airdate 03-27-02

When first conceiving The Next Generation, Gene Roddenberry created the Ferengi to be the perfect villain for the Federation. They were to stand for everything humans had given up. Greed, power and selfishness sat at the heart of the Ferengi culture. They should have been the perfect villains.

But the first time we met the orange colored freaks they were dancing around, spouting out nonsense, and barely audible through shark teeth. Fans turned away, and the Ferengi never were able to clinch the spotlight the way the Klingons had done on the original show. Instead they moved aside for a much more worthy adversary: The Borg.

Still, the Ferengi weren't forgotten, popping up once or twice a season. They make a convenient plot device because they'll do anything for profit. But it wasn't until Deep Space Nine that we really got to know the race. Thanks to the classy style of Quark, played by Armin Shimerman (also one of the original freakish Ferengis in their debut appearance), fans embraced them as the break-out characters of the galaxy.

Archer gave up after T'Pol either couldn't or wouldn't play the circle game right.
For the Ferengi to appear on Enterprise is both novel and dangerous. They're easily the most entertaining comic characters in the Star Trek universe (as a race - not to be unPC). But it's dangerous due to the timeline, the trap Enterprise seems to escape every week.

"How do we do this episode, without it conflicting with an episode that takes place 200 years from now?"

Enterprise has solved this problem each week, except for some small nitpicky stuff which is more opinion than fact that I'm sure some dude is writing a book about right now. The show seems aware of what has gone before, even if technically it's coming after. It helps that the people making creative decisions this time around are not only talented writers, but also seem to be fans of Star Trek.

The details are what makes things so impressive. Having Ulis, the leader of the Ferengi gang, crack his electric whip is the kind of thing that fans eat up. In that very first Ferengi-filled TNG episode they had these same electric whips, never to be seen again. By including them in this episode, in this timeline, the creators justify a question that has lingered for over ten years. Why don't they have those whips? They simply went out of style. Heavy Ferengi fans will note in this episode they referred to the 117 Rules of Acquisition. By the time Quark learned them there were 285.

When Deep Space Nine needed to lighten things up (which came about quite often) they did a Ferengi episode. And just like in DS9, Acquisition looked like it a simple excuse to have fun.

My brother won an Oscar and I wore a latex head. Who had the better week?
Clint Howard (who really IS a Ferengi) joined Ethan Phillips (Voyager's Neelix) as half of the Ferengi operation. This is the second time Phillips has worn the Ferengi lobes, as Neelix went undercover as the Grand Negus once on Voyager.

And Jeffrey Combs returned to his orange skin as Krem. On DS9 he played Weyoun, the Vorta, and Brunt the Ferengi. Now on Enterprise we've seen him as the orange Krem and the blue Shran (the Andorian). Combs is one of the finest actors in the Star Trek franchise, and it's no wonder he keeps popping up as multiple characters, with his ability to work a latex mask as if it were his own skin. (He's even outdone original series vet Mark Lenard.) Let's welcome him to be a regular on Enterprise. Each week Combs can play one of the villains, whether it be Ferengi, Klingon or Paclet.

Enterprise has been racking up the villains, and this is part of their success. One of the things we love the most about Star Trek is the alien cultures. By meeting a new one (or spinning an old one), fans get just what they want.

The Ferengi are a marvelous touch, and were done really well. Nothing in Acquisition conflicted with the ten years we've known the greedy spandex-wearing freaks. Let's hope the producers can keep it that way, so we can look forward more appearances by the Ferengi.

Which random species will the producers pull out next to make a villain? Trill? Betazoid? Deltans? It's got to be those wacky Paclets. Is there nothing they can't do?

"We look for things. Things to make us go." Go, Paclet, Go!

Those guys are great.

Kevin Miller

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