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Star Trek: Enterprise
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that humans don't always come off looking like the most competent race in Star Trek: Enterprise. The show documents some of Starfleet's early missions beyond the Milky Way, and most of the drama comes from the crew's frequent contact with new alien species. Some of these are friendly, some are wary, and some are immediately hostile; in many cases it's clear that mankind is the new kid on the galactic block, and we often have little concept of protocol. The thinly disguised contempt of some alien cultures (especially the Vulcans) toward the humans might prompt viewers to take a closer look at how people who think they're quite advanced present themselves to others who may have a different opinion. Like most of the Star Trek TV series, there's some violence, but not a ton of romance or strong language.
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What's the story?
Star Trek spin-off STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE is set in the wild-and-wooly 22nd century, before the Federation existed and long before any of the rules that govern the original series were created. Enterprise focuses on Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the captain of the original Enterprise -- humanity's first starship capable of true space exploration. Archer and his crew have been asked to venture out into uncharted space. As a result, they're almost always the first humans to step foot on every planet they visit, as well as the first people to meet each new alien race.
Is it any good?
This spin-off series is a very conscious attempt to recreate the feeling of Star Trek: The Original Series, but there's no getting around the fact that the show lacks the same punch as its predecessors. Liberating it from the heavy canon of the franchise gives the series the ability to react to new situations in ways that can be thought-provoking to the viewer -- without requiring the cast to wonder, "What would Kirk or Picard do?" And though Star Trek: Enterprise doesn't have to adhere to all the elements of the Star Trek canon, it's still part of that rather stuffy universe, which can make it difficult for the show to go beyond simple storytelling. It's entertaining and spins a good yarn, but it sometimes lacks depth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Star Trek: Enterprise's interstellar race relations reflect issues we deal with in real life. The crew's encounters with new species and races are often marked by suspicion and wariness as both sides attempt to size each other up. Can you see any parallels in America's own history?
In their frequent guest appearances, the famously logic-oriented Vulcans make little effort to hide their disdain for humans. Is there a limit to cross-cultural appreciation? Are there some acts that everyone can agree are unacceptable? What are the benefits of a logic-driven approach to solving problems? Does it always work?
What would our world be like if we could travel the universe and visit other planets? Would you be afraid, or would you embrace new ideas and new cultures?
For kids who love Star Trek
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