Thursday, October 19, 2017

Star Trek: Enterprise

I grew up watching Star Trek when first broadcast.  My sister Marilyn and I would make one of the Chef-Boy-R-Dee pizzas in a box Thursday nights and watch ST.  I could never develop any fondness for the zillion later series.  ST: TNG especially bothered me because so many stories and plot devices were so obviously stolen from ST. 

I just started watching Star Trek: Enterprise, and I am really enjoying it.  One episode stole an ST plot device (blow up a shuttlepod engine to get Enterprise's attention), but otherwise it seems the writers were pretty inventive.  I am enjoying it.  I often found myself saying, "Where is this going?" 

There have only been a couple of slightly PC episodes (not that ST was free of these: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," was very clumsily about the Civil Rights movement), one involving Suliban held in a Tandaran internment camp which of course is likened not to a concentration camp, but a Japanese-American internment camp.  And to be fair, the Tandaran camp is closer to that than a concentration camp, and with similarly expressed concerns about protecting Suliban from lynching.  (There were very few such incidents after Pearl Harbor: a pretty strong statement about the decency of Americans under terrifying conditions.)

 Star Trek: Enterprise is a prequel to ST, so the technology is not as advanced: the transporter is not completely trusted, so it is rarely used for living creatures.  Instead, all travel is by shuttlepod.  ST came up with the transporter because Roddenberry was concerned that transport by shuttle would be expensive special effects and slow down the plots too much.  I have always thought the transporter was the least plausible technology of ST; the amount of data to encode a human being is enormous; data transmission is another problem; you think 100 GB is slow?  There are other strategies: keep a standard human definition, and only transmit a code that says base code human, plus the deltas for this individual, or some truly amazing discrete wavelet transform.

To ST:E's credit, the humanoid aliens are often substantially different in appearance; ST had too many essentially human aliens.  There is at least an absurd explanation in "The Paradise Syndrome" episode of ST, when Spock discovers that some technologically advanced species has left an asteroid repeller on a planet inhabited by vaguely American Indian people.  (Of course, Kirk falls in love and gets Pocahontas pregnant.)  Spock explains that this now gone advanced species explains why there are so many humanoid aliens; they chose to protect those most similar to themselves.

Still, it looks like the writers cheaped out in later episodes of Season 1: too many aliens just barely different from humans.  Often just a small amount of paint or pseudo-flesh on the face.  You could well believe that God made all these species in His own image.


  1. Like you, I watched the original show in it's first run. Really annoyed that they wouldn't spend the money to do the third season properly.

    Had a roommate who watched the TNG series. I caught a few episodes, and quickly dubbed it "Middle Managers in Space".

    The best thing from that series was a book and sequel about the Executive Officer and the Empath.

    It's a shame they couldn't have done that as a movie or two. Heck of a story.

  2. For fun, ask any Trekkie to name 2 regulars from any of the ST shows who did NOT arguably draw a government paycheck.

  3. If two appearances make one a regular, then arguably Mudd would be one who did not draw a government paycheck, but he was of course a reprehensible loose cannon, unlike everyone else in the series.