Last night’s “Star Trek: Enterprise” was all right. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great. It aimed to be topical – religious warriors who claim to fight for what they believe is sacred, up against another faction on their planet. They put the Enterprise in danger and Capt. Archer does what he can while keeping his real goal in mind – to fight for Earth. You get the feeling that the Star Trek writers are trying to capture the post 9/11/01 feelings, as they have been trying to do for the past two seasons. But, it felt off for me. Scott Bakula is improving as Archer, but I never quite understood Archer in the first place (even if I had thought that the series premiere was pretty strong).
I once told a friend of mine that a Star Trek series that would reflect the troubled times we’re in should have been more like “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”; in its last four seasons, DS9 was about a war that threatened a society that celebrated democracy and diversity. It was about troubled leaders and societies under pressure, with the Federation and all those honorable Starfleet officers trying not to compromise their values, and having questions about who were friends and who were enemies. It was a soap opera – relationships were made and changed; characters grew, lived, and died (or came back, since no one really dies in good Star Trek – but, Captain Sisko’s fate is still in doubt), but there was a lot of thought put into that series. Some thought does go into “Star Trek: Enterprise,” but I always feel the need for more. More what? Well, as a Supreme Court justice said, I guess I’ll know what when I see it.
I hopefully didn’t give away much about the plot of last night’s “Enterprise” episode, so feel free to catch it in rebroadcasts this week and make your own judgment about it.
Last night’s “Angel,” on the other hand, was good solid fun. The episode starts off with a hilarious “commercial” about the law firm of Wolfram & Hart, promoting how the Los Angeles office’s new management, under President Angel, “won’t kill you so long as you don’t kill anyone,” with the new policy of doing good (stop the evil, as Team Angel, formerly of Angel Investigations, Inc., believe). Harmony, a ditzy blonde girl vampire, is Angel’s administrative assistant at Wolfram & Hart. In the Buffy-universe, Harmony was the popular girl in Sunnydale High School; when Spike made her a vampire, she was not very good at not being evil. When the tv guide said that the episode was Harmony-oriented, I wasn’t impressed at first.
But, the episode was interesting – a weird comedic mystery. Harmony becomes a lot more three-dimensional, but there’s good humor in it. Moving into the Angel world, Harmony’s finding the attempt to be on the side of good to be hard. Unlike Angel and Spike, she doesn’t have a soul; but, she’s obligated to not feed on people anymore while working under the new management of the firm (she needs a job to pay the rent, and unlike Angel, Harmony’s not into angstiness, I guess). But, being the Boss’ assistant doesn’t make her popular in the firm; she’s sitting in the lounge and no one wants to talk to her about the workplace gossip. And, then there’s that matter about the dead guy in her bedroom – Harmony’s in deep trouble and bops a few heads in the attempt to prove she didn’t really commit murder. As Angel says, “Why don’t you just come to me for help?” (and considering his recent behavior, who could blame Harmony for not wanting to go to him?). While Harmony could be bugged about Spike’s continuing infatuation for Buffy, she aims to think positive – she might not be the same popular girl, but she matters in this world.
In the middle of all this, Angel is trying to remain sane in the insane world – but he’s feeling the strain. He and Spike are going to have to figure out who’s the vampire-with-a-soul-with-a-destiny. “Angel” has been hitting better than last season. It better keep it going with the quality and storytelling.