Wow. It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. From our early reviews of Star Trek the next Generation to now, I really never dreamed I would be working on reviews for this series. Frankly, I was also kinda dreading it too.
You see, Enterprise is a series that I have had some issues with since I first watched it starting in 2001. Where I had hoped for a continuation after Voyager showing us what happened next, there was this strange desire of nearly every producer to make prequels to things. From the obvious The Phantom Menace to horror franchises like The Ring and From Dusk Till dawn, the early 2000’s were filled with prequelitis. What happened before? was the mantra and a lot of us really didn’t care.
Then, when Star Trek pulled the trick themselves it was rather bitter sweet, sure we would be getting more Star Trek but there was no indication that we would ever see what happened after the events of Voyager outside of a film that was forthcoming. Things looked promising, however when it was announced that Scott Bakula, of Quantum Leap fame, would take the big chair as Captain Johnathan Archer in the Experimental Starship Enterprise. So, of course, like the good Trekkie that I am, I watched…and of course I judged.
Originally broadcast on September 26, 2001 this is Broken Bow.
Before we dive into this episode, lets get one major Elephant out of the way. Yeah, you guessed it, that theme song. Now, traditionally Star Trek series have all opened with a wonderful instrumental. From the classic Original Series theme by Alexander Courage to the Jerry Goldsmith intros for Voyager and several of the films, there was an established continuity to even the evolution of the theme songs. Then Enterprise zigged right when it should have turned left and we got…well…lets play it for you shall we?
What in Dawson’s Creek is this crap? If you like it, well bless your heart, but seriously, how is this the opening song for an entry to a timeless Scifi franchise? To add insult to injury, listen to the end credits theme. They could have easily swapped these two from the get go and eased the pain to have to hear that theme every single week.
Needless to say, thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy I can skip that theme now. oof.
With that out of the way, Enterprise is a series about the first starship in Starfleet. Pre-Federation, and post First-Contact, we are shown the events that led up to the formation of the Federation and the adventures of the first ship to bare the name Enterprise.
April 16, 2151
This first episode introduces us to the crew of the Enterprise when a Klingon warrior crash lands on Earth and it is up to Captain Archer and the crew of his prototype starship to get this warrior home or face an interstellar war. The Vulcans, who have been keeping humanity from fully exploring space since first contact, are reluctant to let Humans meet the Klingons but, after some convincing, Archer is allowed to put together a crew for this diplomatic mission but only if they take along a Vulcan chaperone by the name of T’Pol. After gathering his crew which includes the aforementioned T’pol, Malcolm Reed, the Denobulan Doctor Phlox, Travis Mayweather, Hoshi Sato, Trip Tucker, and of course Porthos the dog, Archer and his crew head out on their first historic mission into space. However, it seems a race known as The Suliban are very interested in preventing the Klingon’s return to his homeworld because Klaang is carrying secret intel that could have significant repercussions for everyone.
Before long the Klingon is kidnapped by the Suliban and, of course, Archer is determined to find out why. So, taking matters into his own hands they track the Klingon down and, after several dangerous events and a daring rescue attempt manage to get Klaang back to his people revealing that the Suliban has been stirring unrest in the Klingon Empire for some time now.
So, after exposing the Suliban, learning about a temporal cold war and getting the Klingon back home, Starfleet is so impressed with their efforts that they are instructed to continue on their mission of exploration, after some repairs of course.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Outside of the horrendous opening theme, this pilot is actually very good. Establishing the fact that humanity has been held back by the Vulcans, it takes an interstellar event for Humanity to finally ‘go for a swim’ in the vast sea of space. This firmly sets the tone for a pre-Federation society that already has some growing pains while also allowing the series to create a solid ‘everything is new again’ tone from the get-go. While we are used to humans being fully aware of the intricacies of space and their neighboring Empires, we finally see a humanity that is just past our own stepping into a vast pool where nothing is familiar. In a way it is both refreshing and slightly terrifying, especially when they immediately step into a vast intergalactic and temporal conspiracy that threatens, well, everything. Leave it to mankind to walk into something so dangerous that time itself is at jeopardy and, who better to lead them than
Dr Sam Becket Captain Johnathan Archer.
Additionally, there are limitations that this new crew face in regards to technology as well including transporters, sensors, phasors, and even medical technology. I found it fascinating that away team missions rely on shuttle craft and, since there are no transporters, decontamination is a must. What makes this even more complicated is that even shields are non-existent with Enterprise forced to Polarize it’s hull plating in order to protect the ship instead. This, of course, gives the series a little more danger in events that other future ships would find negligible at worst.
Broken Bow forces fans to forget everything they know while also treating long time fans with some fun inside information with locations and species that are completely new to our heroes. This allows the series to introduce more species, specifically the Suliban who are immediately introduced as the episodes, and possibly the series ‘big bad’. Through them we learn that there is a temporal war occurring and that the Klingon Archer has been tasked taking home carries significant information that the Suliban desperately want back. This, of course, is not solved in just a single episode or that would have made this an even shorter series than it already is.
Now let’s talk about the characters. In this first episode we get introduced to quite a few characters but really only get to know two, Johnathan Archer and Science Officer T’Pol. Archer is the son of the creator of the Warp 5 engine and is still bitter over the fact that the Vulcans waited to long in order for his father to see the engine in action. The Vulcans feel that humanity is too infantile to participate in interstellar activities but Archer, of course, vehemently disagrees. Put in command of the first Warp 5 ship, the NX-01 Enterprise, he is placed in some significantly difficult situations that only his determination can get them through. I always loved Scott Bakula from his time on Quantum Leap so, when this series first aired, that was one thing it really had going for it as far as I was concerned. Plus, this is the first Captain to have a pet (other than a fish), so the fact that Archer loves dogs makes him alright in my book.
T’Pol is not only the Science Officer, but also the direct liaison between Starfleet and the Vulcan high command. Her presence is a significant point of contention on the ship as she has an allegiance to the Vulcan people, but also has a chance to get to know Captain Archer and is, technically, under his command. Through the course of this episode, we see her develop quickly from a suspicious and rather condescending Vulcan to someone who can not only be trusted but a person with the best interests of her ship and crew in mind. In fact, her loyalty is quickly put to the test when she is forced to take command and she choses to follow her Captain’s orders rather than go with what she perceives as her mission. Her growth as the first Vulcan to serve on a Starfleet ship will be a fun adventure to watch and I look forward to it.
Some of the other characters who are established but not deeply explored are as follows. Hoshi Sato, the communications officer who is practically a living universal translator, seeing that the tech is in it’s infancy; Doctor Phlox, a Denobulan physician who has a knack for using ‘live’ medicine; Malcolm Reed, the Armory Officer aka Security, Travis Mayweather, the ‘newbie’ Pilot who has had experience long haul vessels; Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker, the fiercely loyal Engineer with a deep friendship with Archer and of course Porthos the loyal Beagle who loves cheese.
Overall, Broken Bow is a wonderful start to a prequel series showing us the early origins of what will eventually become The Federation. This episode sets up several key story arcs that will play out over the course of the series. I wont ruin them for you here, so stick with me as we work our way through the first season of Star Trek Enterprise.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn that it is only 4 days from Earth to Qo’noS at warp 4.5
- We learn that Vulcan females have a heightened sense of smell.
- I felt that the Decontamination sequence was a little gratuitous at best. I mean, I don’t mind seeing a little flesh here and there but do we really need this in the pilot of a new Star Trek series? No, we really don’t.
- We witness the first use of the Transporter in a cool attempt to save Archer at the last minute.
- We learn that Vulcans are basically the Jerks of the Universe during this time period.
- There is also an interesting mistake. When Klaang has his hand sliced, he bleeds bright red instead of the pepto pink that was established in Star Trek Undiscovered Country. Perhaps there is something more going on with this Klingon?
- Also, please note, taking place 100 years before Discovery, the Klingons are very much the STNG variety. What the heck happened to them in those 100 years to go from this to whatever those things are in Discovery, to smooth heads to this again in that time frame? Well, we learn some of that eventually…just not all of it.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Fight or Flight
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 4/26/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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