It's a new, but old, ship. It's a new, but old, crew. It's a new, but old, letterbox format. A redneck called "Moore" (dissect that if you like, all you wonderful Trekkists out there in the dark), toting a new-phangled gun, shoots a weird alien called a Klingot--"Klingon!"--ahem, Klingon and lands Captain Quantum his first mission, much to the Vulcans' collective dismay. And what of our repeatedly Maxim-exposed Vulcan science officer? Well, she spends a good part of her time showing emotion as abundantly as she does her dinners. But not to worry, there's a good amount of skin exposed in this episode to make up for the overt sexuality. Who knew that UPN had a deal with Cinemax?
Shhh. It's the first scene, and I'm feeling a moment of reverence come over me. I've never watched an actual pilot of a Star Trek show in real time. Shots of little plastic men (which look very much like my Luke Skywalker X-Wing Pilot action figures) and a paintbrush touching up the detail on a NASA space shuttle. "Where. No. Man. Has. Gone. Before," a kid's voice stilts out. "Dr. Cochrane would be proud of you," his dad says while polishing something. "I know the whole speech by heart -- when's it going to be ready to fly?" the kid asks. "Well, let the paint dry first," Dad says. "No, I mean your ship," the kid says. Okay, you know what? I'm not going to hold you in suspense any longer -- the kid is supposed to be young Jonathan Archer, soon to be Captain "Quantum Leap" Archer of Enterprise. Ta-daa! "It's not even built yet," Pop Archer tells him, "you know that." "Well, how big will it be?" Child Archer asks. "Pretty big," Pop Archer of Tedious and Awkward Dialogue says. "Bigger than Ambassador Pointy's ship?" Child Archer asks nastily. "His name is Soval and he's been very helpful and I told you not to call him that, Jonathan," Pop Archer says, exhibiting less emotion in his voice than T'Pol manages the whole episode. "Well, Billy Cook said we'd be flying at warp five by now if the Vulcans hadn't kept things from us," Child Archer drones expositionally. "Well, they had their reasons. God knows what they are," Pop Archer says, shaking his head.
"Leap" ahead thirty years to Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and a cornfield. Something large and starship-like has cut a swath through the field and now sits smoldering. A Klingon runs panting through the rows of corn as several bald aliens with mottled skin no Trek fan has seen before chase him. Insert Children of the Corn joke here. The bald aliens fire, and the Klingon dodges. Alarmed by the sound of phaser shots, the farmer comes out of his house. He looks out onto his field and sees black smoke and phaser fire flashing through his crop and runs back in the house to teach those meddlin' kids a lesson they'll never forget. The Klingon comes to a clearing and runs into a silo. Aw, man -- didn't he see Witness? Never go into a silo or a grain elevator! The farmer comes out of his house with a rifle and slaps the base, and we hear a high-pitched whine that indicates this ain't no gun you load with bullets. The bald aliens run out of the cornfield and slam into the silo door. Maybe they'll just give up and go home now? Nope, no such luck for our cranial-ridged friend. One of the aliens squats down and slides his hands under the door, and this is the really cool part. His hands sort of go all gel-like and then reverse themselves. So he has his palms on the floor of the silo but SQUIDGE and the backs of his hands become his palms, which slap onto the back of the silo door. SQUIDGE again and his whole body flattens out -- his head sort of caves in as well -- to allow him to ooze his body under the door. The only thing I can liken it to is the cop in Terminator 2. Awesomely creepy special effects. Logically, once the one alien squidges under the door, he opens the door for his friend. Maybe they don't like to do a lot of squidging in one day -- I can see how it could tire one out. Or cost too much money. The Klingon bursts out of the top of the silo and hits the ground running. He gets a few yards away, then turns and fires a plasma blast at the silo, which explodes. Popcorn, anyone? The Klingon, knocked to the ground by the blast, now hauls himself to his feet, only to be faced by an angry corn farmer who points his gun at the cranial-ridged stranger and orders him to drop his weapon. "Ah meen it!" the farmer says. "Worf! Worf! Worf!" the Klingon says. Honestly. I rewound it several times, and that's totally what it sounds like he said. It wasn't any Klingonese I'm familiar with. Not that I am familiar or anything -- I mean, I just know "Kerplop" and that's it. Really. The farmer says, "Ah don't understeend a word yer sayin' but Ah gar-ron-tee you, Ah know how to use this!" while raising his gun again. The Klingon says some more threatening-sounding words (who're we kidding? All Klingonese is threatening sounding) and advances toward the farmer, who fires a shot, blowing the Klingon back into the cornfield. As the Klingon lies there insensible, the farmer looks puzzled.
The opening credits are incredible. Images of old maps, a sketch of "H.M.S. Enterprize" from Admiral Nelson's time, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Enterprise space shuttle (named for the one in TOS), Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, NASA astronauts, shuttle and rocket launches, the first footprint on the moon, Mars, a space station, a streamlined shuttle of the future, and the shot from First Contact where The Phoenix deploys its nacelles. Finally, a shot of the new/old Enterprise as it jumps into warp. Warp 4.5, that is.