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[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Acquisition"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Enterprise s Acquisition. If you haven t seen the episode yet, beware. In brief: Lame and pointless.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2002
      Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Enterprise's
      "Acquisition." If you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.

      In brief: Lame and pointless.

      Plot description: With the crew of the Enterprise disabled, a small Ferengi
      crew boards the ship with the intention of stealing all its valuables.

      Enterprise: "Acquisition"

      Airdate: 3/27/2002 (USA)
      Teleplay by Maria Jacquemetton & Andre Jacquemetton
      Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
      Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: *1/2

      Ferengi: "You'll never see us again."
      Jammer: "I'm going to hold you to that promise."

      "Acquisition" is a low-octane action-comedy. Or maybe a no-octane
      action-comedy. But then, if we're talking about octane, we're probably also
      talking about gasoline, which in turn implies internal combustion automobile
      engines. I wouldn't want to come close to implying that this story is
      powered by a V8, V6, or even an inline 4 when it's at most powered by a
      heavy-duty rubber band, or perhaps monkeys at typewriters.

      "Acquisition" raises a questionable continuity issue (it's always been my
      understanding the Federation didn't know about the Ferengi until the time
      around the TNG universe), but never mind. I just want to know if the writers
      really think the Ferengi are so valuable as story subjects or entertaining
      as comedy players. An army of DS9 fans -- who suffered through at least one
      of these sort of shows per season -- undoubtedly would say no. If
      "Acquisition" was trying to live up to -- er, I mean down to -- one of those
      shows in spirit, then it's a success.

      What is laughingly called a plot here is that the crew of the Enterprise has
      been completely knocked unconscious with Acme Knock-Out Gas (or, to use a
      year-old Internet catchphrase, somebody set up us the bomb), giving a crew
      of four Ferengi the chance to board the ship and steal all the valuables. If
      it's this easy to take over the Enterprise, then be afraid -- be very, very
      afraid. This ship is in desperate need of a security officer -- or, for that
      matter, security.

      One crew member remains awake, however -- our illustrious Commander Tucker,
      who has the honor of running around the first half of the show in his
      underwear. The entire first act has no dialog at all (except non-translated
      Ferengi) and solely relies more on music than probably any episode of Trek
      in a very long time. I appreciated Velton Ray Bunch's score, though I must
      complain that my low-octane (to continue a gasolinic theme) local station's
      sound was so spectacularly bad and scratchy this week that the soundtrack
      was often unendurable. Ah, the wonders of living in a tertiary television

      The Ferengi wake up Captain Archer and demand that they take him to the
      ship's vault, where they can plunder the most valuable of the valuables. Of
      course, the Enterprise doesn't have a vault, but when the Ferengi threaten
      to take the ship's women and sell them into slavery instead, Archer uses the
      knowledge he gained from Stalling Techniques From Action Movies 101, and
      says that, yes, there is a vault after all, and I'll take you to it. How
      many times has this plot device been used in the action arena? You'd think
      that if Archer is smart enough to borrow it, the Ferengi would be smart
      enough to recognize it as the trick that it is. But then again, maybe not,
      because these Ferengi are some *dumb* mofos.

      For anyone who has watched anything, the story progress (such as it is) will
      come across as beyond predictable and stale. If it were a loaf of bread,
      you'd throw it out because of all the mold growing on it. If it were a
      computer it'd be a 386. Scratch that -- an Apple IIe. Scratch that again --
      a TI-99/4A. But I'll stop before I run off the rails.

      First of all, we have the Ferengi themselves, whose antics were pummeled so
      unrelentingly into the pavement during DS9's run that there is nowhere --
      absolutely nowhere -- this series can take them, short of taking them
      seriously and examining them as a culture, which we already know just
      doesn't work with the Ferengi.

      Then there are all the action cliches, beginning with Archer's lie about the
      vault and then continuing on to the central character theme involving one of
      the Ferengi, Krem (Jeffrey Combs), a meek subordinate who has dreams of
      becoming a master businessman but is under the thumb of his cousin Ulis
      (Ethan Phillips). Archer tries to turn Krem, of course, telling him that
      maybe there's a deal to be made here if he double-crosses his buddies.
      Hostages always do this in these movie situations -- trying to gain an upper
      hand by playing the kidnappers against each other.

      Meanwhile we have Trip running around trying to secretly help Archer. Trip
      wakes up T'Pol, who also goes on a secret mission trying to sabotage the
      Ferengi plans, inevitably leading to scenes where she has run-ins with them,
      who of course find her to be a perfect candidate for stroking their lobes.

      A complete synopsis of "Acquisition" would make it sound like there's more
      going on than there really is. Believe me when I say there's less. This is
      simply an assemblage of bland scenes, going from A to B in the most standard
      way possible, where A is a dumb idea and B is a predictable and meaningless

      The Ferengi are typically broad caricatures whose stupidity makes you wonder
      how they managed to pull themselves off their planet and into space flight
      in the first place. In addition to Combs and Phillips (apparently, Phillips
      so much liked his turn as a Ferengi in the equally lame "False Profits" five
      years ago that he couldn't resist coming back for more), we also have Clint
      Howard and Matt Malloy playing Ferengi. These actors are wasted in
      interchangeable roles, except perhaps for Combs' character, who's the
      nice-but-dumb guy we're supposed to care about in some fashion.

      Indeed, the show's saving grace is the always reliable Combs, who plays Krem
      in a way that clearly departs from Combs' other Trek roles, including
      Ferengi Brunt on DS9. It's yet another unique personality Combs creates
      under piles of makeup. Too bad it's just not interesting as written.

      There are a couple of mildly -- emphasis on mildly -- amusing moments,
      including Trip leading the Ferengi through a seemingly endless maze of
      corridors to the "vault," and a scene where Archer and Trip go into
      role-playing conflict mode. The latter made me smile because of the sheer
      lunacy of how dumb the whole idea was, and how the episode had realized just
      how dumb its villains truly were, and how in turn our heroes had realized
      how dumb the villains were. It's nice to see stupidity recognized, but that
      unfortunately doesn't make it any less stupid. What does it say when the
      Enterprise crew fell victim to their Knock-Out Gas trap in the first place?

      Finally, T'Pol at least gets to use the Vulcan nerve pinch, though I find it
      almost out of character that she would play along with Krem for so long when
      she could've overpowered him much earlier. The blatant sexual overtures are
      obvious and too drawn out.

      The episode marches through the obvious low comedy and standard action of
      this confrontation, and what does Archer do after defeating the Ferengi? He
      lets all four of them go on their merry way with a "stern" warning. I don't
      know about you, but I wouldn't take so kindly to people taking over my ship
      and almost getting away with stealing everything of value on board --
      including all the weapons! What kind of rules does Starfleet have on
      conflicts of this nature? What kind of responsibility does Archer have in
      holding people who are essentially criminals and pirates? What authorities
      are out here to deal with the criminal element? Does the Enterprise have the
      authority to take prisoners, and what would it do with them? All are
      questions that might actually be worth consideration but which this episode
      couldn't care less about, since it's merely a Dumb Ferengi Episode.

      I guess that's fair, because I really couldn't care less about

      Next week: A strange ghost story featuring another familiar-to-Trek face.

      Copyright 2002 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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