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On TV Today's Date:

original airdate: 10-30-02

Much like the rest of television, Enterprise took last week off to watch the World Series. And this week's episode was just about as successful as the Giants. Too bad, because many of the elements in "Marauders" were very strong. But again, just like baseball, sometimes it comes down to one team member making a bad play.

Two of the stronger players this week were the ones that seldom get any press. The first is the costumes. The crew of the Enterprise donned their desert uniforms once again.

These things are the coolest apparel to hit the screen since Deanna Troi started wearing her bridge uniform. They have the slightest hint of Kirk and Spock's old two-piece uniform, with the minor difference being a very retro black belt. But the hottest thing in the desert was T'Pol's silver alien suit. The opening shot of Archer, Trip and T'Pol looked like something from the biggest budgeted episode of the original Star Trek series.

The other heavy hitter this week was the set design, working in tandem with the location scouting crew. Wherever it was actually shot, the alien desert made an amazingly believable location. Much like when we believed dinosaurs were marching around tropical islands in Jurassic Park, location is everything.

And making the location look even better were the detailed sets. The refinery town was simple and sparse. We had no idea what any of the pumps or "crawlers" exactly did to pull valuable deuterium from the planet's crust, but we believed that each valve and metal sheet had some purpose. Other Star Treks have built dirty mine sets on hot desert landscapes, but none have ever been this believable.

But we don't have alien deserts without aliens. And we don't have aliens without make up artists. On the original Star Trek an alien had either different ears, or different colored skin, or just a different colored shirt. But post-big screen, all aliens have funny foreheads.

Rehearsing for Riverdance.
This has created one of the most frustrating continuity problems in the franchise. Worf explained away the problem with his simple line, "We don't discuss it with outsiders." But the Romulans never explained it away. Nor did the Andorians.

Meanwhile, all new species to hit the screen simply glue on a latex forehead. This week's settlers were no exception. But the Klingons' makeup looked fabulous. There were a number of subtleties you'd have to be a complete "nerd" to pick out (like the family ridges matched characters we've seen in previous Treks - meaning these Klingons are the ancestors of characters like Worf -- not that I noticed. But you might. Nerd.). And the make up team is doing something different with Phlox. He's looking a little red. At least he's more than just a funny forehead - he's got a funny jaw line, too!

With these great strengths pulling for the show this week, the problem came from a member of the creative team that has been otherwise strong all season.

"Marauder's" story was flawed. First of all this is a tired plot, so overused it was A Bug's Life. "Thugs bully a small town, until outsiders teach the locals they can use their brains to fight brawn." Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And worse yet, they didn't pull it off. At least at the end of A Bug's Life we knew the evil motorcycle grasshoppers wouldn't be coming back in the new year. These Klingons were surrounded by a ring of fire and heard a speech about how the settlers aren't afraid anymore. Oh, no, the Klingons won't be back the moment Enterprise leaves, no sir. They promise.

It doesn't matter if the settlers are afraid of the Klingons or not, Klingons can kill humans faster than I can identify their family ridges. Not that I can. Nerd.

But the plot hole gets bigger. Either that or the Klingons of the past don't know how to work their own machines. The settlers needed to trap the Klingons in a fire. So they moved their entire town to fool them. The tents, the pumps, the fake foreheads. It looked just like the old town.

It stands to reason, however, that a starship would remember where a settlement was based on geography, not what the camp looked like. And even if they could trick the sensors, they couldn't trick the Klingons' memories. The mauraders have been coming there for five years, but apparently never noticed where they actually were.

Over that time they were probably trying to figure out how to work their transporter. After listening to the stirring speech about bravery, the Klingons beamed out of the ring of fire and onto their ship. Why didn't they beam out of the ring of fire and on top of the resistance force? The writing team must have been resting in the dugout during this week's staff meeting.

Next week we take a turn for the dramatic, as T'Pol struggles with murder. It doesn't look like much room for the technical staff to carry the episode, so the writers better be on top of their game. Otherwise Enterprise may have to pretend every week is World Series week.

Bring out the Rigellian Rally Monkeys...

Kevin Miller

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