Tuesday, May 17, 2005

FINALITIES

THOMPSON
It didn't end very well, did it?
BERNSTEIN
(shaking his head)
It ended

- from "Citizen Kane"

Normally, I don't get into the behind-the-scenes stuff for TV shows, just their inner realities. (And how many times have I invoked that disclaimer in the last few weeks? I might as well stop kidding myself!) Actually, I get a secret thrill when the Powers That Be screw with plot contradictions and other continuity errors. That way I can rise to the challenge here in Inner Toob and show off my self-serving splainin skills.

Gads, I love alliteration!

At any rate, I feel a need to comment on the 'Enterprise' finale because as enjoyable as most of it was, there were so many things about it that could have been done better.

As noted in the previous essay, the finale was chosen as the Crossover of the Week because of its connection to the characters and the plot of an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. But that was also the biggest flaw - it became an episode of 'TNG' itself, and the main cast for 'Enterprise', who struggled against a lack of creative direction for seasons two and three, were reduced to a roster of supporting roles.

They became the Not Ready For The Prime Directive Players.

And to make it worse, they were presented as just the holographic recreations of the original "historical" figures. Whether we're watching westerns or WWII dramas, we get caught up in their moments, suspending for the moment that these characters are already dead; buried in our past. The same held true for the cast of 'Enterprise'; for even though they were 150 years into our future, they were 200 years gone in the past of the Trek timeline.

So because we were left watching holographic reenactments, we ended up removed from any emotional involvement - especially with the decisive Big Moment for a key crew member. Aside from groaning over the final moments of this character's ham-handed over-acting, I was left strangely unmoved by the events.

(I'm going to have serious back trouble in the morning from all this bending over backwards to remain spoiler-free! And I don't even know why I bother - the new TV Guide was in my mailbox today and it had an interview with the actor in question about this "Big Moment".)

To be fair, go back one episode to 'Terra Prime' for its final scene which involves the same character. His speech was highly emotional, very involving, and well played. I'd rank it right up there with the death and eulogy for Spock in "The Wrath Of Khan".

So in my mind, it wasn't the actor's fault; it was the script and perhaps the direction as well. And it wasn't the only example of wrong-headed thinking when talking about a script that's supposed to be one last grand showcase for these characters.

Let me give two other examples where Rick Berman and Brannon Braga fumbled with the finale.

After spending four years developing the relationship between the human Trip and the Vulcan T'Pol, Berman and Braga completely blew off the chance to showcase one final scene for them together, one that should have been required as dictated in Drama 101.

Maybe the way it did play out was seen by "B&B" to be more realistic; not always do we get a chance to say goodbye. But even I, the TV Universe nutjob, even I accept that this is hardly Reality. And the fan base should have been given the chance to see Trip and T'Pol together one last time.

And then there was the running subplot about Captain Archer's upcoming speech to the first conference for the new Alliance of Planets: what he should say; what he shouldn't say; whether or not he should take any of the credit for this alliance.

And just as we were about to see him give the speech, to hear a stirring summation of what this first tour of duty meant in the grand scheme of things for a ship named Enterprise (and for the series by the same name as well), Riker ends the holodeck program because he got what he needed.

And to hell with what the audience, those who stuck it out for all four seasons (And I must admit I was not among that company.), wanted/needed as payoff for their devotion.

Ah, well. As Mr. Bernstein said, it ended. And dat's de name of dat tune.

Hopefully the franchise will be allowed to lie fallow for a few yarrens and one day come back reinvigorated with a new creative vision.

And I have just the idea for that......!

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

4 comments:

WordsSayNothing said...

While I agree with you about the troubles with Trip and T'Pol and Berman and Braga, I don't think it was necessary to see Archer's actual speech. Not all of it, anyway. A few snippets might have been okay. I don't think we ever got to see more than a few sentences of President Bartlet's various State of the Union speeches on The West Wing, but it's always clear that the SotU is important and Bartlet does a great job with them. I'm sure there are other examples, but Bartlet is fresh in my mind.

"Not Ready For The Prime Directive Players"...that's good. I'll have to remember that one (and credit you for that as well).

Your idea for new Trek? This I'd like to read.

Toby said...

As something of a Snigletiste, I enjoy the art of word coinage and word play. My friends in the Idiot's Delight Digest could attest to that.

And what's the point of coining new words if nobody else uses them?

So I hope you do bandy about that little catch-phrase, and who knows - maybe it will catch on and we'll see it pop up in the most unexpected of places.

As for my idea regarding the new direction for the next incarnation of 'Star Trek'.... The week's only just begun; I'll get to it before long!

Thanks for writing!
tob3

Jerome A. Holst said...

As the ENTERPRISE series passes into TV HISTORY, I'd like to say that I am glad.

I think the three reasons the show failed were the ThEME SONG, SCOTT BAKULA and the INCONSISTENCIES in the storyline.

First, chosing a theme song with lyrics was a mistake. Inveritably, each week, when the show started, I quickly turned the sound down or changed the station. The song was too maudlin, lacking in thrust and adventure which a space drama should have. When I'm about to sit down and watch a sci-fi space adventure, I don't want to be burdened with hearing sappy Kenny Loggins like lyrics. Give me the barvado of a good musical interlude. Imagine if the original series STAR TREK had used the proposed lyrics for the show. ("Beyond the rim of the starlight,
my love is wandering in star flight.") I truly believe it would have deep-sixed the show, immediatley in the first season. If only the folks at ENTERRPISE had done the same.

Second, Scott Bakula is a NICE guy. I don't think he pulled off the role of a starship captain. His character and his previous TV characters like in QUANTUM LEAP were nice guys and even when Captain Archer did something cruel, or mean I just couldn't buy it. Now Kirk, Sisko, Picard, even Janeway had what it takes as a character to be believeable in the role. Bakula just didn't have it in him. The casting director's blew their chance to have a strong lead when they chose Bakula.

Third, the introduction of species who didn't exist in the other timelines (Shapeshifters) was too hard to believe. This lacked consistency. Turned me off as a fan.

Finally, the show did have a sexy Vulcan, and a cute dog, but in the end the show's overall casting, theme lyrics and inconsistencies were in my opinion why the show lost warp speed with the fans and was running on sub light for so long.

Let's hope the next franchise is a bit more creative. I propose a show called STAR FLEET ACADEMY. Using the ideas and locales introducted on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, this concept would allow for more freedom, varied storylines and if a character came along who endeared themselves to the trekkies, it might afford the possibility of a spin-off series in the future.

Let's hope the next time round, the STAR TREK people get it right.

There is still life in the franchise, it just needs the right people to get its engines back on line and up to full Warp Speed.

Where is Scotty when you need him?

Jerome Holst, Librarian/Webmaster
TV ACRES

Toby said...

Thanks for checking in, Jerome!

And folks? TV ACRES is a fantastic site that's a must for not only fans of old shows and the minutiae contained therein, but it's also an excellent reference library for such trivia. (Fanfictioneers, keep the link handy when you write your... opus.)

You'll find the link to TV ACRES over to the left of the screen in my list of links recommended for a full Toobworld experience!