does a little math the Star Trek way -- but does it add up?
It's a foolish idea
to judge a TV series by its pilot episode. But by the 10th episode its
fair game to let the assumptions fly. Our first impressions are over,
and we've got a pretty good idea of what the characters on Enterprise
are like. And after a closer look at the core characters we see some
It's as if the
creators of Enterprise stuck all the characters from the previous
Trek shows into a blender, set the thing on frappe, and then poured
their personalities into the seven different lead parts. Seven is of
course the magic number of leads on Star Trek, and the number
of stars TNG narrowed down to after its 3rd season or so. In
most of the cases the characters on Enterprise were created by
just adding 1+1.
Harry Kim + Ezri Dax
Race is a huge part
of the Star Trek shows. After the first pilot was shot with Captain
Pike, NBC told Gene Roddenberry to build up the characters, that they
weren't distinct from each other. His response was to cast 7 different
races. Voyager was the ultimate example of forceful multiculturalism,
boasting a female captain, an Asian, and TWO Hispanics (even if one was
half-Klingon and the other actually played a Native American). Now on
Enterprise we see the starship transformed into a melting pot.
Its rainbow of races is complete with Yamato Hoshi.
But her most defining
personality characteristic is her fear of space. In fact, in Fight
or Flight she is forced to stand up to her fears. Ezri Dax, who
took over for Jadzia Dax after Terry Farrell's face left the show, was
terrified of everything. She (like Hoshi) stood out from the crowd because
most star fleet officers are overly confident, and very sure of themselves.
The Doctor + Neelix
In every Star
Trek show there is one break out character, the one who writers
use to show a counter perspective on the human condition. On Voyager
the creators thought it would be Neelix, but the performance by Robert
Picardo as the Doctor proved him to be a much more interesting character.
And it's very odd that the writers on Enterprise virtually fused
Neelix's quirkiness into the Doctor's programmed professionalism.
Dr. Phlox is the
first alien doctor to be on a Star Trek show (Dr. Bashir was
a genetically enhanced super human, and the Doctor was a hologram -
but everyone's got to have a gimmick - Dr. Phlox is an alien). He is
also the most interesting of the characters. We've been watching humans
for 30 years on Star Trek. Some of us are humans ourselves. They're
only variations on a theme. And T'Pol marks only the third Vulcan to
be a prime character in five Trek shows. Dr. Phlox's everlasting
optimism and alternative medicines make him the most intriguing character,
and he's gotten just about as much air time as Captain Archer's dog.
Wesley Crusher + Jake Sisko
adds to the multicultural rainbow of Enterprise. The mixture of The
Next Generation's Wesley Crusher, and Deep Space Nine's Jake
Sisko is 50 - 50. He's probably a Trill (that's a pretty heavy trekkie
joke). Mayweather is wide eyed but knows the ropes, just like Sisko
did. They both grew up in space, watching their fathers do space stuff.
And he's smart like Wesley Crusher. Every week we see Mayweather discover
something about his job. Some piece of protocol he should observe, or
have remembered. Just like Wesley. But it's doubtful he will join the
Traveler after dropping out of Star Fleet (that's another heavy trekkie
Dr. Julian Bashir + (Worf - Klingon)
The producers of
Enterprise really like how the guy who loves to blow things up
is all shy and quiet. To them it's the most original thing they've created.
But they may have forgotten about Worf. Sure, he wasn't off in the corner
blushing, but he certainly kept to himself. And when it came to women
Worf was never overly confident. But boy, did that Klingon sure like
blowing stuff up.
Reed also has a
recognizable English accent, just like Bashir did on Deep Space Nine.
Strangely enough Dominic Keating, who plays Reed, is English.
Creepy. Up until about season 4 Bashir was still very wet behind the
ears. He had just graduated from Star Fleet, and was shipped out to
Deep Space Nine. And like Bashir, Reed has been tossed into this first
exploration mission, not knowing exactly what is to come.
Bones + Scotty
"Trip," the good
ol' boy, knows his ship, just as Scotty did. And he is a pioneer of
the technology, just as Scotty was. It's as if the creators actually
dreamed up Bone's son, and gave him Scotty's job.
Trip is perhaps
the most authentic character on Enterprise (isn't it interesting
that whenever referring to cowboys, they are "authentic"). His carefree
attitude towards life and space travel is almost a Xerox of Dr. McCoy's
behavior. In fact, they both have wacky nicknames (cowboys always do
- it makes them more "authentic"). And his relationship with Commander
T'Pol pulls the same amount of stress that Bones had with Spock, except
that we never saw Spock and Bones rub ointment all over each other.
Probably for the
Seven of Nine + Kirstie Alley's Saavik
to add conflict to the bridge of the first Enterprise, creators borrowed
the template of Seven of Nine, with all of her cool uninterested mannerisms
and legendary bad attitude. Seven's expertise as an ex-Borg earned her
bridge-officer rights. On any other star ship there would be no need
for a Borg (in fact she'd probably be seen as a threat). So we toss
in a little Kirstie and make her a Vulcan, the environmentally friendly
pointed eared aliens.
Vulcans are the
second most detailed alien in the Star Trek universe (first being
Klingons, third being Bajorans). But in the over 30 years of Trek
history we've never seen a Vulcan act the way T'Pol does, snotty, rude
According to producers,
T'Pol is a proto-Vulcan. Her behavior marks an earlier edition of her
species than the 23rd century. It will take a hundred years before Vulcans
are secure in their logic. However, this doesn't add up. A Vulcan's
life span is nearly 200 years. The Vulcan elders of Spock's day have
to be in their mid-life crises during Enterprise. So a multi-thousand
year old culture completes its growing pains in only half a generation?
Kirk + Sam Beckett
Just as T'Pol is
a proto-Vulcan, Archer is a proto-Captain. He gets frustrated with situations.
He doesn't always know the right thing to do. Picard always had an answer.
So did Sisko. And Janeway had a handbook that she was probably reading
upside down or something. All of these mistakes are very human. They're
not the sorts of errors we expect from our previous captains.
And yet, those
captains had Archer to look up to. He's not only exploring the frontier
of space, but the human condition. Archer is more like the people of
the 21st century than the captains of the 24th century.
Bakula played just
a guy on Quantum Leap (albeit just a guy who invented leaping
technology). Plus he has a blatant disregard for the rules, and is much
more interested in the adventure than following star fleet protocol,
just like Kirk. And there are a few times in the heat of battle, when
the room starts shaking, and the crew starts flinging themselves around,
that Captain Archer busts out a little Kirk speech -
photon - torpedoes! FIRE!
As we march forward
into the next 10 episodes, watch for these similarities to grow. Maybe
things will change for the super-dramatic, and the characters will begin
to act like the cast of Earth 2.
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