Star Trek 632: Strange New World

632. Strange New World

FORMULA: Resolutions The Galileo Seven + Empok Nor + the Shore Leave planet

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ensign Cutler. Mood lighting.

WHY WE DON'T: Planet doesn't seem that strange or new.

REVIEW: It may be a little early to develop supporting characters when the cast itself is so fresh and new, but we have to remember that Garak appeared in the second DS9 episode, and that I've always liked Ensign Cutler. There are a couple of good reasons to use supporting characters like Cutler and Novakovich. 1) They add to the life of the ship and make it a more realistic and compelling place. And 2) they are more easily killed off.

Novakovich was apparently scripted to become Enterprise's first redshirt, but Bakula intervened, convincing the producers that the first casualty should be a major event for the crew to reflect on. Seems like he was born to play a Starfleet captain. so not the first redshirt, though he is the victim of the first transporter accident (showing how this untried technology still has some bugs to hammer out). We also see the first (understated) nerve pinch, and Earth plants its first flag on a planet outside the system, basically the first M-class planet Enterprise encounters. M is for Minshara, apparently, and here I thought planets were simply graded with letters of the alphabet.

Aside from looking a heck of a lot like the one in Shore Leave, the planet in Strange New World (great title) has some nasty psychotropic pollen that turns the members of the away team against each other. Though we've seen this kind of thing before on Star Trek, lighting the confrontation only with flashlights creates a tense and moody atmosphere, perfectly in line with the tone of Travis' ghost stories. Archer's solution is to put a lie to the hallucinations so that Trip in effect "suspends his disbelief" and allows himself to be forcibly medicated. I suppose T'Pol did try to warn Archer, but as the voice of Vulcan protocols, his first reflex is to dismiss her caution. It's a fun rivalry that doesn't take the usual confrontational, aggressive road, but rather has Archer chuckling to himself and doing what he feels like doing.

So it is that humans start their great adventure as glorified tourists, taking holiday snaps, letting the dog mark its territory ("where no dog has gone before" is pretty funny), and telling campfire stories. We're the same people who played golf on the moon. We bring grandeur back down to our level. Though I mentioned Cutler above as a favorite, and she gets a nice, enthusiastic introduction (seeing a planet come into view in the window, a beautiful shot), she doesn't quite have enough to do here. We do see that she's open-minded about other cultures, which will no doubt make her approach Phlox in future episodes. Speaking of Phlox, the first crack in his armor appears here, where Novakovich almost dies. Though largely upbeat, we see that he isn't callous, and that casualties and mistakes carry a heavy burden with him. John Billingsley is da bomb, no matter how much or how little screen time he gets.

LESSON: Scan before you leap.

REWATCHABILITY - High Medium: It's one of those "the characters aren't quite themselves" episodes, routine perhaps, but it features a great atmosphere, a promising guest-star, good acting, and a Space Dog peeing on an alien tree.

6 comments:

Jayunderscorezero said...

I beleive that this episode is also the first instance of Trip nearly killing one of his crewmates through his own bone-headedness, am I right? I have to say that I really hated Trip in these old episodes. Throughout season one I always got the impression that one episode was just going to end with Trip falling over his own feet and blowing up the entire ship somehow, he really does seem that dangerously thick in some of the early episodes.

Siskoid said...

There's definitely a case to be made that Archer only chose him because they were best friends.

A kind of Tim/Mike relationship from Spaced.

Jayunderscorezero said...

Hah! That's a great way of putting it.

Also: one of these days I will learn how to spell "believe".

PamelaJaye said...

Novakovich was apparently scripted to become Enterprise's first redshirt, but Bakula intervened, convincing the producers that the first casualty should be a major event for the crew to reflect on.

Where did this come from? I'd be interested to know.

I've always found the first few eps after the pilot too boring - and I'm a Scott fan!

Siskoid said...

I got that note from Memory-Alpha, though I don't know where they got it from (yet... might be the DVD extras).

PamelaJaye said...

thanks. i'll check there

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Lois Lane Dating Princess Diana Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Iron Man Jack Kirby JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Liveblog Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries Old52 Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Men Zine