Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Strange New World

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Strange New World"

Airdate: October 10, 2001
3 of 97 produced
3 of 97 aired


Enterprise sends a landing party down to an unexplored M-class planet, but the away team begins to suffer strange symptoms as they camp overnight.

Finding a picture for this episode was an ordeal.



Kevin: This is another pretty straightforward story about the unknown dangers the crew may encounter. It's pretty paint-by-number, though I don't entirely mean that as a criticism. It's not the most scintillating story but you actually need to hit a few familiar beats to help build a story and do some world building as well. This episode reminded me of TOS' This Side of Paradise, which made me think that five series in, I'm going be saying "This reminds me of..." a lot. I think that episode worked better because it was able to get a little juice from messing with established character traits and relationships. Happy Spock means something because we know what regular unleaded Spock looks like. So I think this episode came just a little too early in the run to really land. The crew doesn't really know or trust each other yet, so testing that relationship just isn't as dramatic as it needs to be. Also, it's never really ambiguous what is happening, and maybe a little more uncertainty could have helped jazz the episode a little.

Matthew: The one this actually makes me think more of is TOS "The Galileo Seven," because of the tension between the human crew members and the odd Vulcan out. I agree that stretching out the "rock people" idea for one more act could have made for a fun mystery. They all went crazy a bit too quickly for maximum dramatic impact. They also missed a storytelling opportunity tot tailor the hallucinations to each character, allowing us to learn personal details about them. I did like most of the individual scenes, though, like the ghost stories around the campfire, the storm, Novakovich getting leaves stuck in his skin during transport, and Trip's paranoid freakout. My boys laughed quite lustily at Trip and Travis finding a scorpion in his sleeping bag.

Kevin: I also think they haven't threaded the needle between portraying their enthusiasm and the fact that these are technically professionals who've been trained to do this very difficult, dangerous job. I think what got me was Archer bringing Porthos. How do you know that whole planet isn't chocolate? There are plenty of Earth plants that are toxic to pets so this just seemed silly and done because it would be fun to bring the dog to set that day. Even accounting for a more cavalier age, Archer seems almost like a teenager bucking the rules for its own sake. Maybe it's just rose colored glasses, but I just recall Kirk's cowboy attitude being a little better pitched.

Matthew: Yeah, my feeling was that Porthos was written in just for the "where no dog has gone before" joke. They could have at least hung a lampshade on it. Overall, I think the crew kind of made bad decisions in their rush to land. T'Pol counseled caution, and waiting 6 or 7 days isn't a bad idea at all. Think of all the on-the-job training that planetary survey teams would get over that week. I suppose the point of this episode might be to show the crew learning. I just question why this level of caution hasn't already been learned. It's not NuTrek bad in this way, but it's somewhere in between the professionalism of Classic Trek and the new drek.

Kevin: Beyond my structural concerns, I think the episode moves well enough. Archer having to fake out Tucker was interesting enough. As much as I wasn't gripped by the tension, I was never bored either. The episode moved at a steady trot to its conclusion and I enjoyed the journey well enough.


Kevin: I still think the actors haven't found the characters yet but again, I think that is as much the writing. Everyone is just shouting in addition to T'Pol's condescension and Trip's Southern-ness.

Matthew: I disagree. I think T'Pol's stiffness was well played, and I was really emotionally involved by Connor Trinneer's paranoia. He made some really nice physical choices that made it seem like he felt bugs crawling under his skin. This episode also introduces Kelly Waymire as Crewman Cutler, a character whose energy I quite enjoyed, and who was taken from us too soon.

Production Values

Kevin: I am just going to refer back to the last two episodes for a good swath of the critique. I don't want to repeat myself on the early 00s CGI for the next eighty episodes. Beyond that, the plants in the dude's skin were well done, and the cave had a lot of texture going for it. Nothing to write home about but serviceable nonetheless.

Matthew: This is one of the better caves so far in the franchise - unlike TNG's obvious Planet Hell set, and DS9's dreary, boring, dark cave.

Kevin: Also, Stafleet's ability to find planets that look like Southern California is just unparalled. I wonder if "Minshara" is just the Vulcan word for "San Fernando Valley."

Matthew: Yeah, I get that they have to save money where they can, but the lack of alien flora sticks out. Plants evolved on Earth over a billion years, and have looked very different at various times in our own history. I would like to see at least some blue leaves or something, a la "The Cage."


Kevin: I'm giving this a 3, and that's three threes in a row. (Quick, someone check for a temporal causality loop.) I think the stakes would have worked better a little later in the season, but the basic episode is good. Another solid outing for the NX class.

Matthew: Yep. This is about as average as they come. The sci-fi idea is solid, if arrived at by a bit of dum-dum behavior. The scenes all basically worked, but no really big ideas or developments really elevate things past average. I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. At least bringing Porthos on missions is going to have the much-deserved consequences a little further down the line... :)

    I swallowed Trinneer's hallucinations and sliding down the slippery slope with relish. He can fill up my attention with the best of them. And though this is Trip at his most annoying, he also has a completely valid excuse, so that doesn't get to me here.

    I recall thinking this was the sort of episode I was hoping for when I first started watching ENT. Paint-by-numbers, as you say, but competently done. And it turns out the Vulcans weren't just trying to stir up human apathy to be jerks, and it's sinking in that there are lessons to be learned. So that's promising! :D

    1. I'm with you on the lessons aspect. I just think this plot could have gotten them there with a bit less overt carelessness on Archer's part.