In Defense of Star Trek: Enterprise
#1
I've seen a few recent attempts on YouTube to defend Star Trek: Enterprise against its detractors. The show was criticized almost from the start for "not being Trek" to some people. I always really liked it, although I had to stop watching it during the initial run because of my social schedule.

One complaint I've always disagreed with is the way people hated the theme song for Star Trek: Enterprise. I love this song and I especially loved the version they recorded for the show. Rod Stewart did a good job with his version but I like this Russell Watson version better.

Here are two videos with the short (in-show) and long versions.

Watch ENTERPRISE Season 1 & 2 Opening Titles (HQ) from YouTube
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Watch Star Trek - Enterprise Theme (Extended Version).mpg from YouTube
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SF-Fandom reserves the right to remove inappropriate video content from its discussions. YouTube may remove the video from its service without notification.


There are some things about Enterprise that make me cringe. It's not entirely consistent with the original series, but I thought they did a great job overall of matching the direction the original series took. A lot of myths have grown up around the original series (like the idea that Red Shirts always die and that Kirk was more likely to fire phasers than other captains - not true in either case).

I have not watched either Star Trek: Discovery or Star Trek: Picard because I don't pay for CBS All Access and have no interest in it. So my comparative comments that follow have nothing to do with those shows.

In my opinion, the Enterprise theme song is the best opening song of all the shows. I hated the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme because I felt it was so grating and irritating. I kind of liked Voyager's theme song at first but it was rather onerous and by the 3rd season I was getting tired of it.

I also had to stop watching Voyager before it completed its run because of my social life but I eventually caught up with it, as I did with Enterprise, in reruns and streaming services.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was pretty boring until they brought Worf in. And it became even more interesting when they got into the war with the shape-shifting Founders of the Dominion. But the show still had its weak moments and there were some characters that I just never warmed to.

The worst of all the shows for me was Star Trek: The Next Generation. It became really good after the third season and the third season was where I began to have hope for the show. I could barely watch the first season when it was first broadcast and Dr. Pulaski just annoyed me so much I stopped watching the second season after a few episodes. There were so many things that were done badly in those first two seasons I was barely able to go back and watch them in reruns.

When I was a kid my mother allowed me to stay up late every Wednesday night to watch the original Star Trek during its primetime broadcast. I was devastated when the show ended. But that third season was pretty weak, even for someone as young as I was (about 9-10 years old). The only third season episode I clearly remember liking when it was broadcast was "Gary Seven".

One of the things that always bothered me about the original series was how its future history was so wrong. We're supposed to have lived through the Eugenics Wars by now - and the fact they haven't happened doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the fact that we're still not capable of launching a ship into deep space with a human crew.

The projections of technological advancement were just really too optimistic. Their failures even if only brief background details mentioned in passing in a couple of shows disappointed me.

By the time I was watching Star Trek again in reruns in the 1970s I was tired of the theme song. It really did not sound good to me. It was old and dated.

For as long as I had to live with squarish TV screens I was satisfied with the visual quality of the old episodes. I was not thrilled with the video effects of The Next Generation, especially considering that those episodes were competing with theatrical productions like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The movies felt more faithful to the original show than the successor show.

For me, Enterprise represents a way to correct many (if not all) of the disappointments of the prior shows. It was a brilliant piece of ret-conning in my view. And ironically one of the complaints people leveled at it at the time was that it felt like fan fiction.

I think fan fiction was just what the franchise needed. Now, people say it was not a popular show and that was why it was cancelled, but the truth is more complicated than that. Many people who watch the show in reruns or on streaming services today are unaware that Paramount used Enterprise as a flagship production for a new television network. The network didn't have as many stations in as many markets as the three major American networks. Worse, because they wanted to build their (now failed) UPN TV network (1995-2005).

Enterprise was supposed to take over from Voyager, but Voyager suffered from similar complaints and problems. UPN just didn't have the clout to build a huge network fan base and its shows were excluded from the larger syndication market while they were in production.

So fewer people were able to watch these shows.

The third season was unquestionably the best of the four seasons. The Xindi arc gave the show and intensity and a focus that allowed the writers and directors to focus on its strengths (the characters) without the distraction of dreaming up new scenarios every week. Yes, they had to have weekly episodes but they had a theme. Star Trek works best with longer story arcs, in my opinion. Even as a kid I hated the episodic discontinuity of the original show. It was like each week's adventure existed in its own separate timeline.

I don't understand why people today criticize the Xindi arc. It was a great story and had a lot of great guest stars. There was nothing as silly and cringe-worthy like the episode where Archer had to cut a tree to atone for Porthos urinating on some alien sacred tree. That was -- I don't know what that was.

Of course, like just about everyone else I hate the way Enterprise ended. It was just a totally unnecessary intrusion by two TNG characters into what could have been a perfectly good sendoff story.

The changes in network ownership (CBS bought UPN) and scheduling (the show was moved to Friday night, the graveyard of science fiction shows) had more to do with its failures than the storylines. I could have done without "Stormfront" parts 1 and 2 at the beginning of the season but they were okay.

I think the real problem with Enterprise is that the people who believed in and supported the show left the network and were replaced by others who had different priorities.

Enterprise could have gone on to several more seasons with really good story arcs but the threats of cancellation, the weak network support, and the limited distribution reach of UPN all contributed to a false mythology of failure in the show itself.

It was better than its most vocal critics say it was and in rewatching it I feel that Enterprise has stood the test of time better than any other Star Trek series to its day.
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#2
Yep, I didn't mind Voyager at all, for all of its flaws. At worst, it was no worse than some mediocre eps of the previous Treks. Individual episodes explored classic sci-fi themes ("Carbon Creek" comes to mind) but yes, ratings and resources led to problems. I still say they should have waited a year after Voyager, to develop the show better.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#3
Waiting a year might have killed the show one season sooner, though. I think the deciding factor was the change in ownership over the network. New executives came in with their own priorities.
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#4
In retrospect, I think the only big mistakes were making it as a prequel, and UPN itself.

Had they set it after TNG-Voyager, I think people would have been much more receptive to it. I know I would have at the time. Eventually I came around to like it. From a legacy point of view, I think in light of Discovery and Picard, most people will look back at Enterprise with much more appreciation.

As to UPN, some of the Enterprise actors have commented on the fact that there was no lead-in to the show, since the show that was on before it had a completely different target demographic. There was virtually no chance of them picking up casual viewers that were watching the channel before Enterprise came on.
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#5
As I recall, and we probably had some discussions here on SF-Fandom, there WAS a lot of disappointment about the fact that the show was a prequel and not about some future Enterprise or Federation ship.

But I loved the fact that it was a prequel. I loved how they retro-engineered a lot of the technology of the original show, providing what I felt were plausible prototype designs for equipment that became standard feature on the original show.

Of course, the computer technology in all the shows is unrealistic in the sense that these designs are influencing contemporary computer interfaces. The idea of sliding "tape" cartridges into computer consoles today would seem quaint to most people, but in the 1960s it was unheard-of.

And Star Trek's computer consoles are unbelievably magical, in the sense that whether the characters are pushing buttons or sliding their fingers across glossy surfaces, they seem to be capable of doing just about anything with a minimum of movements. I don't fault show set and prop designers for not imagining better details, but when you consider how much we can do with a smartphone in 2020, even the most recent Star Trek movies appear to be using somewhat outdated console designs.
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#6
I could never get into ST: Enterprise, and I'm a fan of Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap. I'm not really sure why I didn't like it, but I think it's because it's set too close to our current time, and I got used to ST being set far into the future.

In my opinion, Star Trek: Next Generation is still by far the best of the lot, and Picard the best Captain. ST: Voyager I also liked quite a bit.
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#7
One of my favorite types of Star Trek story is where they try to show how the gap was bridged between the world we have today, and the world we had in TOS/TNG. The two are so different that it requires some pretty clever storytelling (IMO) to get there. Enterprise really delivered on that front, which is one reason I liked it so much. I'm also a really big fan of DS9, for similar reasons.
--

Aaron Bossig
Host of The Hungry Trilobyte Podcast

@aaronbossig on Twitter.
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#8
I watched the original Star Trek in the 1960s as a kid. I was fascinated by the futuristic technology. And sadly much of it was already outdated by the late 1980s and early 1990s. The spaceships are still way ahead of our time, and we're not yet even sure something like a warp drive is even possible. But we're verging on the foundations of science that could produce tractor beams and maybe replicators like Star Trek's.

The shows don't age as well for me as I thought they would, although Enterprise is so unabashedly retro-style compared to the other shows that it still works better for me. There's just something fresh about it, perhaps because it doesn't try to fit into the Next Generation universe the way all the other shows have.

I've also been watching Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999 again. It was a syndicated show from the early 1970s. It didn't try to compete with Star Trek in look and feel but it beamed a few plot ideas aboard from the older show. This show did not age well at all. It's hard to watch it even after years of not seeing it. The computer technology is even goofier than the original Star Trek's computer technology. One thing ST:TOS got right was flat screen technology. I have always hated the curved screens of classic cathode ray tubes. I had to watch television on them and work with them on computers for decades.

Now that everything is in flat screen I feel more at home. That one element has persisted through all the STs (although I'm not watching the online shows so I don't know if they have come up with something else).

One thing we have that you don't see in any of the classic Star Trek shows is video phone calling. We can see each other on our handheld communication devices. On the shows the characters are basically using radio technology.
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#9
Enterprise had the distinction of being the one "old" Trek spin-off that wasn't made concurrently with another show*. It had more of a chance to be its own thing. Trek has actually done a fairly good job of modernizing itself each time it comes back. It's a mistake to always expect the next iteration of Trek to be like the earlier ones, because that's literally never been the intent.



I suppose you could say that about TAS too, but lets not split that hair.
--

Aaron Bossig
Host of The Hungry Trilobyte Podcast

@aaronbossig on Twitter.
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#10
I thought all the spin-off themes were very good, except for Enterprise, which I didn't like, and I didn't like the singer either, but I never watched Discovery, n naturally the classic ST theme, and there's only 1 classic ST, was the best. They got one of the best singers  of the day, Looly Jean Norman, to do the vocal. It was actually Strange Echoes from the White Goddess album by Frank Hunter. 



Enterprise was very good over-all because it was close to the classic, however, it got some things wrong, like the name of the 1st captain, who was actually Robert April, and  they had the women in pants instead of tunics, this latter probably because of the puritanism of pc.
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#11
Yeah I really loved Enterprise and I thought the theme song was great. They wanted to do something really different with it and I thought it worked great.

My one real disappointment was how much they changed direction with the third season. They really should have just kept going with classic trek exploration. The forth season was my favorite but by then I think people had given up on it.
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#12
(November 8th, 2020, 10:44 PM)namesarehard Wrote: Yeah I really loved Enterprise and I thought the theme song was great. They wanted to do something really different with it and I thought it worked great.

My one real disappointment was how much they changed direction with the third season. They really should have just kept going with classic trek exploration. The forth season was my favorite but by then I think people had given up on it.

I guess it's down to personal taste, but I thought the show really took off in the third season. I hope lots of people have rediscovered the show on streaming, it really was quite good. It was absolutely Star Trek, and the last Star Trek we got. I have not had an appreciation for the new movies are series.
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#13
(November 12th, 2020, 09:03 PM)Boomstick Wrote: It was absolutely Star Trek, and the last Star Trek we got. I have not had an appreciation for the new movies are series.
I agree with that. I mostly despise reboots and I completely despise Jar-jar Abrams.
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#14
(November 16th, 2020, 12:31 PM)namesarehard Wrote:
(November 12th, 2020, 09:03 PM)Boomstick Wrote: It was absolutely Star Trek, and the last Star Trek we got. I have not had an appreciation for the new movies are series.
I agree with that. I mostly despise reboots and I completely despise Jar-jar Abrams.

I think enterprise would if made it had they canceled either Voyager or ds9 a year earlier. In the period ds9,Voyager aired there was a scifi boom x files,sliders babilon 5.enterprise was after the boom. I agree the star trek reboots and star wars jar was awfull.
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#15
Well that's interesting - sort of the flipside of my long-held theory that Enterprise was rushed. Yep, starting planning a year or two earlier would have worked too, with or without more seasons of Voyager and/or DS9. I think they were determined to get 7 years of each, though. Thats how long most actors' contracts are, locking them into certain salaries.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#16
I've never understood why the show was cancelled. I guess it had something to do with change of leadership at Paramount. I suppose there's a lengthy fan article about it somewhere. Just don't have time and energy to look them up right now. Smile
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#17
Enterprise? Just low ratings. As one wag on a site about ratings once observed, there are the ratings that fans of shows who want to see the show continue are concerned about, and then there are the ratings that executives who get to decide which shows to cancel care about Wink
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#18
Yeah, I guess you're right. In fact, I stopped watching the show because it was airing on one of my Salsa dancing nights. So I guess I contributed to its demise.
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#19
Aha, but see? Had you been as into it as, oh, maybe LOTR, you would have figured a way to do both. Something within the show may have caused your enthusiasm to diminish, just as the change of show runners under Manny Coto and the conscious embracing of original Trek themes revved up the interest of other fans like Boomstick.

I'm like that - I often point to a change of nights or timeslot creating a conflict where I follow a show less - DS9 getting switched locally to 11 PM on Saturday for example. But then again I still managed to watch Jack and Cleo at 6 PM one week, 11 PM the next, 3 AM the next, and then back to whenever the local Fox station squeezed the show in between sports shows.
August  - Jack's Pack Fan # 1, Keeper of the List, 3-Time Speaker of the JoAT Fan Quote of the Week, and the only person ever to have Back 2 Back Jack and Cleo fan quotes !
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#20
I remember walking into my apartment and being annoyed at having to choose between two of my favorite passtimes. I'm also incredibly cheap and didn't want to buy a video recorder. Or maybe I had one and didn't want to use it. That would have required buying tapes, and blech! LOL!
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