Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2005-05-12 Entry: "Three Enterprising Nights"

I actually started Enterprise last thing Monday, with the pilot episode, "Broken Bow." What with it now being Wednesday, I've clearly got further through it, so we'll need some synopses...

Watching this again, it holds up pretty well, and even the theme music is bearable. Broken Bow does the requisite introduction of the characters, as well as the conflicts involved - temporal cold war, Suliban bad, Vulcans holding Humans back from exploring the galaxy, Klingons intemperate, crew members their usual bumbling, interfering selves, funny looking alien crewmember annoying.

Okay, so nothing particularly exciting here but it's better than Tuesday's first episode, "Fight Or Flight" which sees the "Hoshi wants to go home because she keeps making a mess of things" episode. It's irritating, but there's lots of Hoshi, so it's pleasing on the eye. And Reed gets plenty to do trying to get the weapons system to actually hit something.

Then in "Strange New World" they find an M-class planet that they decide to take the dog for a walk on... and spend the night staying on for a survey mission. However, when a storm moves in to interfere with their ghost stories, they take shelter in some caves... and then all start to go crazy. Trip is seeing rock monsters, and the rest are hearing voices. It's a pretty silly episode, but we get more use of the transporter, in this case going wrong, so we know things are technically deficient still.

Disc two kicks off with the critically panned episode "Unexpected" which is a pretty dopey episode, but reasonably amusing. They meet an ailing species that need help with their warp drive (and are hiding in the shadow of a ship with working warp drive while their is offline). Trip goes over to help and, after dealing with an acclimation cycle that makes him want to give up, sorts out their engines, and makes friends with one of their female engineers. These aliens have holodecks, and Trip goes on a boating expedition with the female, and then messes around with a bunch of crystals that allow them to read each others minds.

However, on departure, they discover Commander Tucker is pregnant... and much silliness ensues! Of course, there's fallout when they find the alien ship hiding in the wake of a Klingon ship after the repairs have failed. The Klingons insist on holodeck technology in trade for not destroying the alien ship.

"Terra Nova" sees the crew investigating the first human colony outside the solar system. They lost contact with Earth after a fight broke out over further colony expeditions to the world... but they didn't lose contact by choice. A comet crashed on the planet that irradiated the northern hemisphere, and the colonists fled underground as a result. Unfortunately for them, the radiation has now contaminated their water supply, so they really need to relocate... but they no longer trust humans.

"The Andorian Incident" is probably the best episode of Tuesday night's viewing! The crew decide to visit a Vulcan monastery, but they interrupt an Andorian raiding party, that are determined to find the Vulcan surveillance station that's hidden in the monastery. Of course, the Vulcans deny everything (hey, they're just a bunch of monks) and are irritated by the Enterprise crew trying to defend them. T'Pol is clearly torn in this episode between serving the crew and following Vulcan dictates.

Unfortunately for the Vulcans, there really is a listening post hidden under the monastery, and the human conflict with the Andorians accidentally uncovers it. But there's some great dynamics here. If you ignore the idiocy of having Jeffrey Combs playing the chief Andorian (after Weyoun in DS9), then the dynamics here between the three races pretty much explain how they end up forming the Federation... you have the Vulcans' "all logic, all the time" up against the Andorians' emotional response and belligerent attitude. Between complete logic and complete emotion, we manage to blunder into the middle, being willing to negotiate with anybody and happily bridging the divide between logic and emotion.

The final episode, "Breaking The Ice" sees Reed and Travis investigating a comet... in fact, the largest comet humans have ever found. But they're being observed by a Vulcan vessel, so the pressure is on to do well. Ignoring the silliness of the two of them building a snowman, as Travis has almost never seen snow before, there's quite a good interaction between Archer and the Vulcan captain when the shuttlecraft is stuck down a crevasse.

Wednesday sees a contination of the show with "Civilisation" which sees the first Archer love interest when the crew find a low technology world and decide to investigate... unfortunately they're not the first warp-capable species to investigate the planet, and the previous bunch are causing a sickness amongst the population. Archer befriends (yeah, right!) a beautiful local apothecary who's concerned about the mysterious antique dealer and deals with the other bunch of aliens...

"Fortunate Son" sees Travis conflicted over a freighter that's being preyed on by Nausicaans. Considering the Nausicaans don't make an appearance in the Original Series at all, this must be one of those stupid temporal changes that the Suliban make for the cold war! But anyway, the freighter crew have taken a Nausicaan prisoner to try to learn the shield frequencies of their ships. Their plan doesn't quite go to plan however, and Enterprise have to come in and negotiate a peace.

"Cold Front" picks up the temporal cold war threads from the pilot, with a bunch of monks visiting Enterprise, and one of them saving the ship from some sort of overload of the warp core. However, it turns out that their saviour was the head Suliban, Sillik, and there's another guy from the future posing as a member of their crew.

This is where the episode gets silly. We get Ensign Daniels, who apparently has all this technology that allows him to pass through walls and monitor the timestream, and manages to get killed by a lone Suliban, who's not even particulary well armed! It does leave Archer with a whole bunch of questions, and a small amount of technology from the future that might help him in subsequent episodes...

"Silent Enemy" sees the Enterprise facing an enemy that won't respond to hails, and appears to outgun them. Archer wants to return to Utopia Planitia to get the phaser cannons fitted, but Tucker and Reed are determined that the crew can get them built and fitted before they get there.

"Dear Doctor" is probably the highlight of Wednesday, as we get the possible introduction of the Prime Directive. The crew rescue a bunch of aliens whose home planet is suffering from some sort of infection that's wiping out a whole bunch of the population. However, it doesnt' appear to be affecting the subserviant sentient species on the planet. When Dr. Phlox discovers that the disease has a genetic origin, and to cure it would be interfering with the evolution of the planet, he's torn. Fortunately, Archer realises there are some responsibilities to non-warp-capable species, to let them evolve on their own.

"Sleeping Dogs" Sees the crew rescue a Klingon ship from the atmosphere of a gas giant. There's good interaction here between Hoshi, Reed, and T'Pol, but not a great deal else that's all that memorable. Some more non-interaction with the Klingons, but nothing to get excited about.

"The Shadows Of P'Jem" sees the fallout from the Andorian Incident... the Vulcans are upset that in six months the Enterprise has managed to destabilise a sector of space by helping the Andorians find the listening post. The Andorians have destroyed the monastery as a result! Unfortunately, the Vulcans want to pull T'Pol off the Enterprise as a result.

And there's a random planet involved here... Archer and T'Pol go down to meet with the rulers, but they're kidnapped on the way. Then the Vulcans arrive to screw everything up. Then Tucker and Reed go down to try and sort things out, but Shran (Jeffrey Coombs) and the Andorians kidnap them, and things get suitably complicated!

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