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On TV Today's Date:

original airdate: 02-18-2005

The sad reality came crashing down this week when UPN aired “Affliction.” While February 2nd will be the remembered as the day they cancelled Enterprise, February 18th will be marked as the day Star Trek as an entire franchise strapped on its water skis and jumped the shark. This really is the end.

As a series, Enterprise will be remembered as a failure. So it’s fitting that it would produce an episode based on a premise so absurd it would nearly wreck the entire Trek mythos.

Since Star Trek was resurrected on the big screen, in 1979, people have wondered why the Klingons of the sixties looked like guys in make up, while those in the late seventies looked like guys in make up and prosthetic foreheads. This question has hovered outside the reality of the following movies and TV series. Deep Space Nine paid a loving tribute to the discrepancy in their episode, “Trials and Tribulations.” Sisko and crew were sent back to K7, and met Kirk as he dealt with the legendary Tribbles. When Worf was asked why the Klingons looked different from him he replied, “We do not discuss it with outsiders.”

A cute fun answer that should be good enough for fans. Because, really, it’s not fair to stop with the Klingons. Many aliens have received a make up upgrade.

We could also ask…

Why do the Romulans have raised foreheads on the Next Generation, but don’t on Star Trek TOS and as late as The Undiscovered Country?

Why do the Andorians have balls for antennae in TOS but on Enterprise they’re practically prehensile?

Why did the Borg on TNG have pale white faces, but on First Contact, and beyond, they were lined with gray veins?

Because it’s cooler! There are some things that just don’t need to be elaborated into a two part episode. If Enterprise were to be continued into a fifth season we could look forward to stories dealing with where the bathrooms are, or why the captain’s chair doesn’t have a seat belt, or whatever other ridiculous question nitpicking Trek fans have been whining about for 35 years.

This is FANTASY. Producing this episode plays to the short-sighted attention of narrowminded extremist fans.

Anyone who was giving Enterprise a last chance this week was undoubtedly caught offguard by its sad excuse for a premise and overwhelmed by the constant references to older episodes. Archer gives T’Pol pointers on a mind meld, remembering that he had Surak’s Katra. The Klingon plague that threatens their species is a result of their attempts to duplicate Dr. Soong’s work with the Augments. Continuity is cool. But these references are practically forced into the story line.

Ironically this episode has some heavy merits. The crew of soon to be smooth headed Klingons are the best we’ve seen on Enterprise. James Avery, formerly the Fresh Prince’s uncle, makes a fantastic general, and it’s a wonder we haven’t seen him in make up before. Antaak breaths a unique perspective into the life as a Klingon Doctor. In a warrior society, medical science exists only to win wars. Antaak is forced to operate like a Romulan to get what he needs. Stealing medical research and disguising himself as an alien to get into a conference isn’t exactly ‘Klingon.’

”Affliction” really tries to cover up its poor premise with other GOOD Trek continuity questions. Lt. Reed is apparently a member of the fledgling Section 31. If you didn’t want Deep Space Nine then the ‘mysterious organization’ he contacts may have been just that. But for anyone that watched Dr. Bashir deal with the independent covert organization and its seemingly endless supply or resources recognized Section 31 the moment it hit the screen.

DS9 explained Section 31 began before the Federation and it acts in Star Fleet's best interests, but doesn’t answer to its laws or regulations. They remained hidden from public view for over 200 years. And now we’re getting to see where it all started. This is the stuff Enterprise should be made of. Not a question of, “Why was make up so bad in the 60s?”

Perhaps if they had been dreaming this story up last year, instead of swimming through 25 episodes of Xindi crap they would’ve realized its ridiculous nature. But now they’re grasping at straws. Producing anything to get the public’s attention. Screaming, “Look, we’ll tell you why the Klingons got ridges. JUST WATCH!”

Unfortunately the show wasn’t cancelled in time to keep this episode from hitting the air. And now it is forever part of the Star Trek story line. Officially, Data’s great great great great great grandfather was partially responsible for making the Klingon’s have smooth foreheads.

Personally. I’d rather see them fight an army of Tribbles. At least that campy fun wouldn’t have desecrated one of the few quaint mysteries of Star Trek.

Next week… PART II. AKA the longest ski ramp ever.

Kevin Miller

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