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On TV Today's Date:

Babel One
original airdate: 01-28-2005

Archer and crew spent this week preparing for a galactic conference between the Andorians and the Tellarites. These are two great powers of the Alpha Quadrant who have been fighting for centuries. We’ve known both of them since the original Star Trek and they both become founding members of the Federation. So an episode featuring these two historic races should be loaded with excitement.

But it’s not.

Why not? Well, let’s break it down. Enterprise shuttles some Tellarite ambassadors across Andorian space when they run into recurring character Commander Shran. His vessel has been destroyed by a Tellarite. Then the Enterprise is attacked by Andorians. And the Tellarites and Andorians want to fight it out on Archer’s ship.

Boy, this episode writes itself - mainly 'cause it’s been written a dozen or so times before. There is a fine line between doing something done before and just redoing old plots. Everything about “Babel One” feels familiar. Not just talking about the 24 seasons of other Star Trek shows, but the plot repeats elements of the past 3 years on Enterprise.

Commander Shran even says, “I regret that you’re drawn into another one of our conflicts, Captain.” In other words, “How many more times can we see Andorians fight against another old school alien?”

But the tension between these two races is being stressed by some unknown aliens. We know them as Romulans. Enterprise has been flirting with the Romulans all season. Fitting since the Earth-Romulan war has long been established as happening from 2156 to 2160, and the fourth season of Enterprise takes place in 2154.

So while it’s very “Romulan” to create a war from the shadows… it’s also redundant, since they did it on every Star Trek series.

Did anyone else do the math? If one of the greatest wars in all of history starts in 2156, and it’s 2154… where are the rest of Star Fleet's ships? The Columbia isn’t scheduled to launch for a few more months. And then that’s TWO ships. Maybe the Romulans don’t have a huge fleet.

But apparently they do have a holo-generator-space-flea-ship. It’s pretty cool – but, very unRomulan. And if they had access to such extreme technology why did they not use it against Kirk… Picard… the Domionion… the Borg… the list goes on.

Now we’re discussing the very thing many Trek fans were concerned with when they first learned about a prequel series. Maybe Enterprise can’t explore a preFederation galaxy without tearing at the loose continuity from the other shows. Maybe this was a mistake.

Sure, they explore the intricate dynamics of the Tellarite and Andorian cultures. Tellarites prefer to argue and insult. Andorians prefer abusive women. But it’s little consolation for a formulaic story.

Enterprise plans to visit some very common Star Trek themes in the months ahead. This three part story will develop into the seeds of the Federation. The next three part story will feature the origins of the Klingon’s smooth foreheads. And they’re even doing a Mirror Mirror series (visiting the alternate everyone's-got-a-beard-universe set up on Classic).

This is what we WANT to see. Orions, Tellarites, Andorians, Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans… but it’s got to be done RIGHT. And this episode was not. It was boring.

Hopefully, as the plot thickens next week, so will the quality.

Kevin Miller

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