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[ENT] Jammer's Review: "Marauders"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven t seen the episode yet, beware. In brief: Milk toast. Plot description: Archer tries to help
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2002
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      Warning: This review contains significant spoilers. If you haven't seen
      the episode yet, beware.


      In brief: Milk toast.

      Plot description: Archer tries to help the residents of a mining colony
      being bullied by Klingons marauders who take all the fuel the colonists
      produce.

      -----
      Enterprise: "Marauders"

      Airdate: 10/30/2002 (USA)
      Teleplay by David Wilcox
      Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
      Directed by Mike Vejar

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: **

      T'Pol: "Short of killing the Klingons, any action we take will only make
      the situation worse."
      Jammer: "Looks like you just solved the puzzle. Kill the Klingons at
      once."
      -----

      While watching "Marauders," I saw during one of the commercial breaks an
      ad for an upcoming action movie called "Half Past Dead," set inside a
      prison and starring Steven Segal and Ja Rule. Much to my amazement (and
      dismay), the end of the commercial informed me that "Half Past Dead" is
      rated PG-13. Yes, PG-13. And I'm thinking, has the bloodthirsty
      testosterone-driven violent American action genre been so watered down for
      mainstream marketing reasons that now *Steven Segal films* are rated
      PG-13? What has our world come to?

      It is of some irony or coincidence or appropriateness or something (or
      not) that this commercial airs during "Marauders," the epitome of
      milquetoast Star Trek action, where the last act is devoted almost
      completely to an extended action sequence where Our Heroes must ward off
      the threat of the Evildoers, and yet not one person -- friend or foe -- is
      killed or even seriously injured. Given that this is, after all, the Star
      Trek universe and its Evolved Sensibilities we're talking about, I'm
      willing to grant that this is somewhat appropriate. Certainly more
      appropriate than a Steven Segal film released to the masses as PG-13.

      My point? I guess that "Marauders" is so devoid of anything worth getting
      worked up about -- for good or ill -- that I'd rather get worked up over
      the fact that Steven Segal now stars in movies that are rated PG-13 (it's
      not bad enough that Segal films are generally garbage; now they're
      watered-down garbage). Perhaps "Marauders" is your cup of tea and perhaps
      it's not, but I found it to be a very tame and unimaginative recycling of
      a very familiar story. (A recent version of this story is the Disney/Pixar
      film "A Bug's Life," more entertaining than this.) Yes, the location
      shooting and production design here is impressive. Yes, Mike Vejar is a
      good director. But all the surface gloss and competency in the world
      cannot make up for story developments that make me shrug and say, "So?"

      The plot is about as bare-boned as they come. Colony of miners produces
      refined deuterium. Colony sells deuterium to passersby. Colony,
      unfortunately, is being bullied by group of Klingon marauders, who use
      intimidation and violence to hoard all the miners' output production,
      leaving them empty-handed. Colony has tried to fight back, but Klingons
      are too strong and mean. Enter the Enterprise and Captain Archer, who,
      once he learns about this situation, wants to help.

      There's certainly nothing wrong with that story sketch as a starting
      point. It's classic Trek material, albeit very middle-of-the-road stuff.
      Unfortunately, there's nothing really right about this story either. The
      script's approach is to give us the facts and assume we care about them,
      without giving us anything dramatic or interesting to *invite* us to care.
      I guess that's the problem -- not that I disliked this episode but rather
      that I was so disinterested. Archer's humanistic desire to help people
      (who are initially too afraid to accept his position of standing up to the
      Klingons) is an admirable (if obvious) character trait. But the episode
      has no real depth or questions to consider. It's painfully
      straightforward. "I've never liked bullies," Archer tells Trip at one
      point. End of story. Philosophizing goes no deeper than that. Okay,
      there's also, "Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day; teach him to
      fish, and he eats for a lifetime." Whoa. Deep.

      Archer's plan is to teach the colonists how to defend themselves in the
      few days before the Klingons return to raid the colony. T'Pol holds an
      introductory martial-arts class, showing how to avoid a Klingon wielding a
      bat'leth. (There's one amusing moment when T'Pol asks a reluctant
      Mayweather to help her demonstrate an attack. T'Pol: "You won't hurt me."
      Mayweather: "It's not you that I'm worried about.") Reed and Sato offer
      sessions for target practice with firearms. A clever plan is hatched to
      relocate buildings so the deuterium field will be exposed and can be set
      ablaze. Trip befriends a boy (Jesse James Rutherford, a sub-par
      performance) whose father was killed in an earlier skirmish with the
      Klingon bullies. Archer reassures the colony leader (Larry Ceder,
      performance par for course), who quietly despairs at his own
      ineffectiveness. These scenes represent a series of facts mostly free of
      underlying tension or suspense, scarcely more interesting than as I've
      just described them. Hence the episode's unfortunate lack of an emotional
      spark.

      The Big Battle in the show's closing act is a bizarre and ultimately
      borderline-humorous compromise between elaborate action staging and
      attitudes of unmistakable non-violence. Despite the fact the Klingons are
      trying to kill Our Heroes, every effort is made for Our Heroes not to
      resort to killing any of the Klingons. The good guys punch, kick, throw
      rocks, shoot guns without hitting anyone, and use other non-lethal tactics
      (included is a scene that shows how T'Pol also fills the role of Action
      Hero Chick With Spin-Kick Moves), and ultimately they lure the Klingons
      into a trap where a fire ring appears around them. The big payoff
      involving the fire ring is overplayed to the point of goofiness; the
      Klingons' moment of realization is hammered at with the precision of a
      sledgehammer, making our heroes look not nearly so clever as the villains
      are clueless.

      I dunno. "Marauders" is what it is -- a bloodless, light-as-a-feather
      action show with handsome production values but absolutely and positively
      no edge. It takes bland safeness to new heights; it doesn't come within a
      hundred yards of anything daring, offensive, challenging, or otherwise
      intriguing. If you're looking for a very simple hour of TV that pushes no
      buttons or envelopes and inspires in you little thought or emotional
      reaction, this will maybe get the job done. Plus, nobody gets hurt.

      But then, you might also find yourself more riled by the notion of a PG-13
      Steven Segal movie than anything that happens here.

      --
      Next week: A skeleton in T'Pol's closet?

      -----
      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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