Friday, May 13, 2005

These are the voyages...

Time for something lighter to comment on rant about. I just finished watching the final Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "These are the voyages...". This was written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the two gentlemen who brought the franchise to a premature end with their poor writing and incomprehensibly bad judgment. So, what would you write if you had the chance to end a Star Trek series?

Well, I may not be a fiction writer, but it seems to me that you'd want some emotional impact. What do Berman and Braga do? They do just about everything they can to suck all of the emotional impact out of the episode. First of all, they distance the audience emotionally from the plot and characters by having them all be just a programmed re-creation on the Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise-D's holodeck, viewed mostly by a smirking Riker as a means for him to decide some throw-away decision that's supposed to be hard to make but isn't presented in any way that makes the audience give a damn. Second, they break the action into little pieces as Riker repeatedly halts the simulation to go talk to Troi about this or that. Hell, technically, this isn't even an Enterprise episode, it's a strangely depopulated Next Generation one (sans Picard and the other recognizable cast members save Riker, Troi, and Data's voice).

Then, they commit what must be the number one cardinal sin of fiction writing: if you're going to kill off a major character, it's probably not a good idea to have someone mention it in passing ahead of time. Basically, the audience is just left wondering -- in an intellectual, rather than emotional, way -- how Trip will buy it. And when he does, not much time is spent on it. There's a little bit of sentimentality displayed by the characters afterwards, but they get over it quickly.

I won't even go into the internal inconsistencies, which were mind boggling. Suffice it to say that six years had supposedly passed from the preceding episodes (another way to reduce emotional impact), but nobody had changed, everyone had the same job, same rank, same clothes, etc. I guess Friday the 13th really was unlucky, for us fans.

Well, I feel better getting that off my chest. Let's hope there's no more Star Trek until Berman and Braga are retired for good. Sadly, we've learned that bad Trek is worse than no Trek.

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