TagGrand Undertaking

State of the Undertaking

As some readers are no doubt aware I recently started a job that, given the amount of commuting it involves, has seriously affected my free time. As such, certain things have been put on hold until I’m able to move to Bristol. One of those things is my Grand Undertaking. It’s pretty much no longer possible to get all of Trek watched in a year so I’ve been having a serious think.

What I’ve concluded is that this wasn’t about getting all of Trek watched in a year so much as reconnecting with my most fondly loved TV franchise. I can still do that if it takes me two or three years to work through the works. So I’ll keep watching it and I’ll keep blogging it. It just won’t be done quite as quickly, is all.

In other words, watch this space. There’s more Trek coming.

Grand Star Trek Undertaking: Marauders

Enterprise

Season 2, Episode 6

Marauders

Watching this episode I had a thought that I had to share. It’s not a complicated or deep thought, just a quick one that I felt worth sharing. It has to do with the sloppy handling of continuity in Enterprise.

We all know that Klingons are a sticky point when it comes to continuity. Handled with great aplomb in ‘Trials and Tribble-ations’ it seems to have been mishandled in Enterprise, the season that sought to finally explain it. Of course this early in season 2 the explanation hasn’t begun but the Klingons are back.

Another of those realisations where something that’s bugged me since I first saw Enterprise finally resolves itself on a second-viewing occurred.

I could pretty much accept the Klingons in Enterprise if they wore something even vaguely resembling the uniforms we saw them in in TOS. The uniform was so very distinctive and it’s not just the sudden presence of forehead ridges that’s disconcerting but the lack of the very recognisable Klingon garb.

The Marauders In Their Barbarian Furs

A Picture Of Uniformed Elegance

Uniformed Klingons with head ridges would have given us something that, in terms of continuity, was intriguing rather than insulting.

Grand Star Trek Undertaking: Shockwave

Enterprise

Season 1, Episode 26 & Season 2, Episode 1

Shockwave

Reports from the Star Trek front lines. Something has been bugging me about the Enterprise Season 1, Season 2 two-parter and it’s finally settled in. For the first half or so of Shockwave pt 1 the episode represents some of the greatest Star Trek television written. Bold statement, right?

Spoiler Warning
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Grand Star Trek Undertaking: Some Enterprising Thoughts

AKA: Where Enterprise went wrong.

It’s a funny thing but I find myself enjoying quite a lot of Enterprise, re-watching it in bulk. When it was airing I went out of my way to watch it every week, as it aired in the US, courtesy of a good friend. Something was keeping me interested and now I know what it is.

For the first few episodes Enterprise is really pretty decent stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the crew deal with new frontiers of human perception and capabilities. Coming up against unexpected and unanticipated things and peoples. Weighing up T’Pol’s advice about cultural contaminations, because there is no prime directive just yet.

I was especially fond of two episodes, Fortunate Son and Breaking the Ice. Both of them appealed to the hard sci-fi reader in me. This might surprise you, but bare with me.

Whilst not directly hard science fiction, the story presented in Fortunate Son fascinates me in the way it deals with technology outpacing technology. Human spacers who are scared into making stupid decisions because the Warp 5 engine threatens their livelihoods. All the old freighters are about to be obsolete and they know they can’t afford to stay with the curve. All too often Star Trek shows us the great advances without showing the problems they cause along the way. To see it dealt with was a rare treat.

Breaking The Ice appeals in a much simpler way. I can’t imagine any other Star Trek in which the crew stumble across a particularly large comet and become fascinated by it because it’s particularly large. This is truly a crew who are seeing the universe for the first time.

I don’t have a lot to say about other episodes. Dear Doctor is something of rif on Data’s Day, Oasis is part TNG’s “The Survivors” and part DS9’s “Shadowplay”.

Which brings me to Cold Front. This is where Enterprise really goes wrong, for me. Whilst I love the basic Star Trek storytelling of races against time, diplomatic or ethical problems or encounters with strange new worlds, new life and new civilizations… (sorry, couldn’t help myself) I hate the temporal cold war. All too often a Star Trek Time Travel episode always felt like a bottom-of-the-barrel idea filler episode. It certainly feels over used and is often done rather badly. In a show where the appeal was a Star Trek without the deus-ex-machina solutions of tachyon emitters, transporters, shields, tractor beams, tricorders, etc I just can’t forgive the writers for writing in Crewman Daniels’ quartes. A convenient room full of technology from centuries beyond the tech seen in any of the other shows.

It’s a well I’m glad they didn’t go to too often, but it was there and that was a mistake. Also, the idea of a temporal cold war is such a nebulous and abstract one that the battle lines, combatants and allegiances never felt solid or consistant. Archer and Enterprise were just batted around by the players, aware that something was going on but unable to ever really be a part of it.

Why couldn’t they just get on with exploring space?

Oh and before I forget, the sin I can never forgive the writers for? Detained. You have Scott Bakula. You have Dean Stockwell. You have Scott Bakula brought into the room where Dean Stockwell is. The first line delivered by Scott Bakula in this scene should be, by mathematical law, “Oh Boy.” If it is anything else, you have failed as a writer.

Grand Star Trek Undertaking: Broken Bow

Enterprise

Season 1, Episode 1

Broken Bow

I had forgotten just how much promise this series began with. No, I’m not referring to Trip and T’Pol’s quarantine rub-down. That was actually one of the things that annoyed me right up front. On an intellectual level. I’m still human.

No, the promise came from what they got right. In my opinion that’s as follows:

Future-Past Tech
The Enterprise itself looked like it was made of metal, the interiors were inspired by nuclear submarines not science fiction. The same goes for the utilitarian jumpsuits and lcd tv screens that served as displays ship-wide. It looked like a recognisable future yet Star Trek’s past. Untrustworthy transporters, grappling lines, shuttlepods, unreliable gravity and the barest prototype of a universal translator.

Star Trek Aliens
Arrogant Vulcans and Humans (also arrogant) in their uneasiest first steps of alliance. Klingons, the great antagonists, even if they were pasty-present-and-correct. Denobulans were new and fitted nicely into Star Trek, also providing us with another great Doctor character. Why is it Trek does Doctors so well?

Scott Bakula
Yeah, he was Sam Beckett, but in fairness he hadn’t been for a while. When it came to casting a Starfleet captain to come before Kirk you needed a square jawed, clean-cut all American man who could sell some rough and tumble. You needed Bakula.

A Time Limit and a Problem
The best Star Trek story telling is either a complex character study or a race against time story. Those are, broadly, the classics. Pilots are, traditionally, the latter and this is what Broken Bow gave us.

Porthos

In general, Broken Bow was great. There was some unease.The Suliban didn’t sit well with me, right from the get go and I was sadly to be proven right. Let’s not even talk about the abomination of a theme tune.

Still, it’s kind of refreshing to go back with some distance and remember just how hopeful the opener made me way-back-when.

My Grand Undertaking

New Years Resolution Time!

This year it’s not ‘lose weight’, though that’s on my to-do list. Nor is it a resolution to tidy more often, generally be more domestic, although that’s also right up there. No, this year I’m trying something big. Inspired by Amezzeray I have resolved to watch all of Star Trek in a single year. If you’re curious what ‘all of Star Trek’ means or want to check up on my progress, venture forth into the rest of this post…
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