Monday, March 25, 2013

TV Show Review: Enterprise - Season 3

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The final few episodes
Cons: The writing destroys any hope for a decent season
The Bottom Line:
Build up is boring
Last few episodes are best
Barely watchable

Xindi, the Expanse, and a Weapon of Mass Destruction only Help Enterprise a Little

I came late to the Star Trek franchise, jumping in during the runs of Deep Space Nine and Voyager. As such, I am one of the few who enjoyed Voyager up to the end. I was looking forward to the premier of Enterprise.

Then it started. The show quickly began to decline in both quality and ratings. I hardly ever stop watching a show but was ready to quit on this one because of how poor it was. And I wasn't the only one as the ratings kept slipping. The only reason I kept watching is because I had friends who came over to watch it with me every week, they still wanted to watch, and I enjoyed their company.

The producers noticed that the ratings were sagging, so they looked around for something different. Since season long story arcs were becoming the big thing, they decided to try one.

The premise for season three was set up in the finale of season two. Earth is attacked by a previously unknown species, the Xindi. They were merely testing a weapon when they killed millions. The real weapon, still be built, will destroy the entire planet.

With humanity facing extinction, the starship Enterprise is given a new mission. No more will Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and crew be just exploring space. Their job is to find the Xindi and destroy the weapon before it can be launched. To do that, they must enter a previously unexplored part of space. "The Expanse" is filled with all kinds of strange anomalies, so the crew has no clue what to expect.

Another sign of hope for the season was the personal nature of the mission. While millions died in the initial attack, only one member of the crew, Commander "Trip" Tucker (Connor Trinneer), lost a sister. So for him, this is a very personal mission. And through his grief, they give him a potential romantic interest in the form of resident Vulcan T'Pol (Jolene Blalock).

But then things went horribly wrong.

I don't blame the actors. While the acting was never outstanding on the series, they did the best they could with the material they are given. Heck, Linda Park and Anthony Montgomery are given absolutely nothing to do for the majority of the season. Likewise, the special effects are fine.

The problem rests squarely with the writers. See, for a show to work, whether a one hour story or a season long story, the writing has to be good. It isn't.

The majority of the shows were entirely too predictable. I could guess every plot point accurately by the 15 minute mark, usually because they were retreads of episodes of Star Trek I'd already seen. And if you remember how little of the franchise I've seen, you'll begin to see the problem.

Then there are the "What the heck?" episodes. At one point, the crew finds a colony of humans on a planet in the Expanse. Another episode finds our heroes bumping into a recurring character. What are they doing in the Expanse? Sure, there's an explanation, but it just doesn't work.

Finally, there are the characters. Outside, the three I mentioned, they really have nothing to do and become one note characters just delivering lines. Even those three don't come across well. Captain Archer becomes so consumed by revenge you'd think he was the one who lost a sister. Yet Tucker is the voice of reason in too many situations. Maybe they killed off the wrong sister when setting up the story line.

The final episodes of the season really kicked things into high gear as Enterprise got closer to their goal. Once the stories became interesting, I began to get hooked. But these episodes were too little too late to save the season overall.

Die-hard Trekkies will want Enterprise - Season Three to complete their collection. Casual fans can just pass right on by and wait for the far superior final season.

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