Okay, there I said it and it feels like a heavy weight has been lifted. Yes, admission is the first step to recovery. But, in order for a full recovery to take place, something drastic needs to happen to make the franchise exciting and fresh again. The star, in Star Trek, is falling and someone needs to catch it.

I have felt this way for some time, but I was in complete denial. I didn’t want to admit that I don’t really like the current series, Enterprise, that the last movie, Nemesis, was good but not great, and that Farscape reruns, are ten times better than anything Trek has done since the finale of The Next Generation and a couple of standout Voyager episodes.

What pushed me over the edge!? Well, I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly titled Fallen Star that pretty much summarized everything that I had been feeling about Trek for the last couple of years. In addition, the article has several suggestions on how to make the series better, which gave me some hope. Hey, Rick Berman, you listening!? Here are some of the suggestions:


“Let it Die…For a While”
Let the franchise die for a while, like the ten years that elapsed between The Original Series and The Next Generation. I don’t agree with this! As a Trekkie, I think that this should only be done as a last resort since bad Trek is better than no Trek. Or is it? I am so confused, and yes, I am a geek!

“All Hands, Abandon Ship”
Make drastic changes in the creative staff, many of whom have been on staff for over 15 years. I agree with this. Rick Berman does not have a monopoly in creativity, give some young hungry talent a chance. Hire new directors for the films, not just old Trek actors. Maybe the Wachowski brothers could do a film, or even Spielberg! And for the television series, hire some of the Farscape production staffers that are now out of work!

“How Come The Aliens Always Look Like My Uncle Phil?”
Enough with crappy old-school ridges-on-the-forehead aliens. Create better aliens and better bad guys. The article states, “Where are the Borg, the Khans, the Qs?” I disagree, today even those guys mentioned are boring. Star Trek should take a cue from Farscape and create really interesting aliens, even if some are muppets or guys with animatronic masks.

“Oh, Ensign Leery is Soooo Dreamy!”
“Full-on soap-opera-meets-scifi really can work” according to the article. It goes on to say that a Dawson’s Creek meets Starfleet Academy show would be good for teens. Some of the storylines could explore “the forbidden love flowering between a human cadet and a Vulcan, or an alienated Klingon teen and his struggles to fit in.” This could be an interesting spin-off series that some adults may even watch.

“Beam ’em Down and Leave ’em Down
The audience always knows that if you blow up the Enterprise a new bigger and badder Enterprise will take its place. How about they blow up the ship and stay stranded somewhere for a while without a Federation vessel, “Voyager meets Survivor.” I do not agree with this one either. One of the weakest series was Deep Space Nine, and it was abysmal until they introduced a ship called the Defiant to have short away missions from the station. No ship no fun. Period.

On that same note, one thing that definitely needs to be done is to make sure that the series does not become a show just for kids. Star Trek, as Roddenberry envisioned it, was not a kids’ show. It was a smart show with adult themes, although you wouldn’t know it by watching Enterprise.

Have you noticed that nobody ever seems to die in Star Trek anymore. Even in The Original Series people died. It was always the ensign that went down to the planet. Everyone knew it was coming, the audience knew, Kirk knew, Spock knew, Bones knew, hell even the ensign knew. But the ensign would pick up his little tricorder and head to the planet anyway. He was brave and proud, just like Kenny in South Park. Oddly, that was much more realistic. and brought a sense of danger and excitement to the show.

We need to get back there–back to the magic that was, back to quality shows, back to gripping stories, back to captivating and repulsive aliens, back to mofos dying–back to the things that made Star Trek great!

16 Comments »

  1. I can say that I agree with your weblog entry. I too saw the article, and I agree that there are some real holes in the mythology and some real challenges in creating a greater sphere of conflict with this Enterprise series. True, the temporal cold war is somewhat confusing, contradictory, and, well, lame, but they are trying to build the Suliban up as the first most formidable race against which Star Fleet must test itself.

    There has also been an early Borg encounter (which I thought was decent) and many examples of humans behaving in ways that make them more thoughtful and practical than the rigid Vulcans, more honorable than Kilngons, and more trustworthy than Andoreans.

    This theme resonates in TNG, which I have been watching lately on Spike TV (the channel for men). In the episode where the Founders have sprinkled DNA strands throughout the universe, the Kilngons, the Cardassians, the Romulans, and Humans are the four races who decode their message. It seems that all other races are not quite as clever and evolved and that the Humans (read: Picard and Crusher) solve the mystery while the other races foolishly squabble over details. This captures the strength of TNG; the Enterprise represented not only the best of humanity but the best that an inclusive, progressive, logical, noble, thoughtful “organization” could produce through cooperation and mutual respect.

    The Enterprise series is not as evolved yet. Humanity is still struggling and fighting with its immediate neighbors and its foreign threats. It is not as fast-paced; as an example, it takes 30 minutes to take a shuttle pod down to a planet, whereas in TNG, they could beam an entire crew in and out in fifteen minutes, and Jean-Luc could be home for tea with Beverly to discuss Data’s becoming a professor of the humanities, Ryker’s career, or Diana’s pedantic psycho-babble.

    I must admit, when Enterprise and TNG re-runs are on in the same timeslot, I watch TNG. I prefer humanity and the Federation in a state of controlled dominance. I like to see their struggles surrounding not the elements of basic survival; instead, I enjoy seeing them take what they know and pushing the boundaries into moments of creative, clever discovery- this is why Q spared everyone in All Good Things…

    Maybe a break is a good thing for this series. Remember though, there have been many episodes that were quite ridiculous and dull such as:

    – TOS- the quest to return Spock’s brain
    – TOS- the parasitic vomit/brain control thing that affixed itself to the unsuspecting
    – TOS- the tribbles
    – TOS- the collector
    – TNG- any episode with Mrs. Troy
    – TNG- Wesley’s bout with capital punishment on the Logan’s Run planet
    – TNG- Tasha Yar’s death at the hands of the cast-off, black ooze
    – TNG- the alien virus that causes everyone to digress to earlier DNA forms
    – DSN- most of the first three seasons and, well, up to the finale, nearly everything else
    – VOY- ANYTHING that had to do with Kess and Nelix

    After all, the first series was cancelled after three years, maybe Enterprise will follow suit. I would hate for it to end before the founding of the Federation, though.

    #1 by Steve Thompson — August 4, 2003 @ 2:13 am

  2. Meerenai, I agree with the music in the opening credits. I’ve never liked it. I prefer a symphonic score for all Star Trek series. I too say NO to Diane Warren!

    However, I must say that the opening visual sequences in Enterprise’s credits that depict man’s accomplishments through time are just outstanding. I don’t know of any other ST opening sequence that captures the will of the human spirit so well, except for the shitty music.

    Steve, I agree with your entire post. I concede that there’s been bad episodes in all of the ST series, and I agree with all the ones you listed except the Tribbles. I am surprised that you don’t like “Trouble with Tribbles.” Everyone knows that Tribbles are the shizzle ma nizzle.

    Seriously though, I just hope the upcoming third season of Enterprise steps it up or the Star Trek franchise will surely die. Big ups to all of you for posting your comments.

    #2 by Nugget — August 4, 2003 @ 2:24 am

  3. Sort of off-topic, but check out this Star Trek TNG Meets Microsoft humor.

    #3 by Nugget — August 4, 2003 @ 2:46 am

  4. The first thing Rick Berman needs to do is get rid of the title theme music for Enterprise. What the fuck is that shit? They couldn’t get anything better so they settled for a freakin’ soap opera theme song??!!? “It’s been a Loong Road…to get from there to heereee….” WTF?! Just say NO to Diane Warren! Since when did Berman think that the Star Trek viewers listen to adult contemporary, easy-listening crap?

    #4 by Meerenai — August 4, 2003 @ 10:24 am

  5. I was actually thinking about ST this morning. Odd how we geeks think alike sometimes. Now, why haven’t we seen an accurate picture of the Federation on Earth? All the series take place on a ship of some kind. Are we supposed to believe that Star Fleet is running perfectly back on the home planet. There’s got to be a good series in what happens on Earth. It would be like the West Wing, only in the future, and in San Fran, with no Martin Sheen.

    Unfortunately, I’d have to agree. ST fans won’t like it if there is no ship involved. I guess that’s why I watch Stargate SG-1.

    #5 by Jimnice — August 4, 2003 @ 11:07 am

  6. I realy don’t know for sure, but when i don’t like something i makje fun about it, not write 3 pages about it, Im probably rong though

    #6 by dave beckem, realy — September 6, 2003 @ 5:08 am

  7. Dude, I *do* like Star Trek! That’s why I can honestly say that the show has gone downhill for the last three years. Who better than a Trekkie to talk smack about the franchise? Thanks for your post!

    #7 by Nugget — September 8, 2003 @ 8:12 am

  8. I’d like to respond to my esteemed colleague Mr. Steve Thompson. I’ve thought long and hard about exactly why Enterprise sucks, and as Steve points out, the early Federation humans are not supposed to be as evolved as they will be in Picard’s or Janeway’s time. However, it is not the stately pace of its plots or the unimaginative unveiling of new technologies that make the show lame. After all, they do have good actors, good production, good filming and special effects, and credible dialogue.

    The problem with Enterprise is that it’s not science fiction. It doesn’t use the settings to explore social or technological issues which are currently too hot to hand. We have no Kirk ordering up 100 flintlocks for his friend Tyree – serpents for the garden of Eden. At times the show has come *close* to controversy. Oh yeah, the show allegorizing the AIDS epidemic, whatever. We finally figured out it’s just a bad disease that affects good people. Not controversial.

    If TOS’s subversive spirit were felt today, we might be seing some episodes about:

    – civillian casualties in wartime, and the military downplaying it;
    – political criminals commiting crimes in what just happens to be a police state;
    – a society where (gasp) drug use is acceptable and formal education is illegal;
    – planets going broke because of their war efforts… again…
    – new technologies being used to strip citizens of their rights.

    Anyone care to talk anathema? Use the futuristic setting to analyze some topic which is politically verboten and SURPRISE! Maybe some people will watch again.

    Sadly, I do not think a turn-around is possible. I think the writers are political quietists. In a recent episode (forgot the name) Trip acts stupidly trying to liberate a non-gendered alien who is basically a slave used for breeding purposes. Of course we all realized this was a remake of the old short story “I know why the caged bird sings” when the alien hero(ine) killed him/her/itself. Archer then proceeds to give the most irrational speech in ST history, telling Trip it was actually his fault that the alien committed suicide. Archer shamelessly defends the practice of slavery on the basis of non-interference.

    I remember U Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom arguing that the academic notion of cultural relativity was really just a scheme hatched in the early 20th century by Southern apologists. The idea was that if each culture is unique with its own checks and balances, then in a sense “I’m OK and you’re OK” and slavery was just a tolerable idiosyncrasy of Southern culture; according to this, pre-war Southern slaveowners weren’t monstrous individuals, their actions “made sense” within the context of their culture. While today it sounds somewhat ludicrous to suggest that dead Southern bigots were the true inventors of multiculturalism, Archer’s quietist speech gave us a chilling illustration of how this works. Bottom line, Archer simply doesn’t have the wisdom to know when to break the slowly coalescring Prime Directive. He’s no leader. Say what you want about Voyager or DS9 — Janeway and Cisco were reflective, thoughtful individuals who thought hard about their decisions.

    With a dearth of critical thought or courageous writing, the whole Enterprise series is actually starting to resemble the “Wagon Train to the Stars” concept that Gene Roddenberry baited network execs with back in the 1960s. Just a Western, shoot-em-up, get tied up and escape again. So sad.

    #8 by tim — September 25, 2003 @ 12:46 pm

  9. Isolationism by any name, was never truly admirable, even when fashionable by any other name, as in 60’s non intervention. More over, non interference with that of which we are ignorant, as a Science Fiction trope, to be interesting, requires a truly novel circumstance and surprising unforeseen consequence. Fat chance on Trek, now worse than ever!

    #9 by Aaron Agassi — October 1, 2003 @ 10:05 am

  10. Many fine points have been made here. Star Trek series are being milled out too quickly. I feel that Rick Berman has lost sight of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of science fiction that combines thought provoking stories with action. Directors, writers, and staffers on any Star Trek project should be die hard Trek fans. Enterprise is at best something to watch. It does not live up to the franchise standards.

    #10 by Dave — October 23, 2003 @ 12:38 pm

  11. Rick Berman must be fired – why the f^&* is this @sshole still employed? He is the sole reason why Star Trek has become such a mediocre franchise. If you listen to the Star Trek writers during interviews you will understand what I mean. Berman wants Star Trek to be plain and conservative and never evolve or break new ground. This is why Star Trek is boring.

    Berman wanted the Dominion War to last 3-4 episodes (DS9) – and the writing staff had to lie to him and go behind his back to get it longer. He made up his own rule in which it was not allowed to mention Kirk or Spock in TNG…. etc. etc the list goes on and on.

    You want fans to watch Star Trek again? Then break new ground – do something unexpected. First step is to relieve Rick Berman….. have you ever heard the guy speak? He is so unemotional and monotone no wonder he is so boring.

    #11 by Dean Roy — December 8, 2003 @ 3:18 am

  12. That main title theme for Enterprise is a musical abomination. Not only is it aesthetically repulsive, not only are the lyrics self-serving, but they reek of desperation; it’s like the song is begging, “Please, please, pretty please be proud of human accomplishments.” Diane Warren should be eaten by a pack of alligators.

    And Anthony Montgomery is a waste of the cubic area he occupies, hands down the worst actor in Trek history. Every scene he has that wide-eyed stupid-ass grin on his face, regardless of the situation. God, he’s disgusting!

    Whenever the Trek writers are out of ideas, they (as with DS9) throw in a big, long emotionally exhausting war that drags on and on season after season, platitude after platitude, CGI masturbation after CGI masturbation.

    Like all the newer Treks, the characters are stiff, formal, overly professional, without any weird quirks or bad habits. And nobody has a temper, like Kirk did.

    #12 by Dr. Lecter — May 28, 2004 @ 12:59 pm

  13. The problem with Star Trek is that it went from profound to condescending, and went downhill ever since. But the best episodes weren’t morality-plays, so much as action-dramas involving develeopments in the Star Trek world like Journey to Babel, The Doomsday Machine, The Trouble with Tribbles, Court Martial, Balance of Power and the Enterprise Incident. The Next Generation, in contrast, was insultingly pompous and preachy from the start, talking down to the audience and introducing Q, the biggest flaming queen in the galaxy. The action also sucked eggs, and the characters and dialogue were similarly annoying compared to the lovable Kirk and crew. The original Star Trek was the backbone of the franchise, and they’ve been riding on its coat-tails ever since; ever since it was cancelled the first time, it was never fresh, new or creative. Just famous.

    #13 by Tulkas — December 10, 2004 @ 2:06 pm

  14. All of you have totally missed the point of Star Trek.
    Talking about characters and main themes, special effects and acting.
    It`s the philosophy of Star Trek that is great. Maybe the current producers are stuck in a time loop, having trouble taking the philosophy to new levels, but it is an important learning resource for today’s kids who are more stupid then ever.

    And to you who dissed TNG. Pompous? TNG is the greatest show ever created next to The Simpsons. It speaks directly from the heart telling things the way they are. Q is a correct depiction of the true God, who does not give a rat’s ass about human well being. He was created to show you religious morons what you have totally misunderstood the universe.

    #14 by Kent — February 21, 2005 @ 1:33 am

  15. I am no great star trek fan, never have been and probably never will be , yet i think the more science fiction we have on screen the better, escpecially if it is good and there is no reason Star trek can’t be. I think the idea of cancelling the programme for a time might work, you only have to look at the BBC series Doctor Who. It ran for 26 consecutive years and by the end it was getting somewhat tired and it was beginning to show. It came back after a 17 year hiatus and benifitted hugely, it is not perfect but the new series represents a fresh interpretation which still remains faithful to the original series. It might be worth a try.

    #15 by Ant — August 16, 2006 @ 10:19 pm

  16. TV seems to be in a stagnated state in general:

    We seem to be in a world that T V wants to go the route of

    A Naughty scenes with women having sex/ when they aren’t married or shows being pointless with no moral values other then to pump liberal or Republican propegenda in ya face.

    “Embrace world culture but don’t embrace yourself”

    Any shows that are in the middle line are slowly being replaced or canceled. :(

    #16 by Kyle — October 6, 2010 @ 1:03 am

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