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On TV Today's Date:

First Flight
original airdate: 05-14-03

What a night of Star Trek. Action. Drama. Sex. And of course - let down.

Next week Enterprise will be running its season finale. So for some odd reason that only the TV programmers understand, we enjoyed two brand new episodes of Archer's Adventures. The first hour explored the Captain's years in Star Fleet leading up to his commanding the Enterprise. And the second hour dealt with a horny Vulcan. Or at least that's what we were supposed to think. (More on that later.)

"First Flight" is actually a touching story. It's a shame that it had to be the opening act for this week's double feature.

When Archer learns his dear friend, A.G. Robinson, has been killed while hiking Mt. McKinley, he takes to a condensed nebula to work out his mourning. After Archer makes it clear he wants to be alone, T'Pol forces herself into his one man mission, and then plays therapist to his grieving by tricking him into talking about his pain. She sure does understand human emotions.

In a series of flashbacks Archer tells the tale of the first warp 2.5 flight in human history. As a member of the highly elite NX program, Archer was skipped over to be the first space monkey to fly the new NX Alpha. Instead he sat at control, feeding information to Robinson. And Robinson's test flight brings up a very interesting question. The kind of math word problem you'd find in a 24th century text book.

If the NX Alpha leaves Earth and travels at warp 1.9 for about a minute, then jumps from warp 2.0 to warp 2.2 in about one more minute, then how far has he traveled before the warp field destabilizes, and he is forced to jettison the cockpit and destroy the test ship?

Let's skip to the back of the book and find the answer. Here it is: Saturn. Which brings the kind of question that makes almost everyone think. Just how fast is warp 2?

ACTUALLY, I'm sorry I asked. 'Cause I just know there is some super geek who is reading this right now and is reaching for his The Science of Star Trek book, already constructing the first three sentences of his very clever e-mail, that would go something like, "Actually, warp speed is measured by an inflating variable…"

Save it, Trekkie. (If any of you could see the initial draft of this column, you'd know that Kevin can't be bothered to even spell, let alone do math. -- Editor)

"If a train leaves Chicago at...wait a minute...who the heck is still taking trains?"
Don't get me wrong. I love Star Trek. But it just seems odd that they can skip all around the galaxy at warp four point something, but when it comes to test flying, it takes them forever to get to the middle of our own solar system.

And then to make matters even more confusing, Robinson makes his way back to Earth and into the cargo bay before taking off his space helmet.

Now if there are no warp 2 ships that take only minutes to get to Jupiter, then somebody had to go get that guy and tow him all the way back.

And instead of unloading him near a hospital or even a debriefing zone, he comes to the NX hangar?

How convenient, because it's at this exact moment that Archer meets Trip for the very first time. Odd, because Trip was a lead engineer on the NX program, but never met Archer, a lead pilot, until the day of the biggest test flight in the program's history? A little too convenient.

"Actually, the relationship factor between Archer and Trip is inversed to the number of personnel in the NX program…"

Save it.

This episode goes on to drop a few decent inside jokes. In a flashback Robinson tells Archer, "Every time there's a problem you won't be able to ask Star Fleet for help. Or the Vulcans - unless you decide to take one with you." Ha ha ha ha.

Or when Archer tells Trip, "If I ever get my own ship I'll sign you up," and Trip says, "I'll hold you to that." I guess he did just that! Ha ha ha ha!

Whew, that's a good one.

Or when Iceman tells Maverick "YOU! Are still dangerous. But you can ride my tail anytime..."

Wait. Sorry.

In the end however, "First Flight" is pretty decent story. Cleverly bookended with Archer and T'Pol's search for dark matter anomalies, which concludes with a cosmic fireworks display. I'm talking about the dark nebula, not Archer and T'Pol making it.

For more on T'Pol making it, let's engage the second hour of this week's TWO HOUR ENTERPRISE EVENT at warp factor 2.5!

We'll be to Jupiter in no time…

Kevin Miller

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