Shiny Shelf

Enterprise: Broken Bow

By Mark Clapham on 16 May 2002

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

After the underwhelming ‘Star Trek: Voyager’, ‘Enterprise’ needs to expand the Trek audience beyond the (admittedly substantial) hardcore if the franchise is to continue its relentless expansion. The two hour premiere, ‘Broken Bow’, can trigger sighs of relief all around – it’s here, and it’s good. Prequels are predominant at the moment, allowing producers to strip away continuity and use a back to basics approach. In the case of ‘Star Trek’ there’s an extra appeal, an opportunity to go back to a time before the Federation’s harmonious tedium, back to when humans were humans and the drama of interpersonal conflict was still possible. ‘Enterprise’ throws away the rule book, starting from a blank page – there are no Federation rules on none-interference, no interminable alliances between alien empires to contend with. Captain Jonathan Archer (a rock-solid Scott Bakula) and his crew are on their own, making it up as they go along.

The result is both refreshing and exciting. The crew of this new/old Enterprise are fully rounded, yet have areas of ambiguity left to explore. While the human characters are developing well, the two alien crewmembers make an instant impression. Dr Phlox is pretty much the opposite of acerbic, allegedly loveable comedy aliens in the Neelix or Quark mould. Phlox is professional, eccentric, but distinctly unnerving, and his medical techniques involve fat alien leeches as much as futuristic scanning devices. The other alien crewmember is T’Pol, a Vulcan science officer. So far, so cliched, and theres a fair bit of logic versus emotion rhetoric here. But what T’Pol has that other vulcans have lacked is an undercurrent of barely repressed sexuality. It’s cheap, its tacky – but it works.

And that’s ‘Enterprise’ all over, judging by this first outing. It’s not big or clever, but then ‘The Next Generation’ was never the philosophical masterpiece its supporters made it out to be. ‘Broken Bow’ is what all the best Trek is – an action adventure about space exploration, a journey into alien territory. Lets hope that frontier spirit can be retained through the episodes to come.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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