scott Card wrote about Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs,

Here’s the great secret of literature: No matter how good a writer is, both language and fashion change over time, and what was once a vivid part of the culture becomes a footnote in literary history.

The stories and characters that endure do so for reasons having almost nothing to do with the talent of the writer.

It’s true of Star Trek also. Not completely. Talent has something to do with it. The star trek enterprise shuttlepod oneability to envision all this, from the setting to the characters, is also a talent. But writing original plots, gripping dialogue and compelling ideas… that didn’t matter as much.

Enterprise’s writing was uneven and trended mediocre, but it failed because the characters weren’t there. Because Bakula’s Archer was an erratic manchild, who only slowly became an adult and a commander to be admired. By the time his evolution was complete in Season 3, most of the viewers had left, never to return. The easygoing capable captain he played in Season 4 was the one that viewers wanted all along. Developing him as a character from a borderline idiot and bigot had alienated them. It was someone’s idea of “good writing” that did that.

T’Pol had potential. Blalock wanted to play Spock. Instead she was forced to play a repressed hysteric who was prone to explosionsstar trek enterprise north star and an unwanted intruder on a starship whose captain would rather hang out with his best friend. She was usually right, but was never allowed to be right. By DS9, the Star Trek franchise had developed a bizarre hatred of Vulcans. They began to show up as villains. By Abrams Trek, their planet was blown up to get them out of the way.

Tucker, a classic character out of place, that no one could figure out what to do with. On his own, Tucker seemed like a good idea. A throwback to the kind of men who went into space. He was meant to be McCoy, but he was more like Paris, another man child, on a ship that already had too many of them. Tucker hanging out with Archer felt like a grown up frat party. Tucker and Reed felt off. Tucker and T’Pol was creepy and not just because of the blue lighting and skin shots. Maybe it was star trek enterprise future tenseBraga’s touch, but there was sleaze all over Tucker. He seemed less like a great engineer and more like the guy who never finished High School, but hangs out in the parking lot throwing a football and trying to pick up High School girls. Tucker was McCoy without the sense of duty or old school gentleman habits.

Mayweather was a blank. Nothing. Harry Kim all over again. Bakula and Blalock don’t get the blame for their characters, but that’s not the case here. Mayweather got developed. And the role didn’t require him to act like an idiot.

Hoshi Sato, Reed and Phlox were good characters, but like the rest of the show they were muted. There weren’t enough people. The star trek enterprise singularityEnterprise always seemed deserted. There wasn’t enough life in it. Voyager and DS9 had felt crowded. The Enterprise NCC-1701E was a flying city in space. Enterprise NX-01 felt like a generation ship with too few people and none of them really worth paying attention to.

So many episodes were dark, visually, lonely and cramped. The show seemed to be going nowhere. The characters weren’t engaging. They were all lost in their own worlds. Archer, nursing his grudges, T’Pol, her secrets, Hoshi, her neurosis, Reed, his shyness, Phlox, his alienness, Mayweather, his emptiness, and Tucker went round and round, badgering them, trying to party with them, seduce them, cadge a drink from them. The only completely alive man on a dead ship. And somehow creepier for it.star trek enterprise future tense

Where the DS9 or Voyager crew pulled together in emergencies, it never felt that way on Enterprise. Not until the last season. That made the Enterprise crew feel real. Strangers passing each other in darkened corridors. But it wasn’t what people expected from Star Trek. The series had always been about a group of comrades blazing the star trails together, men and women who knew each other and felt comfortable with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Enterprise might have become that show in Season 5. But we’ll never know. And revisiting it gives me the same hollow feeling I had while watching. After writing this up and trying to think about Enterprise, I still come away feeling nothing at all.

Rick Berman Gives New Interview Revealing Secret Enterprise Season 2 mid-season Wedding Spoilers

star trek enterprise a night in sickbay

“Fans have been talking about Archer being lonely and we didn’t want to repeat the mistake with Janeway, keeping the Captain celibate, and so Archer is going to get married about halfway through the season. Because we care
about making the fans happy,” Brannon Braga explained while cleaning his teeth with one of Gene Roddenberry’s finger bones.

“It’s going to be a grand wedding.” Rick Berman chimed in. “A Vulcan ceremony as Captain Archer marries Porthos. Fans have noticed Archer’s close relationship with his dog before and when the Enterprise crew visits a planet where the aliens marry their housepets, Archer will realize that he was being narrow minded and that the certain special someone was already in his bed every night.”

“Of course we’re going to be playing this for comedic effect.” Brannon Braga explained while leaving obscene messages on Les Moonves’ answering service. “There will be pre-wedding jitters when Archer is uncertain about going
through with the ceremony and Porthos comes down with a bad case of space fleas, but love will triumph in the end.”

“And if you enjoy this idea, you should see what we have planned for the Romulans.” Rick Berman added while driving around at night and looking for more graves of original series writers to urinate on.

“We’re sticking exactly to continuity, except that the Romulans are going to be introduced a bit earlier, and they’re going to be felinoid cat people, instead of Vulcanoid and they’re going to be explorers traveling the galaxy in search
of a giant catnip planet. Also they’ll wear disco clothing like Austin Powers, funny top hats and monocoles like Mr. Peanut and speak in Portuguese like my houseboy.

“But the fans have nothing to worry about. We know what we’re doing.”

UPN announces that ‘Secret of Immortality’ will air during Enterprise

star trek enterprise the crossing

(AP)

In an announcement that has stunned both the medical and religious communities, UPN Vice President in charge of Network Promotions, Howard E. Dingle has stated that the Secret of Eternal Life will air at some point during next Wednesday’s lineup of Enterprise and Twilight Zone, while refusing to say exactly when only that it would be during those two hours.

The announcement however was greeted with skepticism by medical researchers at Johns Hopkins.

“It’s extremely unlikely that a fifth rate network like UPN has actually obtained the highly sought after secret of immortality.” Dr. David Nelson said. “And even if it has, it is rather irresponsible of them to air it on television, instead of transferring it directly to the medical community. I mean most of us didn’t even watch Voyager after the first season, does UPN seriously expect some of the most brilliant minds in medicine to sit through an episode of Enterprise? Not even for the Secret of Eternal Life! It’s inhumane and unethical.”

“We would like nothing more than to deliver the Secret of Immortality directly into the hands of medical professionals who could use it to treat all the people dying of fatal illnesses.” Vice President Dingle retorted. “However we have a responsibility to reward our loyal viewers who’ve sat through seven years of Enterprise and whatever other crap we’ve combined with it on Wednesday nights. Yes those children dying of Leukemia need the Secret of Immortality. But our viewers need it more, if any one of the ten Nielsen viewers who still watch UPN die, we’ll be out of business.”

The WB Network has chosen to counter this controversial move by UPN by announcing that the Secret of True Happiness will air during Everwood.

“UPN is promising you immortality.” WB President Jamie Kellner told reporters. “But what use is immortality, if you spend it all being miserable. The WB on the other hand can offer you a short but happy and fulfilling life. Much like our fall season.”

Not to be outdone, UPN’s Big Sister network CBS is announcing its own promotion to air during the season premiere of Baby Bob. A videotaped messages from Jesus Christ. Responding to the collective outrage from various religious groups, CBS President Mel Karazin publicly defended the network’s latest promotional tool.

“CBS is America’s Hometown Network and we are addressing our viewer’s spiritual welfare here. And in some ways Baby Bob is like Jesus, the story of an extraordinary miracle child.” Mel said. “While we can’t tell you where we got the tape, we can assure that it is a genuine videotaped message from Jesus and that it contains vital spiritual information that may prevent people from going to hell. We here at CBS know that choosing between watching 30 minutes of Baby Bob or an eternity of torture in the nether realms of Hell will be difficult, but we’re confident that they will make the right choice.”

NBC has chosen to follow suit in its own way with a press release.

‘NBC has long been America’s premiere network and we have no intention of stooping to the depths of some of our competitors. NBC is known for its many award winning dramas such as our fourteen Law and Order spinoffs. Also The West Wing which will shortly air an episode personally written by a mostly sober Aaron Sorkin entitled ‘Closing the Gap’ in which President Bartlett’s staffers will debate whether penis enlargement would help him win the election. We think this episode will be tastefully done while containing information vital to NBC’s core demographic and encourage them to watch it.’

When asked to comment on this trend, TV Guide television researcher Doug Branch stated that it was the natural outcome of a competitive environment.

“With declining ratings and market share, television networks have begun adopting the tactics of internet spammers.” Doug Branch said. “Hoping that viewers lack the memory to remember their broken promises, as they can no longer remember the trail of their cancelled shows.”

Alf Joins Cast of Enterprise for Season 2

Alf Enterprise

(Caption: Captain Archer shakes hands with his new first officer as T’Pol looks on disapprovingly in second season cast photo)

Hide your cats, Alf is coming on board the Starship Enterprise

Facing sinking ratings and falling viewer interest, UPN is announcing a crew shakeup as one of the most famous aliens besides Spock will be joining the Enterprise crew. Alf, the cat eating alien who starred in his own series and film will be coming on board Enterprise as its new first officer.

“Bringing Alf on board was a natural step.” Enterprise producer Rick Berman said. “They’re both television icons familiar to a generation of viewers. By merging these two popular franchises, we think that we can maximize viewer interest and make the series more accessible to the casual viewer.”

In response to complaints from die hard Trekkies that bringing Alf on board will destroy Star Trek and degrade the legitimacy of the series, Berman remains unapologetic.

“Look I’ve made a lot of decisions over the course of my time on Star Trek that were controversial. You can’t change anything about the series without making some fan somewhere angry.” Berman explains. “I used to joke about having a bust of Roddenberry on my desk and I’d have to keep him blindfolded so he wouldn’t see what we were doing. Fans are always upset about something and Enterprise has been one battle after another. First the Klingons have brow ridges, the Enterprise looks too new, the Ferengi didn’t appear until TNG and now Alf is a puppet and doesn’t belong on Enterprise. Just as with DS9 and Voyager, the fans can either deal with it or change the channel.”

While it is not clear what role UPN’s new President, former Lifetime chief, Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostrov played in the decision to bring Alf on board Enterprise, rumor has it that she had been pushing to make Enterprise more family friendly.

In an interview given only a week before, Ostrov stated that she was uncomfortable with the show’s dark and serious orientation and thought Enterprise would gain more viewers if it resembled “Great SciFi television like Mork and Mindy and Lost in Space, Alf and My Favorite Martian.”

While some fans have already denounced the addition of Alf to the Enterprise crew as a desperate and shameless publicity stunt that will destroy the franchise, others have suggested giving Alf a chance.

“I’m not ready to write off Alf just because he’s a puppet,” lifelong Trek fan Dave Wintergreen said. “Farscape has muppets, I mean puppets too and it’s a great show. Before we condemn Alf and Rick Berman, I’d like to see what the character arc is going to be like and what Gordon Shumway can bring to Enterprise. I’m ready to be pleasantly surprised.”

Rick Berman meanwhile is developing this strategy further and if Alf’s addition should boost the ratings, intends to digitally insert Gumby and Marvin the Martian into old Voyager and DS9 episodes in hopes of boosting DVD sales.”

Paramount announces Saddam Hussein will replace Rick Berman and run Star Trek

(EP1)

Following Saddam Hussein’s shocking announcement yesterday that he would agree to step down and leave Iraq came the even more shocking announcement that Paramount had picked him to replace Star Trek head honcho Rick Berman to run the Star Trek franchise. Saddam-Hussein

This would make Saddam only the second ousted dictator, since General Pinochet took over Growing Pains, to run a major American television series.

“Here at Paramount we were looking for some fresh blood to step in and shake things up and Saddam Hussein has that fresh blood we were looking for. He actually has fresh blood all over his uniform. He even left fresh bloodstains on all the rugs and the towels in the executive bathroom,” Paramount Vice President in charge of implementing stupid ideas, Dick Wechsler said.

“There may be some concern among Star Trek fans that bringing in a murderous tyrant to run Star Trek might be incompatible with Gene Roddenberry’s vision but we don’t feel that would be the case.” Wexler continued. “Saddam is just as earnestly committed to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of exploration and tolerance as Rick Berman or any of us here at Paramount.”

While the ousted dictator has never seen an episode of Star Trek and does not speak English, he wasted no time in implementing an aggressive program aimed at boosting franchise productivity while his son Uday has been put in charge of the newly created ‘Workplace Efficiency Division.’

“If ratings fall between one episode and the next, the writer and the director of that episode will have gasoline poured on them and set on fire, their women will be shamed and their children castrated.” Saddam announced in a morale boosting memo circulated among staffers. “Allah is on our side. The mother of all battles against the WB has begun. UPN is well known to the faithful as the birthplace of Islam and every production assistant is prepared to die to protect UPN’s holiness.”

Saddam’s policies have already appeared to bear fruit as Enterprise saw increased viewership and ratings after the entire cast of Dawson’s Creek was wiped out in a suicide bombing. While police have speculated that Saddam may have been responsible, France and Germany opposed any investigation of the incident.

“We will smite the enemies of UPN wherever there is sound, light and television reception.” Saddam stated in a Variety interview. “First WB who are the Zionist oppressors of the people of Allah. Then the vampires of FOX who drink our blood and print slanders against us in the Western press. We will deploy all our weapons against NBC and ABC. CBS are our allies for now but when the times comes we slaughter their children and burn their studios to the ground in the name of Allah the All-Merciful.”

Saddam’s reign over Star Trek has already seen some serious changes implemented on Enterprise. In the retooled series El-Archer commands a starship dedicated to collecting weapons of mass destruction and conquering new worlds. He must fend off the murderous plots of his second in command Trip to seize power with the aid of his chief security officer and official torturer Reed while using suicide bombers to blow up Vulcan monasteries.

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