October 4, 2001
By Franklin Harris
First of all, the opening theme song must go. But it'll take more than ditching that awful pop tune to fix "Enterprise."
Rather than boldly going where no one has gone before, "Enterprise" stumbles where other Treks have already been.
The series is set 100 years before the original "Star Trek" and about 80 years after humanity's first encounter with the Vulcans, as seen in "Star Trek: First Contact."
After almost a century of Vulcan paternalism, humanity is ready to explore the galaxy on its own. Earth's newly formed Starfleet prepares to launch its first ship capable of reaching thousands of inhabited worlds -- Enterprise.
But before Enterprise can depart, a more urgent mission arises.
A Klingon, the first humans have encountered, crash-lands on Earth. And despite the Vulcans' complaints, Starfleet decides to use Enterprise to take the Klingon home.
This is the chance Enterprise's commanding officer, Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), has been waiting for. He holds a grudge against the Vulcans, who withheld warp drive technology from his late father, and is eager for humanity to take its place among the stars.
He isn't happy, however, when Starfleet compromises and assigns him a Vulcan first officer, T'Pol (Jolene Blalock).
Think of the busty, full-lipped T'Pol as Seven of Spock. I'm betting that she starts getting in touch with her emotional side (just like Data or Seven of Nine) midway through the second season.
Rounding out the crew are an eager young space cadet (Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis May- weather), an ill-tempered weapons officer (Dominic Keating as Lt. Malcolm Reed), an alien doctor (John Billingsly as Dr. Phlox), a linguist (Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato) and a Southern-fried engineer (Connor Trinneer as Cmdr. Charlie "Trip" Tucker III).
Place your bets. How many episodes before Cmdr. Tucker says, "I'm an engineer, not a doctor?" I'm guessing five.
Anyway, every adventure must have some threat. This one has the Suliban, a genetically engineered race of humanoid, shape-changing geckos, which is as good a description as any.
The Suliban are working with a shady character from the far future who wants to start a civil war among the Klingons.
It's wagering time again. Does anyone want to bet that the mysterious future guy isn't some renegade Starfleet admiral or, at least, an agent of Starfleet's shadowy Section 31 espionage division? I didn't think so.
Anyway, it doesn't bode well for any TV series when the writers start resorting to cheap screenwriting gimmicks during the first episode.
Rather than fall back on the technobabble plot resolutions that became a mainstay during the last season of "Star Trek: the Next Generation," the writers here seem content to use a more old-fashioned crutch.
Need to move the plot along, but you've written yourself into a corner? No worries. Just have your characters behave like morons. It works every time.
For example, if you have just seen an enemy starship steal one of your shuttlecraft, would you allow that same shuttlecraft to dock at your base a couple of hours later without even confirming its occupants?
Don't think too much about that. After all, the writers didn't.
The first episode of "Enterprise" even gives us cheap exploitation. Bash "Star Trek: Voyager" all you like, but at least it took three years to descend as far as "Enterprise" does in a mere two hours.
Suffice it to say that Seven of Spock's -- oops, I mean T'Pol's -- "shower scene" leaves little to the imagination.
And never mind that it is impossible to fit "Enterprise" into the established Trek continuity. The producers don't care.
The only thing that could redeem "Enterprise" is if, at the end, we learn that the shadowy future guy is actually helping the "Star Trek" universe as we know it come to pass. And so, to save Gene Roddenberry's utopian vision, the "Enterprise" crew heroically allow themselves to be erased from history.
It'll be like that season of "Dallas" that was all just a dream. It'll be beautiful.