Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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How They Should Have Done It: Enterprise (Part 2)


When Enterprise was announced, they talked about "NASA with warp drive", and that's what I was hoping for.

Unfortunately, we didn't get it. Well, maybe we got this NASA; we sure didn't get this one. The first few episodes seemed determined to confirm what the Asshole Vulcans on the show insisted: that humans shouldn't have been out there in the first place.

Would it really have been so hard to write them as competant professionals who really are the scientists and seasoned explorers they claim to be?

The episode that pretty much made me dump the show was "Strange New World". The ship surveys a planet that the Vulcans haven't yet surveyed, and Archer insists on sending a landing party down without protective gear or any reasonable survey, because it's exciting and new and awww, come on, T'Pol, don't be a big MEANIE!

Change half-a-dozen lines in that script, and the Earthers would look like practical, pragmatic professionals instead of a bunch of joyriding teenagers playing catch with the Idiot Ball.

Damned right we're going to do that week-long geophysical survey! That's why we're here: we're explorers and scientists, not tourists. Sure, collecting and processing remote sensing data isn't exactly thrilling television -- I know that better than anyone; it's what I do for a living, when I'm actually working. It doesn't have to happen on screen, though.

Archer (VO): Captain's Log, 17 May 2151, ship time. For the last week, Enterprise has been conducting an orbital survey of a new world -- new even to our science officer, as this is our first excursion outside the boundaries of the Vulcan star charts. We've collected as much data as we can from our ship's sensors, and are organizing a landing party to collect samples from the surface....

Maybe the Horrible Mind Warp Plants only pollenate under certain seasonal conditions, instead of every night. Heck, tie the storm into it: maybe the plants only pollenate in heavy weather, like the Terran plants that need a brush fire to germinate.

How's this for an alternate exchange?

Archer: We should have been more cautious. We barely spent a week on the orbital survey...
T'Pol: Nonsense. You could not have predicted the psychotropic effects of the pollen of a single species; not without analyzing samples of the indeginous vegetation. There was no logical reason to assume a potential threat.

Oh, but capable professionals content to do routine tasks to prepare for Really Exciting Stuff? where's the conflict? You can't have Drama without Conflict!

Well, let's start tweaking the backstories a bit, and look for Drama a bit more sophisticated than you usually find on Livejournal.

Enterprise established that Starfleet wanted the Best of the Best of the Best for their first deep-space Warp 5 mission -- and this was largely considered a research and exploration mission. There might be one or more civilian experts on board, the pinnacle of their respective fields, but not members of Starfleet, not uniformed, not subject to military discipline -- and maybe a bit on the eccentric side. Phlox and T'Pol have that kind of status; why not some human experts, as well?

Yoshi the Magic Linguist makes a lot more sense that way -- and it makes her flakier tendencies slightly more tolerable than they were in someone who was theoretically a trained military woman. (Of course, it would have been even better if the flaky character who insisted they turn back when they ran into a ship full of mutilated corpses had been male...)

I could see a lot of entertaining conflict between cautious, professional military officers and crew and a band of fractious, idiosyncratic geniuses. Friction between the human specialists, each top in their field, and the general polymath Vulcan observer/coordinator could be even more amusing.

Or does the Stargate franchise have a monopoly on the Eccentric Expert Who Isn't Part Of The Chain of Command?

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