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I am – Hercules!!


Herc has seen the pilot?

Naw, he’s just read the pilot’s script.

What's it called?

The title of the two-hour launch is “Broken Bow.” It’s currently set to air 8 p.m. Sept. 26 on UPN.

Why "Broken Bow"?

Broken Bow, Okla., is where mankind meets its first Klingon.

When does the new series take place?

Ninty years after the events depicted in “First Contact.” Starfleet exists, but the Federation doesn’t yet.

The big news?

As long rumored (and often disputed), the new series features a villain from another time, making this series perhaps a sequel to the movies and other series as well as a prequel. The pilot establishes that the villainous Suliban are taking orders from someone in the “far future.”

How far in the future?

Whether this mystery man makes his home in the 23rd century, the 24th, the 29th or some other era, we do not learn in the pilot. Similarly, we don’t know if FutureGuy is Suliban, Romulan, Klingon, Cardassian, Borg, a member of Section 31, or anything else. Per the script, “we can barely make out the image of a humanoid figure.”

Is this villain from the future defeated in the pilot?

He seems to suffer a setback, but this mysterious figure also seems likely to be the “big bad” throughout the season, if not the run of the series.

What's the pilot about?

A 7-foot-tall Klingon, carrying vital information to his homeworld regarding the shape-shifting Sulibans, is shot down over Oklahoma and pursued through cornfields by evil Suliban agents. The Klingon manages to kill his pursuers but gets shot by a farmer who (like all other humans of this era) speaks no Klingonese.

While transporting the delirious Klingon home, Starfleet captain Jonathan Archer encounters more Suliban, who invade his ship (a pre-Federation warp vessel dubbed “Enterprise”) and kidnap the Klingon.

As Archer and Co. search for their lost Klingon, Archer learns from a Suliban dissident that the Sulibans are trying to instigate a Klingon civil war at the bequest of FutureGuy. In return, FutureGuy is teaching the Suliban how to enhance their DNA and give themselves superpowers.

Meanwhile, T’Pol, the comely young Vulcan science attaché assigned to the mission (think a less-trusting version of Saavik), thinks Archer should have returned to Earth the minute the Klingon was captured.

Does Archer command the April/Pike/Kirk Enterprise?

No. At least if one is to judge by the number on the ship’s hull.

There's a number on the hull?

The script has it as NX-01. But we’re supposed to learn for sure when TV Guide publishes the pictures on Monday.

Any description of the ship?

A vague one. “Enterprise is lean and masculine, yet its twin warp nacelles suggest the shape of Starfleet vessels to come.”

Is this Oklahoma Klingon the first non-Vulcan extraterrestrial earthmen have encountered?

Decidedly not. The ship’s helmsman says he’s encountered several interstellar races, and the alien Dr. Phlox is already familiar to many within Starfleet. Also, communications officer Hoshi Sato seems to have a working knowledge of many alien languages. But as Archer tells Phlox, “Our doctors haven’t even heard of a Klingon.”

Is this humanity's first interstellar mission?

No. Just the first to be undertaken at warp 4.5. The ship’s helmsman establishes that, as a pre-teen on a cargo ship, it took him three years to reach Trillius Prime (the Trill homeworld?).

How fast can the Enterprise go?

Warp 4.5. “Neptune and back in six minutes,” as Archer puts it. Archer also comments that it will take the Enterprise four days to reach the Klingon homeworld from Earth. It’s also implied that the Klingons have many ships that are just as fast.

Does Archer have to say "Ahead, time-warp factor 4" like Christopher Pike?

Happily, he does not.

Does the Enterprise have transporters?

Yes, but though they’ve “been approved for bio-transport,” none of the crew have traveled through them and don’t really trust them. Archer, we’re told, “won’t even put his dog through it.” Midway through the story, when someone suggests using the transporters to retrieve the kidnapped Klingon, Archer offers this nod to Seth Brundle: “No. We’ve risked too much to bring him back inside-out.”

Is it true James Cromwell has a cameo?

There’s launch-ceremony footage of a very old Zefram Cochrane giving a speech 32 years earlier: “On this site, a powerful engine will be built... an engine that will someday let us travel a hundred times faster than we can today. Imagine it. Thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips. And we'll be able to explore those strange new worlds... and seek out new life and new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly... where no man has gone before.”

Is Earth already united under a single government?

Uncertain, but I’m guessing yes. At one point Tucker reminds T’Pol: “War... disease... hunger? Pretty much wiped 'em out in less than two generations.”

Do the Klingons declare war on Earth for its meddling?

Not at all. In fact, at pilot’s end, the high council even seems to gruffly approve of Starfleet’s actions.

Who's in the crew?

JONATHAN ARCHER (Scott Bakula), a San Francisco native, is the son of one of Zefram Cochrane’s chief warp-drive collaborators. He is a reasonable but headstrong Kirk-like figure who resents the Vulcans because he believes they impeded his father’s work by not sharing more of their science. (Archer’s dad, it’s implied, harbored far less resentment – if any – toward the Vulcans.)

T’POL (Jolene Blalock) is a young, all-business science attache with the Vulcan consulate. She is assigned to the mission as science officer, but when Archer is badly injured midway through the mission, she asserts that her rank in the Vulcan military is higher than the Starfleet ranks of anyone else on board, so – Spock-like – she also serves as the ship’s de facto first officer. Like Dr. Phlox, she’s at first only supposed to be assigned to the ship during its eight-day mission to the Klingon homeworld and back.

CHARLIE TUCKER (Connor Trinneer), chief engineer, fills the McCoy role as captain’s friend and confident. Like Bones, he’s a southerner who provides a lot of pointed wisecracks. Like fellow engineer Montgomery Scott, Charlie also seems to be third-in-command after Archer and T’Pol.

HOSHI SATO (Linda Park) fills Uhura’s chair as communications officer, but does so with more versatility. Not only is she in civilian life a linguistics professor with an ear for alien languages, she also seems to demonstrate in the pilot some kind of super-hearing that even T’Pol comes to respect. Being an academic, she's also probably the least suited to her new life of adventure.

MALCOLM REED (Dominic Keating), a Brit, is the ship’s armory officer. We don’t find out too much about him in the pilot, but toward the end he provides Archer and Tucker with weapons they’ve never seen before, but we’ll all find familiar.

TRAVIS MAYWEATHER (Anthony Montgomery) is the ship’s helmsman, who was raised on (much slower) interstellar cargo ships.

PHLOX (John Billingsly) is an alien doctor delighted with the opportunity to make an extended examination of human physiology. He also likes Chinese food and smiles like a character in the “Black Hole Sun” video.

Why are aliens like T'Pol and Phlox in the crew?

T’Pol has star-charts that will guide them to the Klingon homeworld. Phlox has the most info about the injured Klingon’s physiology.

Will the "Enterprise" pilot be more fun than, say, the "Voyager" finale?

Almost certainly. The pilot actually reads more like a “Star Trek” feature than a series pilot. It boasts an epic quality, spanning as it does Oklahoma cornfields, arctic Rigelian trading centers, and high-tech Suliban spacelabs.

What's good?

Fans love continuity, so they should love connecting the events depicted in “Enterprise” to the future history referenced in the movies and other series. (Presumably the series will utilize a few “continuity compliance officers” to ensure there’s as little as possible to piss off longtime “Trek” fans.)

Aside from all the “continuity porn,” there’s some funny stuff with Reed getting distracted from his mission by half-naked Rigelian butterfly-eaters. There’s some sexy stuff with Tucker and T’Pol in their underwear, rubbing blue decontamination gel all over each other’s bodies as they argue about who will take command of Enterprise in Archer’s absence. There’s some dark humor as Archer and Tucker infiltrate a Suliban complex by trying to pilot one of the Suliban’s unfamiliar alien “cell-ships.” The Klingon was good too.

What's not so good?

There’s a scene toward the end in which Archer stumbles upon the Sulibans’ “temporal chamber.” By this point we’ve seen the chief Suliban villain, Silik, use the chamber twice to converse with the shadowy FutureGuy -- so one assumes Archer is about to find out who and/or what this Humanoid From The Future is. But this turns out to be a big tease. Before Archer can activate the temporal mechanism, Silik interrupts, there’s a fight and Archer never gets to meet FutureGuy. Turns out we’ll just have to learn more about this mystery man as the series soldiers on. (We also never get to learn the nature of the Klingon’s intelligence on the Suliban – though Hoshi and T’Pol, who both know at least a little Klingonese, get a glimpse of it at pilot’s end.)

Will the series suck?

You can never tell from a pilot script, but the central relationships between Archer, T’Pol and Tucker are compelling and evolve gracefully, and the show’s set of supporting characters might turn out to be the best to inhabit any “Trek” series. One can only hope that the producers, tired of the endless stand-alone stories necessitated by “Voyager’s” very linear journey home, will come to re-embrace the long, multi-episode story arcs that distinguished “Deep Space Nine.” You can be sure I’ll be watching to find out.

But, but ... how could this series be any good if the twin antichrists Rick Berman and Brannon Braga created it?

You'd prefer Aaron Spelling and Darren Star? Berman produced "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," two pretty good shows. Braga did not create “Star Trek: Voyager,” but did co-write the scripts for "All Good Things" and "First Contact." So a quality show is not beyond the realm of possibility.

I am – Hercules!!

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