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Posts tagged: star trek

Why do Star Trek fans not watch Enterprise?




I admit, for many years I was one of those fans who didn’t watch Enterprise and dismissed it as being bad and ridiculous.  Now that I’m watching it though, I have to say — I kind of love it.  Like really massively love it.  So why did I never watch it before?  Here is a list of reasons most people haven’t watched it.

1) Other people said it was bad.  This is probably the main reason why most people don’t watch it.  If everyone says it’s bad they must be right so why bother watching it?  The problem with this is that the first several episodes of Enterprise are bad, but after that it gets better.  It grows on you.  After a while you roll your eyes and laugh at the bad episodes but you still enjoy them.  So yeah, all those people who watched the first couple episodes and said it was bad?  They’re right, the part they watched was bad.  That doesn’t mean the whole series is.  It’s better than the last few seasons of Voyager were.

2) I can’t watch Scott Bakula as Captain because of Quantum Leap.  This was a really tough one for me and I still struggle with it.  Quantum Leap was one of those shows where I was so invested in the character that I can’t comprehend the actor being anyone else.  And he does have some of the same mannerisms, because the actor is the same guy.  I find it helps to pretend Enterprise is really just one looooong episode of Quantum Leap.

3) That decon scene in the pilot — that’s not what Star Trek is about!  You’re right.  And yeah, Enterprise has a lot of fan service.  It has a lot of objectification in the name of fan service.  But let me be clear about this because I think it’s important: Enterprise objectifies the men too.  All of them are in their underwear pretty regularly.  Yeah, T’Pol is more objectified than most, but TNG and Voyager also each had a lady on the senior staff who wore a ridiculous catsuit for no apparent reason so it’s not like this is something new.  What IS new is having the men strip down all the time too.

4) The Vulcans aren’t right.  There’s a reason I joke that the alternate title of Enterprise is “Star Trek: Asshole Vulcans.”  But the thing to note is that in the first few episodes, T’Pol is also an asshole Vulcan, but over the course of the show she becomes a lot more like the Vulcans we know and love (Spock, Tuvok).  The other Vulcans don’t seem to be improving, which is a general valid criticism of the show.  Perhaps they’re going for “Vulcans were assholes until they met Humans, then they mellowed out.”  I hear that something in season 4 explains all this but I haven’t gotten there yet.

5) Archer is the worst captain.  Okay, I’m not going to argue with that, I agree.  Somebody has to be the worst, right?  There are a lot of other characters besides the Captain though.  Also, it’s important to remember that Archer is the FIRST Captain to be going into deep space.  The Prime Directive, all the Starfleet guidelines, established interspecies relationships, the Federation itself — this stuff doesn’t exist.  Clearly they implemented the Prime Directive BECAUSE of his experiences.  Kirk has the added help of a century of Captains before him to learn from.  Archer just has some asshole Vulcans.

6) They screwed up the canon timeline by setting it before TOS.  I haven’t seen the whole series yet so I can’t comment on whether or not it’s screwed up, but from what I’ve seen so far they’ve been pretty careful to stay within the canon boundaries laid out earlier.  The episode with the Borg was really very well-done in terms of keeping it within the timeline set up in TNG and First Contact.  Yeah, there is a hole in that apparently nobody made a report of the incident that people knew about 200 years later, but I’m willing to excuse that because first off how often do you look that many years in the past to find relevant information to what you’re facing today, and second off Starfleet was in its infancy and clearly wasn’t very good about being structured and having good guidelines and processes and documentation.

I have two main problems with it.

I’m not overly fussed about canon and I’m not overly fussed by the Vulcans being assholes, because if Spock is anything to judge by, they ARE still assholes by the time of Kirk.

It’s not that they were assholes. It’s that they were the wrong kind of assholes.

And this isn’t so much about how they acted, but about how other people perceive them.

From the 23rd century onward, EVERYBODY KNOWS that Vulcans can’t lie. Now, before any nerds load their cannon canons, I’m not saying they can’t lie because of course they can and they do, taking full advantage of the fact that EVERYONE KNOWS that they “can’t”.

Enterprise — probably for no other reason than to shake up the status quo “we thought we knew — establishes that in the 22nd century, EVERYONE KNOWS that Vulcans lie all the time.

And I can’t reconcile that. I know that stereotypes change. I know they can change in a human’s lifetime. But a lot of species live longer than humans do, and we’re talking about a shift in perceptions not across one culture but every culture. Everybody who knows the Vulcans in Enterprise thinks of them as duplicitous liars. Everybody who knows them a century later thinks the exact opposite. Everybody.

My other problem is the weird way they zig-zagged between THIS ISN’T THE TREK YOU THINK YOU NOW (leaving “Star Trek” off the title, not having a symphonic theme, Vulcans are lying liars who tell lies) and trying to pander to fans and failing (LOOK! BORG! LOOK! HOLODECKS! YOU WATCH THE STAR TREK FOR BORGS AND HOLODECKS, RIGHT? Also, all of Archer’s speeches that took the form of bizarrely specific foreshadowing like his “Maybe if we had some sort of… directive… that was primary… to tell us if we should interfere with other cultures or not, I’d know what to do now!” spiel in the episode about the planet where evolution was causing a sapient species to go extinct as another achieved prominence fall into this category). It was just really bizarre and whiplashy.

Actually, I take that back. There are three problems I have, and the third problem was also about pandering. Naming the original Big Bad Alien Race after the “exotic and mysterious sounding” Taliban was a terrible decision on every conceivable level.

My husband, who has seen all of Enterprise, comments that the last season or so wasn’t that bad. However you to get to that you have to get through what he calls “Space 9/11” with an agonized look in his eyes. The impression that I’ve gotten is that Enterprise did a lot of Space-Version-Of-A-Modern-Issue and they did it painfully blatantly and painfully clumsily. Like, with previous series modern issues had been approached in terms of broad themes, but Enterprise sounds like it wanted to do the Call-A-Rabbit-A-Smeerp trick with specific events and specific timely problems (Eg. AIDS).

I have 0 wishes to sit through eye-rollingly ham-fisted Space-AIDS and Space 9/11 analogies drawn out in an unintentional parody of intelligent drama. That’s why I’ve been avoiding the series. It seems like for a while it was trying to out-Star Trek previous series by going to weird extremes. thus creating a show that is totally off course from the thoughtful humanist elements and bright vision for the future that the previous series (particularly, TOS, TNG, and to an extent DS9) had portrayed.

I think the fundamental problem of ENT is also what poorly coloured VOY for me—too much power/esteem on the part of the showrunners. It’s the same thing that’s ruined my enjoyment Dr. Who and Sherlock, where Moffat has way too much control over those universes and no one to challenge him. For Trek, towards the end of the big series run, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were REALLY running out of ideas, but obviously felt that they themselves should and would be the ones to keep the machine running. It’s really important to bring in new minds, and to have enough differences amongst the producers and writers that dumb, shortsighted, and often pretty sexist ideas get at least second-guessed.

What I liked SO MUCH about DS9 is that it was a pretty strong departure from its predecessors; heavily serialized (it was harder to just be a drop-in viewer on single episodes) and often extremely dark and honest about the nature of social creatures both human and alien.

To be totally fair, though, I missed ENT on its first go-round due to a totally idiotic teenaged stance against science fiction, I’ve not seen more than a handful of episodes, so I’m not really able to critique it. Just make some real casual observations.

I can’t remember if I ever posted this on tumblr, but this was a speech at my wedding — My friends Bob and Katie R (both certifiable geniuses in the field of communications) put together an amazing speech in Klingon, and in translated English. So, so great. 

My half-assed “costume” for work yesterday. I woke up early and in-the-spirit, as it were. 

My half-assed “costume” for work yesterday. I woke up early and in-the-spirit, as it were. 

A really nice thing that J did for me when I couldn’t deal with the con crowds and organizational bullshit.

A really nice thing that J did for me when I couldn’t deal with the con crowds and organizational bullshit.

Having a crap time in Calgary but at least there’s liquor. And, let’s face it, I’m a nerd babe.

Having a crap time in Calgary but at least there’s liquor. And, let’s face it, I’m a nerd babe.