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  1. #1

    Canon-Strike IX: Star Trek

    The ninth thread emerges following on from nearly two years of occasional narrative canon discussion into some of the most popular properties in the entertainment world. Having questioned the causality of events in several franchises as well as the development and quality of several others, we now turn our attention to one of the longest on screen canon's in existence.

    Star Trek

    The franchise crosses over from television to film and back again multiple times over the decades and that's without considering any other form of media tied into it. In addition to that each incarnation has dabbled with alternate realities and time travel at some point all the way from simple episodic tales all the way through to the famous creation of the alternate Kelvin timeline.

    The historical events of the Star Trek canon spans hundreds of years and with the various series and movies forming the core of that tale it feels like the best approach to hold on close to those elements for this thread and to follow the string along the detailed timeline that has been created by the studio. As part of this each thread update will focus around an individual season or film of the franchise in the chronological order that the portrayed events took place rather than the order they were made in.

    So, we begin with the first update charting what is largely the beginning of the chain of events that would birth the Federation and mankind's exploration of the stars - the first Warp flight in:

    Star Trek: First Contact
    A film that requires visiting twice in this review of the canon, this first visit focuses itself on the events detailing how the crew of the Enterprise-E were supportive of the efforts to accomplish the first warp flight despite being under threat from the Borg Queen at the time. Finding themselves sent back from the 24th Century to 2063, some of the surviving crew help Cochran to get his warp vessel out into a successful warp flight, an event that leads to mankind's first contact with an alien species - the Vulcan's. The event is set up as the first milestone in everything that would follow, those early steps leading in time to the Federation itself.

    As we begin this journey, the first question would be - given that this portrayal of the birth of Star Trek warp flight is such as key moment in the canon for the whole franchise, did First Contact do it justice and if not is there a way that this period of time and event should have been better covered?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Neon Ignition View Post
    Star Trek: First Contact
    A film that requires visiting twice in this review of the canon,
    I assume you're alluding to the best episode of Enterprise?

    As we begin this journey, the first question would be - given that this portrayal of the birth of Star Trek warp flight is such as key moment in the canon for the whole franchise, did First Contact do it justice and if not is there a way that this period of time and event should have been better covered?
    I think they did the general idea justice.

    One of the problems Trek started to face around then was that, unlike many sci-fi franchises, Trek was meant to be our world's future, and they planted flags on explicit future dates. So far this is fine for much of the franchise, but anything involving the past has become tricky for them, as we've already passed the dates. I'm not an expert on this but I believe that in Trek, there's a major nuclear war in the 90s, which gives rise to a war over genetic technology in the 2000s.

    They originally were going to have a spinoff show all about this, about an alien on earth in the 70s who investigated conspiracies which would lead to the war - I think it was going to be called Gary Seven? But that never came about.

    I liked the idea that Cochrane, who's seen as something of a messianic figure in Trek, ended up just being a pretty normal, actually slightly sleazy guy, and how this was mutually hard for them to accept. That was a good circumvention of audience expectations.

    This is all coloured by how this is one of my favourite movies, though. I love First Contact; I can't imagine how many times I've seen it but I never seem to grow tired of it.

  3. #3
    Unless they come up with a further alternate timeline storyline that allows expansion on those past date storylines they'll presumably avoid reference on them going forward. At the moment everything seems to largely stem from this point where the events from First Contact have a direct impact on the past which informs that timeline as well as the Kelvin Timeline. Before that splinter though FC does a remarkably good job of telling a time travel tale that doesn't really disrupt anything that's gone before.

  4. #4
    Star Trek: Enterprise
    It's been a long road, getting from First Contact to here... well, ninety years to be more exact. Straight out of the gate the new season ruffled fans feathers by shaking up the orchestral sweeping openings of the previous shows for something a bit more commercial and notably with lyrics whilst also then introducing to the world the concept that the OG Enterprise was not in fact the first ship of its kind to carry that name, instead the show charted the emerging years of space exploration aboard the NX-01 Enterprise. The first season largely followed the model of space exploration set by early shows in the franchise but also contained foreboding elements with visits by a 27th Century race as well as a 31st Century time agent. Despite this back and forth the show carries the unique honour amongst the various shows of being canon to both existing timelines. With much of the season spent showing the early interactions of humans and recognisable species from past shows the series quickly found itself in a corner of viewers finding it lacked purpose.

    When Enterprise launched, did you find it fit within the existing canon well or was it immediately something of a square peg in a round hole?
    Last edited by Neon Ignition; 03-06-2020 at 08:20 AM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Neon Ignition View Post
    When Enterprise launched, did you find it fit within the existing canon well or was it immediately something of a square peg in a round hole?
    Yes, because the show-runners said it did. This was a big thing back at the time. Social media didn't exist back then, but newsgroup chatter was full of keyboard warriors punching out angry diatribes about how Enterprise must be in a parallel universe or a reboot, which only seemed to get stronger after the showrunners confirmed that was not the case.

    The idea that creating a "new" Enterprise went against canon was flawed. To get really neckbeard for a sec, it comes from the episode Starship Mine in TNG, where Crusher asks "how many Enterprises are there" and the ship's computer responds with "5", suggesting the original show's, the Enterprise A (from the movies), the Enterprise B, the Enterprise C and the Enterprise D.

    But even in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the crew's rec room has a line-up of pictures on the wall which show the Enterprise battleship, the Enterprise space shuttle, then several other ships that are tacitly implied to have been an Enterprise in some shape or form. The NX-01 isn't a federation ship because the federation doesn't exist yet (it represents "United Earth").

    There are a few episodes which push it a bit. For fans, the Borg episode of Enterprise is interesting, because it's absolutely torturous in terms of how it manages to try and have an encounter with the Borg that doesn't tread on their introduction in TNG. Also, the episode about why the Klingons look different in TNG to TOS was just totally unnecessary; DS9 made a funny joke about it and that was fine.

    Discovery has exactly the same problem today, and I see many of the same talking points dredged up now that I saw back then.

    I liked Enterprise on the whole; more than Voyager overall if I had to pick (some of Voyager really is the pits). I think its biggest problem (other than that awful intro soundtrack) was that it didn't push its characters far enough.

    One of the seasons of Enterprise involves the crew searching for an alien super-weapon which, through time-travel magic, they know will definitely destroy the Earth 1 year from a given date. They have to go out into the unknown with not much to go on, and find it. This was a really good setup for a season, IMO; a great ticking clock. However, it ends up being kinda plodding overall. They should've made it so the very first episode is about how they don't accomplish anything noteworthy for 11 months, and then, with 30 days left to go, Archer and the crew are forced to choose between their new, "enlightened" morality, and saving the Earth... And they should get some of those decisions wrong. The show did a bit of this, but nowhere near enough.

    There's a cliche in writing which says that characters are like geodes; you only find out what's inside them by smashing them. That's what the show needed. This is probably why In a Mirror, Darkly, the sole mirror universe episode in the final season, is possibly the best episode of the entire show. We get to see the characters be mean.

    Buuuut... Much as I might criticise it, gotta confess, I know every word of that intro song. Make of that what you will.

  6. #6
    I think I was mostly disappointed by how much the show twisted and reacted to its viewing figures meaning it's probably the most inconsistent show in the canon. The first two seasons are largely just kind of there but I remember really enjoying the third season after the attack on Earth which is a bit like the Year of Hell storyline but actually played out over the season rather than as a two parter so you get to experience things becoming more desperate and the Enterprise sustaining and keeping damage as it goes on which is another area Voyager always seemed to side step despite it not being anywhere near a space dock. I was fine with it ending on the fourth run though as they seemed to go all in on trying to please core fans but it made the season feel like a huge step backwards for me. The finale is infamous for how unpopular it is and once I finally got to see it, well, it was hard to disagree.

    There are definitely elements about Enterprise that I can relate to the later films and Discovery etc which make me feel like it could have been a much stronger part of the franchise. A lot of the basics are there but it carries too much of the stagnant elements over too, likely because it was the same heads in charge as had been in place for years. Also, I'll say it, I like the intro and theme.

  7. #7
    Star Trek: Discovery
    Specifically the two existing seasons that the show has been on air which are set after the USS Enterprise has been in service for several years and is now under the command of its second Captain. The show inserts itself in a similar way to the way Enterprise did, showing early Federation developments and arcs whilst balancing a visual style and technology that far outstrips that of the shows that went into production before it. Unlike Enterprise, Discovery has danced around the issue by making the ship purposely advanced to the other ships around at its point in time as one of the central aspects of the shows concept. The finale of the second season seeming to directly attempt to deal with key canon issues the shows existence creates, but after showing the NCC-1701 Enterprise and Captain Pike in previously unseen action.

    Has Discovery succeeded where Enterprise failed and for you has it suitably justified its insertion into existing canon?

  8. #8
    Looking back over the first two seasons they do sit awkwardly in the canon but that aside they've been pretty much a joy to watch. The show seemed to do a good job in its second run of marrying how the style of Discovery could co-exist with that of the original series and that's before it reached the narrative jump point that Season 03 will lead with.

  9. #9
    I couldn't get in to discovery. Something about it just didn't grab me. It has all the right elements; I should like it.

  10. #10
    To me, it feels like the writers of Discovery had no idea where they were landing on canon in the 1st season. It was set before classic Trek yet technologically much more advanced and often in ways that weren't needed (the hologram communication for example). It had very direct tie-ins to classic Trek that didn't feel right because they seemed to deliberately want to make their own thing. So there was a conflict between making something new and making something old and it felt to me like they hadn't actually chosen what direction they wanted to go in.

    I was always left with the question of 'what does this gain by being set before classic Trek?' in season 1. It could have been set at any point and the direct tie-ins didn't really ever contribute.

    But in season 2, it's clear there were many attempts to make it tie into classic Trek in a much more solid way, trying to change what they could change and explain away some of the inconsistencies. And for the most part, it did okay. The addition of Pike and Spock worked brilliantly and added a connection that felt right, something that didn't happen in season 1 with characters such as Harry Mudd, for example. They managed to find a good line of making their own show while sitting nicely in canon.

    So it took a while to figure itself out and that meant a few awkward explanations towards the end of season 2 but I thought it was a great show in spite of the canon issues.


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