Monday, February 07, 2005

At least they went boldly

[This post originates from the York County (VA) Public Library. Saa-lute!]

Bender: Why is [Star Trek] so important to you?

Fry: 'Cause it taught me so much. Like how you should accept people, whether they be black, white, Klingon, or even female. But most importantly, when I didn't have any friends, it made me feel like I did.

Leela: Well, that is touchingly pathetic.

-- Futurama, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before"

"Enterprise" is cancelled, and I'm sad but not surprised. Star Trek hadn't really been viable for about 10 years. (Yes, UPN is 10 years old; "Voyager" launched it on January 15, 1995.) There are probably several reasons why the franchise as a whole has petered out, but unfortunately for "Enterprise" it had started to tell really good, involved stories which advanced both the characters' arcs and the larger story about the Federation's origins. Thus, the sadness from me.

Still, given that Star Trek began as the little show cancelled before its time (to make room for "Laugh-In" -- oh, the indignity!), it's hard to shed too many tears for the 10 movies and 25 seasons' worth of TV which followed. There is a bit of deja vu with "Enterprise"'s situation, but it still got one year more than the original did.

Of course, you have to wonder how long it will take for the next Trek series to come along, and what form it will take. Sounds like another post, doesn't it? Trek is somewhat unique in that it included not only pre- and post-Kirk Enterprises, but also entirely new ships and settings spun out of the basic format. It was no longer just "the voyages of the starship Enterprise," but a more meta examination of how "real people" would react in the Pollyannic ideal postulated by Gene Roddenberry.

See, Trek's macro story has always been humanity's reaction to the dangers and wonders it would encounter as it explored space. It tests whether we can uphold our high standards of conduct in a realm where they may no longer apply. It's more than just navel-gazing about how many decks the ship has or whether one captain is better than another. If anything, "Enterprise"'s premature demise will allow us remaining fans (fewer than Democrats, apparently) to do what Trekkies do best -- take a step back, examine the franchise as a whole, and immerse ourselves in a future filled with promise. Besides, according to Futurama, there's a religion to found....


B2 said...

Maybe I'm a luddite, but what can I do? I love the original. I love TNG. And I watched Deep Space Nine... unti lWorf showed up, and they got that fancy ship, and it got so complicated. I never got into Voyager or Enterprise. They're just not made of the same stuff as the first two series.

I am ready for your vitriol.

Tom Bondurant said...

No vitriol here. I am thinking about an "Ultimate Star Trek"-type essay, which will discuss what the successor shows brought to the table, good and bad. I do think that "Enterprise" had the most potential to bring people back to Trek, so I'm sad to see it cut short, but you can't ignore that some people were at best indifferent to it and at worst thought it was a cancer on the franchise.

For what it's worth, the Best Wife Ever liked "Enterprise," but my sainted parents (TOS and TNG fans) couldn't get into it.