Spackled!on April 15, 2013 at 12:00 am
I recently decided to take a stab at writing for Cracked.com. You rember Cracked, right? It was one of the many upstart competitors to MAD magazine from back in the day, publications with names like “Crazy” or “Stupid”, all of which tried to capitalize on MAD’s penumbra of insanity and which today would probably earn them a boycott by the NEA.
Cracked transformed themselves after very nearly being driven out of existence by terrorists. Now Cracked is the leader in list-based Internet humor, and they allow any any schmuck to submit to them. Why not me?
Sadly, that question has an answer: because I stink like skunk farts. Okay, that isn’t true (in this context), but my first submission to them did not meet their journalistic standards, which as far as I can tell are higher than the entire sphere of cable news. I will try again, but Seanbaby will not need to retire just yet. And fortunately, I know thousands of people who have no standards whatsoever: YOU!
So without further ado, please enjoy the first of what are sure to be many rejections as I claw my way to a level of fame somewhat higher than that of a forum troll. As you will see, my concept alone probably justifies my pariah-ship.
Five Ways That Enterprise Was Better Than Battlestar Galactica
Star Trek: Enterprise, which launched in 2001 on UPN, marked a new low for a franchise that could already have been teabagged by a caterpillar.
Following a Trek renaissance that began with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987, this mother of all geek culture began to spit out ever uglier children, beginning with the marginal Deep Space Nine, followed soon thereafter by the seven-season yawn that was Voyager.
Enterprise just about caulked Star Trek’s coffin. A boring, retrograde saga of pre-Federation Earth featuring the least scintillating starship crew ever scripted, and with stories that babyproofed the already famously progressive Star Trek ethos.
The series ran for a mercifully brief four seasons, but shared it’s final year with an upstart resurrection of the 1980’s TV series Battlestar Galactica, which premiered on the Sci-Fi channel in 2004. Now here was a throwback done right! Vital, liquored-up characters turgid with emotion, fighting for their lives in an outer space both thrilling and menacing, and with Star Wars-level space battles to boot.
Contrasting Enterprise with BSG is like comparing My Little Pony to GWAR. But though Enterprise may have shot up its viewers’ cortexes with Novocain, at least it didn’t have a “Muffit” hiding in its closet. And it did crush Battlestar Galactica in a few ways.
#5. The Opening Credits
The title sequence for Enterprise was a departure from previous Star Trek series. Those consisted of beauty shots of starships flying past such cosmic vistas as a Mexican street artist might spray-paint onto cardboard for delighted gringos. Enterprise replaced this with a montage that followed humanity’s rise from humble mariners to a space-faring race and then masters of the damn Universe! Compare that to Battlestar’s downer intro of humanity being laid to waste by its own kitchen appliances and I think you will agree that Enterprise had the more uplifting message for a nation that was about to discover the consequences of electing a cymbal-clanging monkey for president.
Enterprise broke new ground with its theme music, too. Instead of a robust and brassy orchestral arrangement like it’s predecessors, this new Trek odyssey opened with a hand-clapping soft-rock tune that could have been lifted from The Greatest American Hero.
This innovation raised the hackles of a lot of Star Trek fans, but contrast that unconventional ditty with Battlestar Galactica’s opening dirge, which sounds like something the elves of Middle Earth would chant as they boarded their swan boats for the Land of Grey Tears. Fuck that gloom! Remember when we didn’t assume the future would suck? Kudos to Enterprise for giving us a tomorrow we could snap our fingers to!
#4. War on Terra
Enterprise and BSG both employed strong 9/11 metaphors in their storylines. In BSG of course, those sneaky Cylons infiltrate human society sleeper-cell style, sabotaging our defenses and allowing a sneak attack to make a mockery of the Colonials ludicrous defense build-up. On Enterprise, Earth also suffers a sneak attack at the hands of the Xindi, a collective species of apes, bugs, and lizards with pubes growing out of their heads. A Xindi weapon kills seven million Earthlings, causing the Enterprise to embark on a mission of revenge which, given what we know about the Federation, probably included a box of chocolates and a written apology on our part.
Viewers who thought that BSG’s reflection on the War on Terror–of a people in disarray, jumping at shadows, torturing their enemies and essentially looking for their lost soul–may have believed that this was space opera at its most urbane. What they didn’t realize is that the future portrayed in science fiction paves the way for the genuine article. Recall how the original Star Trek featured flip-open pocket communicators that could talk to outer space, magical replicators and omniscient female computers? Cell phones, 3D printers and SIRI. Star Trek didn’t predict our future, it ordained it!
So what do we have to look forward to thanks to the advent of Battlestar Galactica? A futile vision of ceaseless war, rusting technology and fucking corded phones! Why don’t we mail our surrender to Kim Jong-Un right now?
#3. Linear Time
Despite having a nebulous mindbender of a plot that lacked only Lost’s magic Lotto numbers, BSG finally got around to revealing that humans and Cylons are dancing in an eternal karmic spiral whereby the two are destined to create and destroy each other forever. (This means that it is God’s will that Commander Adama be reborn again and again to pick at his teenage acne and wind up with cheeks whose pockmarks become a star map leading the fleet to the Eye of Thundera, or whatever.)
“That’s the baddest fucking Eye of Jupiter I’ve ever seen!”
Enterprise knew that humanity’s only destiny is to be awesome, and that robots will ever be our slaves. On Enterprise, an agent from the zillionth century travels back to the year 2151 To enlist Captain Archer’s help in thwarting another time-traveling species that wants to steer history their way. We ultimately get a glimpse of that future, where a descendant of the starship Enterprise is putting down that cheeky alien species once and for all, after which the crew doubtless had their shoulders oiled and massaged by a servant class of Datas.
Yes, Scott Bakula’s Captain Archer was more boring than a glass of Metamucil, but at least we know that his future includes two captains, Kirk and Picard, who will never let the damned Toasters destroy our homes even once, much less throughout infinity, the way Adama does.
#2. Spooge Monster
BG gets a lot of praise for its riveting stories, intense human drama, and most importantly, for putting people ahead of props. This is highlighted by the fact that the world of Battlestar Galactica was intentionally low-tech and downplayed using sci-fi gewgaws (even the robots were humans!) This justified cheapish sets that made it affordable for the cast to chew the scenery as often as they did.
Enterprise distinguished itself by literally being the corny TV show invented for the movie Galaxy Quest (or rather, The Asylum’s version of Galaxy Quest), with Alzheimer’s-inducing performances, bland action and moments of humor that probably had cricket chirps written into the script.
Nevertheless, Enterprise did remember that it was set in the nuckin futz realm of outer space, and consequently was able to produce one episode that was ballsier than every brooding moment BG ever filmed.
Season One, episode 22 of Enterprise (“Vox Sola”) pitted the crew against an alien that was a nothing but a mass of tentacles dripping with white goo. The creature assimilates three of the crew, slowly merging itself with them, sliding its wet tentacles around and inside their bodies for nearly an entire hour, the crewmen growing gooier and stickier in what can only be described as the first ever Star Trek bukakke video (at least, the first sanctioned by Paramount).
Oh, they knew what they were doing.
Regrettably, Enterprise’s producers flinched at submitting any of the female cast members to this red-hot disgrace. Had Jolene Blalock been sentenced to the creature’s embrace, no one would remember the name “Battlestar Galactica”, and mankind would now be masturbating together, in peace.
#1. The Final Episode
Spoiler Alert: The Colonial fleet finally reaches Earth. Big whoop! You always knew they would, or else they would find that Earth is a special feeling in your heart. The point is that the finale to BSG was never in doubt.
But no one, not even Nostradamus on mescaline, could have predicted the double bong hit off a shotgun that was Enterprise splattering its brains across America’s living rooms.
The series finale of Enterprise was so self-loathing it could have justified a new category at the Emmy’s. Only Seinfeld’s parting shot even comes close, and then only because Seinfeld abandoned its raison d’etre at the moment of truth and made a show about something: themselves. Enterprise just throws up two middle fingers and tells the audience they’d have been better off huffing Krylon for the past four years.
The Star Trek series have often journeyed to the future in their final episodes. In the case of Enterprise, we are taken into the future’s past when, out of the blue, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis show up to reprise their roles as Commander Riker and Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, playing witness to the final adventure of the Enterprise crew in the form of a holodeck recreation.
Even by Enterprise standards the finale is preposterously boring, and Frakes’ upbeat performance is entirely at odds with the episode’s premise, which is for Riker to glean wisdom from the past on how to deal with a crisis from one of TNG’s weightier episodes.
Instead, Frakes and Sirtis yuk it up as they shove the (admittedly disposable) cast of Enterprise aside to feast like buzzards on the defeated show’s still-warm corpse.
Like a suicidal girl building up her will to cut her wrists one nick at a time, the agony compounds on itself. Captain Archer is forced to toast “the next generation” with his chief engineer, who later dies in the most tearless tragedy ever filmed. And all the while the episode ramps up to its intended vindication, when Captain Archer will deliver the inaugural address at the founding of the United Federation of Planets… only to be cock-blocked by Riker who ends the holodeck program just as Archer takes the stage!
Yes, in every way that matters, Battlestar Galactica will be remembered as the better television program. But for keeping alive the flame of Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic, Cold War America even as we were mothballing our space shuttles to buy more Cylon-like drones that will eventually decimate us, Enterprise deserves our grudging—painfully grudging—respect.