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On TV Today's Date:

Shockwave, Part Two
original airdate: 9-18-02

After a recap of the season finale, which has been played almost non-stop this whole week, fans were thrust into the fantasy, action, and dumb title sequence video that is Enterprise. This time last year we were raving over the pilot of a new series. And this year we're raving over a season premiere that feels like a second pilot.

Picking up exactly where we left off at the beginning of summer, Captain Archer must find his way home to the 22nd century while his crew takes back control of the Enterprise. Along the way we experience all the wonderful things that gave this show such a surprisingly good first season.

First the computer animated landscapes come to mind. Unlike other Trek shows, Enterprise has been all computer graphics from the beginning. The starships on Enterprise have been very captivating, like the Vulcan science vessel with its impulse ring or the network of Suliban cells connecting to their helix - both of which made an appearance this week. However, in the first season animated scenes of buildings on planets looked like something from Civilization III for
the PC. Not this year! The wasted landscape of the 31st century, with its gutted skyscrapers and archaic library, was as impressive as most film effects.

But effects alone don't make a series (unless it's Star Wars). All seven main actors returned this season - no one was Denise Crosby'd. The acting was well-rounded as usual, with the exception of the final scene where Scott Bakula delivers a line that sounded like an impression of Captain Kirk. Linda Park's proto-Vulcan T'Pol was more interesting than ever, with her cutting logic and suppressed emotions and needlessly exposed midriff. And those other guys were pretty good, too.

But you know, it's the story that keeps us coming back. TNG was "retired" because the execs felt there were no more stories for that generation (well, except for four more - one to come to theaters this winter).

Enterprise has a very strong continuity. Each individual episode links to another, taking the shape of one really long story, instead of 100 or so short ones. In the final scene of Shockwave, Captain Archer delivers a speech like the one he did in the pilot. But this declaration was that of a sophomore after finishing that awkward freshman year. "We've learned from our mistakes, and we're going to make plenty more of them. And we'll learn from those, too!"

The characters may make plenty of mistakes (resulting in suspenseful and entertaining episodes) but Enterprise's first year was by far the best first year any Trek spin-off has experienced.

Here's to a new year of trekking with the Andorians, Suliban, and Derek McCaw, who would be good in space.*

*shameless, if odd, pandering to the editor is appreciated, but cash is preferred. - Derek

Kevin Miller

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