Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Acquisition"

*1/2

Air date: 3/27/2002
Teleplay by Maria Jacquemetton & Andre Jacquemetton
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

In brief: Lame and pointless.

"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 market.

The Ferengi wake up Captain Archer and demand that he take them 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 destination.

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 "Acquisition."

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

Previous episode: Rogue Planet
Next episode: Oasis

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24 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, Oct 1, 2008 - 2:44pm (USA Central)
I agree with Jammer on most parts, yet I must confess having enjoyed this episode somewhat for its dumbness. I'd swap episodes like last week's "Rogue Planet" for episodes like "Acquisition" at anytime!
The Le - Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - 11:55am (USA Central)
I've seen only 3 episodes of this show, and this was one of them. There's a reason I've only seen 3.

The Tpau seen was SO FREAKING STUPID. Just go into the case and get the and weapon and shoot them. There was no need to hide, show yourself, seduce, nerve pinch, THEN get the weapon.

And the final climax was stupid too. Free Archer and go shoot them all. Why would you go into the fake "vault" and hide behind the door? That's your master plan? Really?

It angers me every time I think about this episode.
Triskelion - Thu, Jun 25, 2009 - 11:33am (USA Central)
Perhaps Archer thought leaving them in the tender mercies of Krem would be punishment enough.

But hey, there was actually a Ferengi whip-weapon, something we saw once in TNG and never saw again. That was a nicely composed shot.

But it should be mentioned that it was established in TNG that no one had ever seen a Ferengi before. Pity they turned out to be comic relief written by non-comics. Maybe they need more oboe to let us know when the real fun begins.

They are caricatures at best. Nice to see Combs & Phillips though.
Admirable Chrichton - Tue, Jan 12, 2010 - 11:04am (USA Central)
I think this excerpt from an interview with Brannon Braga on this dogs ass of an episode (I mean you'd think who in hell would even contemplate greenlighting a low grade comedy episode with one of the least popular races that brings up continuity trouble.) really sums up what went wrong with ENT/VOY better than almost anything I have ever seen written.

"I saw more shit being given about our using the Ferengi before it aired than after. You know people were saying "How can they show the Ferengi, when they haven't been encountered yet? They [the fans] don't think we do, but we consider all these things carefully. Sometimes the fans think they know more than we do, but in fact, how could they? This is 24/7 Trek here. It's all we do. We know these series very, very well, so continuity issues are scrutinised very carefully. We almost didn't do it [Acquisition] because it may not fit continuity, but we gave it a whirl anyway."

Let then eat cake eh Brannon.
dipads - Sat, Jan 16, 2010 - 6:56pm (USA Central)
Archer was so infuriated by the lack in security of his crew that he intentionally left out in the log books the encounter with the Ferengi. He would have been bashed by the Top Command. Therefore Starfleet never finds out. This restores continuity and allows the TNG crew the sad gratification of being the first humans to spot the Ferengi. IMHO.
Elliot Wilson - Tue, Feb 16, 2010 - 5:02pm (USA Central)

I literally SCREAMED in frustration at the end of this episode. I wanted to destroy my TV set for showing me such filth but of course it had done me no wrong, it was this abomination of an episode that had. And Brannon's comment? FUCK!!!! Is he being deliberately condescending? GOD-BUTTFUCK if they were GOING to do Ferengi they could have done it BETTER, even compared to DS9 standards. I think the writers secretly get a huge thrill out of Ferengi humor so they shove it upon us blindly hoping WE will get find it funny, and if we don't we will eventually get it, but if not then tough shit. This piece of crap deserves NO STARS.
Marco P. - Wed, Sep 22, 2010 - 5:42am (USA Central)
"Lame and pointless" indeed. Nuff said.
Firestone - Tue, Mar 15, 2011 - 6:16am (USA Central)
I agree with all above.
At almost any time, Tucker or T'pol could've walked into their ship and get some weapons. Or they could've overpowered that one Ferengi, acquiring his weapon and it would've made a 3 vs 3 situation. Or, Tucker should've been less stupid and use the "cure" to wake up the doc, who could've created more "cure".
Numerous options without the use of technobabble that could've fixed the situation.
Cloudane - Sun, May 1, 2011 - 6:30pm (USA Central)
Yawwwwwwwwwn

Incredibly dull, especially the first like half hour (or so it felt) when they're verrrry sloooowly wandering around talking in Ferengi. At least make the "silent" bits interesting or funny? (Oh he liked the desserts and stole 2. Hilarious.)

It did have 3 moments of merit:

- Early on, T'Pol makes a joke and you can just see a slight smile before the camera pans away. A nice hint at continuity regarding what happened and some of what was said about her living with humans a couple of episodes back.

- Combs was great, managing to be another Ferengi without having any hint of Brunt (or his other characters) at all. I *might* not have even realised it was him if I hadn't seen his name in the guest star credits. (Can't say the same for Phillips I'm afraid - I noticed him within 0.000001 seconds of him appearing on the camera, in the teaser, before any names came up)

- I did get a kick out of them interrogating Porthos.

That was it. Those were its 3 redeeming features, and not enough to make this anything other than garbage.

To be fair I don't think the crew ever learned that they were called Ferengi so there wouldn't be anything in Starfleet's history books that people would notice unless they were specifically looking for the commerce-loving big-eared description. That's about as fair as I'm going to get though.

I get the impression the actors and writers absolutely loved the Ferengi stuff and found it great fun to do. Good for them, but can't they do it in private? It's awful to watch.
Tamerlane - Tue, Sep 27, 2011 - 9:09pm (USA Central)
Dearie me.

Surely there must be one Good Ferengi Episode out there - what a pity this ain't it.

@ Cloudane: Yes, the bit with Porthos made me smile, too. He should have been the breakout character of this series. Imagine: "Star Trek: Porthos"...
Yuber - Mon, Nov 7, 2011 - 4:10am (USA Central)
I'm going to pretend this episode never happened.
Michael - Fri, Nov 11, 2011 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
Oh, boy... The Ferengi douches disable the entire Voyager crew remotely by stealth!?

More-or-less funny remark (the ONLY more-or-less funny remark): "Everybody knows you'd steal wax out of your mother's ears!" Oh yeah, and Porthos: "It's a lower life-form, you fool; probably the captain's next meal."

Not amusing, not smart, not thought-provoking, not poignant, not dramatic... - absolutely NOTHING you'd expect from a semi-decent T.V. program, never mind a Star Trek show.

I cannot believe this is the same Star Trek (T.N.G.) I grew up with and skipped classes for. Even Kirk and the idiotic T.O.S. are like Schindler's List compared to this garbage.

I foolishly downloaded the entire four seasons of Enterprise and used up half my monthly traffic quota for its 20GB. The episodes so far have been underwhelming, to say the least, and the past couple have been utterly atrocious.

Braga said above, inter alia: "I saw more shit being given about our using the Ferengi before it aired than after." That, Braga, could be because after this episode most people just stopped giving a shit, realizing it was all a lost cause.

I'll give the show one more chance, for old times' sake, but if it gets no better, I'm erasing the whole thing off my hard disk and never having anything to do with Star Trek ever again.
Nathan - Fri, Nov 18, 2011 - 12:39am (USA Central)
Seems that Michael gave up. Good riddance :)
Michael - Sun, Nov 20, 2011 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
@Nathan:
You wish, buddy! I just discovered--thanks to Jammer--Battlestar Galactica, and have been smitten since episode 1. I gobble up 3-5 episodes per day.

You know how we exult when after a streak of a dozen lousy show comes an episode of Star Trek that's really something? Well, imagine a show where almost EVERY episode has you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Star Trek went seriously downhill sometime during Voyager (possible even DS9; never saw it) and is beyond redemption.

I WILL likely revert to Star Trek: Enterprise once I'm done with B.S.G. but I've a feeling it'll be only going through the motions: Watching it just to check it off my list. Archer & co. were bad enough with reference to Voyager; as compared to B.S.G. they are abysmally horrid.
Scott from Detroit - Sat, Jul 7, 2012 - 8:41pm (USA Central)
Jamahl, I disagree with you on this episode. I rather enjoyed it.

However, your review is so hilarious and true. The episode was hokey and predictable, but still entertaining to me.

I do certainly agree with you that the Ferengi episodes in DS9 were painful after a while!
Captain Jim - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 9:07pm (USA Central)
I know that a lot of people hated the Ferengi episodes on DS9. I rather liked them, as a lighter change of pace. Not this, though. This was terrible. Not even Ethan Philips and Jeffrey Combs could save this. The silent part at the beginning, in particular, dragged unmercifully. Definitely the worst Enterprise to date, and the only one IMO that was really painful to watch.
duhknees - Fri, Aug 10, 2012 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
Episodes like this are best watched while you're doing something else. I reconciled a bank statement. They are interesting only in watching how well the actors rise above their latex.
John (the younger) - Tue, Nov 27, 2012 - 8:42am (USA Central)
Jammer, I see nothing in your review to warrant 1.5 stars.

If I hadn't seen the score I would have guessed you'd given this zero to one.

Which, incidentally, is what I'd give it.
Sintek - Wed, May 22, 2013 - 10:23am (USA Central)
Fun fact: Clint Howard didn't need to wear makeup for this episode.
Moonie - Thu, Nov 7, 2013 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
After reading this review, I braced myself for a terrible episode. I already watched TNG's "The Loss" today, so I thought this would be another episode I'd just have to get behind me. However like Scott from Detroit, I quite enjoyed it. The Ferengi weren't as annoying as the Ferengi in TNG (haven't watched DS9 yet), Tucker in his cute underwear was a pleasure to watch, and the whole thing was entertaining. Not great, not spectacular, but certainly not as bad as I had expected. The least annoying Ferengi episode I have seen so far.
Andy's Friend - Sun, Nov 10, 2013 - 9:46am (USA Central)
I believe people are missing the point with this episode.

Try watching it with a kid.

Try watching it with your Trek-loving son or daughter. Chances are you'll see a big grin on his or her face during this episode - as opposed to a thoughtful look during, say, "I, Borg". Yes, it's silly. It's supposed to be.

Just like Jammer and Michael, I remember watching TNG back in the late 80's as a teenager. Chances are, many of us here did. Some went on to DS9. Some also watched VOY. And finally ENT.

Later, I watched all episodes of TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT on DVD with an 8-14 year old and his mother back in 2004-2010. Great times. And the truly great episodes are impossible to miss - stuff like "The Measure of a Man" or "Far Beyond the Stars". Even a kid that age can see that.

Then we have the great action and/or hard sci-fi episodes, stuff like "11001001", "Cause and Effect", "Yesterday's Enterprise", or the amazing "The Best of Both Worlds", just to mention TNG.

Then we have some adequate to outright uninspired, mediocre episodes. And finally we have episodes such as this one. I could easily live without it. But I still clearly remember the fun I had with the kid while watching it - mostly making fun of what we were seeing, as we were probably meant to.

I would possibly have thought differently of this episode had I watched it alone, instead of in the company of a child. But I didn't, and that's the point. Many of us who saw TNG when it originally aired have kids today (congratulations, Jammer :-). And many who saw the various series when they aired ten or twenty years ago probably had children also. I guess that's why, every now and then, they would make episodes such as this one. Which is perfectly fine with me. Ten years from now, the kid will say: "Oh, yes, I remember that silly episode!" and remember it with a smile. And for that reason, so will I. "Qpid" comes to mind as another silly episode he enjoyed. Shouldn't he and others like him be allowed to, in between "The Inner Light" and "In The Pale Moonlight"? The rest of us still have many hours of great Trek to be thankful for...


Chris - Tue, Jul 22, 2014 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
As much as I detest pretty much ALL Ferengi episodes, and the writing talents of Berman and Berman Jr, I actually found this to be the least offensive of the Ferengi stories. Just based on reading the first few lines of Jammer's review prior to viewing, I was expecting spmething much, much worse that this.

Combs did his usual admirable job at making the character his own and playing it convincingly, seeing 'Balok' return to Trek was a nice touch, and I thought Bakula channeled a bit of Kirk when trying to convince Krem to help him.

Really, it wasn't THAT bad .... As Ferengi episodes go. At least not one character uttered the word "moogie". God, how I hated that shit.
Yanks - Wed, Jul 23, 2014 - 6:35am (USA Central)
So, "Ferengi on DS9 = funny" and "Ferengi on ENT = Lame and pointless"

I didn't want to see this on Enterprise either, but it's not a "bad" episode.

Combs brings his magic to the screen and there is some good comedy.

Hell, the gals are happy.... they get to see Trip running around in his space undies.

Clint Howard was fine and Eathan Phillips got to play a Ferengi again.

Just a fun episode. I thought all the characters were well played.

2.5 stars for me.

Christoph - Thu, Oct 23, 2014 - 8:53am (USA Central)
Maybe you are right, OR perhaps you are not. Because of you guys complaining about Enterprise all the time since it's first aired, we trekkies got J.J. A-hole's new Star Trek movies which are totally BS. Thanks for nothing but senseless complains. Now Hollywood is even dumber.

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