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Even IMDb takes a shot at this disgraceful finale.
I won't recapitulate all the negative reviews of this horrible episode (with which I agree, incidentally); however, I noticed that even IMDb subtly disapproves, listing all the cast of "Enterprise" with the designation "(hologram)" next to their characters' names, suggesting it was as if...there weren't really even there.
Touche! The fact is, the B&B send off reduced the cast of "Enterprise" to ghostly afterthoughts, not unlike hologram characters -- photonic images created by the bending of light, and not fully-formed, fleshed out characters. The cast that dedicated four years of their respective careers deserved much better than to be pushed to one side (WAY to one side!) to make way for the bulky Riker and Troi.
A disgrace. (I gave it a four, simply because I liked the Shran story line, and Jeffrey Combs is always a welcome presence.)
Enterprise: Affliction (2005)
Good episode, poor rationale.
As one who considers "Enterprise" an unfairly underrated series, I feel compelled to comment on segments of the sub-par fourth season such as this two-episode arc, that was, in effect, created for the sole purpose of explaining why Klingons in the original series didn't have the distinct "cranial ridges" featured in Klingons in ENT, TNG, DS9 and VOY.
Even though this "mini-arc" is an exciting and well-crafted tale, the rationale behind it is part of the reason that "Enterprise" failed as a series. Using the series to "set-up" the other Star Trek series that took place in the "future" was a sad waste of a good cast, excellent directors, and talented writers. It ultimately does a disservice to them all to use this series as little more than a device to explain events and distinctions found in the series that follow chronologically, even though they were produced years ago.
Like the much maligned series finale of "Enterprise" that employed members of TNG's cast, thus cheating the audience and the cast of a chance to make their finale about...well, about THEM, this arc is an artistic slap in the face of the Enterprise cast, writers and crew, as it wastes two episodes that could have been used to explore the relationships and develop the characters of Enterprise, instead of just "explaining" a matter of extremely minimal concern, i.e., why the Klingons in Kirk's era had smooth foreheads.
(I guess the producers felt it would have been too much to just trust that the fans of the series would understand that the reason that TOS's Klingons lacked cranial ridges was a simple matter of less developed make-up skills, and not a viral infection from a genetic augmentation experiment gone awry.)
Nevertheless, I gave it a seven (7) for some great action and good writing. The transfer of Trip by tether from the Columbia to the Enterprise at warp speed, alone, makes the two-parter worth watching!
Star Trek: Voyager: Warhead (1999)
Perhaps, Voyager's stupidest episode.
"Warhead" may be the single most idiotic episode of Voyager. First of all, it absolutely defies all logic that the crew was unable to ascertain that the devise at the heart of the episode was a weapon of mass destruction until well after they had beamed it on board the ship.
Second, why they succumb to the Doctor's absurd request that they try to "save" this so-called "sentient being" (the warhead had built in to it an artificial intelligence that allowed it to communicate with the Doctor...hardly sentience, but, instead, simply a very low level self-awareness), is beyond reason.
Instead of immediately beaming the warhead off the ship and putting it a few million miles behind them, they choose to try to further communicate with it, in order to find out where it is from and where it was going. IT'S A BOMB! Who cares?!?!?! Granted, Picardo gives a nice performance, but the premise of the episode is so utterly ridiculous, it doesn't save the episode from its own lack of internal logic.
Chakotay as Scopes' Monkey!
In one of the more clever and intriguing episodes of Voyager, "Distant Origin" pits a pure scientist against institutionally-enforced ignorance in a way that one can't help but compare to the present-day battle between evolutionists and creationists.
As the episode begins, we are introduced to an alien paleontologist who discovers the skeletal remains and tattered uniform of the recently dead Ensign Hogan on the planet upon which the Kazon deserted the crew of Voyager in "Basics" at the end of Season two. Based on his analysis, the alien scientist determines that humans and his species -- that resembles highly evolved dinosaurs -- share some 47 common genetic base pairs in their DNA -- evidence that supports his theory that his species did not originate in the Delta Quadrant; but, instead, find their ancestral origins on Earth in the Alpha Quadrant.
Unfortunately for our alien protagonist, his theory of evolution, if you will, stands in direct contravention to the prevailing "doctrine" of his people, who hold as sacred truth that their ancestors originated in the Delta Quadrant. As a result, he is charged with "heresy against doctrine", and threatened by the authorities of his people if he doesn't promptly recant his heretical assertions.
Unlike today's religious right that consider Darwin's theory of natural selection heretical and lobby to have creationism taught in our schools as scientific fact under the absurd, fabricated "science" of "intelligent design", the closed-minded aliens of "Distant Origin" are the ones currently in power, and demonstrate a blithe willingness to extort silence from those who dare to suggest any contrary scientific theory, regardless of the strength of the evidence in support thereof. Ultimately, after a Delta Quadrant equivalent of the "Scopes' Monkey trial", the alien paleontologist of "Distant Origin" is forced to withdraw his theory, lest he end up exiled to a penal colony. To make matters worse, the authorities also threaten to exile the entire Voyager crew, as well, in a clear attempt to "get rid of the evidence" of this radical theory that would throw thousands of years of institutionalized ignorance into chaos, and loosen the authoritarian governing body's hold on the unsuspecting populace.
If only the Clarence Darrow of the Delta Quadrant had shown up, things might have ended a little less bleak for our unfortunate hero!
A show that you have to give yourself over to in order to enjoy it.
To quote another sci-fi classic, "Resistance is futile." Farscape demands a great deal from its audience, not the least of which is to suspend all that you believe a sci-fi series should entail.
It breaks every mold, and recasts them, slightly askew, in a way that no other sci-fi series ever has.
But be warned: If you enter into the series expecting it to be like Star Trek (and all its iterations), Battlestar Gallactica, or Stargate SG-1, you will end up supremely disappointed, and probably won't last past the first three or four episodes.
Instead, go with the show, instead of fighting the creator's vision and trying to impose your own opinion about what a sci-fi series is supposed to be, and you will be richly rewarded, as Farscape is unlike anything you have ever seen before.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Duet (1993)
DS9 manages to take the viewer to remarkable places without moving an inch.
I have long had mixed feelings about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On the one hand, it has such fine pedigree, I can't help but be intrigued. On the other, the idea of a "trekking the stars" while aboard a stationary space port seemed a contradiction in terms, and a recipe for boredom.
And yet, a surprisingly high percentage of Trek devotees hold up DS9 as the very pinnacle of the Trek series and the Trek "mission". They will tell you it is the most cerebral, the most philosophical, the most challenging. And, more often than not, they are right. Unlike TOS, TNG, VOY and ENT, DS9 (particularly in its first few seasons) rarely relies on hostile aliens, pyrotechnic space battles and mysterious spatial anomalies threatening its crew to hold the attention of its audience. Warp is NOT a factor on DS9, as it is a series dedicated not to the exploration of the far reaches of space, but to the exploration of the even more inscrutable mysteries of the mind.
"Duet" is the best of the first season, and, arguably, the best episode of the entire series. (Some here have even suggested it may be the best episode of ALL the Trek iterations.) Using clever plot twists, seemingly contradictory clues, and brilliant dialog culminating with a revelation that hits the viewer square in the gut, leaving you quite literally breathless. It is a beautifully written, performed, composed and produced episode.
Others here have revealed enough about the basic plot that I need not restate it; instead, I post this review just to add to the consensus, and let all those considering watching this episode (and this series), that this is amazing television, and far-reaching "exploration" -- even though the space explored is no bigger than that between your ears!
Enterprise: A Night in Sickbay (2002)
The good, the bad and the funny.
I confess, I really like this goofy episode. I read over all of the reviews here, and, in many ways, the reviewers managed to point out aspects of this odd little episode that fly in the face of what Trek is all about -- duty, responsibility, open-mindedness to alien civilizations, etc.
Obviously, why Archer chooses to bring his dog to the planet is a head scratcher. He explains that even Porthos deserves a little fresh air sometimes, but, given the importance of the visit -- to acquire some much needed hardware for the ship -- it is ill-conceive to risk offending the natives of this planet who we know to be a sensitive lot based on the last time the crew of Enterprise met them.
Nevertheless, I think the other reviewers are being a little bit slavish in their commitment to "Trek-canonical continuity", or whatever you want to call it, and would be well disposed to suspend their religious-like devotion to the tenets of Starfleet, and enjoy the goofiness of this very good-natured episode.
From the suggestion that Archer subconsciously lusts after SubCommander T'Pol -- and his amusing Freudian slips in support thereof -- to the sappy-but-compelling story of a grown man's genuine affection for his quadraped, and, well, the "heart" of this episode defeats the logic of it, handily.
If you are willing to enjoy it as an intergalactic drawing room comedy, and not an "affront" to all that is sacred Trek-wise**, it's an amusing and, at times, touching episode.
** As much as I love Trek in all its incarnations, I certainly do not share the absurd conviction of those humourless drones who seem to view the show as sacred text, and Gene Roddenberry as their saint. If every episode involved a serious inquiry into the manifold issues of intergalactic travel, the prime directive, and the philosophical implications of exploring the galaxy...well, then the various series would be crushed under their own self-important weight, and the concepts themselves would implode, pulling the entire series into a dull, lifeless black hole of preachy sanctimony. The series needs -- nay, demands episodes like this one, if for no other reason than to remind the viewers that, particularly in the early years of warp-speed space exploration, mistakes and folly were as much a part of the growth process as revelation and enlightenment.
In short to the naysayers: lighten up. It's just a television show.
An underrated gem.
Whit Stillman makes motion pictures like no one else. His vision is unique and incomparable. "Barcelona" is Stillman at his most brilliant, insightful, and uproarious. But, by "uproarious", I should caution: do not expect belly laughs, but subtle winks to a knowing audience. And, further, not snobby, intellectual "in-jokes", either. His humour is very much on the surface -- unless, of course he is talking about "subtext"! -- but not ham-fisted, vulgar, easy jokes either. He speaks through Eigman and Nichols as both his protagonists, antagonists and his chorus.
I cannot recommend this movie highly enough; but, it is not for everyone, either. If you find yourself only able to laugh at the blunderbuss humour of Judd Apatow (as movie maker, not television writer, in which he is much more subtle), then avoid Stillman, and all of the "Barcelona Trilogy" -- which consists of "Metropolitan", "Barcelona" and "Last Days of Disco" -- as you will be sorely disappointed.
Stillman takes his viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride, in which you veer from wry comedy into surprisingly compelling and touch drama. It is a thing of masterfully crafted beauty. Stillman gives us the politics of US/NATO intrigue in Spain, the quirky philosophy of sales and love, and a deeply human drama of family and beliefs.
It is one of only a dozen or so movie that I have given 10 stars, and it deserves every single one. Enjoy!
Enterprise: Proving Ground (2004)
The best that "Enterprise" has to offer.
Unlike many Trek-fans, I happen to think that it is a solid series. And "Proving Ground" may be the best single episode of the series -- compelling, funny and exciting, this episode is the finest episode in the finest season (Season 3) of an excellent series.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Season 3 is a season long arc in which Enterprise is dispatched into a little-known region of space (The Expanse), to track down a species known as the Xindi, who are preparing a weapon built with one purpose: to destroy Earth. Along the way, they encounter many obstacles, not least of which is the very nature of the region they must traverse -- fraught with "spatial anomalies" that twist space into an impassable region that everyday threatens to destroy Enterprise and thwart their mission. In "Proving Ground", they receive much needed help from the Andorrians and, in particular, series regular guest, Commander Shran of the Andorrian Imperial Guard.
Without revealing too much, Shran assists the crew of Enterprise navigating this tricky part of space and to capture a prototype of the weapon which is being built to destroy Earth. The episode is filled with misdirection and some of the most amusing writing of an otherwise grim 3rd Season ("Helm, move off...but slowly...the Andorrian Mining Consortium runs from no one!").
Highly recommended, this episode represents some of the best writing, acting and directing of the entire series run. It is not a "stand-alone" episode, and is best enjoyed in the context of the entire season. Another great performance by Star Trek's frequent guest star, Jeffrey Combs (who most Star Trek fans recognize from his several appearances as a variety of aliens on several of the Trek series), as he struggles to balance his loyalty to his home world and his obvious respect and admiration for Capt. Archer of Enterprise. A terrific "twist" at the end of the episode reveals just how honorable Shran is, and opens the door for future appearance by this most intriguing character. Enjoy.
In many ways, the essence of Star Trek
As odd as it may seem, this episode in some ways epitomizes what Star Trek is all about. Not the vast philosophical concerns or mysteries of time and space, but the interaction between and among those holding unique perspectives of the universe. The main plot -- the Pygmallion story of the Doctor and Seven of Nine -- is a compelling examination of how we learn from those we seek to teach. Both the Doctor and Seven explore social ritual and protocol in an effort to expand Seven's capacity to engage the crew. The template for this experiment is "dating". In the course of his teachings, the Doctor develops a truly deep appreciation and affection for Seven, and she is, in turn, shown in a most compelling and humorous light, though never as the brunt of the joke. Alas, Seven does not directly share the Doctor's romantic feelings, but her earnest gratitude is most evident.
So, how does this episode come to epitomize Star Trek? For its utter compassion, empathy and ...well... sweetness. There is a tenderness to it that exists very much at the core of the "mission". Understanding. Compassion. Peaceful co-existence. And, more than anything, Mutual Respect.
Thus far, it is my favorite single episode -- not because it is emblematic, but, mostly, for the brilliant performances of Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo, as they come to embody the "wonder" of it all. Enjoy.