Thursday, February 03, 2005

Trek is Dead! Long Live Trek!

So it appears that Star Trek: Enterprise is going to be cancelled at the end of this season. I'm surprised it lasted this long. Enterprise was a great idea poorly executed. The premise was to show the beginnings of space exploration, as well as the beginnings of so much of the Star Trek mythos. But the series ended up blandly going where other Trek series had gone before.

"A lot of it has to do with what someone has referred to as 'franchise fatigue,' " longtime executive producer Rick Berman says. "The fact that we've done 624 hours of Star Trek over the last 18 years, you can take one too many trips to the well. There's a point at which you can reach a sense of overkill."

Series television changed dramatically (no pun intended, but fully embraced) in the years since Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted. Storytelling has gotten more complex, as has nearly everything else about dramatic television. Yet Star Trek rarely departed from formula. The producers' idea of updating Star Trek to make it more "modern" and "edgy" was to feature large-breasted women in tight-fitting costumes. (The fact that both Voyager's Seven of Nine and Enterprise's T'Pol fit the "ice queen" archetype left me wondering exactly what sort of fantasies the producers of these shows entertained.

I don't think viewers grew tired of Star Trek, I think it was the producers themselves that grew tired of Star Trek, and bored the viewers as a result. The plotlines for Enterprise could have been written for either Voyager or Next Gen (and, in fact, may have been) The characters were ciphers, having little or no identity beyond their roles on the ship; their lines were interchangeable.

Deep Space Nine was different because Berman and co-producer Brannon Braga kept their mitts off it. It had fully-fleshed characters and ongoing plotlines. It took chances with its stories, and though it sometimes failed, it was rarely boring. As a result, it remains the best of the four modern Star Trek spinoffs.

It's a shame that Enterprise is being cancelled in the year that Berman and Braga pulled themselves away from the show and allowed some fresh ideas. What I've seen so far this year, I've liked. The show finally seems to be taking advantage of its premise as the "prequel" series, paying attention to both its own continuity and continuity with the Trek mythos it seemed to ignore for the first three seasons. It's improving . . . a little. But too little too late.

But I've got my reruns and my DVD sets. And for Sci Fi on television, I've got Battlestar Galactica from former DS9 producer Ron Moore.


At 10:23 AM, Blogger I Want to NOT said...

I am glad that Enterprise is off the air. The continual reminder of wasted potential was really annoying. Some may call me a girl for saying this, but the series "Angel" was much better scripted, and broke many conventions with good plot twists and humor.

Enterprise was too clausterphobic, as the characters , could never break out of the Federation conventions. This made the show unrealistic. I draw the analogy of reading the Federalist Paper and then reading the speaches of current legislators. The Founding Fathers were a tough breed, and had to fight like hell. IMHO Archer and crew should have been much rougher around the edges because they are not the product of the Federation but its progenitors.

Battlestar Galatica is off to a great start and it looks as though they will run the plots serially so the fans will have to tune in to keep abreast of developments.


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