Well, here it is. A red-letter date in Star Trek history. Tonight, the final two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise—and indeed, of Star Trek itself—will air on the red-headed stepchild UPN network. After which, new episodes of Trek will leave the airwaves for the first time in eighteen years. Christ…that’s my entire adult life and most of my childhood life, too.
In a way, this is a sad occasion. Sad because I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t watching Star Trek, either goofing at the brightly-colored TOS outfits in the eighties, religiously watching every TNG episode with my dad on weekends in the early nineties, checking out VOY while I was in college…but now it’s all coming to an end. But my second point is that, in a way, this is also a good thing. Because Trek as of late has been really, really awful, partially thanks to the dynamic duo of Berman and Braga (or “Bermaga” as we fondly call them), and the inexorable slide in ratings is just never gonna be reversed unless we give the overmilked, dry old franchise a break…a long break, methinks.
In the meantime, I think this hiatus will ultimately be good for the Trek franchise. It will allow the fan community to flourish, more novels to be written, third-party efforts to be undertaken…and all of this will have the effect of, slowly, replenishing the collective interest in the franchise. Years from now, when Trek returns to TV (and I have no doubt that it will one day, even if that day comes two decades from now when television technology has been completely revolutionized yet again), I hope it makes as big a splash as TNG did in 1987.
I won’t be able to see tonight’s Enterprise finale because when it airs, I’ll be on a plane to (or at least en route to my house in) Michigan. TiVo is picking up the episodes so I’ll see them when I get home at the end of May, but my missing the first-run finale is sorta appropriate in the sense that I really just don’t care about it. Yes, the final episode (“These Are The Voyages”) is supposed to be basically a TNG episode, featuring huge amounts of screen time by our old favorites Riker and Troi. But really, is that even appropriate? Haven’t we done enough fanwanking already this season with the likes of “In A Mirror, Darkly” (which I loved, don’t get me wrong) and all the other TOS references sprinkled liberally all over every script?
Indeed, it seems that Jolene Blalock (who plays T’Pol on Enterprise) had lots of harsh words about the final episode, saying essentially that on their own finale, the cast of ENT basically was forced to play a bunch of bit parts while Frakes and Sirtis got to be the real stars! Jolene has apparently been quite vocal about her distaste for Berman and Braga in the past, which admittedly makes me more amenable to her, and believe me, I can understand her frustration. But at the same time, it’s almost weirdly appropriate, this relegation of the ENT stars to the background for their own finale—it sorta underscores how TNG always was, is now, and always will be a far superior series than Enterprise, even when it means an overweight Riker chumming it up with a decade-older Troi who obviously cannot possibly fit into the same timeframe as the 1994 TNG episode they’re supposed to be augmenting!
Anyway, at least all is not lost. Battlestar Galactica has already taken its place as my favorite, most beloved new sci-fi TV drama, and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. New episodes begin again in July, so it’ll be another thirteen straight weeks of excitement on the Sci-Fi channel to look forward to every Friday night. Got to love that. Even at Star Trek Hypertext, arguably the definitive source for reviews of Trek episodes, penultimate reviewer Jammer has already started reviewing the first season episodes of BSG. This is cool, because it means I get to keep hanging around his site for fresh content.
So, as a kid who’s been a Star Trek fan since Fame was airing in primetime, and who (admittedly) attended a few Trek conventions and acquired a few autographs in his lifetime (I never wore any kind of costume to those things, though! Honestly I didn’t!), here’s my official farewell to Star Trek as we know it. I hope that on some future date, after “Bermaga” have both long been booted from Paramount Studios, we’ll all be given the opportunity to once again go boldly where no man…sorry, no one…has gone before.
As Captain Kirk once said offhandedly to Spock, “I guess we weren’t sufficiently entertaining.”