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    "Carbon Creek" Presents Subtle Moments But Lack of Ambition Leaves Story Vacuous, Says Review Ex Deus!

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    Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses, bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original Borg Incursion.
    We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices, check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away from home.

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    Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses, bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original Borg Incursion.
    We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices, check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away from home.

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    Posted: 07:43:08 on September 27 2002
    By: Steve Krutzler
    Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews | www.stenterprise.com

    Reviews Ex Deus

    Written for TrekWeb by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler

    "Carbon Creek"

    Editor's Note: This review was delayed by technical difficulties.

    Summary: Three lost Vulcans visit a small human mining town and bond with its residents.

    Vulcans, Androids and assorted aliens have always been the straight men to the inevitable jokes of confronting the idiosyncrinacies of the human past. Whether it was Kirk and Spock confronting automobiles, gangsters and boom boxes or Data finding his way around gold rush San Franscisco, they've been there to raise an eyebrow at our antics. The fictional device of the 'alien' is a way of examining the human condition through the eyes of the 'other' and the standard device of the alien confronting human culture has been mined for its comic moments and its insights into humanity.

    It is no coincidence then that, traditionally, Star Trek series have featured a conflict and a dialogue between an alien character and a somewhat antiquated human character who seems more rooted in the past than the modern 23rd or 24th century as a way of getting to the meat of the human/alien split. From Dr. McCoy's country doctor routine, Picard's classical cultural erudition, Paris's fixation on 20th century pop culture and now Trip's combination of the first and the last, it's been a fixture of Star Trek's format.

    Carbon Creek, though, disposes of this time travel format with a story about three Vulcans wandering around a cliched small town at a crucial era (you can tell because in a particularly subtle touch from the writers, the townsfolk can't stop mentioning the arms race in casual conversation) who encounter and bond with two fairly cliched and warmly drawn humans. Since Carbon Creek fails to present any human obstacles or even negative human behavior, the only conflict has to come from the Vulcans. Being Vulcans, the resulting conflict is not particularly interesting.

    Indeed, considering how 'nice' all the humans are, the Vulcans quickly lose any reason to mistrust them and the conclusion becomes inevitable. A more challenging episode might have had the Vulcans study a more nuanced picture of humanity while still recognizing human potential. Carbon Creek begins with the premise of the essentially worthwhile nature of humanity and ends up there, thus discarding any philosophical or intellectual questions leaving the episode as a quiet study of Vulcan interactions with a small segment of small town 20th century humanity.

    As such, Carbon Creek has its moments. Aside from the lead footed references to the arms race, the episode plays out fairly well even even though there are no surprises. The comic moments from the Vulcan pool hustle to the Velcro are played well enough, but none of them are particularly memorable or really funny. Too much of the episode is oriented around the rather predictable sympathy of Mistral for the local humans or the cliched material involving the single mother and her October Sky son, rather than the smaller moments like Stron fixing the washing machine or T'Mir and Mistral looking for frozen TV dinners.

    At the end of the day, Carbon Creek seems to have rather little reason for existing. Archer and Trip may be shocked by its revisionist history, but it's a less than spectacular incident for the average viewer. As it doesn't feature any of the Enterprise characters it doesn't really serve to develop them. With a fairly one-dimensional view of humanity, Carbon Creek has little to say about the relationship between humans and Vulcans. And with a final note from T'Pol that brings into question how much of what happened really did occur, the episode begins to look like an episode about nothing. Casting doubt on T'Pol's story helps the producers bypass any complaints about continuity, while showing the handbag suggests that at least some of it is accurate without going into detail about how much. But what does this leave us with at the end?

    A story with a fairly predictable plot and contrived small town characters that has no real conflict or surprises. Some nice comic moments and an episode that never really catches fire, which doesn't involve the main characters and in which nothing of any particular importance happens. Its closest parallel would be Voyager's 11:59 but that at least had the small virtue of being one of the few Star Trek episodes to accurately predict the future by debunking Y2K. On the other hand, when you contrast Carbon Creek with the Star Trek novel Strangers from the Sky by Margaret Wander Bonnano, which also dealt with Vulcans crash landing on Earth before the official first contact, you discover a story involving main characters that took a darker, more realistic, nuanced view of humanity and the obstacles to first contact. Carbon Creek takes a sunny view of humanity that presumes that the biggest obstacle to first contact was Vulcan prissiness, which is unfortunately in line with much of Enterprise's reflexive Vulcan-bashing. That's unfortunate because Carbon Creek does feature some good perfomances but a story without any obstacles or complexity.

    Next week: Romulans Mine Reed.

    Editor's Note: TrekWeb Service Interruption, Saturday, September 28th.
    Due to a physical move of our dedicated server, TrekWeb will be offline from 12:00 AM Saturday, September 28th, until 6:00 AM Sunday, September 29th. This change will interfere with accessing the site and sending email to TrekWeb personnel, but will result in improved performance and up-time for the site in the future.

    What will you possibly do without us? We're sure you'll think of something -- have a great Saturday!

    Peace and Long Life,

    Steve Krutzler
    Editor, TrekWeb.com

    About the Authors


    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 and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.

    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 and contributes reviews when his busy schedule permits.

    TrekWeb Reviews


  • "The Catwalk"
  • "Precious Cargo"
  • "Vanishing Point"
  • "Singularity"
  • "The Communicator"
  • "The Seventh"
  • "Marauders"
  • "A Night In Sickbay"
  • "Dead Stop"
  • "Minefield"
  • "Carbon Creek"
  • "Shockwave, Part II"
  • Season One Re-cap (Deus)
  • "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)

    STENTERPRISE.com Mission Logs



    Season Two (2002-2003)
    Prod #Title Airdate
    128 Shockwave, Part II 9/18/02
    127 Carbon Creek9/25/02
    129 Minefield10/02/02
    131 Dead Stop10/09/02
    130 A Night In Sickbay10/16/02
    132 Marauders10/30/02
    133 The Seventh11/06/02
    134 The Communicator11/13/02
    135 Singularity11/20/02
    136 Vanishing Point11/27/02
    137 Precious Cargo12/11/02
    138 The Catwalk12/18/02
    139 Dawn1/08/03
    140 Stigma2/05/03
    141 Cease Fire2/12/03
    142 Crash Landing2/19/03
    143 Canamar3/??/03
    144 The Crossing3/??/03
    Season One (2001-2002)
  • TREKWEB TALKBACK
    (13 comments)

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    Carbon Creek
    By zak () at 08:37:55 on November 07 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I know Carbon Creek aired a few weeks ago, and I'm behind on seeing the last two episodes but that's just for personal work reasons... while I can understand the (reasonably favorable but that's about all) review that suggested that Carbon Creek may seem in the end to lack "substance", Oddly, something has drawn me back to watching that episode over again a couple of times, and I think something of great substance is subtlely embedded therein. And oddly enough, (though I like Enterprise, and Shockwave Part One was great!) Carbon Creek is my favorite episode so far. There is something quite subtle about what happens there - akin to that TNG episode about Dharmac and Gillade at Tenagra - not in content, but in approach. Well acted, perhaps not about anything significant... but who would ever have thought to base an episode on understanding a spieces who spoke in metaphors either. For me, Carbon Creek broke the TNG ground for the first time - with Shockwave ONes help - I'm liking Season Two even more than one. (and remember Season one of TNG -ugh.)

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Carbon Creek Ok by Me
    By Noxmagic () at 00:02:32 on October 02 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I just completed reading Deus' review for the latest Enterprise episode, since I look forward to his review every week. As usual, his opinions are insightful, although, as usual, I find that I don't totally agree with all of them. Basically, I found Carbon Creek to be a well rounded, above average Trek episode. Deus seems to write the same, at least as far as this episode being well rounded. However, while Deus seems to believe a weakness of Carbon is that it does not directly develope a regular crewmember's character, I believe the point of Carbon was to develope the Vulcans. Keep in mind that they are evidently going to be major players in Enterprise's run. I think maybe the Ent. writers/producers want to flesh them out that much more like the Klingons were during STNG's run. The one major problem that I have, and I admit it is very nit-picky, is with the look of the Vulcans. Mistral had red hair...red hair! Come on, someone give me a traditional black haired, ARCHED eyebrowed Vulcan already!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    another one
    By douglas () at 04:43:55 on September 30 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Carbon Creek was not so exciting as people thought it would be. The plot was predictable, the characters were obvious, and the setting was inadequate for this episode. How many of these episodes are we suppose to endure before people start complaining again about lousy the season going to be? This episode wasn't even good enough to be catagorized as another mondaine Trek episode. With only but the smallest of adjustments to the script this episode could have been told in a way that the audience could respect it as an important event in not only human history but also as a part of the long and standing relationship between vulcans and humans. In addition, it should have been more of a First Contact type of situation with the vulcans not hating the humans but rather trying to understand the humans at first before learning to hate us. In short, the writers really fumbled on this one.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    For "Technical difficulties", read having to reinstall Windo
    By O. Deus (odeus@concentric.net) at 22:21:03 on September 29 2002
    URL: http://www.concentric.net/~odeus/ | User Info
    after formatting my hard drive and dumping everything on it into backup. This put a crimp in my schedule and thus this not particularly compelling review of this not particularly compelling episode was delayed by a fortnight.



    ---

    "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

    George Washington

    "The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame."

    Theodore Roosevelt

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    The Road Less Travelled
    By Grason () at 18:11:57 on September 27 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Even before reading Steve's post, my immediate thought was: Sure, let's have the Vulcans land in Yawnsville, PA. More middle-American non-confrontational blah. How much more interesting to make it 1961 and they crash just outside Berlin! or Havana!

    Hell...even October 31, 1938, outside Grover's Mill, New Jersey...!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Lost plot
    By Tom M (tm_ii@hotmail.com) at 14:15:12 on September 27 2002
    URL: | User Info
    During the first half I thought that this episode was going to tackle the arms race, but strangely it veered off to pointless nonsense like the mine collapse and the "velcro incident". Apparently the writers think that just mentioning something gives the story depth, sadly it doesn't.

    This episode is typical of the approach used on Enterprise. The plot is simple and used to create as an arena to set the characters loose. It works better here than it does in an episode like Shockwave, where the simplicity is detrimental, cheating the story of its potential. This episode is also very much like an episode of an anthology show, lacking any real context to the rest of the series, which in this case is used as a positive. Without the other problems that usually come with the Enterprise premise, this episode does surprisingly well on its own.

    I also like the Vulcan uniforms much better, although I have to wonder if Vulcan's would use leather. I guess it's actually just synthetic approximation. Still, they look pretty sharp.

    ---

    "...to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before..."
    - HP Lovecraft; "The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadath" (1926)

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Poll Results
    By sid () at 12:31:24 on September 27 2002
    URL: | User Info
    It seems TreKWeb Opinion Poll voters liked CC somewhat better than SW2 (7.5 vs. 7.3 average). Total votes were down about 8% over this time last week. The top end votes (9,10) were up with 37.5% of total compared to SW2's 32% of total votes. Bottom half votes (1-5) stayed pretty level with 18.9% compared to 18.6% the week before.

    Of course, these are just numbers and the praise and criticisms noted throughout the site offer more insight; the numbers just reflect the how much weight we give to the shortcomings and strengths of the episodes.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    The best word to describe this episode is 'Mundane'
    By RichCD () at 10:00:18 on September 27 2002
    URL: | User Info
    At least the Vulcans this week and last act a little more like the Vulcans we know and not the hot headed war mongers presented last season. Even Gary Graham's performance last week was a bit more restrained.

    But at over 2Mil+ per episode, what a waste of time and money on episodes that are simply 'okay.'

    Next week looks promising. Perhaps John Shiban can get this baby moving...

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Wasted opportunity?
    By Steve Krutzler (s_krutzler@trekweb.com) at 08:15:54 on September 27 2002
    URL: http://trekweb.com/brittandsteve | User Info
    I don't think the episode was horrible, in fact it was rather fun. Continuity is pretty preserved considering Archer and Trip think she was fibbing and even though we know it is true, I don't see a problem considering the Ferengi visited Earth in the 50s and who knows what other alien expeditions might have taken place before official first contact. Remember, first contact was only initiated because we discovered warp drive, the Vulcans had been studying us for years. It stands to reason that the Carbon Creekers weren't the last to ever intermingle on Earth...

    Personally, however, I found the episode somewhat unsatisfying. I liked the old Vulcan uniforms. But I didn't like the lack of any explanation for why T'Mir speaks English and I thought she played the character precisely like T'Pol. For instance, wouldn't it have been more compelling if T'Mir had also become very interested in humanity along with Mistral? Then have T'Mir injured and in need of Vulcan medical attention that can't be found on Earth. Mistral pledges to go back as well but T'Mir instead urges him to stay to study humanity and because maybe some day she can come back. Then we would've had a compelling element to T'Pol's personal backstory, indicating that her fascination with her ancestor's experience (and thus her trip to Carbon Creek) related to the always-Humanistic-impulses we know T'Pol possesses. It would've given depth to her character, showing us why T'Pol is really fascinated with humanity as indicated in Fusion. Granted, the resolution does accomplish that somewhat, but wouldn't it have been more compelling if Blalock had played a Vulcan more different from T'Pol and thus we would get to see how that woman's life influenced T'Pol to this day? I think it would have.

    Another possibility would've been to have the Vulcans land on the brink of WWIII. While this would present innumberable difficulties with having to create a future-21st century situation, it would've been interesting to see the Vulcans caught as Earth goes to war. They are rescued at the last minute, as nuclear holocaust begins to rain down on the planet and one of them is left behind. In this manner; make Mistral a close friend of T'Mir's, thus T'Mir is bitter when he is left behind--or perhaps killed in the first wave of nuclear attack--and thus explaining T'Pol's resistence to humanity and developing the Vulcan backstory by showing that one reason Vulcans are so distrustful of us is that they witnessed first-hand our near self-annihilation... thus they felt they needed to help guide us moreso than other cultures once we achieved warp drive. Imagine the closing scenes of the Vulcan ship escaping a nuclear Earth with the Vulcans watching out the window as they fly away and as we zoom out to space we see explosions and bombs from space as pulses of light all around the planet... and T'Mir sheds a tear, not just for her friend, but for a society thrown into the utter chaos her own people barely escaped from eons previously...

    Well, I think I just disappointed myself immensely by coming up with these two ideas. The second one really has me thinking of how great it could've been. Just imagine it: Vulcan/Human backstory, T'Pol development, and a glimpse of WW3 that you know we've always wanted to see without having to get into all the details of what countries, who, where, what, when etc.

    Other than that, the ep was fine. But compared to these ideas it was utterly unambitious.

    ---

    -Steve Krutzler
    ==V/-/== Rocks

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

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