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Justin Snead

Tomorrowland and why Phlox typified Enterprise's creative failure

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Mayweather is a bigger problem for me, as he wholeheartedly represents the lack of characterizations on the series.

This criticism I very much agree with, sadly.

I say sadly because I saw Anthony Montgomery in a funny indie comedy from 2007 called "I'm Through With White Girls" and he was terrific. He held the lead effortlessly. After seeing that movie, I really wish they'd given him a stronger (and more humorous) role on ENT. But as he was? He was just the smiling guy who steered the ship...

To be honest, only till a few years ago or so, I used to actually forget his character's last name sometimes....

I only knew his name because he was mentioned here! I forget him and the British guy's name constantly!

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Mayweather is a bigger problem for me, as he wholeheartedly represents the lack of characterizations on the series.

This criticism I very much agree with, sadly.

I say sadly because I saw Anthony Montgomery in a funny indie comedy from 2007 called "I'm Through With White Girls" and he was terrific. He held the lead effortlessly. After seeing that movie, I really wish they'd given him a stronger (and more humorous) role on ENT. But as he was? He was just the smiling guy who steered the ship...

To be honest, only till a few years ago or so, I used to actually forget his character's last name sometimes....

I only knew his name because he was mentioned here! I forget him and the British guy's name constantly!

I think Malcolm's birth certificate lists his birth name as "That British Guy." :giggle:

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Mayweather is a bigger problem for me, as he wholeheartedly represents the lack of characterizations on the series.

This criticism I very much agree with, sadly.

I say sadly because I saw Anthony Montgomery in a funny indie comedy from 2007 called "I'm Through With White Girls" and he was terrific. He held the lead effortlessly. After seeing that movie, I really wish they'd given him a stronger (and more humorous) role on ENT. But as he was? He was just the smiling guy who steered the ship...

To be honest, only till a few years ago or so, I used to actually forget his character's last name sometimes....

I only knew his name because he was mentioned here! I forget him and the British guy's name constantly!

I think Malcolm's birth certificate lists his birth name as "That British Guy." :giggle:

Mayweather's just list him as "who are we talking about again?"

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I don't even get the connection between Phlox and Tomorrowland.

The only aspect I can critique is the issue of Archer - I've seen this criticism often. That Archer made mistakes. Have these critics ever taken into consideration that he was mean to make mistake. Thus setting the rules for the later captains?

"Someday my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine, something that tells us what we can and can't do out here; should and shouldn't do. But until somebody tells me that they've drafted that... directive... I'm going to have to remind myself every day that we didn't come out here to play God."

I kind of saw much of the show that way; the unsteady colt who tries to steady itself before it runs with mama. The crew makes procedural mistakes (something that still happens in the 23rd and 24th centuries, I'm afraid) and the technology isn't quite 100% yet. The show wasn't meant to be Roddenberry's Star Trek.... not yet. It was about the long road to utopia. Earth had just gotten its s#!t together, and now it's ready to take on the galaxy.... or is it? That (to me) was the series.

That's exactly how I watched it too. If you watch it as the first pioneers setting the ground work for Kirk and the other captains, you are much more understanding of the mistakes made by Archer. Although, I agree with you in regards to Archer going way too far off the rails in season 3 to appeal to the revenge feelings of society post 9/11.

Bus was not Archer almost always written as though he was always right? SimIlar to how Janeway was often depicted. I understand the show was intended to give the feeling that they were out there figuring it all out without the benefit of centuries of federation wisdom. but did Archer ever act all that different from how we'd expect a Starfleet captain to act? The above quote is a case in point. In it he is saying he doesn't have the benefit of what we know to be the prime directive, but in the same sentence he espouses the fundamental reason for the prime directive, to keep them from playing God.

This is another example the creative failure my thread is describing. We were told over and over again, by Archer and others, that we were witnessing the historic first steps of humanity into the Galaxy, the laying of the foundation for everything in future Trek. We were told ( much like the characters in Tomorrowland are told ) to be amazed and awed by what we were seeing. Except the stories seldom matched up with what the characters in the story were telling us we were watching.

I think about the all important second episode of ther series. It was called Strange New World. It was supposed to depict this theme of the show. But the strange new world was not that strange. Just another cave set episodes. And they couldn't make the transporter work just right, so some twigs got caught in a red shirt's face. That is all you got? I'm not saying it would have been easy to make Star Trek stories fresh, and depict the wonder that the first captain would have actually experienced. What I am arguing is that they didn't try very hard except to just tell us not show us.

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Mayweather is a bigger problem for me, as he wholeheartedly represents the lack of characterizations on the series.

This criticism I very much agree with, sadly.

I say sadly because I saw Anthony Montgomery in a funny indie comedy from 2007 called "I'm Through With White Girls" and he was terrific. He held the lead effortlessly. After seeing that movie, I really wish they'd given him a stronger (and more humorous) role on ENT. But as he was? He was just the smiling guy who steered the ship...

To be honest, only till a few years ago or so, I used to actually forget his character's last name sometimes....

I only knew his name because he was mentioned here! I forget him and the British guy's name constantly!

I think Malcolm's birth certificate lists his birth name as "That British Guy." :giggle:

Mayweather's just list him as "who are we talking about again?"

:laugh:

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Another rule of the Internet is to avoid someone's core argument while pilling on one sentence they wrote.

I have not seen Tomorrowland and have no opinion about it, but I read a professional critic that I trust about the movie, and his words ring true to me because I have seen the same flaw he describes in other movies and shows. And it reminds me of a problem that I've noticed in Berman era Trek, specifically Enterprise of which I have seen at least half of the episodes. but it's also in VOY and TNG films like INS and NEM.

That problem is this: the movie or show tells us we are seeing something very Star Treky, but in fact that something is only conveyed by the a few bits of dialogue, we are not seeing or feeling it in any deep way because the story is not taking us there. the story is taking us down a rather conventional road to a space battle or whatnot, but then a character pops in with a line that suggests it is really about something more when it clearly is not.

Here is a non ENT example. When Picard said in NEM, that "it seems we are truly sailing into the unknown." If only that movie took us into the unknown, but it never did. And even if it did we would only discover there the same space battle we have seen in the last four or five movies.

In the ENT episodes I saw, much of Phlox's dialogue was designed to serve this purpose. To me it sounded hollow, but that's because to me the series was hollow.

for a counter example, think of just about any line from Star Trek VI. Those bits of dialogue give voice to Trek's themes, but were also deeply rooted in the entire narrative of that particular story. they were not lip service.

A lot of dialogue in ENT was mere lip service to the themes of Trek but without the stories or character to back it up.

But you admit you barely watched it (!). How do you know that?

What if most TNG fans gave up on it because S1 was terrible? You'd have missed "Best of Both Worlds" "Inner Light" etc.

And only watching the first few episodes of TNG S1 would hardly make one an expert on the entire series' faults...

Did you watch S4 of ENT? It addressed a lot of the things you seem to think are deficits. It did a lot more than pay lip service; it showed how the utopia we saw in TOS and TNG came to be...

Another rule of the Internet is to avoid someone's core argument while pilling on one sentence they wrote.

What core argument? You've not given one.

You admit you've never seen Tomorrowland and you gave up early on ENT... what are you arguing about, exactly? A secondhand perception you read about somewhere?

You quoted my core argument above, the paragraph that begins: "The problem is this:" That is my argument, and it applies to most of the episodes of Enterprise I have seen, which includes the vast majority of the first three seasons.

To your point, I have not seen season 4. I concede that what I am describing does not apply to that season, but by then I already loathed all of the characters and just about everything else about the production of the series. So I was never going to be receptive to the new tone. But that is just me. If the characters were likable or only slightly irritating to you in the first 75% of the series, then I guess you could me more open to what Coto tried to accomplish.

This contradicts what you implied earlier; that you gave up on the series fairly early on, but... so be it.

When I saw the pilot episode I knew immediately that the show would not work. And the big red flag was Phlox. I knew from the promotional info that Phlox was supposed to be a wizened character who helps the crew tap into their inner optimistic vision, the voice of the Roddenberry ideal in the new series. But when I saw how he was written to perform this narrative function--simply repeating the word "Optimism!" through a extra big CGI smile (did that smile ever get repeated again in the series?)

^

If you'd watched most of the series you'd have known that Phlox wasn't just about an "Optimism!" catchphrase (it never was his catchphrase... he says it once). I'd gotten the impression you gave up fairly early on, or you would've also seen Phlox grapple with prejudice and ethical issues. He wasn't just some Neelix wannabe; not by a long shot. Sounds like you were fresh off of your disappointment with VGR and carried it over to ENT. I admit, VGR left me pretty jaded as well, so I sympathize.

And if you don't like Phlox? That's fine, but assigning him traits and attributes that he does't have or never had made me wonder if you'd ever seen the show beyond the first year (arguably an uneven season, but there were a few gems: "Fusion" "Breaking the Ice" "Andorian Incident" "Fight or Flight" etc). I also had issue with the statement that Phlox (a supporting end me off character only) was what was wrong with the show. ENT had plenty of faults, but Phlox was hardly the walking embodiment of them.

And S4 was the best season of the show, and as Sim said earlier, one of the best seasons of ST since DS9 left the air. Sorry you skipped it. You should give it a try before you write the entire series off as a loss.

I was never a fan of it, but I watched the first season closely. I tuned in for much of the run, not religiously. I was pulled in by the hype of season there's new direction, but I don't think I finished it. By then I think I was actively rooting for cancelation.

Phlox was not the shows problem. I'm saying the he represents a wider problem of the show that most of the other characters share. Reading about Tomorroland just happened to put me in mind of Phlox's role in the series Bible and the pilot. I take it at your word that his original intent was downsized in later episodes. But his first scene with Archer, the Optimism scene, really turned me off and I remember my negative reaction to this day. It stuck with me.

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I'm still confused on how Phlox is considered Neelix 2.0 by some critics. He is actually nothing like Neelix.

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I'm still confused on how Phlox is considered Neelix 2.0 by some critics. He is actually nothing like Neelix.

I suppose they do share a certain zest for life and, dare I say it in this thread, optimism, but where Phlox was an always see the silver lining kind of guy Neelix was that sickly, cloying kind of sweet that a stalker who found his target has.

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I'm still confused on how Phlox is considered Neelix 2.0 by some critics. He is actually nothing like Neelix.

Agreed. Phlox is nothing like Neelix.

But I do see where this notion comes from. I can imagine that Phlox was indeed conceptualized as a substitute to appeal to Neelix fans (just like T'Pol was supposed to address 7 of 9 fans): A sympathetic, always good-humored alien, and what Neelix's weird kitchen ingredients were for that characters, are the eels and "yucky" treatments for Phlox.

Thank God Phlox didn't turn out the same. Both the writers and the actor gave Phlox an earnestness and dignity Neelix never had in the slightest.

Still I'm pretty sure that at the meetings when they invented ENT, they had this in mind. "Hey, let's bring in a variation of the Neelix character, for that the Neelix fans have someone to like". Just like, without doubt, they said "catsuit, big boobs and cold carnal demeanor worked for Seven, so T'Pol must replace her to get the VOY fans on board of the new show".

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Phlox and Neelix both have X's at the end of their name and they have goofy alien make-up. They are essentially the same person.

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Phlox and Neelix both have X's at the end of their name and they have goofy alien make-up. They are essentially the same person.

I know you're joking, but I'm pretty sure that was exactly how B&B were thinking.

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Phlox and Neelix both have X's at the end of their name and they have goofy alien make-up. They are essentially the same person.

I know you're joking, but I'm pretty sure that was exactly how B&B were thinking.

Just so glad it didn't turn out that way.

I'm still confused on how Phlox is considered Neelix 2.0 by some critics. He is actually nothing like Neelix.

I suppose they do share a certain zest for life and, dare I say it in this thread, optimism, but where Phlox was an always see the silver lining kind of guy Neelix was that sickly, cloying kind of sweet that a stalker who found his target has.

^

LOL.

His creepiness with Kes is less like a husband/boyfriend, and more like a perverted uncle with his pretty niece. It wasn't just the age disparity either; it was just a weird, creepy, paternal vibe he gave off while trying to deliver romantic dialogue. Result = instant creepiness.

clinteastwooddrinkingcoffeedisgusted.gifKes-and-Neelix-kes-30707484-494-735.jpg

But Phlox having multiple wives and husbands? I could absolutely buy that.

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His creepiness with Kes is less like a husband/boyfriend, and more like a perverted uncle with his pretty niece. It wasn't just the age disparity either; it was just a weird, creepy, paternal vibe he gave off while trying to deliver romantic dialogue. Result = instant creepiness.

It always felt like he wasn't in love with her so much as in love at her. That episode with Paris and Neelix stranded together and things blew up over her he was so jealous and obsessive it was pathological.

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His creepiness with Kes is less like a husband/boyfriend, and more like a perverted uncle with his pretty niece. It wasn't just the age disparity either; it was just a weird, creepy, paternal vibe he gave off while trying to deliver romantic dialogue. Result = instant creepiness.

It always felt like he wasn't in love with her so much as in love at her. That episode with Paris and Neelix stranded together and things blew up over her he was so jealous and obsessive it was pathological.

Neelix is incredibly creepy when it comes to Kes. That this behavior was never reflected on-screen makes me think that the writers were indeed so clueless they didn't even notice it. That makes it perhaps one of the worst failures of the writing department on a ST series ever.

Or did they think this is funny? I don't think that would make it any better...

Just look at an episode such as "Elogium". It is just creepy and awkward on so many different levels. Yuck.

Edited by Sim

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I keep replacing Neelix's name in my head with 'Netflix' when I first look at the posts, am I the only one? :giggle:

I think they originally intended Neelix to be a serious character and later tried to turn him into a comedic relief character because it was hard to take him seriously. I can say though, I think I found him funny only in one episode, False Profits. It was the one that was the follow-up to The Price and Neelix was pretending to be a Ferengi, the 'Grand Proxy'. His cover story was that he had come to replace the Ferengi that got lost on the planet after getting stranded in the Delta Quadrant by the unstable Barzan Wormhole. Aside from that, I found his humor groan-inducing. They did try to soften his character up with his Uncle relationship with Naomi, but it was hard to wash out the aftertaste of that dreadful Kes relationship.

Phlox, I don't think was ever intended to be comic relief. They had an alien in T'Pol, but Vulcans were quite familiar to the viewer. I think they just wanted a more exotic alien, like Neelix was for Voyager. I think that's where the similarities end though.

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Phlox was supposed to be, like Spock/Data/Odo/Seven before him, the 'outsider looking in' on humanity. But the big difference is that he wasn't some emotionless android/alien/former-cyborg who didn't understand emotions; he was just a curious outsider. He had a full range of emotions (he delighted in them), but his people were just different culturally.

I see Phlox as more the curious exchange student (as he was; since he was a member of the cultural exchange program); still very much like us in many ways but surprisingly different in others. He was not some vacuous overly-optimistic cheerleader, but rather a curious (and excited) student. A stranger in a strange land who saw his situation as the exciting learning opportunity that it was, and reveled in it. And his working with the slightly less developed humans was, for him, kind of like someone who's sailed the world in a yacht suddenly shipping out with a bunch of kids who are doing so in a recreation of the "Santa Maria."

He was refreshing to me.

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Phlox was supposed to be, like Spock/Data/Odo/Seven before him, the 'outsider looking in' on humanity. But the big difference is that he wasn't some emotionless android/alien/former-cyborg who didn't understand emotions; he was just a curious outsider. He had a full range of emotions (he delighted in them), but his people were just different culturally.

I see Phlox as more the curious exchange student (as he was; since he was a member of the cultural exchange program); still very much like us in many ways but surprisingly different in others. He was not some vacuous overly-optimistic cheerleader, but rather a curious (and excited) student. A stranger in a strange land who saw his situation as the exciting learning opportunity that it was, and reveled in it. And his working with the slightly less developed humans was, for him, kind of like someone who's sailed the world in a yacht suddenly shipping out with a bunch of kids who are doing so in a recreation of the "Santa Maria."

He was refreshing to me.

Good description ... plus, Phlox was simply a very sympathetic, humane character, always with empathy for others. That just made him lovable. :)

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Phlox was supposed to be, like Spock/Data/Odo/Seven before him, the 'outsider looking in' on humanity. But the big difference is that he wasn't some emotionless android/alien/former-cyborg who didn't understand emotions; he was just a curious outsider. He had a full range of emotions (he delighted in them), but his people were just different culturally.

I see Phlox as more the curious exchange student (as he was; since he was a member of the cultural exchange program); still very much like us in many ways but surprisingly different in others. He was not some vacuous overly-optimistic cheerleader, but rather a curious (and excited) student. A stranger in a strange land who saw his situation as the exciting learning opportunity that it was, and reveled in it. And his working with the slightly less developed humans was, for him, kind of like someone who's sailed the world in a yacht suddenly shipping out with a bunch of kids who are doing so in a recreation of the "Santa Maria."

He was refreshing to me.

Good description ... plus, Phlox was simply a very sympathetic, humane character, always with empathy for others. That just made him lovable. :)

I also loved the occasional episode or two that sort of bucked the gentle inertia of his personality; such as the episode where he was forced to confront his own people's prejudice for an old enemy (title escapes me) or where he faced an ethical dilemma when a planet had two rival humanoid species; one of them subjected as an underclass ("Dear Doctor"). But more often than not, he was the perfect 'native guide' for the Enterprise crew, since he casually accepted other race's idiosyncrasies as just that, and nothing more...

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Bus was not Archer almost always written as though he was always right? SimIlar to how Janeway was often depicted. I understand the show was intended to give the feeling that they were out there figuring it all out without the benefit of centuries of federation wisdom. but did Archer ever act all that different from how we'd expect a Starfleet captain to act? The above quote is a case in point. In it he is saying he doesn't have the benefit of what we know to be the prime directive, but in the same sentence he espouses the fundamental reason for the prime directive, to keep them from playing God.

The thing I always found amusing was whenever the Vulcans came along preaching about how Humans were reckless, naive etc - they were always right. Archer would've had a much easier time of it if he'd just listened to T'Pol and Soval etc, but he's got to be the "morally superior" Human and give his good old American finger to the people who've been doing this for thousands of years because America knows best.

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Bus was not Archer almost always written as though he was always right? SimIlar to how Janeway was often depicted. I understand the show was intended to give the feeling that they were out there figuring it all out without the benefit of centuries of federation wisdom. but did Archer ever act all that different from how we'd expect a Starfleet captain to act? The above quote is a case in point. In it he is saying he doesn't have the benefit of what we know to be the prime directive, but in the same sentence he espouses the fundamental reason for the prime directive, to keep them from playing God.

The thing I always found amusing was whenever the Vulcans came along preaching about how Humans were reckless, naive etc - they were always right. Archer would've had a much easier time of it if he'd just listened to T'Pol and Soval etc, but he's got to be the "morally superior" Human and give his good old American finger to the people who've been doing this for thousands of years because America knows best.

^

This!

So very this....

As much as I loved Phlox (the subject of the thread), I didn't really warm up to Archer till about the 4th year, when he stopped being "Bush In Space."

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Bus was not Archer almost always written as though he was always right? SimIlar to how Janeway was often depicted. I understand the show was intended to give the feeling that they were out there figuring it all out without the benefit of centuries of federation wisdom. but did Archer ever act all that different from how we'd expect a Starfleet captain to act? The above quote is a case in point. In it he is saying he doesn't have the benefit of what we know to be the prime directive, but in the same sentence he espouses the fundamental reason for the prime directive, to keep them from playing God.

The thing I always found amusing was whenever the Vulcans came along preaching about how Humans were reckless, naive etc - they were always right. Archer would've had a much easier time of it if he'd just listened to T'Pol and Soval etc, but he's got to be the "morally superior" Human and give his good old American finger to the people who've been doing this for thousands of years because America knows best.

^

This!

So very this....

As much as I loved Phlox (the subject of the thread), I didn't really warm up to Archer till about the 4th year, when he stopped being "Bush In Space."

Felt the same about Archer. Especially in season 3, it seemed to me Bakula was even directly channeling Bush with his acting occasionally. This mix of aggressiveness, pale dumb stare and foam around the mouth.

The first time I really felt sympathy for the character again was in that episode in the beginning of season 4 when Archer is on a hike with Captain Hernandez, reflecting his deeds and trauma.

Edited by Sim

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Bus was not Archer almost always written as though he was always right? SimIlar to how Janeway was often depicted. I understand the show was intended to give the feeling that they were out there figuring it all out without the benefit of centuries of federation wisdom. but did Archer ever act all that different from how we'd expect a Starfleet captain to act? The above quote is a case in point. In it he is saying he doesn't have the benefit of what we know to be the prime directive, but in the same sentence he espouses the fundamental reason for the prime directive, to keep them from playing God.

The thing I always found amusing was whenever the Vulcans came along preaching about how Humans were reckless, naive etc - they were always right. Archer would've had a much easier time of it if he'd just listened to T'Pol and Soval etc, but he's got to be the "morally superior" Human and give his good old American finger to the people who've been doing this for thousands of years because America knows best.

^

This!

So very this....

As much as I loved Phlox (the subject of the thread), I didn't really warm up to Archer till about the 4th year, when he stopped being "Bush In Space."

Felt the same about Archer. Especially in season 3, it seemed to me Bakula was even directly channeling Bush with his acting occasionally. This mix of aggressiveness, pale dumb stare and foam around the mouth.

The first time I really felt sympathy for the character again was in that episode in the beginning of season 4 when Archer is on a hike with Captain Hernandez, reflecting his deeds and trauma.

That was a turning point for me as well.

But before then, it did seem like Bakula was channeling his 'inner-Dubya.'

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I wonder how can people have so different view points! I think Archer is great, since the first episode... But i respect those who think other wise. I just wished i understood why. There's enough hate for poor Ezri already (tough in this case i understand that people tough she was replacing Jadzia and all...).

Truth is i like pretty much everything involving Star Trek, except for some bad episodes that eventually happen. Even the new movies aren't THAT BAD in my point of view, but i do think it could be A LOT better.

Edited by Garak the spy

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Archer was written with some Bush-inspired qualities (particularly season 3), but the dumb look I always chucked up to Bakula being utterly baffled by the weak scripts he was being forced to work on. I don't think Archer was a great character, but I must admit I love Bakula. Quantum Leap is fantastic (I have an affinity for shows about time travelers who burst into light and look like somebody else).

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Archer was written with some Bush-inspired qualities (particularly season 3), but the dumb look I always chucked up to Bakula being utterly baffled by the weak scripts he was being forced to work on. I don't think Archer was a great character, but I must admit I love Bakula. Quantum Leap is fantastic (I have an affinity for shows about time travelers who burst into light and look like somebody else).

And that was one of the reasons I was so excited when Bakula was announced as Capt. Archer; I was already a huge "Quantum Leap" fan (or "Leapers" as we call ourselves... heehee). But what I didn't like were his constant anger issues with T'Pol and his overall belligerent, intolerant, confrontational attitude towards aliens; it seemed he was (too often) applying Federation values to alien cultures. His hostility towards Vulcans was a mistake right out of the box as far as I'm concerned (and it has nothing to do with Vulcans being my favorites of course.... :angel_not: ).

And as GD pointed out above, more often than not he was just proving the Vulcans right...

But by S4, the show took a sharp left turn and became something unexpectedly special. There were a few good episodes here and there in the first three years, but S4 was largely terrific the whole year. Only a couple duds in the bunch. I sincerely wish that S4 had been S1, but oh well.... if wishes were horses, right?

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