Enterprise - Heading in the Wrong Direction
A critical preview of Series V
After two years of rumors and denials the new Trek series called "Enterprise", supposed to take place in the 22nd century before the Earth-Romulan War, has been officially confirmed. Read the full story and the latest news at TrekToday.
Every time a new Trek series was announced in the past, there was a schism between the fans who were just eagerly waiting to see it and those who uttered general criticism that often turned out premature. Personally, I have always been in the first group. I was looking forward to seeing everything as soon as I first heard of it. I loved Voyager from the very first minutes of the pilot, and even if I didn't enjoy the first few episodes of TNG and DS9 as much as I expected, I quickly got to appreciate them likewise. So why is it that I have such a bad feeling about Series V? Going back to see how it all began may seem intriguing, but this is just not the suited premise for a series that is going to last seven seasons. It's not that I'm desperately trying to prove I'm right about the new series, and that I will show around this article everywhere if it should fail. On the contrary, I really hope I'm wrong with my following criticism of the concept because I'm a great Star Trek fan and I wish every new series the best.
The Name "Enterprise"
So it's the Enterprise again. Honestly, I see no reason at all why the new series should have to take place on a starship named "Enterprise" - irrespective of the problems that this probably important early starship was not depicted or mentioned in Star Trek so far. When TNG was first produced in 1987, it was the obvious choice to rely on the Enterprise legacy, after all this was the attempt to establish a Star Trek series after an 18-year hiatus. TPTB couldn't be sure if it had succeeded without closely following the idea of TOS which included the name "Enterprise" in those days. In contrast, DS9 and Voyager were intentionally laid out to be different from TNG, while still being a full part of the Star Trek Universe. I fear that, considering the new series is supposed to be "a dramatic departure" from everything that we have seen on Star Trek so far according to Rick Berman, the name "Enterprise" will be one of the few remaining constants - but completely unnecessarily. It reminds me of a Sev Trek comic strip: "Captain, why do all caves on all planets look alike?" - "For once we maintain consistency, and you keep complaining." That's just the kind of consistency Star Trek doesn't need.
It seems that the new series will not have "Star Trek" in the title at all. So it could be only "Enterprise" after all. Is this an attempt to decouple the new series from the rest of the franchise? Is it even a hint that it may be only loosely based on Star Trek? Do they reserve the possibility of discarding "Enterprise" as non-canon, if it should fail? I can't tell, but I'm very suspicious about this apparent name. TPTB wouldn't omit the glorious title "Star Trek" without reason.
But no matter if with or without "Star Trek", the new old "Enterprise" bears a high potential of confusion TPTB are obviously not aware of. What would people mean by referring to the "old Enterprise": the Enterprise NCC-1701 from TOS, the new old Enterprise from "Enterprise", or even the Enterprise NCC-1701-D? Even worse, not only the starships but also the series would be subject to be confused with each other. I am not sure if the people in Hollywood are aware that Star Trek is viewed in countries outside the USA, but they should know that in many countries "Enterprise" is already equivalent to "Star Trek", so what would become of a series just called "Enterprise"?
The Star Trek Universe is not just an author's playground where everything may be re-invented from one week to another. It was already crucial and it was even one important reason for the continuing success that Star Trek's various incarnations remained largely consistent, despite all the years in between, Roddenberry's death, the changing staffs, the changing viewers' interests or the progress in visual effects. I wonder if the producers are really aware that the new series as a whole, and not only the pilot and some pivotal episodes, will be like an introduction to the future we already know from TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager. Careless writing in TNG and thereafter has often entailed a devaluation of facts and statements from TOS. While this was already bad enough, the impact of the new series that is supposed to predate all this may be much worse. Even if the producers and writers won't intentionally pick up topics that have been (or better: will be) shown in the previous series, they will inadvertently create a mess, because nothing in the Trek Universe can be isolated from everything else.
Enterprise Since the first announcement of a prequel featuring a starship called "Enterprise" with a Vulcan officer, various fans, not to mention Majel Roddenberry, have been concerned that this would disparage Gene Roddenberry's creation where the NCC-1701 was the first starship of this name and Spock the first Vulcan in Starfleet. In particular, it would have been a problem with the dedication plaques of the later Enterprises that clearly indicated the NCC-1701 was the first Starfleet ship of this name. Since "Enterprise" apparently takes place before Starfleet was founded, we don't have to bother about that any longer. What remains a problem, however, is that this starship was neither depicted on the Enterprise recreation deck in TMP nor on the Enterprise-D ship wall. It wasn't ever mentioned as a historical reference either, so that its journeys apparently can't have been that important. We know that the series will definitely show quite a contrary history of the ship.
Aliens Introducing new aliens is always fun for writers and make-up artists, and the galaxy is just too big as if there were no more species still waiting for their discovery. The weak point is that it's just the wrong time to introduce new races in "Enterprise", more than a century prior to every familiar Star Trek period. Already the preliminary cast sheet includes two races (Dr. Phlox's race and the Suliban) we have never seen or heard of before. It is quite clear (and would be desirable in any other Star Trek) that these races will have an important part in the new series, but they will evidently have to become extinct or totally insignificant in the time of TOS and thereafter. This is especially difficult to explain since their homeworlds have to be very close to Earth, in the heart of the later Federation, and they should show up or should at least be mentioned frequently. We can be sure that these two are not the only doomed races we will see, considering that Star Trek always has plenty of them and the talent of Michael Westmore isn't going to be wasted by letting him do the same commonly known make-ups all the time. So if making up reasons for the complete disappearances of one or two formerly important species and cultures is already hard enough, there is no way of explaining why virtually the whole known universe of that time will cease to exist.
We may hope to see at least some familiar races instead of always new ones, but I'm not sure if Berman or Braga even know about the races that should have been around at that time, most notably the Andorians and Tellarites. Well, in the best case the producers review some old episodes and some of the movies where several aliens appeared, some of whom are still nameless and therefore available to get a suited back story. On the other hand, it may happen that we get to see familiar aliens who shouldn't be around at that time. Romulans should be absolutely forbidden, but one can never know what atrocities the writers will think of in seven seasons. The same applies to the Ferengi, the Borg and some other races that were definitely unknown until TNG.
Strange lifeforms The problem with new lifeforms becomes even worse when we turn our attention to the various superior beings such as Trelane, Q, the Traveler or the Prophets, the space-dwelling or subspace-dwelling entities or pure energy beings, all of which were always described as being completely unknown when they were first encountered in TOS and its three successors. Considering how frequently very similar strange lifeforms showed up, it was already implausible when Spock or Data stated each time that they were new and were even astonished that something like this could actually exist. Only in Voyager there has been some routine in such discoveries lately, but that doesn't make them more plausible either. It is hard to believe that the writers would refrain from presenting such lifeforms in "Enterprise" too - considering how they always like to use them to mock up a boring plot with a bit more sci-fi stuff. This will make look Spock and Data like complete idiots who obviously didn't learn their exobiology (and history) lessons.
Klingons The idea to show the first contact of humans and Klingons is intriguing, and it might be worth doing this at the expense of a little bit of continuity to the later series. We may be able to re-interpret the date of 2218, given in TOS: "Day of the Dove" for the first contact, as the date when open hostilities began, after there had been diplomatic complications for several decades. The principal problem, however, is much more obvious: What will the Klingons look like? If they have flat foreheads like in TOS and in DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations", this would render the continuity problem to the modern appearance of Klingons since "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" even worse, keeping in mind that Worf's ancient figures of Kahless and Morath fighting with each other and even Kahless himself in TNG: "The Rightful Heir" have ridged foreheads, as if the Klingons had always looked so. There would be still some possibilities to explain why all Klingons seen in TOS were different, but certainly not all Klingons who appeared from the very beginning when they encountered humans. Personally, I'm quite sure that all Series V Klingons will have ridged foreheads, mainly because the make-up is "cooler" and it will rather appeal to occasional viewers - and because the producers will probably ignore TOS. In this case the problem would be explaining why they looked different only in a certain period in the 2260's. In any case, the new series will aggravate the worst of all continuity problems, which was originally brought up by TMP and which was unfortunately explicitly mentioned in "Trials and Tribble-ations".
Regular technology It is quite obvious that, more than a hundred years before TOS, the technology has to be limited. The starship will have to be slower, the weapons weaker, the sensors and computers less sophisticated. As far as only the style of sets, props and models is concerned, I don't see a basic problem to create a wide range of old-fashioned devices for the new series, from hand-held communicators and ray guns, consoles with buttons and switches, starship interiors using something like simple metallic walls and visible pipes, to starship models which are chunkier than the ones we know. I firmly trust in the abilities of John Eaves, who laid out the Enterprise-E, and Herman Zimmerman, who is a great set designer. It's a well-known problem that the TOS devices which will be used a century after the new series already look primitive today, but this is no reason why an intermediate step between today and TOS shouldn't be credible. On the contrary, I'm even looking forward to seeing this style, since it could bridge the technological gap between today and TOS more consistently than the storyline could bridge the historical gap.
It is, however, an optimistic assumption that not already the basic technology will cause logical problems. If the new old Enterprise really has a transporter, this device which is definitely - from a real-world viewpoint - the least plausible and most complex regular technology by far, will be even harder to accept. The transporter was commonly used in the 2260's, but the complicated procedure Scotty had to perform each time, the limited capacity and speed and, last but not least, Dr. McCoy's concerns are clear hints that it didn't exist for a long time before TOS. I have the impression that the Constitution class must have been among the first ship types with a transporter. The other problem is that it would be hard to justify why replicators and holodecks, at least in the perfection of TNG, were invented as late as in the 24th century, while the transporter which I firmly believe is the most demanding of all these devices should exist since the early days of space travel, two hundred or even two hundred fifty years earlier. Another weak point may be the appearance of the starship. I am frightened that the exterior of the new old Enterprise might look too modern, compared to the Daedalus class that will show up some years later, and that the ship may already resemble the Enterprise NCC-1701 too much in size and shape. John Eaves hinted that the ship might resemble the Akira class. If the new old Enterprise really looks a lot like that, no evolution from the 22nd to the 23rd or even 24th century would become apparent. In such a case "Enterprise" could turn into something like Stone Trek - which is a great parody of Star Trek.
One thing that could cause another problem in the series is the speed. If Warp 4 is correct, the new old Enterprise is much slower than the Enterprise NCC-1701 - no matter which scale they are going to use (hint to Mr. Braga!). Interstellar travel would generally take several months, and it wouldn't be plausible to reach a new planet every week, unless the stardates (hint to Mr. Braga!) denote that several weeks or months have passed between two episodes.
New technology Another problem with the limited technology of the new series will be that the writers won't keep it limited. It's basically the same argument as with the aliens: If the writers feel the need for new technology for their story-of-the-week, they will invent it - no matter what consequences this will have for the continuity. I'm thinking of things like transwarp, the Genesis device, the Dyson sphere and several new weapons which were of enormous importance, but then vanished for unknown reasons - the real reason being that the authors didn't bother to reuse or even mention them again. While the basic equipment, provided it is reasonable for the time, will probably stay the same during the series and won't be so much of a problem, all the unusual technology will not only make Spock and Data look ignorant again, but millions of Federation scientists and engineers who won't be able to further develop or even repeat the success in one or two centuries, respectively. I have a misgiving that after seven years of "Enterprise" the 22nd century will have more advanced technology than the 24th century.
The time In the UPN press release from May 17th, Herman Zimmerman said "This is a hundred years from now, and a hundred years before Kirk and Spock." Berman and Braga, on the other hand, told the Los Angeles Times that it would be "set approximately 100 years before the events in the original Star Trek series". This isn't only a mathematical problem, it also indicates that the setting is not finalized at the time when the shooting is already on the way. There should be a great difference of the look and feel of technology and also the social and political development between 2107 and 2167, but no one seems to take care of that. I have the impression that the sets and the premise were created to be "just old", without following established history in any way.
Bragaic Bermanism The most alarming news concerning the continuity, however, is that the new series should be little influenced by TOS, according to Berman: "Having been involved with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, those series obviously have greater influence on me." So Series V which predates all of these should be least influenced by the one closest in time? If this is really the case, we shouldn't be surprised if we see not only transporters, but also holodecks and replicators on the new old Enterprise, and also some familiar races and faces from the newer series will be given guest appearances. Berman's promise that we will see all the familiar things sounds like a threat in this respect: "Fans will see all the things they recognize from Star Trek, but in the developmental phase." In Star Trek, as we used to know it, nitpicking was always fun, because there was an overall consistency that made finding and correcting all the small problems worth while. I can tell already now that I won't feel like explaining the mess the producers will create when they begin to rewrite history, in order to allow more interesting stories. I remember that Brannon Braga, who will be in charge of the new series, according to his own statement, never felt the need to care about continuity. While I wouldn't question his creativity, he uses to build in blatant and often easily avoidable errors. The latest continuity errors in VOY: "Friendship One" may give us only a taste of what we can expect in Series V. I am afraid they are going to alienate their most loyal fans by not paying attention to continuity.
John Eaves, the Senior Designer of "Enterprise", is more concerned about creating the right look and feel of the series than the producers who just do what they think is right. He said that "it's going to be probably the introductory ground for what we know as Captain Kirk's Star Trek and I think everything from his time will be discovered or planned through out the length of the series". So there is a bit of hope left that TPTB will care about continuity, but maybe this will merely refer to some single points and not to overall consistency.
Summarizing, I'm looking forward to seeing the new old tech. It would have been great to see something about this time in a single episode or feature film. The new series, however, will have to show the past in way too much detail to keep it credible - or keep the future credible. It's not the definite points like the name of the ship or Klingon foreheads I'm concerned about most, but the many little details that will sum up to something completely different than the Star Trek we know. Writers will carelessly introduce new aliens, anomalies, technology every week, and this absolutely doesn't get along with the Pre-TOS premise. Never were the creators of any serious TV series so shortsighted.
The cast sheet - when I first saw it, it was so full of well-known stereotypes that I firmly believed it was a fake. Unfortunately I was wrong. The only benefit I can see is that the chauvinist and sexist composition of characters would suit a time one hundred years before TOS, when there was still a bit of these problems left, and two hundred years before the benevolent TNG. But shouldn't there already be a great social progress from today to the 22nd century? I see nothing like that.
Archer The description of Capt. Archer (his original first name was given to be Jackson but was then changed to Jonathan) sounds just like he's the typical white male American captain who could as well command a US Navy ship. No matter if he's much of a clone of James T. Kirk, as the cast sheet suggests, or going to take another direction, he is in no way an imaginative character. Well, not that alone the fact that a captain is a black, female or even an exotic European would make him or her necessarily more appealing. It's just a matter of decency to show a future in which the questions of race, sex or nationality don't play a role any longer, but in our real world every time it was made a big deal that Picard, Sisko and Janeway were different from Kirk and from each other. I have the impression that in the USA of the year 2001 it is still a problem that all men are created equal and especially that men exist outside the USA too. Therefore, in order to appeal to as many viewers as possible in the USA (the TV companies abroad will buy every American show anyway), Jonathan Archer seems to be a streamlined captain for the US majority audience.
T'Pol The name of the Vulcan sub-commander has been changed from T'Pau to T'Pol, so this is not the woman we know from TOS: "Amok Time". Maybe this was a good decision, for the old woman in "Amok Time" was very reserved, even for a Vulcan, and it didn't seem that she spent years of her life together with humans and other aliens. Moreover, this won't be just another attempt to create unnecessary consistency - besides the name Enterprise and the fact that the captain is much like Kirk. As for T'Pol being attractive and somehow replacing Seven of Nine, I am very concerned that this "babe factor" is obviously regarded as something of importance. I do enjoy women who are attractive (and intelligent) very much, but pointing this out as one key characteristic is exactly what I don't expect from Star Trek. Most of all, the word "sensual" irritates me because Vulcans are just not supposed to be sensual.
Tucker Commander Charlie "Spike" Tucker may be another annoyance. A typical American, one who will exhibit his cultural background even clearer than any human in Star Trek so far (maybe except for college boy Tom Paris). Former human characters rather felt like a part of humanity as a whole and therefore successfully prevented Star Trek from becoming something like "American Farmer's Sons in Space". No, that's definitely not meant as an offense to Americans (or to farmers), but a complaint that if a human in Star Trek is conceded a more detailed cultural background, it is definitely Anglo-American, Jean-Luc Picard being the only notable exception (well, his accent was not French...). Furthermore, aside from the possible parallel to Tom Paris, the description of Tucker reads much like the one of Dr. McCoy who was equally straightforward and had a grudge against many things.
Phlox The short information on Doctor Phlox, the "exotic alien", is already very interesting. Aside from my reservation that his race will obviously become extinct, I'm looking forward to seeing him and his unusual medical procedures. He seems to be a successful creation among all the two-dimensional characters.
Mayweather Aside from being the third American on the show, the description of Travis Mayweather as grown up in space sounds a bit more interesting than those of Archer and Tucker. Well, the cast sheet doesn't reveal anything how this character could be further developed, and the friendship to Tucker sounds much like a re-issue of Harry's and Tom's common activities, but we'll have to see how he will do.
Reed Malcolm Reed, the armory officer, is supposed to be British - but that's close enough to make him the forth American on board, considering how the US always embraces their small alleged mother countries Britain & Ireland - as opposed to the rest of Europe whose existence is ignored. Yes, I know, Brits wouldn't think like that, they rather regard the USA as their ill-bred child country. ;-) I'm not sure why of all characters he should be the "throwback", considering that none of the human profiles shows something like progress of human development. The contradictions, however, could make him an interesting character. Well, his obsession with weapons he doesn't like to use or his problems with women will be good for only a few little stories, so the character will need some more development anyway.
Sato Hoshi Sato is the pleasant exception among the bland American male crew, and it's a shame that I have to point that out. Aside from that, she doesn't seem to be that much different from Uhura. Well, with her abilities to imitate alien sounds, she will serve as the ship's "universal translator", but there may not be much potential beyond that. I don't like that she's described as a bit anxious, on the other hand I'm sure that after some time she probably wouldn't embrace her console any more when the ship jumps to warp. Well, and reading the descriptions once again, it sounds a lot like they simply swapped Uhura who is now Japanese and Sulu who is now black.
Silik Aside from the key problem that Silik's race will completely disappear from the Trek Universe, I just don't like to see a regular villain in Star Trek. TOS had the Klingons, but there were different Klingons with different characters. TNG didn't have any memorable recurring villains, except for the Borg who can hardly be compared to individual persons. DS9 had Dukat, Weyoun and the female Founder. The concept worked, but I still think it didn't suit Star Trek very much. The recurring villains in Voyager (if we don't count Chaotica ;-)) were Culluh and Seska, and at least Culluh mostly appeared like a caricature. I really hope that Silik won't be of the pathetic "I will return" type.
Forrest, Leonard, Williams Is this an in-joke of some type or are these names only placeholders, subject to change in the final script? It would be a nice idea to honor DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner this way, but three more Americans? Argh! Also, what does the new series need two regular admirals (plus one commander), whereas in all other series they appeared only occasionally? These three names were actually the main reason why I thought the whole cast sheet was a fake, but now that the rest seems authentic, we may have to accept these names too.
Soval, Tos I don't know if these two Vulcans will have a major part in the new show. Unless they are frequently called to establish diplomatic relationships, we probably won't see much of them.
Summarizing, the cast sheet is a little creative composition of some characteristics we have seen before. It sounds like bad fan fiction. I agree that one could say almost the same, if we compared the TNG cast to the one of TOS. The difference is that Series V is intentionally set in a time when TPTB thought they could present different characters and stories (the "dramatic departure"). The few things that are special and typical of the 22nd century, however, like Reed's soldier spirit or Sato's fear of warp acceleration, are not suited to play a major role in the show, so I think the character development and interactions will be much the same as we already know them from Star Trek.
I admit the few lines about each character don't reveal that much about his or her true potential, so I may give everyone a fair chance to develop. They are most likely getting fine actors too, although I know none of them except for Scott Bakula who is going to play Capt. Archer. My main criticism, however, is the blatant American nationalism in the crew composition. Again, this is no offense to Americans, be they proud of their country or not. If we believe in Trek history so far, then Earth should have been united prior to Series V, and there ought to be a multi-national crew. Provided that the names are final, they didn't even bother to look up some American names of German or East European origin, for instance, in a phone book, but just made up some "typical" Anglo-American names for the characters. The names sound "cheap", just like the stage names which are obviously still required for actors and actresses in Hollywood to be accepted as Anglo-American. I admit that Star Trek is primarily an American TV series, with foreign countries being only a secondary market. Therefore it's obvious that the Americans get some characters they can better identify themselves with. Probably no one at Paramount is aware or would care that the ludicrous accumulation of American people, places and customs in Star Trek may deter people outside the USA. If I myself, as someone from an underprivileged country, really dislike something about Star Trek, then it's this kind of narrow-mindedness that I would least expect from such a visionary series, and now it's getting even worse.
It would have served all previous Star Trek series to show some more cultural variety on Earth. If this will continue in Series V it will be even worse for the credibility and the atmosphere of the show. Nation states have just been abolished in the 22nd century, and there should be many interesting differences and conflicts left, but the crew composition is a sign that we won't see anything of that - another missed opportunity. And another woman in the crew would have suited the show too.
I have read a couple of very positive comments about the Series V pilot and premise. Well, I don't know the full synopsis at this time, but I can't share the enthusiasm at all. Especially the argument that the new ground, namely the 22nd century, would enable refreshing new storylines is entirely wrong in my opinion. The self-imposed limitations are just too strict to allow the authors to be creative. Firstly, while it would be fascinating to see the time when humanity begins to explore space and in particular the Klingon first contact, there is not much potential in it beyond a few episodes. We remember the big questions of the last few years: "How will the Dominion War end?" and "Will Voyager get home?" both of which have been extensively debated by fans. Where is such excitement in the premise of the new series? We know that Klingon first contact led to a long lasting conflict. We know that there will be the Romulan War, but without face-to-face contact. We know that the Federation will be founded. We know that Earth won't be destroyed. Nothing that could happen would really surprise us, unless the authors alter history too much - an alarming problem I have already discussed above. It will be probably the same with the character interactions. There is some conflict potential among the crew, but experience tells us this will vanish soon. It took one year on DS9 and even less on Voyager until the crew worked well together. So this 22nd century topic will be quickly exhausted as well.
Secondly, Star Trek is a science fiction series. It lives from developments (which includes technical but also cultural and social progress) we would like to achieve and sometimes like to avoid, but which only exist in theory. To me, seeing how this could be accomplished in the future, how this could even become routine, is one of the most exciting experiences while watching Star Trek. All the sets and props are designed to be very different and much more advanced than anything we know today, but they are still credible. How could Series V, taking place a century before TOS, be more exciting in this respect than TNG, DS9 or Voyager? Being familiar with wonders like holodecks, quantum torpedoes, Q and the Borg, the available reasonable technology for Series V is pretty limited. Actually, new devices have been invented throughout TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager because they enabled new stories, but the new series obviously can't present us something really new, something that wouldn't exist in the 24th century as well, and even in a much more advanced version. I could even go as far and say that "Enterprise" won't be science fiction at all, in the same way as a series about the Napoleonic Wars is not contemporary but historical. I admit that the writers of Voyager may have run out of ideas, but what is the benefit of restricting themselves by globally excluding many of the possible sci-fi storylines? How could the viewers' excitement be regained, if the science fiction of the new Star Trek looks more like their boring and ugly real world than ever before? "Enterprise" will have stunning VFX, of course, but they can't be a replacement for all the nifty innovations which were presented already in TOS, without requiring extensive and superficial visual effects at that time. It's not the effect, but the idea behind it that counts. That's what science fiction is about.
Thirdly, and that's a very personal opinion, I just don't want to see anything from a possibly "dark" 22nd century that goes beyond a few episodes (which could have been achieved with a time travel from another, later era as well). It's supposed to be a time when humanity has not yet evolved that far, when mistrust and skepticism among humans and towards aliens, along with crime, vice and drug abuse are still rather the rule than the exception. A recent statement by Rick Berman seems to confirm my fear that this could turn out a bit like many other near-future (and determined anti-Trek) series that show us the present or an even more desolate state of humankind: "The Roddenberry perfection of humanity is in the process of happening but will be not completed when the series begins. That will enable us to do a show within the general umbrella of Star Trek, but eliminate some of the stumbling blocks." With respect to the world of TOS throughout Voyager, this would be a throwback, and I would much rather accept the old technology than the old society. I just don't want to see "darker stories" and I was always afraid of them whenever they had been announced for DS9 or Voyager. At least their accumulation, like in the Dominion War, was definitely bad for the idea of Star Trek, which never denied the existence of war and hatred, but never showed it too explicitly. I think the new series could ruin the whole vision of Star Trek which always promised us a better future, but was wise enough not to outline a precise way to reach it. "Star Trek: First Contact" was the first step in an effort to link the Star Trek Universe with our real world. As good as the movie itself was, as detrimental was its impact on Trek history - not mainly because of the inconsistencies created but because - in retrospect - the enchantment of the Trek Universe was compromised when I had to witness how it all began. This includes that I disliked that people of the 21st century, most notably Cochrane, were portrayed as vicious and freakish. I bet we will see many "obsolete" people like him in "Enterprise".
It looks like the new series is mainly to take place on the starship. Thus, most likely the premise will be much the same as is has been for 35 years, in TOS, TNG and Voyager. The starship Enterprise will explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before - and where no man will go again if I'm sarcastic. In this case the often quoted "radical departure" would merely apply to the differences in technology and the development of interstellar relations. Maybe not even this, if we take into account that TNG, DS9 and Voyager will have an influence on it, rather than TOS. So in the absolutely worst case we may see holodecks, Romulans, Borg and stable wormholes, and there would be virtually no difference to the 24th century - except that continuity would be totally ruined for nothing. Well, one difference to the 23rd and 24th century could be that the slow new old Enterprise stays longer at a newly explored planet which would give us the opportunity to learn more about the planet's culture - something I have been missing since TOS. On the other hand, the long travel times would require that the ship visit far less different planets than we are used to - which would alleviate the continuity problems a bit. Longer durations of visits, however, would have been feasible in TNG, DS9 and even Voyager as well, if the authors had bothered to create more multipart episodes and more continuity of single episodes going beyond the rather weak linking by story arcs. And who is to guarantee that the Enterprise won't visit a new planet every week anyway, even though this is impossible with the early warp drive?
Keeping in mind that there is not much special about the 22nd century characters anyway, the series could take place in any later era of the Star Trek Universe as well, where it wouldn't be limited at all by established history - and wouldn't gradually re-write history. So I really don't see the point of going back in time, except for presenting a few typical 22nd century storylines among many generic Star Trek topics, and creating a new style of sets and props - nothing that would justify seven seasons. If "Enterprise" will be that different from other Trek series though, it's not yet clear if this will apply to the consistency or the type of stories or both. If TPTB really want to show us something very different, why are they doing this within the scope of Star Trek - even if they don't explicitly call it "Star Trek"? Oh well, they know about the financial potential of this franchise with its large number of fans. But aren't they going to betray us if they base something upon Star Trek but then depart so much from it that true fans won't accept it any longer? What I mean by "true fans" are those who desperately wait for every new episode, who watch attentively and still care about it when the weekly show is over.
Apart from my personal objections I believe that "Enterprise" may be a success. A whole new world will be created for the series, and I have no doubt that many people will like it. As usual, the series will have its share of appealing stories, talented actors and well-designed sets and props. The catch is that the series probably won't be made for anyone who pays at least a little bit of attention to continuity and for anyone who is immersed into the philosophy of Star Trek. "Enterprise", "Klingons", "Vulcans", "Transporter", "Archer = Kirk" and other superficial characteristics are apparently used like broad hints to the general public that this is still Star Trek, while everything beyond this overly simplified formula may go down the drain. It is the first series in 35 years that won't chronologically and logically continue with the journey, and this may endanger the whole legacy. So even if the series itself will be a success, it may be the last of Star Trek. Actually, I couldn't imagine what could come after Series V.
Maybe I will give "Enterprise" a chance. I will watch it, I will enjoy some of the episodes, I will be able to endure inconsistencies to a reasonable degree. But aside from that, it's just not the kind of Star Trek I'm interested in, and I wonder if it can be Star Trek at all. Star Trek is a vision to me, and I anticipate that the new series won't be able to contribute much to this vision. TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager have always been worlds and times I would have liked to live in. The world of the new series will be either a dark one - something I don't want to see by any means - or it will desperately try to seek the lost optimism and idealism of Star Trek - only in the wrong time.
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|Last modified: 05.01.12|