Time has been kind to “Star Trek: Enterprise” (2001-2005)…

“Let’s go.”

The NX-01 leaves dry dock in the pilot episode “Broken Bow.”

In September of 2001 (that month that lives in infamy) a new Star Trek series debuted called “Enterprise”. It was also released minus the Star Trek brand name (at first…it was reinstated by Season 2). Produced by longtime Star Trek writer/producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, the series was a prequel to TOS Star Trek, taking place in the mid-22nd century (a little over 100 years before the time of Kirk and Spock). One of the show’s recurring ideas was a “temporal cold war” (involving rogue time travelers), but it seems that “Enterprise” (ENT) has fought its own war against time… and won.

Hoshi tries to interpret for a wounded Klingon in “Broken Bow.”

The series’ production design (by longtime ST production designer Herman Zimmerman) attempted to walk a line between looking less sophisticated than TOS Star Trek (cramped interiors, clunky technology, etc), yet convincingly futuristic enough as to not be laughable to modern audiences. It partly succeeded, though some detractors argue (not without merit) that the show’s overall aesthetic is far more futuristic than the pioneering 1960s parent series. In fact, the series’ ongoing “temporal cold war” (TCW) was perhaps initially conceived as a means to explain away certain visual discontinuities between the new series and later Star Trek incarnations. The TCW became the series’ “a wizard did it” card… a way of explaining why certain events didn’t seem to track with later Trek.

Lily Sloane (Alfre Woodard) and Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) in the 1996 movie, “Star Trek: First Contact.”
The movie sees the mid-21st century disrupted by the presence of the Borg…a contamination that may have unwittingly created the “Archerverse” of “Star Trek: Enterprise”. Cromwell later cameoed as a very elderly Cochrane in the Enterprise pilot, “Broken Bow.”

Continuity nits of ENT didn’t matter so much for me, since I saw ENT more as a sequel to 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact” than as a direct prequel to TOS. The movie “First Contact” saw Picard and the Enterprise-E crew going back in time to the 21st century to stop a Borg invasion. I’ve always assumed (?) that their incursion into the past somehow altered history just enough to (now) include an as-yet-unheard-of, pre-Federation starship also named Enterprise. The NX-01 is a ‘legendary’ starship we never saw or heard of prior to “First Contact” (it’s not even displayed on Picard’s wall of “little ships”, either). Without getting too much into it here, I have a link to my own detailed breakdown of how ENT and Discovery fit into the greater Star Trek timeline (The issue of Star Trek and its continuity). In short, ENT is not truly in line with TOS Star Trek; it’s part of the post-“First Contact” Archerverse, which through a series of detours, eventually dovetails with the classic series… well, more or less.

Core Characters.

On the bridge, left to right: Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery), T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), Trip Tucker (Connor Trinneer) and Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley).

At first, Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) comes off as a blustery “ugly American in Space”, but he definitely mellows over the by the end of the series, becoming less proto-Kirk and a bit more proto-Picard.

Captain Archer, wearing a very contemporary baseball cap, while inspecting the outer hull of the NX-01 before launch.

Archer’s initial bluster eventually smooths into compassion and open-mindedness. Archer has a beagle named Porthos and enjoys water polo.

Trip is a guest in T’Pol’s family home on Vulcan in S4’s “Home.”

The Captain’s new science officer is the Angelina Jolie-esque Vulcan T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), who is initially sent by the Vulcan High Command to keep on eye on the semi-savage human crew, but grows closer to them over time… particularly the chief engineer,

Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker III (Connor Trinneer) is the captain’s best friend. Engineer Trip is a likable cross between TOS Star Trek’s Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott. Trip and T’Pol’s initial friction with each other masks a latent attraction that manifests itself later on.

Another cast photo, taken in the engine room set… a set inspired by the cramped confines of a real-life nuclear submarine.

Other bridge crew members include linguistic genius/comm officer (and nervous flyer) Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), underused “space boomer” helmsman Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) and somewhat uptight tactical officer Lt. Malcom Reed (Brit actor Dominic Keating, who couldn’t be less like his character in real life).

Dr. Phlox’s creepy-as-hell smile from “Broken Bow”…

The crew are joined on their maiden voyage by non-commissioned chief medical officer Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley). Denobulan Phlox was practicing medicine on Earth as part of an alien-exchange program. Phlox is characterized by his jovial manner and open mind. He quickly became one of my early favorites.

Stumbling Into An Eventual Sprint.

The Enterprise’s shiny new hull is scratched during a routine pre-launch inspection.

ENT left spacedock with a few hard knocks; the prime of which was debuting the same month as the worst terrorist attack on US shores, 9/11. The show’s production team was hard-pressed to suddenly try to incorporate those horrific events into its storylines for relevance. The pilot episode, “Broken Bow”, was filmed months before 9/11 happened, yet its new series’ villains were already called the “Suliban” (a name meant to evoke the US’ own radical terrorist adversary in Afghanistan, the Taliban).

A shadowy ‘future man’ is consulted by a Suliban operative.
The Suliban were quasi-named after the real-life fundamentalist regime known as the Taliban.

Given the tragic circumstances of 9/11, the TCW soon evolved (or devolved) into a metaphor for radical jihadist terrorism (these days, there is a far greater threat of domestic terrorism, but that’s another subject). We later saw an entire third season of ENT that seemed to serve as a metaphor for the unpopular US invasion of Iraq, with the crew of the Enterprise NX-01 flying into “the expanse” (a dangerously distorted region of space) to find a Xindi “weapon of mass destruction.” The metaphor seemed ripped straight from the headlines, with the series seemingly supporting the US invasion of Iraq.

Season 3’s “Zero Hour” sees a desperate Archer doing anything he can to accomplish the destruction of the Xindi super-weapon. In the process, he winds up compromising many of his most sacred principles.

It was at this point that ENT kinda lost me. There was already a heavy sci-fi metaphor series dealing with post-9/11 anxieties called “Battlestar Galactica” (former ST writer/producer Ron Moore’s bold reimagination of the 1970s family show) and frankly, BSG was doing it much better. BSG dealt with the topics by turning them on their heads; getting audiences to see all sides of the conflict with the now jihadist Cylons, rather than relaxing into tired jingoism and chest-thumping. ENT seemed less empathetic with its Suliban and Xindi adversaries, with only perfunctory olive branches offered now and then. However, it got better. Much better, in fact. The 4th and final season of ENT became not only a best for the series, but arguably one of the best seasons in all of Star Trek.

With the Xindi war ended, the Enterprise’s sister ship Columbia (the NX-02) is finally launched.
In many ways, S4 was a relaunch of Star Trek’s lauded optimism as well…

ENT’s 4th season, under new showrunner Manny Coto (“Dexter”) ended the TCW in a two-part season opener and then rededicated itself to the show’s original mission statement… being a prequel to TOS Star Trek. 4th season ENT began connecting the dots between the seeming disparities of ENT’s 22nd century to the more benign, smooth-running universe we later see in ST’s 23rd and 24th centuries.

S4’s “Affliction” gives a clever reason for the existence of the ‘smooth-headed’ Klingons we saw in TOS Star Trek.

The 4th season used mini-arcs (two and three parters) to explain everything from 22nd century Vulcans’ shame of mind-melding to a lack of Klingon forehead ridges in the future of Captain Kirk. But the 4th season wasn’t merely about explaining discontinuities… it was wildly entertaining as well. The season saw the initial formation of what would eventually become the United Federation of Planets and the first stirrings of the upcoming Romulan War (later chronicled in three excellent ENT novels). We also saw visits from the Orions, the omnipotent Organians (from TOS’ “Errand of Mercy”) and even the grandfather of Commander Data’s creator, Dr. Noonian Soong (Brent Spiner, as Arik Soong, in a delightful 3-part appearance).

Season 4 of ENT was a veritable Star Trek smorgasbord.

Personal Favorites.

Season One.

The majestic launch of the NX-01 in “Broken Bow”; one of the better Star Trek pilots.

Season One of ENT kicks off with the ambitious pilot, “Broken Bow. In it, we see the launch of the United Earth starship Enterprise (the NX-01), which is tasked with taking an injured Klingon courier named “Klaang” (Tiny Lister of “The Fifth Element”) back to his homeworld. The journey is complicated when the shadowy, shape-shifting Suliban kidnap the giant Klingon for the nefarious aims of a ‘temporal cold war’ being waged from the far future.

An archived video from Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) is played during the launch of the NX-01.
The NX-01 is the culmination of a dream shared by both Cochrane and Archer’s late father Henry.

“Broken Bow” is among my personal favorites of the Star Trek pilots, and it is also the only one where we see an actual launch of a starship from Earth (in a scene that evokes the spectacular launch of the refurbished USS Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”). Each member of the cast is also given a nice introduction, and we get a good sense of their personalities.

Archer meets future ally “Shran” (memorably played by human chameleon Jeffrey Combs).

“The Andorian Incident” which introduced us to Jeffrey Combs’ hotheaded Andorian “Shran.” It also gave us much insight into the pre-reformation Vulcans of the 22nd century, who seemed very much capable of lying and practicing deceit (unlike their 23rd century descendants).

Hoshi sharpens up on her Denobulan with Dr. Phlox, who seeks the multilingual ensign’s advice in “Dear Doctor.”

“Dear Doctor” sees Dr. Phlox dealing with an unjustly subjugated sentient species, and gives us our first look at perhaps the reason why future starships have ‘the prime directive.’ An intriguing exploration of Phlox’s character.

Malcolm and Trip are trapped together on a ship that is slowly losing life-support in “Shuttlepod One.”

“Shuttlepod One” is an intimate, Apollo 13-like character study of Trip and Malcolm stranded together on a dying ship. They get on each other’s nerves, but their eventual rescue is quite heartfelt, despite Malcolm’s creepy flirtation with T’Pol in sickbay…which is comically rebuffed.

T’Pol is intrigued, and later invasively assaulted by fellow Vulcan (Enrique Merciano) in “Fusion”; an episode that would have deeper repercussions later on in the series.

“Fusion” is an examination of Vulcan emotional suppression, cultural taboos, and the brutal horrors of date-rape when the NX-01 encounters a shipful of Vulcan outcasts who secretly practice emotion and are considered deviants in Vulcan society. Trip has some nice scenes with a Vulcan engineer who is estranged from his father.

Season Two.

Season Two takes things a bit further, while still maintaining a standalone storytelling format. Personal favorites of mine in that second year include:

T’Pol’s ancestor “T’Mir” and fellow Vulcan crew-mate “Mestral” (memorably played by J. Paul Boehmer) find themselves stranded on 1950s Earth, where Mestral develops an affinity for “I Love Lucy”.

“Carbon Creek” is a fanciful tall tale told by T’Pol during dinner in the captain’s mess. She tells of an ancestor of hers who may (or may not) have landed on post-Sputnik 1950s Earth in Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania. Despite some whimsical comedy (much of it from guest star J. Paul Boehmer), the episode also has surprising heart, thanks to the addition of a “October Sky”-style subplot of a young boy who wants to leave his coal town and become an engineer. One of my favorites of the series.

Archer, T’Pol and Trip bring a damaged Enterprise to an eerie, automated alien repair station in “Dead Stop.”

“Dead Stop” sees a mine-damaged NX-01 stop at a sterile, fully automated repair station that promises to carry out all needed repairs…for a seemingly reasonable price; but all is not what it seems. Without spoiling it, this episode creeps me out. Wonderfully eerie direction by former “Star Trek: Voyager” star Roxann Dawson.

Trip breaches another culture’s taboos with tragic results in “Cogenitor.”

“Cogenitor” is a favorite largely because of the passionate debate it inspires. In a first contact gone awry, Trip befriends an a third gendered alien being who seems to exist only to aid in the reproduction of the two other genders. This being, called a cogenitor, has no rights and is treated like an unloved pet. Trip tries to do the ‘right thing’ but it doesn’t end well. Some may hate this episode because it paints the altruistic motives of Trip in a bad light, but I like it precisely because it is so fearless. No easy answers…

22nd century Arctic researchers find ’survivors’ of the Borg Sphere from the 1996 movie “First Contact” in S2’s “Regeneration.”

“Regeneration” is a somewhat divisive episode that introduces us to the Borg a good 200 hundreds before their ‘first’ appearance in TNG’s “Q Who.” In retrospect, it really doesn’t matter because this is the Archerverse; a separate timeline that was splintered off following the events of “Star Trek: First Contact” (see: top of article). While “Regeneration” is arguably a retcon, it also made the Borg truly scary again. For that feat alone, it gets a solid “A” from me.

Acher (right) and his rival AJ (Keith Carradine) try to prove they have the ‘right stuff’ to breach warp 3 and save Earth’s warp program from being mothballed in “First Flight.”

“First Flight” is a tale told largely in flashback by Captain Archer as he recalls his friendship and rivalry with recently deceased Starfleet test pilot, A.J. Robinson (Keith Carradine). Both Robinson and Archer were struggling to see Starfleet hit Warp 3 (eventually leading to the warp 5 starship, Enterprise). It’s “The Right Stuff” meets Star Trek. Some of the macho histrionics are a bit dull (and anachronistic), but it also tells the story of how Trip and Archer became friends.

Season 3.

The third season felt a bit more like “Battlestar Enterprise” than Star Trek. While it was thematically ambitious to have an entire season devoted to the crew entering a dangerous region to space to stop a Xindi super weapon from destroying Earth, the end result feels like a ugly justification for the US invasion of Iraq (a war I’ve never abided, then or now). I also cannot abide a Star Trek captain willfully committing torture on a sentient being. Despite my personal issues with this season, there were a few solid stories told within this Iraq/WMD analogy arc, such as:

An older Archer (with a really bad haircut) wakes up to find himself on Ceti Alpha V with T’Pol taking care of him in “Twilight.”

“Twilight” (not to be confused with the damned sparkling vampires) is an intriguing alternate reality story that sees a temporal weapon damage Archer’s memory, and he awakens to find himself older and living on Ceti Alpha V (the pre-disaster, future home of Khan in “The Wrath of Khan”). He is tended by T’Pol, who has taken care of him following the destruction of Earth to the Xindi super-weapon. Of course, the ending sets things right, but it’s still an interesting what-if.

A clone of Trip suffers an existential dilemma in “Similitude.”

“Similitude sees Trip near death. Given the engineer’s desperately skills on the mission, an ethically-challenged decision is made to clone Trip, thus harvesting the clone in order to save Trip’s life. The clone grows to adulthood in a short time (minus Trip’s southern accent, of course) and even shares the original’s infatuation with T’Pol. Nice ST-style study in medical ethics.

Archer is whisked away to the 26th century by the enigmatic “Crewman Daniels” (Matt Winston) in “Azati Prime.”

“Azati Prime sees Archer pulled out of his time into the 26th century by the enigmatic, time-traveling “Crewman Daniels” (Matt Winston, son of the late makeup legend Stan Winston), where he is allowed to see a future (aboard the Enterprise-J) that all might cease to exist should he make a fateful decision. One of the better temporal cold war stories.

Trip and T’Pol’s future son, Lorian (David Andrews) is captain of a possible Enterprise in “E-Squared.”

“E-Squared” is perhaps my favorite of the third season. In many ways it’s little more than a ship-bound remake of DS9’s “Children Of Time” but it still works. The crew encounters a future version of the NX-01, which has become a generational ship filled with children (!). The captain is a middle-aged, half-Vulcan son of Trip and T’Pol named Lorian (David Andrews), who is forced to practice a bit of deceit in order to safeguard his own future.

Season 4.

I sincerely wish that the 4th (sadly final) season of ENT had been the first, because this was the season where the show fulfilled its promise of being a prequel to TOS Star Trek. S4 is an embarrassment of riches, and is (in my opinion) one of the finest single seasons in all of Star Trek. The ‘mini-arcs’ structure of the 4th season means I’ll be counting two-parters and even trilogies as single stories:

Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) unleashes vicious 20th century “Augments” into the 22nd century in “Cold Station 12.”
Guest star Alec Newman plays the ruthlessly ambitious Malik.

“Borderland”/”Cold Station 12”/”The Augments” is a 3-parter that deals with leftover embryos from Earth’s ‘eugenics wars’ of the late 20th century (in Trek’s reality, not ours). Some of these embryos are stolen and raised into adulthood by a Dr. Arik Soong (Brent Spiner), an ancestor of 24th century’s Dr. Noonien Soong, the creator of the android Data. The overly aggressive and ambitious super-humans commandeer a Klingon vessel and nearly start a galactic war. A far more successful (and exciting) story than TOS’ own original (overhyped) Khan story, “Space Seed.” Solid guest performance by Alec Newman (“Dune” 2000).

T’Pol and Archer pay a visit to her home planet of Vulcan following a deadly attack on the Earth embassy.

“The Forge”/“Awakening”/“Kir’shara” is the 3-part bridge between the dishonest, mind-meld eschewing Vulcans of the 22nd century with the more enlightened variety we see a century later in Spock’s time. The Vulcans have ‘strayed from the true path’ of societal founder Surak’s teachings. A newly discovered artifact of the late Vulcan philosopher nearly leads to a civil war within Vulcan society (current Earthly religious infighting is commented upon) as well as a galactic war between Vulcan and Andor. Wonderful character moments from Archer, T’Pol and Trip, as well as guest stars Gary Graham (returning as Vulcan ambassador Soval) and Jeffrey Combs (as the perpetually hotheaded Andorian, Shran). Great outdoor California-desert-for-Vulcan location photography as well.

Mirror universe-Hoshi and mirror-universe Travis commandeer the TOS-era starship Defiant in “In a Mirror Darkly, Part 2.”

“In a Mirror Darkly” parts 1 & 2 takes place entirely within the ‘mirror universe’ first seen in TOS’ “Mirror, Mirror” (and later seen in DS9). In this brutal, totalitarian universe, Commander Archer grudgingly serves under Captain Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong) while plotting to advance to the captaincy. The opportunity to do so presents itself when a 23rd century starship (from TOS’ “The Tholian Web”) falls back in time a century and lands within the mirror universe. The advanced ship is immediately exploited for its superior speed and weapons technology. A wildly fun episode that makes ingenious use of the spartan TOS set designs to suggest a clean, futuristic aesthetic far in advance of the cluttered, cramped NX-01. The cast get to play a wonderfully twisted, corrupt versions of their characters. Wicked fun!

The 1997 Sojourner rover at the “Carl Sagan Memorial Station” on Mars is preserved in the 22nd century of ENT in “Demons”. The rover also makes an appearance in the show’s opening credits.

“Terra Prime”/“Demons” is the two-parter that should’ve been the series’ finale (I won’t get into “These Are The Voyages”… that’s a whole other discussion). The story is a grueling exorcism of those final ‘demons’ inhabiting humanity’s collective psyche…racism & intolerance. The far-right “Terra Prime” movement (led by former “Robocop” Peter Weller) takes control of a movable mining colony and sets up shop on Mars, with a super-weapon aimed directly at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco if all extraterrestrials don’t leave the Solar System ASAP. Trip & T’Pol go undercover to infiltrate the group but are captured, where they discover a baby has been created (without their consent or knowledge) using stolen DNA samples from Enterprise. This implies that the Terra Prime movement has followers everywhere, even on the NX-01. Keep tissues close-by… the ending will turn you into a blubbering mess if you have a working heart.

Initially skeptical Vulcan ambassador Soval (“Alien Nation” star Gary Graham) is won over by Captain Archer in “Demons.”
Forget “These Are The Voyages…” ; this is the true finale of the series.

Enterprise Encounters.

Meeting some of the folks from “Enterprise” during my now-annual pilgrimages to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas:

From 2016.
Sandwiched between Connor Trinneer (“Trip Tucker”) and Dominic Keating (“Malcolm Reed”), I feel like the lower end of a human evolutionary chart (did these guys have to be both handsome and nice??). Keating has a wonderfully wicked sense of humor that I very much appreciate.
Meeting John Billingsley (“Dr. Phlox”) in 2018.
I’d actually shared an elevator and a walk with Billingsley in 2016, and he and I got along right off. Turns out we’re both very like-minded politically, and when we met again in 2018, he even invited me to a political fundraiser at his home. Sadly, I couldn’t attend, but I did make a donation to the candidate. Billingsley is a passionate activist and, like Keating, possesses a wonderful gallows humor.
Anthony Montgomery (“Travis Mayweather”) in 2016.
A true gentleman, and a talented graphic novelist. I bought a copy of his young adult graphic novel, “Miles Away”, the story of a young African-American man who makes his dreams of adventure and heroism come true. An inspirational book for young people everywhere. We also met again in 2019, where I heaped a bit of praise his way with regards to his “Miles Away” book. Very kind man.
Star Trek Las Vegas, 2017.
Meeting writer/producer Brannon Braga, who interned on The Next Generation, and eventually became a producer on both Voyager and Enterprise. He also cowrote the first two Next Gen movies, “Generations” and “First Contact” (both of which I loved). He also produced the “Cosmos” revival of 2014 (with Neil deGrasse Tyson) and is currently writing/producing Seth McFarlane’s new space opera spoof, “The Orville.”


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is inamirrordarkly_776.jpg
Mirror-Malcolm and mirror-Archer take over the 23rd century starship USS Defiant, which was flung back in time (and into another universe) from the TOS episode “The Tholian Web.”

ENT ushered in a lot of firsts for the Star Trek franchise. It was the first prequel series to TOS (“Star Trek: Discovery” came 12 years later). It was the first new ST series of the 21st century. It was the first Star Trek series shot (and broadcast) in 16:9 widescreen format, which is the industry standard today. With the first few seasons’ principal photography shot on 35mm film, the final 4th season was shot entirely on digital video, making previous time-consumptive digital compositing of the special effects unnecessary (the transition is seamless, thanks to director of photography Marvin Rush’s brilliant work). ENT was also the first ST series to not have a miniature built of its lead spaceship, since all the visual effects (including the ships) were shot entirely as computer-generated elements. The sets were also littered with working computer flat-screen monitors (no more bulky, cathode-ray tubes on set). ENT opened a lot of doors for future Star Trek productions.

The cast of Enterprise deserves another bow.

Another first for ST is the use of a pop song (Diane Warren’s “Faith of the Heart”; a song written for the 1998 Robin Williams’ comedy “Patch Adams”, and originally performed by Rod Stewart). ENT’s cover version of “Faith…” was sung by Russell Watson, and to be honest, it’s one of my least favorite elements of the series. While the lyrics have a certain “Star Trek” vibe to them (“I can reach any star…”), the song sounds a bit like a Michael Bolton coffee commercial. Personally I prefer the orchestral music from longtime ST composer Dennis McCarthy which is played over the show’s end credits. It has the kind of aspirational feel to it that has been long associated with ST scores. It’s also punctuated with a few contemporary guitar licks here and there to give it a slightly closer-to-our-time feel. It could’ve easily served as ENT’s main title theme, but Rick Berman and company wanted a pop song. Oh well…


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is thesearethevoyages356.jpg
TNG’s Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) are wrongheadedly placed centerstage within the finale of ENT (“These Are The Voyages…”). This makes the finale of ENT seem like little more than a TNG holodeck episode.

While quite a few episodes of the series felt like tired retreads of “Voyager” or TNG scripts (especially among its standalone episodes), there were also some innovations as well; an entire season was spent on a single mission. This was another ST ‘first.’ Yes, “Deep Space Nine” began serializing of ST storylines back in the 1990s (it also had a two-season Dominion War arc), but the NX-01’s mission into the expanse to destroy the Xindi super weapon was unique for its single-mindedness. It was also the first and last time we saw the Federation equivalent of Marines aboard, with the Starfleet MACOs (Military Assault Command Operations). One assumes their branch was later absorbed into Starfleet tactical/security (the future redshirts of TOS and goldshirts of TNG). I may not be the biggest fan of ENT’s third season, but I have to give credit where its due.

One of the biggest shames of Star Trek was that ENT (and the since-failed UPN network that hosted it) folded just as it was gathering creative steam, and never got a chance for a fifth season. In the book, “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years” by Ed Gross and Mark Altman, we learn that Jeffrey Combs’ Andorian ally “Shran” would’ve become a series regular. ENT’s 4th season saw the show getting its second wind, freed of the shackles of Iraq invasion metaphors and some of the post-9/11 angst that BSG was covering. ENT was creatively finding itself. Imagine if “Star Trek: The Next Generation” were cancelled after its third season, and you get the idea.

A fully repaired Enterprise is relaunched in S4’s “Borderland.”

If Netflix (or CBS-All Access) existed in those days, one can imagine a universe where ENT was allowed to finish its journey, possibly getting at least three more seasons (or more). ENT currently makes for great binge-watching… even its third season possesses a few hidden gems which I failed to give a proper chance to back in 2003 (“Similitude” “Twilight” “Azati Prime” and “E2” being personal favorites of mine from that year). In fact, the streaming service Netflix was how I came to give this series a second chance, and I’m grateful that I did.

Seen trough the prism of today’s now-standard arc storytelling form, ENT’s simple standalone stories are ironically refreshing now (even if some of them feel like recycled TNG or Voyager stories). The characters of ENT (save for the criminally underused Travis Mayweather) also come across as far more vibrant than they did in 2001, particularly in contrast to the dour and angsty characters populating current Star Trek. Compared to the brooding crew of the USS Discovery, the crew of the NX-01 are a decidedly cheerful bunch.

Captain Archer rededicates himself to exploration after a season spent in war.

With a hit-and-miss first two seasons, a divisive third and a spectacularly successful fourth, ENT was truly on the verge of great things when it was cancelled. One can only imagine where ENT could’ve gone if the sturdy NX-01 hadn’t been prematurely recalled to port. I have little doubt that those never-seen 5th, 6th and 7th seasons of ENT could’ve easily yielded new classic episodes on a par with the very best of Star Trek.

46 Comments Add yours

  1. Enterprise is criminally underrated.

  2. iampsion says:

    I’m pleased to see I’m not the only one who considers First Contact to be the event that created Enterprise. I also consider that bit of time traveling by the Borg and Enterprise E to be the triggering event of the Temporal Cold War, and the true diverging point that leads to the Kelvinverse.

    It’s a shame the show didn’t get it’s fifth season; you’re right that in today’s television landscape, there would have been a good chance at rescuing it on an alternative network. Back then our dreams of rescue were pinned on an effort by fans to raise the capital needed to pay for as much of fifth season as possible, but key figures at CBS hated Trek and ordered the sets destroyed before much headway could be made.

    It was sweet to see so many references to the show being worked in to Star Trek Beyond. I’d like to see Captain Archer and crew revisited again some day, but that’s unlikely.

    1. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a reunion documentary for the show, similar to the crowdsourced DS9 documentary “What We Left Behind”? ENT deserves it.

      The more I watch it, the more its characters grow on me. Very underestimated show.

  3. Jameskirk says:

    That sure was one long article

    1. I like to be thorough. 😉

  4. Gayla Gibson says:

    LOVED your article & all the pics. I told my husband that eventually Enterprise would gain the respect it deserves. When the series first came out, we didn’t like it. Now, we love it. We wish they’d include the cast in a documentary AND a movie. And of course, wish the series would return. Thank you for being so thorough and including recent pics of some of the cast. Some studio somewhere — get smart! Enterprise & her crew must fly again.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words, Gayla! Much appreciated. And as I said to another poster, maybe (someday?) we could see a crowdsourced reunion documentary of ENT, similar to DS9’s “What We Left Behind”?

      If a sequel isn’t happening, I’d be fine with that as well.

  5. MG says:

    I have to agree with you 100%. ENT has been a favorite of mine since it first aired, and I make sure to rewatch the series every year. I love TNG, but ENT had a better sense of pacing within each episode as well as through each season. At times, I feel the characters in TNG came across as caricatures of themselves. ENT’s cast avoided that and showed continual growth.

    1. I would’ve liked to have gotten to know Travis a bit better, but yes, I agree; the characters of ENT were warm and relatable.

      I find myself rewatching ENT more often than most of the other Trek series. It really grows on you.

      And, like TOS, ENT’s shortened lifespan always leaves me wondering ‘what if’….

  6. Bill says:

    I read that it was the constant meddling from the Paramount studio higher ups that ultimately doomed Enterprise. The Xindi season three should not have happened. They could have used the Romulian/Earth war as described by a TOS episode instead. It would have been more in the timeline of TOS. The author is correct when he said that in season four, Enterprise appeared to come into its own. I heard that Paramount paid UPN to broadcast a fourth season so that they would have enough episodes for syndication. Had there been a fifth season, Enterprise would have been very interesting.

  7. EhTest says:

    I’ve always loved Enterprise, it’s nice to see fans warming to the show. Though it would have been nice if these same people gave it a chance when it was airing.

  8. Well, you know how I feel on this subject. I’m glad to see your view of Enterprise has softened, though I still disagree on some points.

    Honestly to me I think season three holds up the best of all of it. I thought its obvious post-9/11 influences would leave it feeling dated after a while, but the raw emotion of it is timeless.

    While I agree it is a metaphor for the Iraq War, I don’t see it as the pro-American propaganda you seem to view it as (though given Manny Coto’s unfortunate real world political views, I grant that may have been the intention). I think we’ve had this conversation before, but to me in this metaphor I see Earth as Iraq and the Xindi as the Americans. Their deception by the Sphere builders seems a perfect allegory for America launching its war based on false intelligence. Like BSG’s New Caprica arc, it seems to me to be an attempt to help the viewer see the humanity in the other side.

    And I think that’s part of what makes season three work, and I feel it’s very in line with Star Trek’s ideals despite some the extremes the story goes to: The ultimate moral of the arc is that the Xindi are by and large good people who simply made a terrible mistake. Perhaps more importantly, the crew of Enterprise realizes this, too. Even Trip is eventually able to see past the grief over the loss of his sister and realize that the Xindi are people and not monsters.

    1. I can understand that perspective. At the time, however, the invasion of Iraq was very raw in America’s psyche; it was a very divisive war (and still is, today).

      With Starfleet traditionally representing NATO power/might, it seemed obvious (though, as you point out, not necessarily correct) that the NX-01 was America sent to find the “WMDs” (the Death Star–er, Xindi weapon).

      Upon reevaluation, S3 has become more tolerable for me, and as noted, I even like much of it. But that initial ‘bad aftertaste’ never quite left my palette.

      That said, ENT is extremely re-watchable, and holds up very well over time.

  9. David Brown says:

    Fantastic article! I watched Enterprise from day one, but lost track of it by the third season when it originally aired. Thanks to the discovery of the H&I network (which airs 1 episode from each show, chronologically, six nights a week) Enterprise has become the show that I never get tired of watching repeatedly. I agree with much of your article, especially your favorite episodes lists. I always felt that it just started hitting its stride by the fourth season and I’m disappointed thinking about what could have been if it had been allowed to continue and grow.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, David! I often wonder what could’ve been whenever I imagine those never-made 5th-7th seasons. The Romulan War novels fill in the gaps a bit, at least.

  10. xinpheld says:

    “It’s been a long road…” [SKIP INTRO] 🎵laaaaast threeeee choooooooords🎵 *NX-01 goes to warp*

    Thank you, Netflix.

    1. 😂

  11. ultrabasic69 says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Enterprise, but the show was not without its distractions, especially early on, (replicators, visual ship-to ship communication, TRANSPORTERS????). I realize these offenses were allowed mostly to accommodate storytelling necessities. At first I was irritated by the discrepancies in the ENT timeline as it related to TOS, the Star Trek universe was (and is) very real to me, but the quality of writing, and acting won me over as well as the development and interaction of the characters. I grew to love them. I was devastated when ENT was cancelled after season 4. Like you, I thought it was just coming into its own. I am re-watching ENT and have been pleased as to how well it has held up over the years. Enterprise was underappreciated in its time and I am glad to see it finally getting the proper credit it deserves. As for your commentary on the history of ENT, in the inimitable words of Picard, “Nicely done”!

    1. Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words. 🙏

  12. scifimike70 says:

    For personal reasons, I’m not a fan of Enterprise, even though I have some fond memories of the Carbon Creek episode. There were certain things I’d have liked to seen done differently in this Trek series. But I can appreciate how its fans and time have kept it on the map. Thank you for your review.

    1. “Carbon Creek” is one of my favorites as well. Reminds me very much of the movie, “October Sky” (1999). Worth your time, if you’re able to see it.

      1. scifimike70 says:

        I very vaguely remember October Sky but I do remember seeing it in the cinema. Thanks.

Leave a Reply