The Renegade Rip

TV REVIEWA bold new ‘Enterprise’

Jarrod M. Graham

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Just when you think it’s finally seen its final frontier, “Star Trek” always has a way of revitalizing itself, and that’s exactly what it did with the launch of “Enterprise,” which premiered Sept. 26 on UPN with the two-hour episode “Broken Bow.”

Rather than taking another group of boring, politically correct Starfleet officers and putting them aboard another starship somewhere in the relatively peaceful galactic neighborhood of the 24th century, executive producers and series creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga decided to boldly go where no previous “Trek” incarnation has gone before — into its own past.

“Enterprise” — set in the year 2151, about 100 years before the adventures of James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise from the original “Star Trek” — follows the travels of another crew aboard another ship called Enterprise.

Led by Starfleet Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula of “Quantum Leap” fame), this Enterprise is the first Earth starship to attain the incredible speed of warp five.

Three weeks before Enterprise’s scheduled launch, a Klingon, the first seen by humans, crash-lands in an Oklahoma cornfield, with a couple of greenish chameleon-like aliens called Suliban in hot pursuit. The Klingon, Klaang (Tommy “Tiny” Lister Jr.), leads them to a nearby silo. The two Suliban follow him in, but he leaps from the top of the silo and destroys the buidling with a shot from his weapon. Then, the farmer who owns the cornfield arrives and promptly shoots Klaang after the seven-foot giant barks something in his undecipherable native tongue and starts moving toward the farmer.

The Vulcans, who are allies in Earth’s expansion in to deep space, reveal through their analysis of Klaang’s ship that he was a courier with an important message for the Klingon High Council, and Archer and his crew are pressed into service early to return the injured Klingon to his people.

With a tough, butt-kickin’ space pioneer persona in the mold of Capt. Kirk, Bakula does an excellent job as Archer. The supporting cast, populated with many colorful characters, doesn’t hurt either. There’s chief engineer Charles “Trip” Tucker III (Connor Trinneer), a wisecracking fellow from the South (or a “good ol’ boy smart-ass” as Trinneer described him in an interview); Vulcan science officer T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), who was assigned to the mission by her Vulcan superiors to provide scientific knowledge and a logical viewpoint; British armory officer Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), a level-headed, by-the-book soldier type; helmsman Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery), a “space boomer” who was raised by his spacefaring parents aboard cargo ships; Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley), an alien of unspecified origin, who specializes in exotic medical practices, likes humans for their “charming optimism” and has a penchant for Chinese food; and communications officer Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), a somewhat unwilling participant in the mission with a knack for languages, who was lured away from her leave of absence from Starfleet by Archer with the prospect of being the first human to talk to the Klingons.

What Berman and Braga wanted to accomplish with “Enterprise,” the fifth series in the 35-year-old “Star Trek” franchise and the first not to bear “Star Trek” in its title, was to attract a younger audience with an edgier, sexier premise. The edginess was there, but the sex appeal, at least in this first episode, was pointless at best, with Tucker and T’Pol stripped down to their underwear smearing “decontamination gel” all over each other in a jarring scene that didn’t seem to advance the story at all.

Compared to the opening episodes of previous “Star Trek” series, this one’s pacing seemed a bit slow in spots, but overall it was a great start to what I think will be a great show.

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TV REVIEWA bold new ‘Enterprise’