Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hail Enterprise

I just got done watching Star Trek: Enterprise, seasons three and four on Netflix. I didn't catch these seasons when they aired between 2003-2005. One of the reasons that I missed the last two seasons was that here in Cincinnati, UPN which aired Star Trek: Enterprise on low powered Channel 25. Plus the channel had difficulty being carried on cable. This was probably the reason why this show suffered because availability of UPN was a problem in other places in the nation. And while I can't deny Star Trek franchise fatigue, I believe the availability problems were the biggest reasons why the show got cancelled.

So what about the last two seasons of this show? Season Two ended with the Xindi, a collection of alien races, attacking Earth and killing seven million people. The third season was about the Enterprise entering Xindi space and stopping future Xindi attacks. Now, this was perhaps the first time a season was dedicated to a single story arc. I'm not excited about serial story telling like Lost. The reasons are if you miss an episode, you could get lost and if the arc ends badly, the whole show suffers. See season six of Lost. And the Star Trek franchise is about exploring strange new worlds.

Star Trek also likes to tell stories which are metaphorical that reflects our world. Now remember how screenplay writer Damon Lindelof described what happened to Vulcan in the 2009 movie Star Trek? He called the destruction of Vulcan, a 9/11 moment. But Star Trek: Enterprise beat Lindelof to the punch six years earlier. The whole Xindi story arc was a metaphor for the war on terror. Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) must make morally questionable decisions. And guess what just happened on Friday? The United States killed an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was running Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula with a drone attack. They killed this American citizen without a trial. Tough decision just like the ones Archer had to make.

And in season four, humanity must overcome xenophobia to form an alliance of planets, the United Federation of Planets. It might seem over the top dramatics to show how some humans hated aliens but think about what is happening with the way some Americans treat Muslims after 9/11. See all the angst over the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy. Yet, man will overcome his prejudices and the future looks bright with the formation of the Federation. I just hope that some Americans will embrace the Constitution and put aside their fear and hatred.

Star Trek: Enterprise is one Star Trek series that was underrated. But it was a great show. Kudos must be given to creators and producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. Other credit must be given to writers Manny Coto, experienced Star Trek novelists Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. They've created a bold, exciting and smart Star Trek show.

Christopher Roberts has created a beautiful Star Trek: Enterprise fan video capturing the spirit of the show.

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