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I am – Hercules!!

Talk about bad precedents. NBC moved Kirk/Spock/Bones version of “Star Trek” to Fridays in 1968. The show floundered, and its third season turned out to be its last.

Guess where UPN has scheduled the Archer/T’Pol/Trip version this season?

To aggravate matters, tonight’s first half of the two-hour “Storm Front” is too busy digging the show out of last season’s shockeroo cliffhanger to do much else, and there just isn’t anything here we couldn’t have predicted after having seen the red-eyed extraterrestrial in the Nazi uniform last May. Hopefully next week’s 4.2 will rally as new showrunner Manny Coto & Co. set out to finally resolve the “temporal cold war” storyline introduced in the “Enterprise” pilot four years ago.

With 4.3, Coto gets on with his mission to sniff around the pre-Kirk Alpha Quadrant, as the crew returns to what’s left of 22nd century Earth.

4.4-4.6 brings us a three-hour prequel to “Space Seed” with Brent “Data” Spiner returning to play imprisoned eugenics maven Arik Soong. It’d be cool if, confronted with Archer’s tough questioning, Soong complains to the captain that he “grows fatigued.”

4.7-4.9 moves the action to sunny Vulcanis, where T’Pol’s surprisingly emotional race fusses and feuds so persuasively the desert planet is brought to the brink of civil war. T’Pau, who will later officiate at Spock’s divorce, turns up. So does the planet’s long-dead messiah, Surak.

4.10 then introduces us to the troubled inventor of the transporter (played, if there’s any justice, by Jeff Goldblum), who has a plan to render all starships, including the NX-01, obsolete.

So even if tonight’s installment is a snore, I’m sticking around to see what else they come up with. But, really, what matters Herc’s opinion?

Entertainment Weekly gives tonight's installment a “C-” and says:

… After saving Earth by destroying the evil Xindi's superweapon (don't ask), Captain Archer awakes to find himself in 1940s Brooklyn. Only in this reality, WWII has made its way onto American soil, which is teeming with Nazis who're in bed with (metaphorically, thank God) time-travelling aliens. …

TV Guide gives it a 4 (out of 10) and says:

… the wooden crew returns to Earth … only to be trapped in a clichéd World War II movie … It doesn’t take escaped POW Archer (Scott Bakula) to join the resistance, led by ridiculously stereotyped mobsters. This hokey scenario is all too easy to resist.

USA Today gives it one star (out of four) and says:

Paramount is determined to keep the Star Trek name in front of the public. And never mind how much damage this dull, misbegotten enterprise does to the franchise. … returns with a ludicrous time-travel story, bereft of both creativity and taste. To its usual mix of bland characters and indecipherable plots Enterprise adds alien Nazis …

Yikes. But talk about irony. In his review of tonight’s episode, USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco also writes:

It would be different if the ratings-and-quality-deprived Enterprise had been saved by some sudden, mass outpouring of fan support … But no. Enterprise plods on, despite overwhelming national disinterest …

But there was such a sudden outpouring of support – this April in - USA Today. A piece authored by Bianco’s fellow entertainment writer Gary Levin revealed that this year’s USA Today “Save Our Show” survey hailed the latest “Star Trek” spinoff as far and away the “on the bubble” show viewers most wanted to keep around.

It wasn’t even close. “Star Trek: Enterprise” reaped a record 70 percent of the vote, garnering almost twice the support of runner-up “Arrested Development.” One can read more about the survey results in Levin’s USA Today piece here. Clearly, more want “Enterprise” to continue than want it to go away.

So. Relentless “Enterprise” trolls. You must stop with your annoying nerd moaning. Just stop watching “Enterprise.” Migrate to “Andromeda” or “Battlestar: Galactica” or “Lexx” or “Babylon 5” encores. If it makes you feel better, pretend UPN cancelled “Enterprise” and replaced it with “America’s Top Model.”

See? Doesn’t that feel better? Now you can watch “Joan of Arcadia” or “Eight Simple Rules” or “Dateline NBC” or “What I Like About You” tonight instead. When you decide in ten years you miss “Star Trek” again, maybe it’ll still be there, waiting for you.

Certainly, one substandard episode does not unravel all the improvement we saw last season. In Steve Krutzler’s excellent Trekweb interview with Coto, the new showrunner confides:

“My vision is to try to fulfill what I think is ENTERPRISE’s promise, which is to create a truly prequel series. And that is beginning to tie ENTERPRISE into the overall STAR TREK canon and to really use the opportunity that we have to create stories that give us a glimpse into the formation of the STAR TREK universe.”

Who knows? We might even learn why, 100 years after the Archer era, the Klingons all look like Rich Vos.

8 p.m. Friday. UPN.

I am – Hercules!!

Looking for bumper stickers, plush toys and girls’ underwear covered with cute cartoon double-amputees? Visit The Herc Store!

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