On Friday, I finished the entire 4 season run on Netflix of Star Trek Enterprise. I have to say that once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. My overall impression is that it is a good Sci-Fi show that probably ended too soon, Here are some general impressions of the show (with as few spoilers as possible as I will not be discussing specific plot developments, but rather general impressions).
Seasons 1 and Season 2: “Exploration” was the theme of the first two seasons and I seem to be in the minority as I actually liked season 1 and season 2. Most of the critical reception notes season 1 and 2 as “uneven.” Yes, there were several episodes that I didn’t like (they tended to be the ones that focused on social issues) in the first two seasons, but they considered themselves as “explorers” and there was an enthusiasm for the “wonder” of it all. Time travel and time manipulation was a key ingredient in these two seasons.
Season 3: “Conflict” was the theme of season 3. Apparently ratings, which had started strong from the pilot episode, dropped steadily as the episodes of the first two seasons ran their course. The writers.producers tried to course-correct and this leads to a season long conflict. To go into anymore detail is to approach spoiler territory, but season 3 is much more action focused. While I generally liked the action episodes more in seasons 1 and 2, here I found it made the crew (the captain, in particular) as one note. They are all driven by the ideals of war and conflict and that leaves little time for wonder. I liked this season about the same as season 1 and 2. There was more action, so it was always tense, but the loss of the shows wonder balanced out the increased tension.
Season 4: “Alternate History” was the theme for season 4. While not the primary focus of the whole season, 4 of the episodes were given over to alternate history tales with both of the plots being two-part episodes. I did notice some new names as writers in this season, but after that season long “epic” of the Enterprise’s crew searching the Expanse in Season 3, I don’t think that devoting such a large number of Alternate History stories back into the series was a wise move and towards the end, we also see real-world parallels with the rise of an “Earth-First” movement. It seemed a little to convenient a set-up to try to get to the idea of the “Federation.” The Season Finale (which turned out to also be the Series Finale) was also not great. I like the idea of it (in theory), but for this episode to have worked, the show would have had to have continued. To end the way it did, seemed forced and anti-climatic. I know the producers knew that the show had been cancelled and wanted to give resolution, but it was done in such a way that it seemed to demphasize the hard work of the crew of the Enterprise. I liked this season least of all.
Final Grade for the Series: B- (Good acting, special effects, and characterization let down by questionable story and plot choices, especially in the last season). While Enterprise may not have had a seven year run like the other major ST series did except the first (to my knowledge), had ratings not declined and/or had the network had more faith, I think we could have gotten to see the Federation “born” more concretely in this series and ST fans would have been the better for it.