the budget for Enterprise has been reduced for
this season. In order to keep it on the UPN airwaves, the
producers are sucking in their financial belts. Now they’re
struggling to gain a bigger audience with fewer resources.
Many fans fear this will result in a string of bad episodes,
leading to a fiery end for Enterprise. But more
optimistically, it could result in stronger, more compelling
episodes like this week’s "Home."
The first two
episodes of season four wrapped up the three year story
line of the Temporal Cold War (as well as the season long
Xindi saga). So this week we slow it down and check in with
the crew’s emotional barometer.
this sound familiar to anyone else? In season four of The
Next Generation, Picard and crew docked at Earth a
few episodes into the year and dealt with their emotions
after the infamous Borg incident (when Picard was assimilated).
is a time tested formula. And just like TNG, "Home"
serves a dual purpose. It’s rich with character detail.
But poor in cost.
money on PRODUCING an episode of Star Trek means saving
money on PRODUCTION. And the only way for a low cost show
to survive is with strong scripts.
deals with three very heavy issues. Dr. Phlox encounters
post-Xindi-war xenophobes. He has a run in with some local
racists and inflates himself like an alien puffer fish.
In the end he gives in to the xenophobes and hides away
on the ship.
flies to Vulcan with T’Pol and watches the hot pointed
eared scientist drown in politics and ancient marriage rituals.
To save her mother from public disgrace she fulfills her
arranged marriage – right in front of Tripp. Talk
about the plot thickening. These two have been rather familiar
lately. With T’Pol returning to the ship, what steps
will their relationship take next?
Captain Archer, in the only story with a happy ending, climbs
a mountain to hide from his success. He’s the hero
of Earth, but harbors more guilt than ships in the Utopia
Planitia Yards. He made some difficult moral choices in
the expanse and now reflects on how his mission and life
have changed course. At the top of the mountain Archer gets
cuddly with an old friend, who will soon captain the second
Warp 5 ship. At least someone on the senior staff is getting
The writers are
doing their part. But what about the rest of production?
computer graphics revolutionizing television, a ‘cheap’
episode is becoming more and more easily achieved. Tripp
and T’Pol walk along the ruins of Vulcan. A few years
ago they would’ve been giant matte paintings. Now,
they’re simulated on a green screen.
the number of aliens in the episode also cuts down on costs.
Make-up isn’t cheap. When Archer dreams of a Xindi
ambush on the mountain, there seem to be 5 to 7 lizard men
attacking him. But there are never more then three aliens
on the screen at once. Clever editing can save thousands.
on location can be expensive, but much easier than building
a forest on a sound stage. So if you’re going to build
a set, make sure you shoot the hell out of it. There were
only a handful of new locations in "Home," giving
the stories a more on-stage feel (rather than TV), which
only reinforces the drama.
These are the
sort of things we can look forward to in season four. Deeper
stories. More drama. Go ahead, slash the budget. With a
clever staff it’ll only make the show stronger.
truly is the mother of invention. Remember the original
Star Trek survived on a pathetic budget. And it
was thanks to penny pinching that Roddenberry dreamt up
the transporter. They didn’t have the funds to build
a shuttle pod set. What sort of clever creations will come
out of Enterprise?
of this question will be answered next week when Brent Spiner
returns to Trek. He doesn’t come cheap, so
the Enterprise maybe replaced by a cardboard box for a couple