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It's Dead, Jim

In an act of mercy to “Star Trek” fans and the series as a whole, UPN cancelled Enterprise, their misbegotten excuse for a “Trek” prequel.

Don’t get me wrong — I have plenty of sympathy for the crew members, writers and actors who’ve abruptly lost the last three years of what was presumably a seven-year meal ticket. (The actors, at least, have the convention circuit to fall back on.) I’d heard some favorable noises about some of this year’s episodes, mostly those written by “Trek” novel veterans Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and it sounded like showrunner Manny Coto had several good ideas about tying the series more closely to the continuity of the original show.

But the few episodes I saw, with some notable exceptions, were as awful as ever. The two-part season opener, with Scott Bakula battling doughy-faced alien Nazis on a mildly trashed-up Paramount backlot, aided by goombah gangsters straight from central casting, was just plain embarrassing. The way it hastily smeared over the preceding three years’ “temporal cold war” story with some last-minute fixes also did the series no favors. And whatever coolness Brent “Data” Spiner brought to his role as a twitchy mad scientist was negated when the producers surrounded him with buff, oversexed superhumans with Axl Rose-class mullets.

“Star Trek” needs a break. It’s needed a break since the end of Deep Space Nine. This season’s positive indicators to the contrary, it’s wandered too far afield from the idealism that powered the original series and the thoughtful drama that made The Next Generation and much of DS9 such a pleasant surprise. As science fiction evolved around it, producing faster, funnier, more irreverent shows like Farscape and Firefly, Enterprise largely clung to the worst and stodgiest elements of its forebears. It was re-telling the same plots its original fans had seen in the ’60s; better shows were reinventing those plots, or coming up with entirely new ones.

Here’s hoping that idea-bankrupt executive producer Rick Berman gets the hint and goes down with the ship. And that when the series re-emerges in a few years’ time (and don’t kid yourself that it won’t,) it’s as something new, exciting and unpredictable. There are still plenty of brave new worlds to explore. But for now, it’s probably for the best that Enterprise is boldly going away.


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