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Justin Snead

The Maybe-Im-Willing-to-Give-Enterprise-a-Second-Look Thread

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Really, for me, it would be a first look since I never really gave the show much of a chance past the first half dozen episodes. But Im hearing that ENT is not as terrible in retrospect as some of us thought when it aired. Maybe now that some of the passions have cooled, it does come off better. 

Another reason I'm interested in watching it is because of Discovery. The writers set this new series in the Prime timeline, and they swear they will follow canon. This is significant for two reasons. The Prime Timeline is here to stay (and the Kelvin timeline will be seen as just an excuse to turn a TOS reboot into a string of summer blockbusters). This week Ted Sullivan (DSC producer) was asked on Twitter if he'd seen two specific ENT episodes. He answered that they had and the team was fully aware of ENT canon. He went on to Tweet that how certain members of the DSC team were fans of TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY respectively--pointedly leaving out ENT as a favorite of anyone on the writing staff. In any case, they will either strive to follow canon established on ENT, or they will ignore or work around ENT canon--either way, I would like to be informed about what canon was established on ENT so I can thoughtfully discuss and debate this going forward. 

First question: How much of ENT was devoted to the founding of the Federation? What concrete historical points were established, and was it laid out in a dramatic story that would make us care about the narrative arc of the founding? If so, were these mostly in the 4th season or should I look to earlier seasons?      

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kenman   
3 hours ago, Justin Snead said:

First question: How much of ENT was devoted to the founding of the Federation? What concrete historical points were established, and was it laid out in a dramatic story that would make us care about the narrative arc of the founding? If so, were these mostly in the 4th season or should I look to earlier seasons?      

In terms of the founding of the Federation...not nearly as much as there should've been.  It really doesn't come into play until the fourth season.  Even then, it was mostly just a casual build up of four different species kind of coming together and building some bridges. Whether or not it was laid out in an effective way in which you care is entirely dependent on each viewer.  Some like it, some don't some are indifferent. 

As to the earlier seasons, there are hit and miss. In my view, the first season is kind of aimless, with a few new ideas and a few clear prequel elements, but a lot of it is lost in generic stories and characters that don't truly light up at first.  The second season is somehow worse...as it seems to have even less aim and a lot of by the numbers stories that feel tired and out of shape.  The third season had an goal, which no matter what was a step up from the first two seasons in my book...though the struggle is that I'm not sure the message they wanted to convey ultimately ended up coming across to well. It also has the big disadvantage of attempting to try and modernize Trek for the post-9/11 era of TV 3 years too late and competing with Battlestar Galactica which tackled a similar allegory in a VASTLY better way.  So the Third Season is better than the first two in my book, but is still a bit of a mess.  And once they sort of wrapped up the awful "Temporal Cold War" running arc that drags the show down from time to time (starting in the Pilot up the opening two parter of Season 4), they show finally resembled actual Star Trek and seemed like a legit TOS prequel. 

Still, I do think that even now when I look back on the fourth season, it was so clearly shot in a dated way, even for when it was made.  It's easier for me to look past certain dated techniques of shooting when I watch TOS, TNG, or DS9...because they all seem a bit more advanced for the era they actually came from (what else looked like TOS?  TNG looks a bit ahead of it's contemporaries at the time in my view)....but when I look at Enterprise, it feels like when it launched it was shot in the same style as TNG, and TV had not only caught up to TNG, but advanced beyond it's style...and Enterprise felt like it was lumbering on.  That doesn't really say much about its stories or arcs or anything...just a general thought about how the show currently holds up when I look at it. 

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I was at a panel for Brannon Braga over the past weekend in Las Vegas (the big ST con; details on my blog in my signature), and he reiterated that story about how he wanted the entire first season of ENT to be earthbound with the season 1 finale being the launch of the NX-01.

Mixed emotions about that; I think it could've been a potentially interesting 'this-is-how-you-make-a-starship-and-crew' season, but I'm just not sure I'd want to sit through it.  Maybe read it, perhaps.  But TV is a show-rather-than-tell medium.  Add to the fact that an entire season is a LONG time just to get into space.  Especially for a Star Trek series (whether in title or not).

That said, I think the producers made the right call, and while I'm still not overly fond of the Xindi arc, I think ENT has (for me) gotten better and better overall each time I watch (and rewatch) it.   The characters seeme more interesting and vividly drawn during rewatching in ways I never quite felt during the original airings.  

Maybe it's seeing ENT in relative isolation years later, and not when it was so hot off the heels of DS9 and VGR...?  I dunno.  It felt a bit like a tired retread then; but it feels more unique and energetic now.   It kind of supports my feeling that franchise fatigue from the late '90s onward played a definite role in the show's premature demise.

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Since ENT is the only Trek series besides TNG that I'm actively interested in watching these days I'd say giving it another chance is always a good idea, there is just SOMETHING about it. I used to LOATHE it until I sat down and established a headcanon for myself that enables me to enjoy it for what it is. Season 3 has grown on me a LOT while season 4 tends to simply bore me because it's mostly fan service and a somewhat desperate attempt (to me) to make the show fit into established canon. If they had made the entire show like season 4 I would probably have enjoyed it, but pushing all the 'must make this show lead up to TOS now' episodes into one season in one last futile attempt to get the fans back who had left during or after season 3 just seems unfortunate and desperate to me. But, whatevs, it's still not horrible television or anything. ENT is ENT and it's still not exactly everyone's darling show, but there are a lot of fans who like it better now than they used to.

That planet-based first season idea sounds terrible even to me, btw. ENT was a show supposed to be about the first folks out there in space, not the first folks on Earth preparing to go out there for an entire season. One or two episodes, sure... but not an entire season. It would probably have been dreadful, sorry. lol

And yeah, the Federation is pretty much a somewhat minor plot point throughout ENT. There are occasional episodes but the show is more about meeting aliens of the week and later on working with the Andorians and Tellarites for the first time than actual early pre-Federation politics. At least that's how it has always seemed to me.

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Just now, Mr.Picard said:

That planet-based first season idea sounds terrible even to me, btw. ENT was a show supposed to be about the first folks out there in space, not the first folks on Earth preparing to go out there for an entire season. One or two episodes, sure... but not an entire season. It would probably have been dreadful, sorry. lol

No, I felt the same way.

I first read about this idea (or rather, the details of this idea) in Mark Altman’s “The Fifty Year Mission: The Next 25 Years...” and frankly, it just sounded like so much pretentious preamble.   The pilot told all of that in 15 minutes.   Once again, I’m glad that Braga (as much as I enjoy other works of his) was overruled on that one.    Sometimes a writer is too close to a story idea to see the inherent flaws within it.   This sounded like one of those times...

4 minutes ago, Mr.Picard said:

And yeah, the Federation is pretty much a somewhat minor plot point throughout ENT. There are occasional episodes but the show is more about meeting aliens of the week and later on working with the Andorians and Tellarites for the first time than actual early pre-Federation politics. At least that's how it has always seemed to me.

Agreed.

The formation of the Federation was an idea that really seemed more shoehorned into the very end of S4 rather than a continuing arc throughout the run of the series. 

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ENT is my @2 favorite series, slightly behind TNG.  The canon issues people raise are irrelevant to enjoying the great sense of discovery and extreme character development that mark the show.  There are some silly episodes (Two Days and Two Nights), some emotionally moving episodes (like Carbon Creek) and some important ones (like the controversial Dear Doctor and Sim).  Watch it with an open mind, or as Trip says, "Challenge your preconceptions or they will challenge you."

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13 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

Mixed emotions about that; I think it could've been a potentially interesting 'this-is-how-you-make-a-starship-and-crew' season, but I'm just not sure I'd want to sit through it.

I'd heard this before, too. It never would have worked. Even the most open-minded of fans would have been grinding their teeth to nothing waiting for them to boldly go already.

I'm as much of a fan as anyone, and I never would have sat through it.

Edited by prometheus59650

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Is my memory off or do I recall that ENT original intent was to dramatize the founding of the federation? As fans, we probably wanted to see this for years before ENT was conceived. So maybe when B&B said in interviews, the show is set 10 years before the founding, we all assumed that was what the show was going to be about. Maybe that was their intention as well, that they would eventually get around to it, but when the show was canceled, they had to cram the big historical event into the last few episodes.

The bigger problem it seems was that they did not have a clear vision for what the show was supposed to be from the get go. The premise of the First Ship is only half a premise if you think about it. By that point in the franchise, just being the first deep space mission is not enough because the ship is not going to be doing anything radically different than the 1701, 1701-D and the VOY, it's just doing it "first". From the viewers POV, there needed to be another narrative thread. I guess that is what the Temporal Cold War was supposed to provide... it should have been the founding, but I guess that would have been too heavy with politics and diplomacy for B&B's tastes. 

I'm not against the idea of an Earth-based Trek series, or season. But I do wonder what kind of stories Braga had planned for that first season. Considering how hard they found it to write creative, fresh stories in space that first season, would the challenge of being on Earth forced them to be more creative, or would it have been even dryer and more aimless? We'll never know I guess. 

Anyway, it's a small tragedy that we had a chance to have a rip roaring story about how the Trek universe was born, and a federation of vastly different and hostile aliens put down their differences to form a galactic alliance that centuries of future Starfleet officers committed their lives to protect--There has to be a story there! 

Which makes me think of my first question: Did ENT explain WHY the federation formed? There had to be a reason, an event that forged them together, right? Did ENT gives us ANY clues about the reason that are now canonical?         

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39 minutes ago, Justin Snead said:

Which makes me think of my first question: Did ENT explain WHY the federation formed? There had to be a reason, an event that forged them together, right? Did ENT gives us ANY clues about the reason that are now canonical?         

The show never got that far, but even in S4 the seeds are planted. The Federation brokers peace between Andor, Tellar, and Vulcan and they all unify in the Romulan war that would have taken up at least the whole of S5.

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Yes - ENT shows how the TOS aliens came together and began to form the first steps of the UFP.

I feel like ... you should watch season 4 first and then decide to watch the rest later. Like TNG/DS9/VOY, I would not recommend newcomers start with seasons 1 or 2. Just skip to season 4 and you'll get the ENT that you seem to be looking for.

I know some people call season 4 one giant fan service but .... the entire premise of Enterprise is fan service. "Want to see how Starfleet started? Want to see how the UFP was formed?" - well season 4 is the only season that will deliver on that. It's not fan service so much as it is living up to the premise of season 1's trailer.

If you enjoy season 4 - I'd recommend watching the rest. The Xindi arc was poorly written but there are good moments. You see the early use of the transporters and how dangerous it was. You see how the Prime Directive was formed. etc.

There is a lot of material worthy of viewing I think ...

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1 minute ago, The Founder said:

I feel like ... you should watch season 4 first and then decide to watch the rest later. Like TNG/DS9/VOY, I would not recommend newcomers start with seasons 1 or 2. Just skip to season 4 and you'll get the ENT that you seem to be looking for.

This is actually a good idea; S4 is almost like a different series anyway; it’s like you start with the best and decide if you’re curious enough to endure some of the birth pains...

 

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1 minute ago, prometheus59650 said:

When even Braga will say openly that Season 4 is what the show should have been? Yeah.

It felt almost like a mid-series reboot; kind of similar to that ‘2nd pilot’ feel of “Way of the Warrior.” 

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1 minute ago, Sehlat Vie said:

It felt almost like a mid-series reboot; kind of similar to that ‘2nd pilot’ feel of “Way of the Warrior.” 

And very necessary after the Xindi arc, I think.

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Thanks for the advice. I'll start with season 4. I will report back at some point. 

I do quibble with the comparison to Way of the Warrior (hey, Im a DS9 fan). First, Ira Behr didnt want to change anything, it was forced on him by the studio. Second, I wouldnt say the tone or the narrative style of the show changed in season 4--they just introduced a Klingon arc. You could argue that season 4 was a natural development of the show getting more grand and action-oriented. Way of the Warrior was the biggest space battle + hand to hand fight scene Trek had ever done, and the series continued to up the anty from then on. So in that sense it was probably a good thing the studio forced on the Klingons, but the series was probably going in that direction anyway with the Dominion threat introduced in season 3. The also did not dump any of the previous three years of storylines, just made the Klingons one more thread in the tapestry.

ENT had two major course corrections going off in totally different directions, one in season 3 and then season 4. The Zindi arc was likely an attempt to rebuild the general viewership. The season 4 reboot they were probably thinking, "hell we arent even getting Star Trek fans to watch, let's at least do something to get them back." This proves Kenman's point that the show was listless the first two years.       

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1 hour ago, Justin Snead said:

I do quibble with the comparison to Way of the Warrior (hey, Im a DS9 fan). First, Ira Behr didnt want to change anything, it was forced on him by the studio.

Okay, you misunderstood my intent.  I wasn’t complaining about mandated changes or who did what.   I was simply comparing the two series that (arguably) got a fresh boost of vitality late into their respective runs, that’s all.   I’m okay with Worf coming to DS9 just as I was okay with ENT’s sudden change in focus & direction in S4 too.

 

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I strongly disagree with starting at season 4.  Yes, there are some of the best of ENT there, but you miss all of the growth in both the story arc and character development.  Going back to S1 after completing S4 would short-change the whole story.

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54 minutes ago, Mutai Sho-Rin said:

I strongly disagree with starting at season 4.  Yes, there are some of the best of ENT there, but you miss all of the growth in both the story arc and character development.  Going back to S1 after completing S4 would short-change the whole story.

There are a lot of underrated gems in those first couple of seasons too.

Maybe it’s best not to skip any of it after all, and just watch it as we all did in the early 2000s.  Disappointments and all.   Otherwise you can’t really understand the evolution of the show, nor can you fully appreciate how and why S4 was such a revelation to longtime ST fans...

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3 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

There are a lot of underrated gems in those first couple of seasons too.

Maybe it’s best not to skip any of it after all, and just watch it as we all did in the early 2000s.  Disappointments and all.   Otherwise you can’t really understand the evolution of the show, nor can you fully appreciate how and why S4 was such a revelation to longtime ST fans...

This.

From the beginning...warts and all. To watch it in reverse is just sort of...driving you into disappointment, I think because the rest of the show is not going to measure up.

But there are good episodes before that, for all the clunkers and downright bad. Season three is a successful evolution, I think. I mean, you can debate whether or not it was pro-Bush propaganda or whatever, but there are good episodes in there and the season-wide arc is more benefit than hindrance. Season four is sort of like a blooming flower and you see all the potential and I think that really does engender as much appreciation for the good in what came before as disappointment in knowing you weren't going to see how it all came out.

All I will say is, avoid "These Are the Voyages."

I've seen it once and never again. 

 

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I fully understand the enthusiasm many have for Season 4 and its more TOS/TNG feel.  Manny Coto brought a fresh, new shine to the show.  That said, none of the season 4 characters are anywhere near the people we meet in season 1.  As soon as I finish my re-watch of Babylon 5, ENT is next in line and trust me, I won's be skipping any of the episodes and will sing along with Faith of the Heart every damn time.

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It's a good show. I've been re-watching a lot of Enterprise recently, and have been cherry-picking the best of seasons 1 - 4. Upshot: all far better than remembered. Dated in some ways, yes, but far more good than bad. A great cast (and crew), some dumb stuff you have to wade through, but nothing overall that makes you feel that it was a waste of time (apart from enduring the title song). In retrospect, I've found Enterprise very enjoyable and accidentally brilliant in places. 

Start at the beginning; because you know it really does get better and it ends on a high. Though I'd advise skipping the actual "official" last episode. 

Edit: maybe watch the last minute of the final episode. That works. 

Edited by Robin Bland

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29 minutes ago, Robin Bland said:

It's a good show. I've been re-watching a lot of Enterprise recently, and have been cherry-picking the best of seasons 1 - 4. Upshot: all far better than remembered. Dated in some ways, yes, but far more good than bad. A great cast (and crew), some dumb stuff you have to wade through, but nothing overall that makes you feel that it was a waste of time (apart from enduring the title song). In retrospect, I've found Enterprise very enjoyable and accidentally brilliant in places. 

Start at the beginning; because you know it really does get better and it ends on a high. Though I'd advise skipping the actual "official" last episode. 

Edit: maybe watch the last minute of the final episode. That works. 

I second Bland's wisdom...and very much agree about the finale.  I also think if if they would've eliminated Trip's worthless death, and cut out the framing device, there was a decent mid-season episode hiding in there somewhere.  

Just keep it to Shran enlisting Archer to help his daughter; it would've made an interesting one-off.

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I originally enjoyed the first season. As the show went on, I grew to hate it, not only for the constant and glaring canon-violations, but also for how they kept writing Captain Archer as a meaner and meaner person. It got to the point where I felt he was no different than his MU counterpart.

However, one of my good friends gifted me the whole ENT series on Blu-ray, so I do plan to give the whole series a rewatch, once I get settled into my new place. I also plan to do the same with VOY, once I buy that series on DVD.

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I agree with Robin.  Overall it's a good show.  My personal favorite is season 4.  I watched some of my favorite "best ofs" from seasons 1 and 2 and I could watch season 4 from start to finish without skipping any of them.  When I was watching some season 4 I found myself wishing that IDW would do for Enterprise what they did for Jericho and do a continuation of the show (OK, so the Jericho continuation has been on ice so long its frozen but still ...). 

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Sim   
On 12.8.2017 at 2:26 AM, Sehlat Vie said:

I second Bland's wisdom...and very much agree about the finale.  I also think if if they would've eliminated Trip's worthless death, and cut out the framing device, there was a decent mid-season episode hiding in there somewhere.  

Just keep it to Shran enlisting Archer to help his daughter; it would've made an interesting one-off.

Or read the ENT relaunch novels after watching the final episode. They give the show a worthy ending beyond the unfortunate final episode.

 

I've never been an ENT hater. When it first aired, I liked it, because I felt it was a *huge* improvement over VOY. However, in retrospect, it's not quite up there in the same league as TOS/TNG/DS9 for me. The first three shows all build on their respective predecessors and each take the universe one step further, they IMO are at the core of Star Trek, while ENT is the decent addition you might or might not watch.

The first season is not bad for a first season of a ST show, the second is okay, but leans too much towards recycling old plot elements and tropes and is severely lacking bold ideas. I still can't stand the militaristic Xindi-arc in season 3, but there are a couple of decent standalone episodes in that season. And yes, season 4 is really great. Had the show lived on for another 3 seasons in that style? It might have ascended up to my favorite ST shows.

Edited by Sim

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