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Steve Perry Says "Civilization" a Mundane Entry Without Ambition for ENTERPRISE

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Posted: 11:27:29 on November 20 2001
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews |

Trek In Review
Written for TrekWeb by Steve Perry, edited by Steve Krutzler


This was a perfectly modest if unsophisticated episode. It pales in comparison to some relatively comparable TNG installments - I think of "Thine Own Self," of course, as well as "First Contact," which was more of a comedy. This episode wasn't particularly bad, just not very good either. More or less just "there."

This is a shame, however, because in making the plot more about alien intruders than a new civilization, it lost my interest. I wonder if this was something like the episode Voyager was rumored to have wanted to do a couple of years back, about Species 8472 infilitrating a medieval civilization. That might have had some punch, but this, as I said, was simply 60 minutes of TV.

Basically it takes about 20 minutes to get to the real mystery, and even then it isn't something terrifically terrifying. You knew the guy was probably an alien, something was being hidden, and so forth. I think what most bothered me was that we didn't even really get much meat to this episode - nothing on the level of "Who Watches the Watchers," nothing about the origin of the Prime Directive, not even much about Riann being so great because she's into science. (At one point the episode flirts with something when it asked what could Riann have done had she been born in a more advanced time). I chuckled when they discussed landing in cornfields so as to not be spotted (go back to Broken Bow), but other than that, I found very little keeping me watching.

If it was going to come out that they're not from the planet, it should have been a real disaster. Archer's translator goes out, the aliens run wild, etc. We'll never see this planet again - why not a nice and untidy violation of the prime directive's principles, to see why we have it? Why make Garos so obviously bad? Of course we'll get the Prime Directive when the aliens out there are all out to mine every planet to death. I want some more shades of grey. This episode was just a bit too straightforward with its plotting and its morality for my tastes.

The one highlight was its conclusion, or at least its action. It moved quickly, made Archer and T'Pol both look good, and I liked the use of the transporter. Maybe I'm out of it, but I found it odd that Archer handed the aliens their guns back (I did see that right, didn't I?). Letting the Vulcans check up on them made sense (though it hardly matters, as Nomad will finish off the Mellorians or Malurians? for us), but it also didn't exactly give the episode a satisfying, dramatic resolution.

Another thing I do feel like complimenting is the the relationship between Archer and the scientist Riann. Reading the synopsis, it sounded like the typical romance of the week. The kiss was actually well conceived, and I liked the line that the show ended on. It was an almost-romance, something that might have been but the writers had the good sense not to let Archer start shacking up so soon. Kirk he is not.

I would call it basically on the level of "Terra Nova." The episode wasn't bad - it had no bad lines, no huge plot holes, no bad character choices. But it also felt mainly like filler and didn't particularly excite or inspire me.

At this point, odd as it may seem, Enterprise has the greatest difficulty pulling off just straightforward shows about landing on a planet and seeing what's up. Clear weaknesses of Voyager - too much technobabble and flimsy characters - are clearly not there. But at the same time, it's not like TNG and Voyager completely mined every idea out there. How many times did Voyager actually send a team down to a planet? A handful of times, particularly late in the show's run. So ideas are out there. Enterprise's biggest flaw right now is that it can't seem to nail the whole "strange new worlds" element just right yet.

Grade: B

Next Week: Mayweather gets some lines?

About the Authors

Steve Perry is not the former lead singer of Journey. He is, however, a long time fan of all Trek, yes, even Voyager. He is currently in law school.

O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews for TrekWeb for over a year and shares the duties with Steve Perry.

TrekWeb Reviews

  • "Shockwave" (Deus)
  • "Two Days and Two Nights"
  • "Fallen Hero" & "Desert Crossing" (Deus)
  • "Vox Sola" (Deus)
  • "Detained" (Deus)
  • "Oasis" (Krutzler)
  • "Acquisition" (Williams)
  • "Rogue Planet" (Deus)
  • "Fusion" (Deus)
  • "Shuttlepod One" (Deus)
  • "Shadows of P'Jem" (Deus)
  • "Sleeping Dogs" (Deus)
  • "Dear Doctor" (Deus)
  • "Silent Enemy" (Deus)
  • Mid-season 1 (Deus)
  • "Cold Front" (Krutzler)
  • "Fortunate Son" (Perry)
  • "Civilization" (Perry)
  • "Breaking The Ice" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Deus)
  • "Terra Nova" (Deus)
  • "Unexpected" (Perry)
  • "Unexpected" (Deus)
  • "Strange New World" (Perry)
  • "Fight or Flight" (Perry) Mission Logs

    Season Two (2002-2003)
    Prod #Title
    128 Shockwave, Part II
    127 Carbon Creek
    129 Minefield
    Season One (2001-2002)

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