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Future Tense
original airdate: 02-19-03

By the time period of the original Star Trek many modern forms of entertainment had died away. Thanks to Enterprise we now know the people of the 22nd century will still watch movies. Every week the crew gathers to watch some Paramount film from the 1960s. But apparently they don't watch TV, or at least more specifically, no one has EVER seen any episode of Star Trek.

If they had, most of this week's episode of Enterprise would never had happened. People who watch Star Trek, or any of its spin-offs, would know never. . .

1. Open the hatch to a mysterious vessel floating in space without checking for an alien disease inside.

2. Stick your fingers in alien organic material - especially when it's networked to a computer.

3. Crawl into a shuttle pod's shaft that magically extends 20 feet deeper than the vessel's outer hull.

4. Enter a top-secret room without locking the door behind.

5. Put the captain in a place where he could contract an alien disease, be transported through time or otherwise harmed in any way.

Numbers one through four could just be because these first humans in space are dumb (or because they don't like Science Fiction). But number five raises a rather odd point.

We've seen Kirk, Spock and Bones wander into the most dangerous situations, only to have lonely peons die for them. (Picard was a little smarter and sent his Number One and a robot into harm's way - of course the peons died for them, too.) That makes for some interesting TV, but they were the three most important people on the ship. If they died, Sulu would have been in command (and don't think George Takei doesn't fantasize about it). And if his peons had caught fire, there wouldn't have been anyone to say, "He's dead, Hikaru."

On the Enterprise Captain Archer has no problem crawling inside dangerous vessels, or exploring unknown planets, first hand. And that's one of the countless reasons why the creators brought Star Trek back to the past - to boost the danger factor in the name of naivety (or because they're dumb).

But there are other casting choices that don't make much sense. It's not a bad idea for Kirk to bring his doctor and science officer, but why would the armory officer be working on fixing an alien vessel?

Sure, maybe he's really good at figuring out alien hardware, but then why would it be just him and the chief engineer working? In engineering there is a whole deck of peons running about. They could help.


The preceding is what is known as NITPICKING. Beyond those minor silly complaints there isn't much wrong with this episode. In fact it goes above and beyond the Trek limits. It introduces fantastic new ideas into the continuum, such as Temporal Radiation - which forces people to inexplicably repeat minutes. Or the vessel that's bigger on the inside. We also meet new factions in the mysterious temporal cold war.

These sorts of "out there" ideas were the themes TNG fooled around with in their final season (i.e., Anti-Time in the final episode). Deep Space Nine dabbled in strange concepts occasionally, but only after it had well established itself.

Here Enterprise is in only its second season and already spinning stories as complicated and thought provoking as Minority Report.

So maybe the crew of Enterprise never got around to watching Star Trek. The creators obviously have. And if the problems in numbers 1 - 5 are a trade off for excellent storytelling, then I say we made out like Ferengis.

Kevin Miller

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