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Old May 13th, 2005, 05:23 AM   #1
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Star Trek 'Trek' finale: Big promise, no payoff

*Warning: Spoilers*

From AZ Central:

'Trek' finale: Big promise, no payoff

by Goodykoontz
May. 13, 2005 12:00 AM

What a letdown.

The Star Trek franchise ends tonight, at least for the time being, not with a bang, nor with a whimper. It just . . . stops. The two-hour series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise mirrors its history, beginning with much promise before fizzling out.

Yawn. Even for Trekkies, time marches on.

This particular show, Enterprise, which in the mythology of the franchise takes place 100 years before Capt. Kirk and his crew went zipping around the universe, the pudgy captain hooking up with alien babes wherever he found them (one in every port, one on every planet, evidently), never really lived up to expectations. Scott Bakula stars as Capt. Archer, a decent-enough sort, but heroic? Then again, "heroic" is probably not the adjective that first springs to mind when you see ol' James T. Kirk, either.

The idea of setting up what would come later in the show's timeline but happened earlier in real life was tantalizing, but it was never fully taken advantage of. If that wasn't enough, Enterprise has been trumped in the TV sci-fi world by shows such as the remade Battlestar Galactica, the much-grittier version that makes the old Lorne Greene original look like a Saturday Night Live parody in comparison. Wow. Battlestar Galactica better than a Star Trek show. How the worm has turned. And now, the oddly unsatisfying end.

Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation - I vote anyone who calls it TNG gets a punch in the throat - show up as part of what was in theory an interesting framing device, in actual practice a waste of time.

Frakes' character, Riker, is having a crisis of conscience and so, using the holodeck, watches and participates in - to hilarious effect at times, particularly when waving some sort of high-tech shotgun - the first Enterprise crew's final voyage. Sirtis is evidently brought back to sit and talk in a uniform that's a couple of sizes too tight.

OK, so that's nothing new. Still, this likely would have been more effective if Frakes and Sirtis had bothered to put any effort into their performances; they would have to have rehearsed a lot more to merely be called wooden.

In fairness, the plot - helping out a roughish friend on the way to a charter signing - and the framing device at least allow the characters a reasonable excuse to say their goodbyes.


There is, of course, a Major Character Death, boohoo. But the whole thing builds up to a speech Archer is to give at the charter signing for the United Federation of Planets. Sirtis' character, watching with Frakes' character, even says she studied the speech in grammar school. Archer steps up and . . . that's it. The end. End of show, end of series, end of Star Trek. The only reason it wasn't a bigger letdown was because expectations weren't all that high to begin with.


Let's face it, the franchise needs a break. The original famously lasted only from 1966 to 1969, but success in reruns spawned a legion of fanatical followers, some of whom are so devoted they seem to have a little trouble separating their lives from the show.

Since The Next Generation premièred in 1987, TV hasn't been without a Star Trek of some sort: Voyager, Deep Space Nine, now Enterprise. It's a remarkable run, but one that's played out, at least for the time being. Certainly there will be another show someday; the army of viewers who populate Star Trek conventions practically demands it. But at least this will allow some time to take the long view, to try to figure out where to fit in a grittier sci-fi world that expects and demands more than funny little triangles on your uniform shirt to call your show a success.

For years the Star Trek franchise lived long and prospered, to paraphrase a pointy-eared character from the original.

No longer.

For now.
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