Review: Enterprise – “Broken Bow” (Pilot)

That’s right, Star Trek is back in a big way! Check out my first review of many.

If you missed it, you may be able to find it on this Saturday (at least that’s when they used to re-run Voyager).

Broken Bow

Cast & Crew

Directed by James L. Conway
Teleplay by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga

Starring
Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
Connor Trinneer as Chief Engineer Charles Tucker III
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander T’Pol
Dominic Keating as Lt. Malcolm Reed
Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox

Guest Cast
John Fleck as Silik
Melinda Clarke as Sarin
Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr. as Klaang
Vaughn Armstrong as Admiral Forrest
Jim Beaver as Admiral Leonard
Mark Moses as Henry Archer
Gary Graham as Soval
Thomas Kopache as Tos
Jim Fitzpatrick as Commander Williams
James Horan as Humanoid Figure
Joseph Ruskin as Suliban Doctor
James Cromwell as Dr. Zephram Cochrane

Original Airdate

September 26, 2001

What Happened

In her first mission, the Enterprise and her crew are called into a service ahead of schedule to return a wounded Klingon operative, Klang, to the Klingon homeworld. Before they leave, Capt. Archer must convince his superiors
that they’re ready, and not to continue cowing to their Vulcan allies. He obviously succeeds and the Enterprise takes off for deep space, heavy one Vulcan science officer. T’Pol and an odd alien physician Dr. Phlox.

As helmsman and “space-boomer” Ens. Mayweather puts the engine’s through their paces, Archer and Ens. Sato are called down to sick bay. Klang has regained consciousness and isn’t thrilled to be restrained in unfamiliar
surroundings. Sato struggles with translating, but can’t seem to figure anything out. Suddenly the ship drops out of warp and loses all power. By the time Archer and company can figure out what’s happened they lose their klingon cargo, but manage to kill one of their intruders, a genetically enhanced Suliban.

T’Pol suggests that the Enterprise return to Earth, their mission a failure, but Archer refuses, determined to retrieve the klingon and return him home. Sato gets the translator working and manages to pull together some of Klang’s ranting, including the name of a planet, Rigel, and a few proper names. T’Pol confesses that Rigel X was the klingon’s last stop before crash-landing on Earth. Desperate for answers, Archer sets a course for Rigel X.

The main bridge crew takes a shuttle pod down to the planet surface (since nobody trusts transporters) to see anyone remembers seeing a 7-foot klingon. They locate the Suliban that Klang met and enlist her aid. She informs the Captain
that the Suliban have been waging a war within the Klingon Empire making it appear that one faction is out to kill another. She also tells the Captain that the Suliban are waging a Temporal civil war. Unfortunately she is killed as
they make their way back to the pod. Archer is also shot, though not fatally. T’Pol gets the crew back to the ship and is about to return the ship to Earth before Cmdr. Tucker talks her out of it (yes I’m sure the gelatinous rubdown
didn’t hurt either).

When Archer comes to, he finds that the Enterprise is chasing a Suliban warp trail, something their sensors shouldn’t be able to do. It appears T’Pol has finally decided to aid Starfleet and enhanced their equipment resolution. They briefly lose track of the ship they are pursuing until they realize that it’s ducked into a gas giant. Readings from the warp signatures show that several Suliban ships have made this planet home.

Punching through the outer planetary layers of gas, the crew finds, what appears to be a large space station. It is, in truth, a collection of smaller craft, hundreds of them, magnetically latched around a larger central core. After capturing a Suliban ship, Archer and Tucker fly it in and dock with the station. After a few minutes of searching, they find the Klingon and manage to free him. While setting up a magnetic disruption device, Archer is separated from Klang and Tucker. He orders them back to the ship and to come back and get him later.

Tucker and Klang reach the Enterprise, but T’Pol wants to leave orbit and return their passenger. Tucker feels it’s worth the risk to go back and get him. Meanwhile Archer finds the Suliban command chamber where they’ve been taking orders from a mysterious humanoid in the future. He also meets up with Silik, apparently the head of the Suiban Cabal. A cryptic conversation follows, but it appears that Silik is privileged to more future information than would seem healthy for our main villains. At any rate, Archer manages to outwit his opponent in a classic Trek-style shoot-out and gets beamed out in the nick of time.

The Enterprise, now safe from harm, receives word from Starfleet command that she is to remain in deep space and continue exploring. Archer offers T’Pol a permanent position onboard as science officer, which she accepts. The Enterprise warps off to yet another destination, ready to boldy go…

Review

Star Trek is back! Sending the series backwards in time is just what we needed to see. Space travel is once-again, exciting, wondrous and new. Humans are…well…human. We’re ready to grow up, stretch our legs, and do what we love to do: Explore. In light of what we saw on September 11th, it felt so very good to think of humanity in terms of all the good we can do. All the accomplishments we’ve achieved, and where we can go from here.

But enough sentimentality, recent events aside, this show has real promise. The cast seems enthusiastic, especially Bakula, and they seem to all have their parts figured out. The humor was, by and large, funny. A lot of the technology
we take for granted in Star Trek is, in fact, very scary. Transporters and warp drives are truly frightening when you think about it and the show accurately conveys that to the viewer.

One drawback to the series could be Sato’s constant worrying and fear. With Lt. Barkley is was funny as a recurring character, but it may get old really fast in a series regular. Another touch-and-go aspect will be T’Pol and Tucker.
The tension between Spock and McCoy was a well-balanced blade. Copying it may make for great Television or could be the show’s undoing. I’m rooting for the former.

All-in-all, a great start, I’m very excited to see what comes next for the Enterprise and her intrepid crew.

High Point

There were a lot of enjoyable moments in “Broken Bow,” but one in particular stands out: The scene establishing mankind’s relationship with Vulcans as they discuss Klang’s fate (check out the video clip below). It really gets the ball rolling and sets up the tension for the remainder of the episode (and probably the series).

And I’d like to tip my hat to whomever had the brainstorm to choose “Faith of the Heart” as the show’s theme. Poetic brilliance!

Low Point

I was a little disappointed with James Cromwell’s cameo. It seemed rushed and incomplete. My guess is the actor agreed to do a bit for the show, but didn’t want to undertake the hours of make-up required to make him look the appropriate age (by my rough reckoning, he would have been at least 120-years-old when his speech was delivered). Mind you this is just my own mental ramblings…nothing substantiated.

There were some technical details that didn’t jive too well (i.e. Armor plating going off-line?) but it’s a pilot and we, as audience members, may not grasp all the technical nuances for this time period. As such, I can overlook it. The real problem is when you have glaring technical goof-ups in your seventh season (ahem!).

The Scores

Originality: I like the new villains, lots of room of to play around. Since it’s all retro, nothing here is really ‘new’ per se, but it did feel fresh and inviting. 4 out of 6

Effects: Good stuff all around. The new ship looks great, as does all of the alien craft. 6 out of 6

Story: Good way to get the story going. I love the awe and wonder each crew member experiences throughout the show. 4 out of 6

Acting: Bakula is dead-on for Capt. Archer. I’m sorry I doubted him. The rest of the cast has a pretty good feel for their characters and I look forward to seeing more of all of them. 5 out of 6

Emotional Response: There’s a lot of high energy in the opening sections, including the opening credits, but it does taper off by the end. 4 out of 6.

Production: Top notch! Felt like a movie for most of the beginning. 5 out of 6

Overall: Well done and well acted. I can’t wait till next Wednesday! 5 out of 6.

Total: 33 out of 42

Stills & Video

(From StarTrek.com)

10 replies on “Review: Enterprise – “Broken Bow” (Pilot)”

  1. xah says:

    Only two big flaws
    I enjoyed the new Star Trek a lot. There were some of the usual problems that television shows have: a stereotypical image of a farmer, a soft core porn scene, and an inane “theme song.”

    There were only two big flaws, though. The first was the unexplained inconsistency in the need to translate between alien languages and English. The crew had to use a machine to help them understand the Klingon. But when they got to Rigel X, they just started talking to the local aliens (the alien pimp and Sarin) in English without a problem. What gives?

    The second problem was conceptual in nature. The “theme song” was acoompanied by pictures of mankind’s aerospace feats. While I, too, am inspired by our technological ability to leave the Earth’s gravity behind, this show tried to capture that glory and exploit it for its own purposes. Then, as we learn later in the show, mankind needs the Vulcans to make further progress. We can’t just figure out a vapor trail on our own. We need a Vulcan. We can’t just build a Warp 4.5 drive on our own. We need Vulcan help. Etc. This contradicted the theme of the show in an unexplored way, and so defeated the theme quite completely in my regard.

    Aside from this carping, I enjoyed the show thoroughly on the level of entertainment. Unlike TOS, however, it did not rise to the level of appreciable art. Maybe further episodes will boldly go further.

    • GusherJizmac says:

      Re: Only two big flaws
      Didn’t T’Pal mention that they were being given translators that would work on some alien species, but not necessarily all? Plus, wouldn’t it make sense for a purveyor of prostitution/lap-dancing to be fluent in many languages? Plus, he could’ve had a universal translator, which, as we’ve seen in previous Trek shows, seems to work even if only one party possesses it.

      Also, wrt to the “theme” of the show, I got the impression that humans were able to achieve much on their own, but that the Vulcans were holding them back for some reason. I don’t see modifying sensors to follow a warp trail to be the feat of mankind that we really needed to accomplish on our own, either….

    • dcheesi says:

      Re: Only two big flaws

      I enjoyed the new Star Trek a lot. There were some of the usual problems that television shows have: a stereotypical image of a farmer,

      True; BTW, is there some unwritten rule that says that all farmers’ weapons must look like long-barrel shotguns? Every time I see a space-farmer in a sci-fi show, they’ve always got ’em; even when everyone else is running around with little two-inch pistols. I know farmers are big on tradition, but this is ridiculous!

      a soft core porn scene,

      And this is a bad thing, because…??
      ;-)

      There were only two big flaws, though. The first was the unexplained inconsistency in the need to translate between alien languages and English. The crew had to use a machine to help them understand the Klingon. But when they got to Rigel X, they just started talking to the local aliens (the alien pimp and Sarin) in English without a problem. What gives?,

      Funny, I hadn’t noticed that until now. Oh well, maybe they’re all trained in Vulcan or something, and they were speaking that.

    • stevem says:

      A Third Big Flaw

      Ignoring for the moment that no one is guarding Klang and the ease with which they are able to retrieve him, did it strike anyone else as odd that the fellow from the future didn’t warn his allies on the station that not only is the prisoner going to be freed but the station is going to be destroyed?

      And what about the time cops we met in Voyager? Shouldn’t they be looking into the temporal anomalies emanating from the gas giant?

      Steve M

  2. jmcc says:

    Soft porn and theme songs

    First, the gelatin rubdown scene was completely ridiculous. It would’ve been fine if it’d been more business like, showing how everyone’s gotten over some of today’s taboos. But having the camera hovering around T’Pol’s T&A while they’re arguing was one of the stupidest pieces of fan service I’ve ever seen. Exploitation Now! meets Star Trek. (Not that I’m saying I didn’t appreciate the view, but still….)

    Second, and almost more insulting to me, was the deviation in the theme song. Ignoring the fact that I do NOT want to have to listen to that thing every freakin’ week, whatever happened to the great Trek tradition of having beautiful symphonic pieces with lots of brass, strings, and timpanis? The TNG, DS9, and Voyager themes are wonderful, but I found Enterprise’s theme to be almost as silly and unnatural as the soft porn.

    I realize the former was put in to bring in more viewers (Sex sells, after all.), but they could’ve still done a traditional theme!

    • dcheesi says:

      Re: Soft porn and theme songs

      Second, and almost more insulting to me, was the deviation in the theme song. Ignoring the fact that I do NOT want to have to listen to that thing every freakin’ week, whatever happened to the great Trek tradition of having beautiful symphonic pieces with lots of brass, strings, and timpanis? The TNG, DS9, and Voyager themes are wonderful, but I found Enterprise’s theme to be almost as silly and unnatural as the soft porn.

      While I didn’t care for the particular song they chose, I do think that the style was a good choice. The whole point is that they’re trying to break away from the standard formula that has become so tired and dated.

      Maybe you’re just more of a symphony lover than I am, but I for one got pretty sick of the DS9 and Voyager themes. The TNG theme was good, it carried the proper tone and related the show back to the movies; but after that, it seemed like every new theme got slower and more ponderous. The Voyager theme just put me to sleep (even more than the show itself). I think if it had been done differently, it might have lent a little energy to show; instead it drained it all away before the episode had even begun.

      I’m glad that Enterprise has a more upbeat, conventional theme; it fits in with the more near-future feel of the show, and the sense of adventure and optimism. If the lyrics weren’t so downright corny, I might actually like the theme. I’d vote for an instrumental version of it anyday.

  3. fiziko says:

    I’ll be watching

    This was an extremely promising pilot episode. Of
    course, Voayger had a great pilot, too, so that doesn’t
    mean much.

    As far as the complaints about the soft porn are
    concerned, go read the script that’s in our downloadable
    section. The writer made it absolutely clear that these
    two great looking people should behave in a completely
    professional manner. The director (of photography?) was
    the one that messed that up by trying to take th efocus
    off the conversation. (Not many viewers were focussed on
    the conversation, I’m sure, but they could have
    pretended…)

    As far as Captain Archer is concerned, I’m sold on the
    character. There were two points that really struck me as
    revealing for the character. The first was when he was
    summoned to see Klang when the Vulcans were telling the
    humans what to do with him. The fact that he went to see
    an Admiral while he was out of uniform struck me as an
    indication that he’s a very practical kind of guy. The
    second Archer moment I really liked was when he
    materialized on the transporter pad. It was a predictable
    escape, to be sure, but the sheer look of terror on his
    face when he realized what had happened was a fantastic
    indicator of what Bakula’s going to be doing in this
    series. Archer has the potential to become the best
    captain in Star Trek.

    In fact, this has the potential to be the best Star Trek
    series in all respects. Let’s hope they don’t screw it
    up.

    • spock says:

      Re:Captain Archer and story sustainability
      Bakula as Captain Archer is a good thing for the series. After his work on Quantum Leap, and other films you can see this guy is a great Actor. (Yeah, with a capital A.) Patrick Stewart was also an excellent actor, but the real problem for him was that the character was written very flatly most often. The episodes where he is written with depth are the most memorable of ST:TNG. The same can be said to a lesser extent about Sisko/Brooks.

      If Archer/Bakula gets quality writing week after week we could be in for a real treat. Bakula is a first rate actor with great range. He really just needs a high quality script to set him free.

      I do worry about the ability to maintain a high level of script quality. Much of the novelty of Broken Bow simply has to wear off. No matter what great new thing you do it eventually becomes normal. For example the transporter is something they will get used to using, unless they show it doing a ST:TMP type malfunction more than once, killing or threatening to kill main characters. IOW, they have to work to sustain this feeling.

      That is what makes me worried. In order to justify our “intrepid” linguists fear we need an episode whose plot is, the warp drive broke in a VERY bad way. We may see the events that led to those fancy clear doors that come down in Engineering all the time whenever there is a problem. We need to see events justifying the easy and rapid warp core ejection capability.

      Somebody learned the lessons that make the rules we have seen in play in ST over the years…Archer and his crew are probably those somebody’s. Just like the modern Navy, every word in every section of the regulations was paid for in blood.

      Exploring that intelligently is worthy of this series and of the fear that the characters have WRT the ship itself. Fear that is absent from every other ST series. This thematic exploration is also the hardest thing they have to balance. You don’t want it to be a joke like 1701A’s operation in ST:V, but you want the ship to be reliable enough to be worthy of operational status.

      Now, if I was just writing some SF series about these themes, that would be easy. Making all this fit into the ST universe is another challenge heaped on the other problems I mentioned.

      So I worry that, even with the best writers in TV anywhere if they have them, the series will be very uneven. Some episodes will work only for serious fans, others will work for newbies to Trek, few will just be plain old GOOD.

      Here’s to Enterprise and proving me dead wrong.

  4. Erf says:

    Good pilot, and magic underwear
    I like this as a pilot. It was effective at introducing the main characters, their backgrounds, and personalities. (The “sweet spot” scene was a nice way to show the ensign guy’s history on spacecraft, for example.) The medical “technology” is pretty cool, too — instead of magic wands they wave to make your wounds go away, they use the ancient tradition of natural remedies, with the nature of a thousands planets as their pharmacy. Cool.

    About the soft porn scene: what I found particularly amusing was they they have to cover their entire bodies with this goo (in blue light, of course), except for where their underwear covered them. This magic underwear protected them from whatever the gel was supposed to be fighting. Why don’t they make their entire uniforms out of that stuff and save themselves some trouble in the future? ;)

  5. madhack says:

    Tech details
    | There were some technical details that didn’t jive too well (i.e. Armor plating going off-line?)

    At one point, they actually “charged” or “polarized” the armor plating (I don’t remember the exact wording), so presumably the armor’s material has properties which increase strength when electrical current is applied, or something along those lines…

    Therefore, yes, electrified armor plating *can* go offline :)

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