Sunday, May 15, 2005


Father's Day

My friend Paul Cornell's episode of the new Doctor Who, "Father's Day," just aired last night on the BBC. I've seen it, and I think it was just splendid. Some terrifically emotive moments, plus a thoughtful and clever plot spinning out of a bit of temporal paradox, which isn't something that Who had traditionally addressed. A few minutes of Paul talking about the episode in RealVideo is here. I'm looking forward to checking out the accompanying episode of Doctor Who Confidential in another few hours, provided I get enough work done this afternoon to justify the time off.

This new Who series, for everyone in the States who hasn't been conniving enough to get to see it (search for "Doctor Who" and "torrent" if you want to give it a go), has been absolutely marvelous, and the best the character and the franchise has ever had it. If you'd told me, two years ago, that the best SF shows of this decade would look to be Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who, I'd have thought you were smoking crack, but that's where we seem to be.

In related SF television news, Allison and I watched the last two episodes of Enterprise last night. We'd watched the finale of Voyager, after all, even though we'd given the whole series a miss, just to see how they wrapped it up. Besides, I felt like we almost owed it to the franchise to see the final nails being driven into the coffin. I expected a two hour finale, but instead what we got was two one-hour finales, back to back. Two separate episodes, each one wrapping up the series in a different fashion. The first was written by the husband-and-wife writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (who wrote some really good franchise novels in the Star Trek universe a few years ago), and Manny Coto (whom I've not previously heard of, but who apparently came on as producer of Enterprise in the third season, and who is regarded by many fans as responsible for improving the show dramatically). This was a real surprise. The episode seemed to wrap up all the ongoing plot lines, showed us the birth of the Federation, had some actual science driving the plot, and some real, large scale threats with a ticking timeline--in short, everything good about Star Trek. Well acted, well written, just plain good.

Then we started the second hour, the final finale. Whoops.Picking up six years later (sort of), written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga (producers on Voyager and Enterprise), and was one of the worst pieces of shit I've ever seen. Really. It's not even worth going into the details. A contrived framing device, some slipshod plotting, weak writing, no science in sight--in short, everything bad about Star Trek. And it served to completely undercut everything that was great about the previous hour, robbing the emotional climaxes of any weight by saying, in essence, that nothing that we'd just seen had any lasting impact, because six years later the characters were still trapped in the same status quo.

So the next to the last episode showed us the failed potential of Star Trek in general, and Enterprise in particular, and the last episode served to remind us just why it was failed--the producers. If Paramount should decide to relaunch the franchise somewhere down the line, please, for the love of god, find someone else to produce the thing. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga seem to have given all they have to give to the franchise. Let's give someone else a shot next time out, shall we?

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