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10/9/2004

Immortality and prime time

Filed under: — Greg @ 3:47 pm

Let me start out by saying that I often watch Star Trek: Enterprise. But don’t leave yet! Because while pondering the dynamics (i.e. things that suck) of the show, its plots, characters, and direction, I came upon an epiphany.

All this time I have been thinking “surely they must know this is bad”, and then in the next breath “oh well, despite the sharp pain this generates due to my sensibility and love for the Star Trek universe, it was at least mildly entertaining”. (In contrast to Voyager, which traded out the mild entertainment for further sharp pains, mostly surrounding the character interactions.)

The only way I can successfully enjoy Enterprise is to pretend that it is not about Star Trek at all, but instead takes place in some unrelated, but vaguely similar universe. In this other universe, there is a constant, low-level energy field which causes the rules of time-space-plot continuity not to apply in normal ways. I call this the “Berman Field”.

Another noticeable abberation of the Berman Field is that it causes all science (science fiction, as the case may be) to operate on the “Least Plot Principle”, which states roughly that science is no longer limited by the rules of common sense, reasonability, or even wild speculation. Instead, science functions by whatever principles are necessary in order to expedite the show’s plot at the moment. Even if it flagrantly and to the exclusion of all believability contradicts things such as real science, other episodes, itself, etc.

Example: according to ST:E, apparently humans pass on all their memories through their DNA. Hunh, nevermind that it would be utterly impossible, in addition to implausible, and completely stupid. This is Least Plot Principle in action.

But I digress.

Earlier this afternoon I was pondering the term ‘jumping the shark‘. In short, once a series passes some point of unbelievable stupidity, it rapidly declines as the viewers collectively heave a sigh of disillusioned frustration. In a brief flash of insight, it suddenly occurred to me that Star Trek Enterprise may well be immortal.

The series can run until the end of time without losing viewers, for one simple reason: they jump the shark in every episode. So many aspects of the plot, and indeed the show’s premise itself, are shark-jumpable, that the entire series itself exists in a vague probability cloud of shark-jumpitude. And since it is clearly not possible to jump a shark while you are already in mid-jump over another, different shark, it seems likely that Enterprise will never be able to decline and lose viewership.

Everyone who currently watches the show (myself included) has become immune, innoculated if you will, to shark jumping qua Enterprise. There is no depth that the Berman Field can now plumb that would jar us enough to realize that it’s time for the series to die. They have finally, in short, created the perfect, immortal prime time show. Hats off to them.

Bastards.

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