CUE ORCHESTRAL FANFARE
God help me, I watched Enterprise last Wednesday night, and Iloved it.
I'll be honest with you, I didn't really have high hopes for the show.Sure, I have an inexplicable soft-spot for Scott Bakula's work, and Iwas a pretty serious follower of the old Star Trek , ever sincethe early 70s when I lived in the wilds of rural Vermont. The only thingon at six pm was ten channels of news, ZOOM on PBS, and StarTrek on WPIX out of New York City. It was hard not to follow theshow when it was the only thing on that was even vaguely palatable to anine year old kid out in the sticks.
But you know the drill: time marches on, other things take precedence,and the day comes when I realized that even if Paramount hadn't driven their golden goose to exhaustion with all the variouspermutations of the concept, that enough ticks of the clock had passedby that I wasn't really their target audience, anymore. So, because I'minterested in pop culture, I'd tune in every once in a while, but Ididn't really keep up with those who boldly go.
It just simply came down to me not be willing to invest time intosomebody else's entertainment when I had entertainment of my own toproduce.
But I started to hear some stuff about it like "the words 'Star Trek'aren't in the title," and "bold new reimagination of the early days ofthe Federation," and "why don't they just call it Star Trek: Roots?" and "James Cromwell reprises role as inventor of warp drive,""Scott Bakula cast as the captain"… and God help me, I couldn't helpmyself: I set theTiVo up to record the pilot episode because I couldn't notwatch it.
And you know, I was really quite charmed by it. Sure, the need tointroduce characters and situations, coupled with the need to tell aninteresting story seemed to yield a mish-mash of direction; yes, LindaPark's character was dopey and shrill; yes, the bio-decontaminationrub-down was the very definition of "gratuitous."
But you have to admit that the set design is quite impressive, thecostumes are pretty, the lead actors are likable and the main villainsare, if not striking, at least inventive, what with their ability toliterally change shape by disjointing their bodies…
…all in all, I was impressed with the same old cats over at Paramountcorporate allowing their creative departments to force a little air intothe tired concept by taking a look at why audiences have reactedso positively to their old show, and basically start over, at thebeginning.
Coincidentally, I also read Strangers in Paradise #43 that sameday. I've very much enjoyed Terry Moore's work on the series, and SIP isone of only three comics the missus begs me to let her read first when Iget them (the other two being Promethea and Ministry of Space, for those of you keeping track at home), so, as you may wellimagine, I follow this one a little closer than most.
As I finished this latest issue, I was really quite struck by the deftway Terry made the long-standing members of his audience realize justwhat it was they enjoyed so much about his characters, by showingalternate future versions of them while almost simultaneously resettinghis characters and situations back to the beginning. It's as if he wassitting around his studio one day and said to himself, "I've developedquite a fondness for these characters, and I've been putting themthrough the ringer for years. I want them to have a happy life, and youknow what? No one's stopping me from giving it to them."
It's as if Paramount, on the one hand, and Terry Moore, on the other,both independently realized that complexity is not necessarily maturityand that a diamond in the rough is still a valuable gemstone. Sure, thefirst episode of Enterprise is a little coarse and creaky, but Ithink I may be watching this one before The West Wing eachWednesday from now on.
And I have no doubt Francine and Katchoo and David will still be thecenter of drama and pathos and joy; it'll just be a different sort ofdrama than the first forty-two issues…
This is a cue for the whole comics industry, if you haven't seen thispoint coming. To the folks who create and to the folks who produce: whata good time to take stock of what you're doing and who you're doing itfor; to look deep into what makes you love comics and…
…start over, fresh. You don't have to throw anything out… just…remind your audience why it is they love what you do.
Many of you may check in daily at the Warren Ellis Forum foryour current news on politics, world events, and the state of the comicsbusiness. Early Wednesday, there was a long discussion thread about therelative merits of the Enterprise theme song. Honestly, I foundit a forgettable bit of soft-rock radio crap, but I'm not exactly alearned music critic, so there you go. I will say this: I'll bet aYankee dollar with the first person who reads this and posts at Warren'staking me up on the bet that the lead-off episode of Enterprise in the 2002-2003 season will sport an orchestral fanfare and featureScott Bakula emoting the famous "Space; the final frontier…" missionstatement. After all, this bit is just the beginning; they've got plentyof time for a shakedown…
A dead CIA agent was a hero. A crazy one, a firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want more information on the upcoming WHISPER: DAY X graphicnovel, send Steven Grant an email at email@example.com and beg him to add you to his WHISPER announcement list. I have it onvery good authority that the esteemed Mr. Grant is, even now,ready to send out the script for the first eight pages of the upcominggraphic novel to his peeps, as a teaser and as reward. Don't miss out.
While you can get your news and commentary about the funny books allover the damn Internet, I usually make it a point to let slip at leastone bit of information at theLoose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else. Last week, there was all that goodness about what Patty Jeres really said to me about Kamandi, as well as some info on the new Sky Ape…