First, let me just say, quite unapologetically, that I actually LIKED the Enterprise TV show. I know that’s not a popular opinion among either Star Trek or general sci-fi fans. And I’m not saying it was a perfect show, by any means. But I still enjoyed it every week, and was sad when it got prematurely canceled. In fact, a few weeks ago, I tivoed the last half of the final season, and got sad all over again, because I really thought those episodes were pretty strong.
Except for the very last one. The series finale. Which I got pissed at all over again. So I chuckled when I ran across this short interview with Brannon Braga — who produced and wrote that episode, and who is finally will to fess up that yes, “it didn’t turn out as well as [he] hoped … it was kind of a lackluster story.” According to Braga, “At the time I thought it was very cool, it was only when it came out, I realized, ‘this isn’t quite working.'” Gee, you think?
For those who haven’t seen the episode, “These Are the Voyages…” one third of it was basically characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation (Riker and Troi) looking back at the final mission of the Enterprise NX-01 via the holodeck (since TNG was set in the future relative to Enterprise), in order to help them make some stupid decision or another. As a premise for a mid-season episode, it would actually have been pretty cool — cameos from characters from other Trek shows are always fun. But as a premise for the series finale, and at only an hour long, it was kind of a slap in the face.
On paper, the retrospective device was a decent way to reveal information we were never going to get when the series was shortened from 7 years to 5 — including the fate of the ship and its crew, and Captain Archer’s key role in the birth of The Federation. And if it had played out over two hours, and if the story being told in the past had been stronger, I think the device might actually have worked well. But it didn’t, and it wasn’t. So instead, the episode came off feeling like a rushed attempt to wrap up a series that had been canceled with little warning. Which to be fair is what it was.
But to be equally fair to UPN, the series took so long to find its stride (or ratings) that they can hardly be blamed for canceling it with little warning. I always loved the concept of the series — an Earth-centric Starfleet in the early years, before the Federation and before the Prime Directive, when the technology and the protocols were still a bit shaky yet. It had a lot of promise, which often got wasted on plots that wrapped up too neatly, and too often with the help of people time traveling in from the future. Which kind of missed the point of having a show set in a frontier era.
So … the series finale was what it was. But there was really no excuse for killing off Trip. And the only reason I don’t feel bad about possibly spoiling that for anybody who hasn’t watched the series before and plans to someday is because his death is SO tacked on and unnecessary that even Pocket Books, who publish the ongoing Star Trek novels, refused to acknowledge it. In one of the first Enterprise novels published after the series ended, they revealed in a balls up ret-con that his death had been elaborately staged, and that he went on to live to be 120. Which I think is pretty funny.
And thus concludes my long-overdue wrap-up of the Enterprise series finale, four years after the fact. It took watching it again a few weeks ago and the Brannon Braga interview to finally give me closure. But I think I have it now. RIP Enterprise. You deserved better.
via Slice of SciFi