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On TV Today's Date:

Carbon Creek
original airdate: 9-25-02

Every Trek does it. Kirk and Spock followed McCoy into The Great Depression. Picard and crew went to turn of the century San Francisco to save Data's head. Odo and a handful of Ferengi were responsible for the UFO crash landing in Roswell New Mexico. And the crew of Voyager went way back to 1996 (and ironically gained 29th century technology).

It took them a year, but the Enterprise finally went into the past. They didn't use a time machine, Borg vortexes or even the celestial orb of time (which DS9 used to visit the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles"). No, Enterprise used the oldest time traveling device in the books: storytelling.

And what a story it was. T'Pol's retelling of her great grandmother's trip to 1950's Earth was filled with clever conventions. Every external shot of the retro town, Carbon Creek, was washed out, looking like an old filmstrip. And quite a few plot moments happened without any dialogue or any voice-over narration.

This may be the '50's, but she sure wears make-up like a 21st Century tart.
But the most interesting element was the uncanny resemblance between T'Pol and her grandmother. You would swear they were the same actress. No, but really, this is an overplayed idea. Why do everyone's ancestors look like whoever is telling the story? This same thing was done on Voyager just a few years ago, when Kate Mulgrew played Captain Janeway telling a story about her great great great great…Grandmother during the turn of the millennium.

And why is it every time we go into the past we learn the "truth" about some piece of technology? Scotty gave away the secret of transparent aluminum. And now T'Pol gave us Velcro. Where would we be without aliens and time travelers? Probably still using opaque soda cans and tying our shoelaces like suckers.

Just as our history books are being rewritten, so is the Star Trek timeline. But unlike the Suliban encounters so far, Carbon Creek's story of the real first contact contradicts the very premise of the series, launched by Star Trek (8): First Contact. Sure Grandma T'Pol could have crashed on Earth, but did she have to? It just muddies the continuity.

Next week we meet the Romulans. Here is the real test. According to the original series, the humans fought an entire war against the Romulans and never saw their faces. Let's see if Captain Archer sneaks a peek at the Vulcan's cousins a hundred years before The Federation learned about their true identity.

If he does, Enterprise fails the first real continuity question since the series began.

To be fair, this week's episode was a fun story. And we were just as entertained as Archer and Trip. The characterization of a compassionate Vulcan was interesting and well done. But if the chance arises, I'm going back in time to stop this episode from happening.

Einstein, warm up the Delorean!

Kevin Miller

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