Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top 10 Complaints about Enterprise I never want to hear again!

The Star Trek episode is next week, so let's get the hatemail pouring in!

Enterprise is the most polarizing of Star Trek series. People usually tend to lump into love it or hate it groups. And I piss off both of them because I think it's just ok. Like any other shows there's episodes that are good and episodes that are bad. But there is a tendency for the hate group to just launch baseless attacks on this show. Now I'm not talking about complaining about production values for the first two seasons. That is a valid complaint even if it is unfair in my view since adjusting for inflation the third season of TOS had a higher per episode budget than Enterprise did. And that was the least funded season. I'm not talking about complaints about episode quality either. Those are subjective and not really unfounded for the first two seasons.

I'm not sure if it really is a majority or just a very vocal minority, but there's a group of people who refuse to even except Enterprise is canon based solely on supposed “continuity issues.” And never mind trying to point out to them that TOS writers didn't give a damn about continuity. They were more worried about making good single episodes. TOS contradicts itself all the time. I like TOS, too so that's not a criticism, just a fact of tv production in the 60's. And don't bother pointing out to them that continuity is not a strength of this franchise overall either. Voyager is actually the series with the most continuity problems, but I've never heard a rallying cry to remove it from canon like Enterprise. To make matters worse, most of these complaints are only 'alleged' continuity problems. The thing is most of these things aren't actually continuity problems, are just picking a side in something that was inconsistent in the first place, or are such minor tweaks that you wouldn't care if you weren't looking for an excuse to bash the show.

So without further adieu: the top 10 complaints about Enterprise I never want to hear again in my life!

10 cloaking devices shouldn't exist

Just mention cloaking devices and you can hear the most fervent Enterprise basher foam at the mouth. The reason this one is at number 10 is because it actually is a continuity issue. You see in balance of terror Kirk and Spock have this conversation

SPOCK: Disappeared. Interesting how they became visible for just a moment.
KIRK: When they opened fire. Perhaps necessary when they use their weapon.
SPOCK: I have a blip on the motion sensor. Could be the intruder.
KIRK: Go to full magnification.
SULU: Screen is on full mag, sir.
KIRK: I don't see anything. I can't understand it.
SPOCK: Invisibility is theoretically possible, Captain, with selective bending of light. But the power cost is enormous. They may have solved that problem. “

So ya, I get why people say that they shouldn't have cloaking devices on Enterprise. I don't agree with not having them, and I don't agree with making such a big deal about it, but I do get the initial complaint.

You see, they tend to ignore this conversation from the enterprise incident:
KIRK: The design of the ship is the same. Mister Spock, you said you had a theory on why your sensors didn't pick up the new ships until they were upon us.
SPOCK: I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device which renders our tracking sensors useless.
KIRK: If so, Romulans could attack in Federation territory before we knew they were there, before a vessel or planet could get even begin to get their defences up.

This already muddies the continuity water for cloaks. They act surprised about tech they have personally witnessed before! Why the problem? Like I said they cared about making good episodes more than making a cohesive story so there's lots of inconsistencies like these in TOS. Also there was a lot of screen time to fill so there are a lot of pure filler scenes in TOS, and both of these come from them. So while I do acknowledge the continuity issue, I think they had every right to ignore nonsensical filler from TOS when making Enterprise.

I'm also sick of hearing the whole “they ignored 40 years of Trek history by having cloaking devices in Enterprise” argument. They didn't ignore 40 years of Trek history. They ignored one line of filler. There is a difference.

9 the Borg and Ferengi episodes

No I'm not talking about the writing or production values of these episodes. The Borg one is entertaining, but there's a difference between entertaining and good. And the Ferengi one was just god awful.

I'm talking about complaining about the episodes violating canon. They do not.

First of all the Ferengi.
People point to “The Last Outpost”, the first episode that featured the Ferengi, and say that this was first contact between the federation and the Ferengi so Enterprise couldn't meet them. This is absurd. In the same season we find that Picard had destroyed a Ferengi ship while in command of the stargazer, in DS9 there was a massive retcon that placed the Ferengi alliance on the border of Federation territory and made clear that the Klingons had been in contact with them for decades. So the idea that the Federation never talked to them before becomes ridiculous as further canon contradicts their introduction episode. They aren't the only species to go through a retcon like this after their introduction either.

However, taking the last outpost as completely correct, this still isn't a continuity problem. The episode's sloppy writing works around it in a very stupid way by never having them identify themselves and having archer threaten them to stay away from earth ships. And this is pretty stupid. So if you want to complain about the sloppy writing and the stupid episode, that's legitimate. But its not a continuity problem.

As for or the Borg, the argument is usually that the crew in first contact should have detected drones, that drones can work in space but freeze in the Arctic, and that if this had happened the crew of NCC - 1701 should have known who the Borg were.

Firstly, in First Contact they just assumed the sphere was destroyed completely and never bothered to check for survivors. Is this stupid? Yes. But that's how the movie plays out. It's a huge plot hole, but it's one that already existed in First Contact, so its not an Enterprise problem.

Secondly, space and the Arctic aren't the same. Vacuum is an amazing insulator so assuming the Borg can keep their organic components alive in a vacuum they just have to maintain generating heat so that they don't cool down as heat is slowly radiated off their body in space. In the Arctic you have convection working against you which would cool you down a lot faster. So it seems there is a threshold temperature under which a drone will lay dormant. Is this an ability we've never seen before? Yes. Is it inconsistent with anything we've seen from them in the past? No.

And thirdly, this incident was classified. Ask a captain in the British navy about most classified mission from the 1800's and see how much they know about them.

When Q introduced them to the Borg, they were already on their way to the alpha quadrant. Getting a strange, 200 year old signal from so far away grabbed their attention. It really answers more questions than it raises.

And finally, the revelation that Guinan's species mostly all immigrated to the Federation after their planet was destroyed by the Borg during the time of Kirk really lends some absurdity to the idea that somewhere someone in Starfleet didn't know. But that just means that no one on the Enterprise was in on the classified reports.

8 They shouldn't have subspace radios on Enterprise.

In A Piece of the Action this conversation occurs
OXMYX [OC]: Last month? What are you talking about? The Horizon left here a hundred years ago.
KIRK: Difficult to explain. We received a report a hundred years late because it was sent by conventional radio. Your system is on the outer reaches of the galaxy. They didn't have subspace communication in those days.

So people say that they shouldn't have it because Kirk said they didn't. But the same people who were holding up Balance of Terror as the gold standard for continuity when it come to cloaking, forget this conversation from it:
SPOCK: Referring to the map on your screens, you will note beyond the moving position of our vessel, a line of Earth outpost stations. Constructed on asteroids, they monitor the Neutral Zone established by treaty after the Earth-Romulan conflict a century ago. … The treaty, set by sub-space radio, ...

So yeah. TOS was inconsistent on it, so they picked one side to go with. And its the side that makes sense. It would be very inconvenient to run an interstellar organization without subspace radios.

7 Enterprise's tech is too advanced compared to TOS

I'm lumping ascetics, view screens, and transporters in here.

People say it looks more advanced. And this is just ridiculous. NX-01 is based on modern aircraft carrier designs! Its not more advanced, it's just more cluttered with wires and flashing lights. This is like saying an Atari 5200 is more advanced than a PS3 because it has more switches on it.

View screens
Again, balance of terror is fodder for this:
SPOCK [OC]: As you may recall from your histories, this conflict was fought, By our standards today, with primitive atomic weapons and in primitive space vessels Which allowed no quarter, no captives. Nor was there even ship-to-ship visual communication.

Which when Enterprise started I could see this actually being an issue. However, after the Romulans were introduced, they were shown to not have visual communication. Spock doesn't say why there was no visual communication, so I think they expertly fixed what was initially an error and am fine with it now that all info from the series is in.

People just say that they work like TNG transporters. Saying they have the same capabilities, or just complaining that they didn't use TOS's effect.

I'm not going to go into all the arguments I've seen but suffice it to say Enterprise transporters are far more limited, as they can only beam two people and the people have to de-materialise from or materialise on the pad making moving people take longer. They were also more prone to accidents.

Next complaint: the transporter takes longer to work in TOS than Enterprise. True, the average transporter effect in TOS is about 5 seconds and is about 2 in TNG era shows and Enterprise. Why is this? They had more screen time to fill in TOS and a 5 second transporter effect does the trick.

And don't even get me started on the whole “inter-ship beaming” fiasco. Even in the episode of TOS where they say its dangerous they just do it anyway, everything goes fine, and they never mention it again. It was just filler.

6 they shouldn't have phasers or photons torpedoes...

Some people go back to Balance of Terror and say that they shouldn't have photons because of the atomic weapons line. However, it doesn't state that those were the only weapons. Enterprise and Columbia are Starfleet's only ships equipped with them, and they are cutting edge. One could just easily assume that the rest of Starfleet's ships have the kinds of weapons Spock describes. There's also the little problem where and antimatter warhead actually is an atomic weapon.

As for phasers, this comes from the TNG episode A Matter of Time in which Worf says they didn't have phasers in the 22nd century. Riker also says they didn't have warp drive in the 22nd century, despite having fought an interstellar war at that point in history so figure that out.

Either way, phase pistols aren't phasers. They're a precursor. It's like if I said that there were no automatic pistols before the 20th century and you say there were revolvers in the 19th. Yes but revolvers aren't automatic pistols..

Either way phase pistols seem to be a form of disruptor to me anyway. The full name for a disruptor is Phase disruptor so make of that what you will.

5 Vulcan's don't act the way they do in other series

That's weird. I was under the impression that we never saw Vulcan as an independent government before this and so we had no other Vulcan leaders to compare these guys to.

But in all seriousness, this just comes from comparing all Vulcans to Spock. Spock is not your typical Vulcan. He fights harder than any other Vulcan to keep his emotions in check because as a half human they have more of a tendency to affect him. This means that he comes off as seeming more Vulcan than Vulcan if that makes sense.

But consider some of the vulcans we met. T'Pring in Amok Time used deceit to trick Spock and Kirk into a fight to the death so that she can marry a man she's in love with. Soval on DS9 takes sadistic pleasure in torturing Sisko, not to mention the Vulcan serial killer on DS9. These alone should show the danger in stereotyping an entire race the way people seem to with Vulcans.

If you can give no other credit to Voyager, they got how to write a Vulcan. Tuvok seems to me to be a typical Vulcan. He tries to follow the teachings of Surak but even he is sometimes subject to emotion. Like the dull rage you can see boiling when he interacts with Neelix, or falling in love with Kos in Gravity. The teachings of Surak are a religion and like any religion many will try to live up to the ideals but few actually will.

All Vulcans aren't honest or follow pure logic, or are good any more than all Christians follow all the 10 commandments all the time, avoid the 7 deadly sins and are good.

4 The temporal cold war was just an excuse to violate canon all they want and not have to answer for it

This one really cheeses me off. Name one, just one example where they actually did this. And the reason it pisses me off so much is that they could have at any point said that the temporal cold war changed things and flip flopped, but they stuck by their guns and said that they hadn't violated canon and never abused this plot point. This one is just completely baseless and insulting for no reason other than to be insulting. You wonder if the people who said this actually watched the damned show.

3 In response to pointing out it got better in season 3 a show that is not good for two seasons shouldn't get to make a third

This is not only idiotic but also hypocritical if they are fans of TNG, DS9 or Voyager. Look at the first two seasons of TNG. Sure there's some gems in there but there are some huge turdballs. Encounter at Farpoint, The Naked Now, my most hated episode Code of Honour, Justice, The Battle, Samaritan Snare, those are mostly from the first season but the list just goes on and I think I've made my point.

DS9 had A Man Alone, Babel, Q-less, oh god Q-less, Move Along Home, Melora, Rivals, again the list goes on.

Voyager had Parallax and Threshold. Full stop. Threshold is enough on its own to make Voyager's second season the worst of the franchise.

I'm not saying that these shows were bad but all of the worst episodes of all of these shows are in their first two season. So if you say this about Enterprise but give TNG, DS9, or Voyager a pass you're a hypocrite.

2 The NX-01 just should not exist

this one comes from a few places but they are all idiotic so this is a huge piss off for me.

In TMP they say “all these ships were all called Enterprise” and NX-01 isn't on the display.

This is the most piss me off argument ever! They show a progression of 5 random ships named Enterprise and you assume there are no more? A wikipedia search reveals 25 water ships, a hot air balloon, a blimp, and two different types of space shuttles for a total of 29 ships that came up in my wikipedia search with the name Enterprise and as it is wikipedia I'm sure its missing a bunch more. Are you going to argue none of those exist either because they aren't on that display?

If you seriously believe it not being in this display proves something, you are either just being a dick or are actually stupid. I believe most of these people are the former.

Then people point to the numerous mentions of there having been 5 ships named Enterprise, ignoring the fact that they obviously aren't counting pre-Federation ships and the NX-01 is not a Federation ship. It was retired before the Federation even existed for Pike's sake.

1 TOS was perfect the way it was and no prequel should have ever been made.

This brings me to a larger complaint about Trek Fandom as a whole. The belief that Gene Roddenberry was a writing god who could do no wrong, and that TOS is the end all be all of good tv. As a whole I like TOS but there are some really bad episodes. People seem to remember Arena, or City on the Edge of Forever, and forget Dagger of the Mind, Spock's Brain, or Shore Leave. There are some pretty awful episodes of TOS, and some brilliant ones. But to say that TOS is some holy work of perfection seems to be the nostalgia goggles coming on to me.

I'm also sick of all this complaining about respecting Roddenberry's vision. Sure I have respect for the guy as the creator of Star Trek, but he was a horrible writer. Here is a list of everything in Trek that he has a writing credit on
"The Cage"
"Mudd's Women" (Story) (Season 1)
"Charlie X" (Story)
"The Menagerie, Part I"
"The Menagerie, Part II"
"The Return of the Archons" (Story) (Season 2)
"Bread and Circuses" (with Gene L. Coon)
"A Private Little War" (Teleplay with Gene L. Coon)
"The Omega Glory"
"Assignment: Earth" (Story with Art Wallace)
"The Savage Curtain" (Teleplay with Arthur Heinemann, Story) (Season 3)
"Turnabout Intruder" (Story)
Star Trek: The Motion Picture (story, uncredited)
"Encounter at Farpoint" (with D.C. Fontana) (Season 1)
"Hide and Q" (Teleplay with C.J. Holland)
"Datalore" (Teleplay with Robert Lewin)
And here's all the ones that I think are any good.
"The Cage"
"The Omega Glory"

That's right. Two. The man was a menace. He was responsible for a lot of the crap that made season one and two of TNG so bad. Chief among them being Wesley Crusher. I respect him as a world builder but that's it. The success the Star Trek franchise had was 'in spite' of Roddenberry's vision, not because of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment