Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Carbon Creek"

*1/2

Air date: 9/25/2002
Teleplay by Chris Black
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Dan O'Shannon
Directed by James Contner

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I've been filling out your annual crew evaluation. Just a formality."
"I understand. The High Command has requested my evaluation of you. Just a formality."

— Archer and T'Pol

Note: This episode was rerated from 2 to 1.5 stars when the season recap was written.

In brief: An acting-dependent outing that simply doesn't have the acting it needs.

"Carbon Creek" is one of the quietest episodes in a very long time, which makes for a good change of pace after the action-laden "Shockwave, Part II." It's unfortunate, then, that the episode is such a quietly unfolding road to nowhere. Here's an episode so muted it seems dead.

Episodes like this should be affecting. This one feels more like a meditation upon episodes that are affecting. It's a pretender, an imitation — good intentions not supported by adequate content or performances. The problem is not that it's bad. The problem is that it doesn't have enough in it that's actually good.

The episode is perhaps the series' biggest test yet for Jolene Blalock, and I'm sorry to say that it fully reveals her limitations. She is simply not engaging here — as either of the two characters she plays — and the episode suffers as a result. My most fundamental reaction to "Carbon Creek" is to wonder why Blalock constantly comes across as a bland vessel of robotic Vulcan dialog. There's something wrong when you want to reach into the TV, shake the actress, and shout, "Just speak UP, for crying out loud!" If Blalock spoke any softer, and with any less variation in expression, her dialog would be completely inaudible.

The writers on Voyager would avoid putting Tuvok and Seven of Nine in dialog scenes together because, the writers said, their similar dispassionate style of speech made scenes stall dramatically. There were so few Tuvok/Seven scenes that I would say this was a theory (albeit a rational one) more than an actual fact supported by evidence. Imagine that theory as a truth here, with many scenes comprised solely of two, and sometimes three, Vulcan characters locked in dialog scenes, betraying as close to no emotion as possible. Just cool detachment and prefab opinions. My own theory is that you can watch only so much cool detachment before you start squirming with impatience — and beating yourself over the skull with frying pans to be sure you are still alive — but that's just me.

Blalock plays her part so relentlessly one-note that I longed for anything that would break through the cool detachment. I don't have a problem with Vulcan dispassion per se (though I still maintain that complete dispassion in performance is an unnecessary approach to Vulcans); what I have a problem with is dispassion portrayed in a way that allows for no audience reaction.

Underneath the performances is a story whose main goal is to be a lightweight, pleasant diversion about events long since passed into the realm of legend. The story concept reminded me a lot of Voyager's "11:59," in which Janeway told her crew a story about the turning point for one of her ancestors in the final days of the year 2000. In the case of "Carbon Creek," T'Pol tells Archer and Trip a story about the "real" unintended first contact between the Vulcans and humanity, in 1957 in the Podunk mining town of Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania.

T'Pol's great-grandmother T'Mir (Blalock) was part of a crew of four on a small ship observing the launch of Soviet satellite Sputnik. There was an accident, and the ship crashed in the woods a few kilometers from Carbon Creek. The captain was killed, leaving T'Mir in command of crewmates Mestral (J. Paul Boehmer, who was very good as the title character in Voyager's "Drone") and Stron (Michael Krawic). The story says these characters are forced to go to Carbon Creek so they don't starve to death, but the actors don't play it as if they're the least bit affected by having gone days without food. There's also not an iota of concern that some human out hiking or hunting might happen to come across, say, a crashed alien spaceship in the woods. (Was the ship salvaged at the end of the episode? Destroyed? The story is unconcerned.)

T'Mir is a T'Pol clone that for all purposes might as well be T'Pol, which perhaps hints at Blalock's limits; in Voyager's "Life Line" Robert Picardo played two distinct roles that were believable as two different characters, despite their similarities.

The show is slow to move ahead and instead opts for the slice-of-life approach, including a scene where the script apparently said, "Vulcan plays a game of pool," and was intent on actually seeing this scene drawn out into a highlight montage, as if we cared who won the game. If I wanted to see billiards, I'd watch Jeanette Lee compete on ESPN2. Jeanette Lee is a billiards player of extreme, impressive skill. Plus, she's freaking hot.

Anyway. The problem here is that the episode does nothing at all new or fascinating and is content to fall back on cliche, most especially with the whole "Vulcans are fish out of water trying to blend in" (a scene where T'Mir puts a dress on backwards is just plain dumb) and the "Vulcans among humans begin to learn what humans are about." The latter theme — admittedly palatable despite the lack of depth — is largely filtered through Mestral, who finds he really wants to learn about human society, although I might point out that Podunk Creek, Pennsylvania, is probably not representative of the world.

There's a subplot involving a single mom (Ann Cusack) and her son (Hank Harris), who is smart but might not have enough money to go to college. There are even hints of romance between Mom and Mestral. But this subplot is half-baked at best and we really don't get a feel for these characters as individuals. They're more like obvious local flavor based on archetypes.

There's a big decision the Vulcans must make when there's a cave-in down at the mine. Several local miners will perish if a way can't be found to move tons of rock. Mestral wants to use a phaser to vaporize the rock, but T'Pol — I'm sorry — T'Mir recognizes that as blatantly interfering in human society. And what happens if the humans see the technology and the Vulcans are discovered? It's a legitimate dilemma but, let's face it, hardly given any weight. The story's point is ultimately about Mestral and his obsession to study humanity to the point of wanting to live among us. He even stays behind when the Vulcan rescue ship arrives, leaving his fate up to us to ponder. Vulcans Among Us is, no doubt, how special TV programs like Alien Autopsy became possible in the mid-1990s on the Fox network.

The episode contains a line of dialog that made me laugh out loud ("It might be tolerable if her son didn't insist on calling me 'Moe.'"). It also contains an awful line that made me cringe ("I need to go now; I Love Lucy is on tonight."). The story's big quirky comic notion is that the Vulcans helped us invent ... Velcro. How cute. (Note: "How cute" should be read with the inflection of mildly snide venom along with the image of rolling eyes, and concurrent commentary consisting of "Oh, geez.") The Velcro thing comes across exactly as one of those Bright Ideas that the writers were certainly convinced would be Fun. It seems just a little too calculated to me.

I also wonder — just a little bit — if this all tracks with what we know of T'Pol. One would think that if T'Pol had this great-grandmother who passed down this tale of contact with humans, T'Pol might've been more interested in human culture from the outset. Come to think of it, maybe this does track with T'Pol's recent support for Archer and the Enterprise's mission, but it's an odd detail that seems like it would be more defining for the character than it actually is.

But I'm rambling. "Carbon Creek" is the sort of lightweight story that wouldn't be "riveting" even in the best-case scenario. It could've come across as quietly engaging, however, had it contained engaging performances. Unfortunately, it does not, so it's a bit of a bore and I find myself reduced to taking potshots at it for entertainment value. I didn't find this episode the least bit offensive, but when I spend an hour watching Trek and the only emotion I feel is indifference (is indifference an emotion, and perhaps the only emotion Vulcans express?), that's not what I call an episode getting the job done.

Next week: The Enterprise gets blowed up real good!

Previous episode: Shockwave, Part II
Next episode: Minefield

Season Index

49 comments on this review

David - Sat, Jul 18, 2009 - 12:11am (USA Central)
Easily one of the five best episodes of Enterprise. A wonderful story, a nice splash of humor that is actually funny, and one of Blalock's most nuanced performances on the show. I am shocked by your review.
def - Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - 10:36am (USA Central)
I've been rewatching the series this year, and checking your site afterwards (thanks!)

I liked this episode too. It's memorable, and develops the character of the Vulcans. It was 3 stars IMO. I thought the "I Love Lucy" line was well done and appropriate.

I generally agree with your reviews though.
AndrooUK - Wed, Jan 20, 2010 - 9:28pm (USA Central)
I loved this episode. The Vulcans are very interesting characters in my opinion, and as such, I enjoy getting to know the Vulcans better. I like their totally dispassionate attitude to most things, and found it believable that a Vulcan who had been brought up in a logical world would be fascinated by things we would find inane (eg. television, and the local single mother).

Jolene Blalock could be said to be performing excellently, if you assume that she is actually portraying a Vulcan. Why would T'Mir have to speak up if at that point the Vulcans have had little contact with other species, and even under extreme pressure, they would still speak calmly and rationally?

I am however biased to the calm episodes of Star Trek, where it is a normal day, filled with the utopian ideals of mutual cooperation and understanding. The explosions and violence are to me an ancillary part of the Star Trek experience. I can see how this episode may seem boring and pointless to an audience that may prefer things to be faster and louder.

As for the hook and loop 'invention', I enjoyed the character transformation, showing how Vulcans do not always follow the 'greater good'.

As an aside, when do humans stop being morons in the Star Trek universe? I'm sure Commander Charles Tucker XII, or however many unimaginative families he is down the line, has a jug in his quarters with three crosses printed on it.
dlabtot - Thu, Jun 17, 2010 - 12:15am (USA Central)
Wow I'm astounded at your review. A really fun episode, despite some rough edges. Yes, actors portraying Vulcans rightly do not betray much emotion.

The Velcro thing though - everyone knows Velcro was invented by George de Mestral after seeing the burrs on his dog after a hike. That part was pretty lame.
Chris - Wed, Sep 1, 2010 - 4:36am (USA Central)
I too thought this episode just fine. T'Pol has Trip and Archer on a string with her storytelling.

The vulcans were nicely differentiated - Mestral was keen to interact with the locals, perhaps more than was wise, T'Mir was initially cautious but eventually came round to the idea of helping them, and Stron wanted nothing more than to leave throughout.

The only discordant note for me was that Mestral did not appear to find the smell of humans disgusting, as Vulcans are supposed to. Perhaps he had a bad cold.
Josh - Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - 9:49am (USA Central)
It's nice to see I'm not the only one that thinks this way.

You know, this is easily one of the best episodes of Enterprise. It seems to me, by reading the review, that it appears that you are just looking for something to tear it down. ANd since you said that yourself... ;-)

In the end, T'Pol says: "You asked me to tell a story." That's what this story was, and brilliantly told.
RussS - Mon, Nov 8, 2010 - 4:46am (USA Central)
I liked this show.

It linked vulcans, humans, and the audience. We all know what I Love Lucy was. To me this episode echoed the TOS 'City on the Edge of Forever.'

Star trek was never about the future. It is about our present, how we got here, and where we could potentially go.
Marco P. - Thu, Nov 18, 2010 - 4:05am (USA Central)
This episode left me very indifferent.

I never actually thought to put the blame on the concurrent presence of three Vulcans on screen, but I admit your comparison to Voyager's Tuvok/Seven of Nine scenes rings true. The problem isn't that the Vulcan-Vulcan interactions are bland (they are), but rather that there's nothing interesting happening to these characters.

• "The problem is not that it's bad. The problem is that it doesn't have enough in it that's actually good."
• "half-baked"
• "quietly unfolding road to nowhere"

A lot of comments which could easily be applied to the entire ST Enterprise series. "I Love Lucy"? Ugh.
cc - Fri, Dec 10, 2010 - 4:56pm (USA Central)
I really liked this episode, but then I also have a penchant for Vulcans.

If 11:59 (which was much more bland than this in my opinion) got three stars, this deserves four stars.
JohnG - Tue, Feb 1, 2011 - 9:19pm (USA Central)
I liked this episode a lot. I enjoyed the low key humor. I thought the choice of velcro as the technology sold to pay the tuition was brilliant. It was an invention that an investor could immediately recognize as valuable, yet so harmless and low tech that it wouldn't contaminate human culture. Very logical.
Jonathan - Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - 3:05am (USA Central)
I'm glad that I read other user comments before taking Jammer's star reviews at face value. I found this episode to be one of the more delightful and interesting stories so far. Sure, it isn't really related to their voyage, and that may make some think this is a waste of time with a kind of gimmicky scenario with nothing happening.

However, I found Jolene Blalock's acting to nicely portray "Vulcan compassion", kind of like what T'pol's own current personality is like. Furthermore, I really liked the idea of 3 vulcans adapting to the 1950s.
Cloudane - Fri, Jul 1, 2011 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
I feel so trolled ~_~;; Oh wait, I saw the "you asked me to tell you a STORY" coming uh..... pretty much from the beginning. (That and I'm sure I've heard the "it's simple geometry" line before makes me think perhaps I've seen it before)

And thank goodness it was, otherwise it was all sorts of weird and really quite an annoying shake-up of our history.

Obviously it does have that moment right at the end, but I don't really read much into it... there could be any reason she has the handbag thing.

Far from exciting, and not quite what I had in mind with T'Pol's apparent development of humour and emotion, but entertaining enough. 2 stars works for me, 1.5 is maybe a little harsh but not by much!

Could've sworn I'd seen that Mestral before in roles other than the ones listed on Memory Alpha... obviously not... I'm not sure who, maybe he reminded me of that engineer off Voyager.
Max Udargo - Wed, Aug 17, 2011 - 12:18am (USA Central)
I'm surprised by the amount of love this episode is getting in the comments here. I also read somewhere that the episode was nominated for an award.

Really? This episode?

"Half-baked" sums it up well. In fact, it's like an episode of Mork & Mindy heavily diluted by an episode of The Waltons. It takes a stab at every joke you'd find on the former, but quickly snuffs out any maniacal joy that might result by wrapping the jokes in quilted layers of folksy nostalgia from the latter.

This story never follows through with anything. It dabbles in everything while committing to nothing.

I felt like I was watching a summarized version of a story I was expected to know already, a kind of recap. "Then the Vulcan falls for the human and yadda yadda... then the bookish lad discovers the Vulcans have surprising knowledge of math and astronomy and yadda yadda... then the Vulcan engineer with advanced skills in space-flight technology gets a job as a plumber and yadda yadda... then the intellectual Vulcan becomes obsessed with TV pablum and yadda yadda..."

It was like I was supposed to fill in most of the story myself. Which I'm thinking suggests it wasn't all that original a story.
Tinker - Tue, Aug 23, 2011 - 8:13am (USA Central)
I think one thing for this episode must be noted: the soundtrack. It makes the episode a lot more pleasant for a light-weight throwaway with its banjo and guitar versions of the common Star Trek themes. It's what makes this episode 2.5 stars for me.
SouthofReality - Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - 1:49pm (USA Central)
I have to disagree (along with others) about your review. I found this a nice, quiet, charming episode. I would give it a solid 3 stars.
chris - Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - 12:24pm (USA Central)
I just finished this episode on NETFLIX since they have all the ST series on demand. Seriously the best thing Netflix has ever done. Well anyways it was such a good episode i can't believe others dont like it. I'd hate to admit but this was probably one of the best episodes so far in ST:ENT. Well i'm gonna finish a few more episodes. I will comment as i go.
yuber - Mon, Nov 7, 2011 - 4:06am (USA Central)
I also am watching this on netflix and I was shocked to see the review here. I thought this was easily one of the best episodes not having to do with the story arch. I was engaged the whole time and loved the dynamic of Vulcan's blending into human society and I found fascinating their
low-key use of technology in their Earth jobs and when Mestral said he was going back to the ship to get a waveform discriminator to enhance the reception of I love Lucy, it got a huge laugh from me.
Steve - Wed, Feb 8, 2012 - 12:52am (USA Central)
I also disagree. I thought it was a good light hearted episode with a few laughs to be had. 3 stars imo.
Captain Jim - Thu, Jul 26, 2012 - 9:44pm (USA Central)
I'm heartened to see the many positive comments, because this has always been a favorite episode of mine, one that has long stood out in my mind (in a good way) when I've totally forgotten so many others. I just watched it again for the first time in years and it has lost none of its charm. Three stars.
Vylora - Wed, Aug 1, 2012 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
I had never seen this episode before until last night so it was all new for me. Keeping that in mind to not let it affect my take on it I do agree it does nothing new for the show or its characters. However I did find it rather entertaining and quite amusing at times. Maybe having it so close to the beginning of the season was not the best choice but then maybe a pleasant diversion such as this after the spectacle that was Shockwave II was what was needed, I don't know.

Quite a few things I would like to comment on have already been commented on by others so I will just say three stars from me.
J. Naquin - Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 3:20am (USA Central)
Well, at least we know who has a type-A personality.
J. Naquin - Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 3:25am (USA Central)
What,violence against the native Americans did not suffice; too short,neither Klingon nor Vulcan?
Zane314 - Sat, Sep 1, 2012 - 4:20pm (USA Central)
Warning: I barely watched any of this episode so this is a meta-comment on Jammer's review only.

I can't agree with this more so I'll simply go with "I agree 100%":

Jammer said:
"... I'm sorry to say that it fully reveals [Jolene Blalock's] limitations. She is simply not engaging here — as either of the two characters she plays — and the episode suffers as a result."

"... Blalock constantly comes across as a bland vessel of robotic Vulcan dialog. There's something wrong when you want to reach into the TV, shake the actress, and shout, "Just speak UP, for crying out loud!" If Blalock spoke any softer, and with any less variation in expression, her dialog would be completely inaudible."

"Blalock plays her part so relentlessly one-note that I longed for anything that would break through the cool detachment."

For me, this perfectly describes the issue with Blalock as T'Pol. Maybe it's the writing, maybe the director is constantly saying "more wooden, speak quieter, make your face more emotionless!" I don't know.

But what I see on the screen is a manikin (at best) mouthing lines. Spock (TOS and 2009) and Tuvok brought character to their supposedly emotionless roles unlike Blalock's T'Pol. The same can be said for the many guest star Vulcans. But she comes across so wooden and monotonic it makes me think she's a robot. Actually Data was a robot and he had way more color than T'Pol even without the emotion chip. I wonder if B&B casting an attractive actress with more acting range would have energized not just the T'Pol character but the Archer-Trip-T'Pol "big three" trio that the show features. Kirk/Spock/McCoy and Picard/Riker/Data were strong big threes - they blew it with ENT and Blalock.

So in summary, I barely watched any of this episode but as a review of T'Pol I completely agree with Jammer's comments.
Peremensoe - Tue, Sep 4, 2012 - 11:22am (USA Central)
Without Lucy we would have no Trek!

Besides being a harmless joke in an episode that's meant to be fun, the "Lucy" reference was a nod to Lucille Ball's critical role, as chief executive of Desilu Studios, in approving and supporting the original Star Trek.
Elphaba - Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 1:41pm (USA Central)
I honestly think Blalock can act. She's done well in numerous other episodes where she wasn't completely restricted to wooden acting. I'd say it's the writers' and director's fault for this. The writers seem to do a good job destroying the rest of the show. Her performances are to wooden to be believable for sure. Vulcans are not robots, they have interesting character dynamics that make them real people. B & B just don't seem to understand them. One would think they've never seen any Star Trek.
David - Sun, Sep 30, 2012 - 6:11pm (USA Central)
Mine was the first comment on this review back in 2009. I re-watched it again last night, and I liked the episode even more, and am still baffled by Jammer's dismissal. It was nominated for a Hugo Award, so apparently there are others who also thought it was wonderful. And for those who keep saying Blalock was wooden in her performance...um, she's playing a Vulcan. That severely limits the extent to which she can use facial expression or vocal inflection to build a performance. Nimoy had more leeway because Spock was only half-Vulcan and at the time the Star Trek rules were still being written. I find T'Pol a far more interesting character than Tuvok.
Tiarfe - Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - 7:53pm (USA Central)
Don't Vulcans have a weird tint to their skin? I remember episodes where Spock had to explain his complexion to humans. So why didn't anyone notice these Vulcans looked a bit odd?

So many discrepancies in this series.
Jeff Bedard - Mon, Oct 22, 2012 - 4:40pm (USA Central)
The only comment I'll make regarding "Carbon Creek" is that with the ending shot of the episode the writers seem to deliberately shoot STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT in the foot. If the episode ended on a note of mystery I would have liked it better. But now the episode ends completely revoking what made FIRST CONTACT so special and key to the TREK mythos.
Rosario - Sat, Nov 10, 2012 - 5:44pm (USA Central)
Nimoy didn't have more leeway because Spock was supposed to be half-human. Because he was half-human, Spock's control was even more rigidly enforced - he was always seeking the next level of mastery of the self. Just because a vulcan has no emotion does not mean that he can't change his expression, or that she can't change the tone of her voice. Nimoy had a face built to be twisted about - Spock's brows were always twitching, his lips bowing as he mulled over new data. Neither Spock nor Tuvok's voices were flat in pitch. And they blinked like normal people. T'Pol blinks maybe once per scene and it's always a slow lizard-like blink. It's creepy!

I say Enterprise Vulcans are not Vulcans. Any episode featuring this strange fascimile of Vulcans is an automatic flop from me.
Yanks - Wed, Dec 5, 2012 - 11:25am (USA Central)
Time to clear the air here regarding Velcro.

The first Velcro was completely made from cotton when Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, patented the zipperless zipper 1955. The problem was the cotton hooks quickly stopped doing what Velcro does as they quickly wore out. It wasn't until shortly after Velcro was patented de Mestral discovered that nylon worked much better than cotton (circa 1958) because it didn't wear out nearly as fast with use.

What was presented in Carbon Creek was perfect because Earth science already had nylon (invented in 1935). All T'Mir possibly did was present an improvement on Velcro using that nylon which would have been very valuable. Because of the timing, T'Mir would have made only the smallest influence on Earth science/progress.

A friend of mine did this research, so there should be no more heartache with regard to Menstral and velcro in Carbon Creek.

If more folks educated themselves as opposed to just spewing self promoting vitriol, there would be lots less hatred towards episodes like Carbon Creek and Enterprise in general.
trekbuff - Wed, Dec 5, 2012 - 12:16pm (USA Central)
I am Yanks' partner in crime on the Velcro research. Not sure if the reviewer was simply having a bad day, but this was one of the plethora of holes and most curious opinions in the above review.

I watched WNMHGB at the age of 11 when it first aired and have watched every first run Trek episode since. No 'ears', but I am somewhat of a Trek buff.

Jolene Blalock was one of, if not the best actor of the series. I was often impressed by her subtlety of expression as she played the Vulcan persona. Her glance would speak volumes. Her timing of a slightly raised eyebrow, when used, was inspired. Her capture of the character was apparent from her first scene in "Broken Bow" - not even taking the three or four years Nimoy took to establish Spock. Could be Nimoy's 'Spock' was her inspiration.

T'Pol's interest in human culture should not be in question with someone who had a clue about the character, especially her emotional response to jazz.

At the conclusion of "Carbon Creek" I 'shouted,' "Now THAT'S Trek!" The handbag was an emotional touch of pure Trek gold. This Trek fan was most pleased. The episode is easily in my top ten from all of Trek productions.

As my friend alluded, the reviewer appeared to be going for self aggrandizement rather than showing an understanding of what most fans express as important to a good Trek story. There was, indeed, a total failure with the Velcro remarks.
trekbuff - Wed, Dec 5, 2012 - 12:23pm (USA Central)
This is an edit to my previous post:
My first Trek episode was, as aired, "The Man Trap." Excuse my error.
John the younger - Sun, Dec 9, 2012 - 9:39am (USA Central)
I'll back you on this review Jammer.

Although I personally felt the Vulcans were far too emotional for what their species is meant to be. Still, I take your point about having too many monotonous drones on screen at one time - hence they tried to spice it up by making 2 of them passive-aggressive and impatient and 1 of them compassionate.

Note: Can someone please explain why Vulcans openly lie on Enterprise? (Unless this is explained later in the series)
Ed - Sun, Feb 3, 2013 - 12:25am (USA Central)
The only way I've managed to get through this many episodes of Enterprise is knowing that I'd get to read Jammer's reviews afterwards, but this is the first time I've felt compelled to comment and respectfully disagree. Indeed, I, like many other commenters apparently, greatly enjoyed this episode - by far and away, the best output of the show to date.

My biggest beef with "Enterprise" to date is that so many of the crew are actually kind of stupid and/or are placed in stupid situations by the writers. This was the first episode where no one was downright idiotic. It was incredibly refreshing that people were just being normal to one another, trying their best to be helpful, and not going out of their way to antagonize someone just for the sake of plot machinations.

No other episode has engaged me as much as this one because for the first time, I didn't have to do a mental eye-roll at something on the screen (well, maybe with the exception of the handbag reveal at the end for being such a blunt instrument, but I was so surprisingly pleased already that I forgave that). For me, this was a lovely little story with likable characters and reasonable acting.
mark - Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 10:22am (USA Central)
Wow. First you absolutely loved the awful, pointless and flat "Two Days and Two Nights" and now you give the wonderfully entertaining "Carbon Creek" one and a half stars? I think you're way, way off here. The comments above me seem to bear this out--on this episode your opinion is in the minority.

(Although I am also a bit torn on Blalock's acting choices. Leonard Nimoy proved that it's possible for Vulcans to be more than automatons and Blalock doesn't quite seem to have found her stride yet. I don't think her performances are anywhere near as limited as you seem to think though. Her T'pol is just rather ascetic.)
Joe I - Thu, Apr 4, 2013 - 1:56pm (USA Central)
I came here because I had a problem with another ep. but the person giving the review doesn't seem to like ST:Ent at all. He seems to only want to be a critic of the show and the actors. "Carbon Creek" is a favorite ep. Love the "I love Lucy" reference and the Moe reference. I do not understand why ST:Ent wasn't liked.
Yanks - Thu, May 9, 2013 - 11:15am (USA Central)
Carbon Creek wasn't just a "filler" episode made to conserve money to make up for other more graphic intensive episodes, it had a purpose. This episode not only revealed some interesting unknown Star Trek history, but provided a needed back-story for the character T'Pol.

This is a wonderful, heartwarming story. At this point in the series, T'Pol continually takes abuse for being 'Vulcan' even though she has time and time again proved unwavering loyalty to her Captain, the mission and the crew of Enterprise. So why does she put up with this? Until this episode we really had no idea and didn't know much about her background at all.

While she doesn't reveal the 'truth' to Archer and Trip over dinner, she does indicate to us by revealing her "mother's mother's mother's" purse that the story she has told us is true. One can only imagine the impact her grandmother had on a young T'Pol, telling stories of her experiences with humans, etc. Now we can surmise why she volunteered to serve on Enterprise and moreover why she decided to remain aboard when she has had the opportunity to leave. T'Mir was an explorer that ended up gaining firsthand experience with humans while being stranded on Earth in 1957. Humans intrigued her and she passed that curiosity and interest on to her granddaughter.

We see how important education is to T'Mir and we see how she just can't fathom that a brilliant kid wouldn't be afforded an opportunity to receive a higher education. T'Mir's introduction of Velcro technology fit nicely into history as we know it. The first Velcro was completely made from cotton when Georges de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, patented the zipperless zipper 1955. The problem was the cotton hooks quickly stopped doing what Velcro does as they quickly wore out. Nylon had been around since 1935. It wasn't until shortly after Velcro was patented that Mestral discovered that nylon worked much better than cotton (circa 1958) because it didn't wear out nearly as fast with use. Seeing Maggie's expression as she found the money in the tip jar realizing her son could go to college was priceless.

Listening to baseball on the radio, bus rides, 'I Love Lucy', 'Moe', old vehicles, frozen fish sticks, family owned restaurants, the small coal-town atmosphere all added to the realness of this episode. The lighter tone during the encounters between humans and our Vulcans was fun.

It would have been nice for the series to revisit Mestral, but they did not. We can only assume he melded in nicely and contributed to human advancement where he could.

So this episode links Star Trek's future with humanities past and provides back-story for a main character that gives some justification for her continued interest in serving with humans on a star ship. All done with humor and knowledge of our real past that makes this occurrence as plausible as they come in trek.

Well done, Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Dan O'Shannon, well done. So the next time to see T'Pol unveil her Grandmother's purse, I hope you give this review a thought and I hope you might appreciate it a little more.

Lt. Yarko - Sat, May 18, 2013 - 1:25pm (USA Central)
I, too, liked this episode. But, I agree with Jammer that in the earlier episodes Blalock misinterpreted emotionlessness with being almost inaudible. I have to blame the producers for that as well. They should have corrected her. The other Vulcans spoke plenty loudly while still keeping the emotions low. It's easy to simply blame the actress, but a good actor still needs feedback from the producers. The ball was dropped by everyone on this one.

@Joe I: I believe most of the dislike of Enterprise comes from jadedness and unrealistic expectation. None of the ST productions have been perfect, yet most Trek fans generally rate the original episodes much higher than the rest of the series. I don't think this has anything to do with the original episodes being of any better quality. (All but a very few are really just about godawful.) For example, this review dings Blalock for not being dynamic enough, but nowhere in any of Jammer's reviews does he ding Nimoy for being too emotional when he shouldn't be. (Watch the Uhura singing scene in Charlie X to see Nimoy showing plenty of emotion, which bugs me every time I see it.) In my opinion, he is harder on Enterprise than he is on the original series, and I don't know why this is. The fact is that most Trek fans are biased toward the series they first watched and nothing else can possibly compare. Is Enterprise perfect? By no means. But it is still good Trek as far as I am concerned.

Aside: I have noticed a lot of complaint about this series from what I consider to be the extreme nerd end of the fan spectrum that there are terrible problems of continuity with the other series. Some people have claimed that this problem caused them to stop watching the show. Of course, people are free to dislike what they want to dislike, but I think that to not watch the show for this reason is silly. There have to be continuity problems! In the original series, Kirk wrote with a PEN for gods' sakes! This show would totally suck in a major way if Archer had to use pre-60s technology all the time. There is no way a Trek show made in the 2000s could possibly be successful if it truly tried to be a real prequel. It's too bad that people can't just enjoy the show for what it is - a loose interpretation of the earlier timeline. In this respect, I really like it. It's fun. To nitpick continuity seems really - Vulcan.
OldSchool - Fri, May 31, 2013 - 12:09pm (USA Central)
I like this episode. The "tall tale by the campfire" only in this case it's true.
However, in all fairness I am biased: I'm from Pennsylvania. So to see an episode set in a coal mining town from the 50's appealed to me greatly. There is no Carbon Creek, Pa, however at one point one of the Vulcans mentions going to Doylestown to see a baseball game. There is a Doylestown in Pennsylvania, but you couldn't really drive from a coal mining town in the Poconos and back in an afternoon to watch a ball game there.
Yanks - Mon, Jun 10, 2013 - 1:03pm (USA Central)
@ Lt. Yarko

Glad you enjoy Enterprise and agree with your "nerd" comment. I believe over time the series will "get its due".

As for Jolene's intial interpretation of T'Pol. All the Star Trek actors in all the series had to grow into their parts. Jolene is definitly not alone in that department.
Anadin Extra - Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 3:04am (USA Central)
In my humble opinion, this is a fine episode.

Plus the I Love Lucy comment could be seen as a direct nod to Desilu studios who made that show and TOS. And the Velcro bit seems to me to be a big reminder of the good Mr Bakula's wonderful last ever episode of Quantum Leap, where he tells those 50s bar people about his newly invented Velcro wallet.

I wonder if the two of the above were deliberate.
Markus - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 3:21am (USA Central)
A low point in my eyes. 1,5 stars mainly for the very good production values (sets, costumes, etc.). Dumb roles, dumb acting, postmodern references. And where was the humor hidden? I could not find any.

It is shocking how little they sometimes achieve despite such an apparently big budget at that time.
Markus - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 3:23am (USA Central)
And btw: Nobody ever found that Vulcan ship? Or did the other one pull it our there?
Mad - Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - 1:49am (USA Central)
I'm rather suprised how much love this episode gets. It's not horrible, but I can't get over some of the stupider stuff. That velcro scene was just plain insulting. And god, that other Vulcan was such a dick. He's not gonna eat a reindeer and rather risk contamination, but no problem not using their technology and letting people die to not risk contamination, even though he used that technology for minor problem?
Yanks - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 11:05am (USA Central)
Mad,

Read my posts above concerning Velcro.
T'Paul - Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - 10:31am (USA Central)
I'm also a fan of this episode.

Redeems the Vulcans somewhat and gives an interesting outsider's perspective on the fifties, and at least wasn't the usual trip back to the nineties!
Nancy - Mon, Sep 9, 2013 - 10:17pm (USA Central)
The 50s aspect was charming but frankly, about halfway through I found my attention wandering. It certainly wasn't because I'm unable to appreciate any show that isn't action-packed, but rather that it was all so obvious. As soon as the kid talked about pool I knew the Vulcan would win money that way; as soon as the Vulcan started socializing with the single mother I knew he would fall in love and stay. Now, of course, a show can be both predictable and entertaining; however, in my opinion, it was not exactly a compelling hour of television.
Jack - Sun, Nov 24, 2013 - 12:24pm (USA Central)
It wasn't exactly captivating, but I enjoyed it, and it was far more interesting than Voyager's similarly styled 11:59.
Filip - Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
I actually really liked this episode. It was quiet and calm, however brought Vulcans closer to the viewers. We see three different takes on humanity by the survivors of the crash, one of them again proving that Vulcans are a bit different than generaly percieved. It also had its comic elements which were in most part well executed. I'd give it solid three stars at least. The only thing bothering me with the episode was the ship that they just decided to leave for somebody to find. At least they could've mentioned taking care of it in some way at the end of the episode.

All in all, I enjoyed watching it and left me wanting just a bit more.

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