I would consider myself to be a Sci-fi fan. Of course, Sci-fi is an incredibly broad category encompassing many things, so I'll narrow that statement by clarifying that I meant it in what many people would consider traditional Sci-fi: Humanity eventually taking off to the stars, spreading out from earth in ships, exploring and uncovering the secrets of the galaxy, and meeting new species along the way. However, before I go any further, I must admit my transgression, one that may put me in heretical status by many aficionados of the genre.
I have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy, and I have never seen a single episode of Star Trek.
That is until recently.
While I still have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy, I've recently been marathoning this delightful show on Netflix, Star Trek: Enterprise. This show serves as a prequel to the entire Star Trek series, shedding some light on how humanity made its first steps in long-distance space travel. After achieving the ability to warp through assistance with the Vulcans, a stoic race near the top of the galactic hierarchy, Earth's Starfleet program puts a distinguished officer by the name of Jonathan Archer in command of their flagship vessel, the Enterprise, assisted by a moderately-sized crew that includes two aliens: a cheerful, energetic, high-voiced Denobulan who is prone to singing, and a Vulcan science officer whose emotionless personality offers a stark contrast to the rest of the crew.
The aliens they meet wildly vary, some races being generally peaceful, while others seem like more of a futuristic barbarian society focused on slaving and combat. Other aliens are just too unique to explain, such as a sentient goop that attempts to fuse itself with the entire crew until they find a way to communicate with it.
Things will get spoilery from here on out
The first two seasons are fairly light-hearted, focusing mainly on one-off episodes where the crew get themselves involved in some kind of trouble, combat or otherwise. There's an overarching plot focusing on timetravel, seen in episodes where people from the future will interact with Enterprise to change the timeline, but more often than not, exploration is the main focus of the story.
This changes in season 3, when an attack on Earth leads the crew to discover a threat to humanity, an alien race that wants to destroy earth in retaliation for an event that has not yet happened. This focuses the story on a suicide mission against impossible odds into a part of the universe that no one has returned from alive in order to defeat the aliens at their source.
To some of you, doesn't this seem just slightly familiar?
Watching this show, it's impossible not to see the resemblance to Mass Effect, the ongoing series that recently wrapped up its first trilogy. Right out of the gate, I was compelled by just how similar the two were. Their weapons are based on an overheating mechanism. There is a plot where one of the races attempt to sterilize the large, imposing, and violent Klingon who are prone to melee combat and using their brawn to their advantage. Captain Archer is a grizzled space captain who knows what odds he is up against, and constantly undergoes moral dilemmas when faced with difficult decisions, such as when to interfere with a less advanced race, when to use force to get information, and when to resort to violence or diplomacy to get his way. Even the doctor of the ship, Phlox, is a mirror to Mordin in almost every way possible.
The first and second season of STE has a light-hearted aura of curiosity about it, constantly drawing the viewers in to explore these new areas of the universe despite the looming threat of the Temporal Cold War, much like Mass Effect 1 and the Reapers. Now in season 3, while there are still some goofy moments, the story is much more focused on action, on this suicide mission led by Archer and co. to save Earth, exactly mirroring the events of Mass Effect 2.
Now, don't get me wrong, none of these are complaints. In fact, they're quite the opposite. It's wonderful to see these ideas implemented by one group of people influence another so much. After finishing up the adventures of the Enterprise, I plan to go back and watch some of the older Star Trek series; I hear they're quite something. I would recommend this show to anyone who has never seen it before, and I would also suggest those who followed the show in its prime to revisit it, and to see just how many of the ideas are still prevalent in recent Sci-fi.