Paramount </i>
Brent Spiner, seen with Jolene Blalock, guest stars as Dr. Arik Soong.

Every time I'm ready to completely give up on "Star Trek: Enterprise," something — probably three-and-a-half decades of Trekker-ness — compels me to give it another chance.

I had high hopes for this show when it premiered. I watched every episode the first season and most of the second-season shows.

But, like "Voyager" before it, every time I thought the show had hit its stride, "Enterprise" stumbled. The occasional really good episode was preceded and followed by shows that were mediocre to downright bad.

I tried giving it another chance last season, but, quite frankly, lost track of it. It says something that someone who is as big a "Star Trek" geek as I am could often completely forget the show was even on.

But, ever the optimist (or masochist), I'm trying again this season. With mixed feelings.

Last May's season finale, which sent the Enterprise and its crew back to the 1940s, where time-traveling aliens were helping the Nazis take over the world, left me cold. To be honest, it seemed pretty stupid.

But the two-parter that opened this season got out of it well. Hey, seeing the damaged Enterprise dueling phase cannon-equipped Stukkas over 1940s New York made it all worthwhile. And, it appears, the convoluted time-travel storyline is at an end. Thank goodness.

But Episode 3, in which T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) and Trip (Connor Trinneer) went to Vulcan was, well, just OK. Sort of.

Now we've got a "Star Trek" Big Event on our hands. Friday at 7 p.m. on UPN/Ch. 24, Brent Spiner, who starred as the android Data in "Next Generation," begins a three-episode arc as Dr. Arik Soong, an ancestor of the man who built Data.

This Dr. Soong is not a nice guy. (And Spiner looks to be having a great time playing a villain.) He's spent the past 10 years in prison because of his work to manipulate genetics and improve the human race.

If that sounds familiar, Trekkers, it should. This story is based on the original series episode "Space Seed" (which originally aired in 1967) and the second movie, "The Wrath of Khan" (released in 1982). Which isn't necessarily a bad idea, given that those are two high points in the long history of "Star Trek."

Soong, it seems, stole some embryonic "Augments" — augmented humans who were responsible for the Eugenics Wars — and was raising them until he was captured and imprisoned. They survived, and they killed a Klingon crew and stole their ship. Which may result in war between Earth and the Klingons. (Even though it's a little hard to take the Augments altogether seriously, given their ripped clothing — which looks like something right out of Jennifer Beals' wardrobe in the 1983 movie "Flashdance.")

It's a good premise, and Friday's episode is pretty good, too. But we run into a couple of problems that have become part of the "Enterprise" legacy — rewriting the "history" we already know and the failure to live up to promises.

I'm not sure that's going to happen this time, but — given what's gone before — it's certainly a possibility.


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