Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Two Days and Two Nights

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Two Days and Two Nights"
Airdate: May 15, 2002

24 of 97 produced

24 of 97 aired


Introduction
 
The crew of Enterprise finally reaches Risa, but their vacations don't turn out quite the ways they planed.
 
 
Unless that's what you're into, which is totally fine.

 
 
Writing
 
Matthew:  As with many episodes of Enterprise at this point in the season, it's hard not to compare this to something that came before. And yes, it's going to be "Captain's Holiday." There's no way it couldn't be. When you do a "the crew needs a vacation" episode, a change of pace, something needs to mark it as more than filler. And I've got to say, without spoiling the review, that this episode really struggles to do so. I think in part this was because of the trifurcated structure of the story. Any one of these character spotlights could have been a pretty good setup for intrigue, growth, change. But ultimately none of them really gel. The A story, I guess, is Archer and Keyla. You know what would have been a good story? Archer really digging this woman and thinking about the path not taken. You know what we got? A half-hearted callback to a previous episode, without much development. Kidnap him, interrogate him, something. Instead, they just had a slightly pissy fight and she knocked him out with a drug.

Kevin: I was thinking it would have been fun to go in the opposite direction. I read the scenes as she was telling the truth about her family and that was why she was so interested in Archer, but I think it could have been fun to see the con become genuine. I think the actors managed chemistry, so it would have been fun to watch her decide how much to trust him. 

Matthew: The B story is Trip and Reed looking for women to have sex with. Setting aside that they just could have gotten a Horgon and been done with it, this story also really went nowhere. You could do a screwball comedy, like a National Lampoon's Vacation, with these guys. They're funny enough, and horny enough. But we really didn't get the comedy scenes we needed. They should have been stripped naked and had to find their way around Risa, steal clothes, something. Nope.

Kevin: For me, the tinge of gay panic hits a sour note. "Oh no, the person I think is attractive might be a male in their species. My precious identity!" Also, I'm happy to extend the benefit of the doubt that they didn't intend the robber plot to be transphobic, but it's hard not to see it in that light these days. "Men are pretending to be women to get away with something" just rings really different on a rewatch. There wasn't even a reason to make them "really" males except, again, for the cheap gay panic joke. They got boners for men! Isn't that funny??? Just make the women the criminals. Why can't hot ladies do crime? I could and would watch whole movies and television series about hot ladies doing crime.

And given that this is Risa, the walk of shame plot made no sense. Unless you told everyone that was your species' underwear and not its swimwear, no one would think you looked that different than the other people also dressed for the beach. But I am intrigued by your nudity idea, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. :)

Matthew: The C story is Hoshi finding an alien gigolo who knows a hard language. Like the A story, this could have been fuel for a doomed romance, some soul searching, but mainly it was just Hoshi being cute and demure, and them going to bed together. Yawn.

Kevin: The problem is the temperature was too low. I like a nice gauzy, dreamy love affair as much as the next art house fan, but this just moved too slowly to really catch. I do like that of all the crew, she's the one that was romantically successful, especially against the 80s teenage sex comedy that was Trip and Reed. I also loved that he wasn't secretly anything bad. I'm sure he runs that "I speak Space French, aren't I sexy?" routine on everyone, but you know what? That just means he is probably really good at sex. I like the idea of this thread. It's nice that a grown woman with a job can take a vacation, decide to have sex, and not be punished for it. I just needed a little more sizzle. I understand the bounds of the era and the medium, but prime time dramas have been telegraphing dripping sexual tension in a censor-friendly way for decades. They could have at least mussed her hair a little more aggressively.

Matthew: Actually, come to think of it, there was a D story here - Travis getting sick and needing to wake Dr. Phlox from hibernation. The fact that I almost forgot it says a lot. I'm glad we got to see Crewman Cutler one more time of course, and Phlox had some laugh lines, but that was about it.

Kevin: I won't say the thread was worth it for Billingsley's comedy chops, but it came as close as it could. I'm on record loving a good slice of life, low stakes episode, but they forgot to give it anything to hang a narrative hat on. Data's Day has the wedding and the spy plot. They take a back seat to the study of Data's views on friendship, but there was still the skeleton of stakes and narrative progress. They really just needed to cut one of these threads and turn up the stakes on one or two of the others, even a little, and this could have been a fun, lightweight romp. 
 
Acting
 
Matthew: Whose was the highlight performance of this episode? It's either Scott Bakula or Linda Park. Bakula got the most scenes, and he was low key charming. But he didn't get the sorts of laugh lines that Patrick Stewart got in "Captain's Holiday." Nor did he get to do anything arduous or difficult, really. Linda Park was an attractive, friendly woman on vacation that you'd like to spend time with. Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer were kind of gross for me, in this one.

Kevin: I will always like seeing Dey Young, especially in these kind of film noir-ish roles. She just has that smoky voice and presence that makes her compelling, and I'm sad the script didn't give her more. And I liked Bakula's performance here as well. He was interested without coming off lecherous. It's part of what amplified my disappointment in the plot. I think the actors had chemistry, and that alone could have propelled a plot where their ultimate goals were in conflict. Maybe it's when they came of age as actors, but I could really see these two tearing it up in one of those slightly trashy 80s/early 90s sexy thrillers where they play horny lawyers who stumble into solving corporate crime while sleeping together to a wailing saxophone soundtrack. That's kind of what I was hoping this episode would turn into.

And yeah, I'm choosing to blame the material, but Keating and Trinneer were definitely off this week. They were acting like teenagers performing the act of being horny without apparently understanding anything about sex. They were like Beavis and Butthead without the biting parody. Honestly, had Trip turned to Reed and said "heh heh, we're gonna score!" I would have at least appreciated the callback.
 
Production Values
 
Matthew:  The matte work was bad, full stop. Really, quite bad. The waterfalls looked fake, they re-used the same shot a whole bunch, and Risa didn't feel like a real place. They really couldn't find a nice resort backdrop in California? There was also some bad green screen with Archer and Keyla on their balconies. And when Hoshi was naming fruits, they just gave her a damn strawberry and kiwi. On the plus side, the clothes were all pretty decent.

Kevin: The fruit thing annoyed me too. "This tastes like kiwi" she says about what is visibly and unmistakably a kiwi. Do better, prop people. I wasn't as bothered as you on the matte shots, but I agree they could have taken a camera crew to literally anywhere on the California coast for some better establishing shots. Honestly, just get one of those boutique hotels on a vineyard for the week and it would have had the benefit of being a real and beautiful place.
 
Conclusion
 
Matthew: This episode was an underwhelming disappointment, and a real missed opportunity to build characters. It wasn't offensive or horrible to watch, it just didn't amount to much when it was all said and done. I'm stuck at a 2 on it.

Kevin: I was ready to give this a three when I sat down to watch it, and was almost willing to do it when I started writing the review, but I agree with Matt that there are too many failures, and that the finished product is dull. Star Trek has a....not great....relationship to the portrayal of how actual humans have actual sexual relationships, and I think this could have been a fun opportunity to explore that. Hoshi's plot has the most potential for a positive look at 22nd century mores, but was just too quiet. Archer's had the components, but none of the execution. The turd in the punchbowl remains Trip and Reed's gay panic joke perforated into a quarter of the episodes run time. I agree with the 2 for a total of 4.

3 comments:

  1. I'm going to call Reed & Trip's escapade here the Beavis and Butthead plot from now on!

    The only reason I don't skip this on rewatch is Phlox' cookiness and T'Pol's dry straightman.routine. But I do skip scenes. Like, a lot.

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    Replies
    1. John Billingsley is really doing a yeoman's job with milking every scene he is in for humor without crossing The Season 1 Neelix Line into grating.

      And the more I think about it, the dumber the Trip and Reed plot gets. Like...have they ever had sex? With anyone? Has this routine ever worked once even a little? It's almost impressive that they made their plot so sex-focused in a way that was as far as possible from how actual people actually pursue and have sex.

      Like way back in the stuffy Reagan era, we still managed to portray Picard and Vash finding each other attractive and acting on that attraction like adults. It's not that difficult.

      I won't pretend to understand straight men, but this can't be how they think it works, right?

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    2. I won't pretend to speak for all straight men, but it's not how it works for me (largely straight but not devoid of appreciation of a healthy physique, regardless of sex and gender). But in my teenage years, I did notice friends liking to go to places with large crowds and incredibly loud music that made talking to girls impossible (bug or feature?). I went once, got fleeced and a head ache, and has never been back since, except the occasional picking up or dropping off. D&D was cheaper, safer, and much more fun (and, as it turns out, a way to meet girls). So I didn't make a study of the discoteque behaviour, nor how it changed with age.

      But it does make me think ENT was aiming for a certain cliché about what male, teen geeks must want, because only teenage geeks watch Trek, right? (Wrong!) Maybe I was supposed to laugh at these silly guys for being punished for their discoteque behaviour, or maybe I was supposed to empathize with them for being horny and not getting any?

      The producers should have looked instead at what made previous shows classics. Trek at its best has 'treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross', as Q put it. So subtlety, dear writers - we need those subtle treasures! :)

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