There hasn't been a new TIRADE in a long while. It's not because I've had nothing to say but there comes a time when you have to stand up to limitations put down by whatever establishment you deal with and no matter how painful stick to the terms you lay down. What the hell am I talking about, you ask? I'll tell you. I'm talking about STAR TREK.
You see there's an official policy here at TITAN that reads something like a commandment, "Thou shalt not talk about Star Trek". The reason behind this of course is because Star Trek is a religion and like any religion you can't say anything about it without offending somebody and starting some sort of hate mail campaign against you.
But then this is Canada and not the United States so I should be able to say anything I want without fear that the company I work for is going to cancel my contract and replace my relatively highly rated intelligent show with some drivel called "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (if you need that last comment explained to you then you might be reading at a much lower level than we're writing here). Oh yeah, that's right, I'm also meaner now.
So ten months ago, around the time my last column was due, I delivered this searing indictment against Star Trek, or more accurately the Trek bastard child ENTERPRISE.
My thoughts went something along the following lines. It sucked. I went into more detail but that was the gist of it. Then again, regular readers to this know I'm never that succinct, I went on to explain where they went wrong and how they could fix it. Basically my entire column was about Trek. That's how I felt, that's what I wrote, that's what I handed in. When they said they wouldn't print it I said fine. I wasn't submitting anything else until they did. They might have been the rock but I was the hard place (ask any of my previous loves, they'll back me up).
So the better part of a year passed. Neither side budged nor did it look like either side would. It looked that way but as anyone who's ever studied Keppler knows the third law of motion involves an external action. I knew one way or another something would happen and they'd budge. If they didn't I was busy doing other stuff anyway.
The external action was the notice that Barry Saip was no longer going to be submitting BEAR'S DEN columns. Yup, that's right, the poor guy just has too much on his plate, and too much to shovel in his drive-way, so with nary a resignation notice he was out of the picture and our wily editor was faced with recruiting someone else to contribute or moving his rock.
So, THE PROBLEM WITH ENTERPRISE (I'm gloating now) sort of goes back to the stellar success of a little movie called Star Trek: First Contact. It was kick butt fun and we all forgave the writer's the indulgence of changing well-established canon in moving Warp Drive inventor Zephram Cochrane from Alpha Centauri (where Roddenberry wisely put him) to Montana. Why they did that no one knows, it's not like fans wouldn't have cheered for Picard to save him on Alpha Centauri as much as Montana (I've been to Montana and until they get civilization there, ie: 7-Elevens, it's nothing a Borg attack wouldn't improve) but that's what they did and at the time we forgave them.
We sat there and laughed as the small Vulcan ship set down on Montana soil and the poor stuffy Vulcan's came out beginning first contact with a rollicking introduction to Roy Orbison's Boogy Woogy. Things were back where they belonged in the Universe, well, maybe a parsec off but hey, that was OK. Little did we know we would be expected to believe that tiny Vulcan ship was a Warp Vessel and Cochrane wasn't the first person in this area of space to invent Warp. But that's because at no point in the movie was it even suggested the Vulcan's had warp. Zephram did after all return to Earth and set up a welcome party before the Vulcan's landed, didn't he.
This is the core of the problem with Enterprise. Instead of the NX-01 being the height of innovation, a shiny jewel that travels faster and farther than anything else in space, we're shown Earth as a "johnny come lately", the last one at the Warp Speed table scrambling for scraps. Instead of an Earth that reflects the pioneering spirit and technical might of America we're presented with an Earth that's more like a petulant child begging their Vulcan parents for the car keys so they can get out on the town.
Zephram Cochran invented Warp Drive. If he was from Earth then that mean's Earth invented Warp Drive. Not the Vulcan's, not the Andorians or anyone else. Imagine how different the series would have been if ENTERPRISE was the first and only Warp Five vessel in space. If the Vulcan's, Andorians and Klingons were using inferior warp technology. Wouldn't that have built an inherent drama into the very foundation of the show. Wouldn't other races have craved possession of that craft as much as most nations want the wealth or weapons of the United States? Wouldn't ENTERPRISE have been the perfect metaphor for the American experience in the early 21st Century as the ONLY superpower left in a hostile world?
It sure would've explained why in few short years the Romulans, well established as not having Warp even a hundred years later, traveled for decades across space in ships so brittle it was "as if they were made out clay" to attack Earth with all the savagery they could muster. And it sure would have made every episode inherently exciting, as if someone was just about to begin saying, "Space... The final frontier..." as the stars streaked by.
So now the producers, in a recent american TV GUIDE article, are trying to explain what they're going to do to fix the show, scare it up, put real threat and danger before the crew, heighten the drama, challenge them and send the ship into an area of space with real jeopardy. Nevermind the fact that all space has real jeopardy, you don't even need to leave the star system for that but then had they followed their own continuity and kept things as Roddenberry intended they would already have that wouldn't they? And it would be called STAR TREK because it deserved it.
As for fixing it, yes, even two seasons into this all they need to do is make it so that Earth has that technical edge, the better weapons, or defences that can take one hell of a pounding, something that will make them the targets of every agressive race out there. It can't be Warp, the Vulcan's are pushing Warp 7 but it has to be something. The show has to reflect it's society, a society that others envy and aspire to but doesn't agree with. The producers missed the first boat but one leaves every week. Can they catch up?
Time will tell.