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Star Trek: Enterprise

The starship Enterprise (NX-01)
The starship Enterprise (NX-01)

Star Trek: Enterprise is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. (Until the third season its title was simply Enterprise, and it is often abbreviated as ST:ENT or ENT.) The series follows the adventures of crew of the Enterprise (NX-01), the first human interstellar ship that can achieve Warp 5. Enterprise premiered in the USA on September 26, 2001, and is currently airing.

Enterprise is a prequel to the other Star Trek series. The pilot episode, "Broken Bow", takes place in 2151, ten years before the founding of the Federation, about halfway between the events shown in the movie Star Trek: First Contact and the original Star Trek series, and roughly 100 years before Kirk and Spock take command of their USS Enterprise.



The first two seasons of Enterprise depict the exploration of space by a crew who are able to go farther and faster than any humans had previously gone. It presents situations which are not entirely unfamiliar to Star Trek fans, but which allow its characters to face them unencumbered by the experience and rules which have built up over the following years of Trek history. Enterprise takes pains to show the origins of some concepts which have become taken for granted in Star Trek lore, such as Reed's invention of force fields, and Archer's questions about cultural interference which would eventually be answered by the Prime Directive.

The Vulcans, meanwhile, are often close by to offer help when needed, but are just as ready to express their opinion that humans are not yet a mature enough species to be exploring the galaxy.

A recurring theme throughout the first two seasons is the "Temporal Cold War." A mysterious entity from the future has gone back in time to provide the Suliban with technology with which to prevent the Federation from ever being created. A human from Earth's future visits Captain Archer occasionally to assist him in fighting the Suliban and preventing damage to the timeline.

Low ratings encouraged the series' producers to seek a new direction for it. The third season changes the series' name to Star Trek: Enterprise and introduces a new enemy, the Xindi, whose goal is the annihilation of the human race due to fears that someday humanity will wipe them out. The entire third season follows one long story arc, which begins in the second season finale "The Expanse " - in which the Xindi deploy a prototype weapon which cuts a wide, deep trench from Venezuela to central Florida, killing seven million people. The Enterprise is refitted as a warship and travels through the Delphic Expanse to find the Xindi homeworld and prevent another attack against Earth.

The third season, especially later episodes, has been received more favorably by fans and critics. The episodes "Twilight", "Proving Ground", "Azati Prime", and "Damage", and "The Council" in particular have received praise.


Enterprise has been seen as an attempt to move Star Trek away from the political correctness of recent series towards being a more traditional action adventure. The casting of a white male as captain, his preference for unilateral action, the introduction of the Suliban as the clearly-indicated and largely simplistic 'bad guys', and even the dropping of the name "Star Trek" from the title are seen as distancing the new series from those which came before.

One newspaper writer has compared Star Trek's hawkish shift with the advent of the War on Terrorism. The name "Suliban" was, in fact, based upon the name of the Taliban, though the production work for Enterprise occurred well before the September 11, 2001 attacks. [1] Some viewers claim that Trip Tucker and George W. Bush share a similar facial appearance.

The series' theme song, a pop song written by Diane Warren and sung by Russell Watson , is a marked contrast to the instrumental themes used in all other Star Trek series. It is also the first such theme not to have been composed specially for Star Trek, having previously appeared (performed by Rod Stewart) in the film Patch Adams (1998). Like virtually every other aspect of the series, the theme song has polarized Trek fans, with many loving the song and many considering it inappropriate for a Star Trek series. A new, more upbeat arrangement of the theme song was introduced with the third season, but this had no impact on the controversy.


Many Trekkies have been upset by Enterprise, claiming that it violates the canon which has been established in previous series and movies. Brannon Braga , executive producer of the series, has gone on record as challenging the fans who make such claims to prove it:

What have we done? Give me one good example. There are some picayune things that we have chosen to do. We have not broken the rules, but we have bent rules. But there's nothing that important. It's not like we've stated that Kirk never existed. What have we done? [2]

Some fans have complained about the use of "phase pistols" when phasers allegedly should not yet exist (however, see below), or the depiction of Romulan ships with cloaking devices when in "Balance of Terror" (an episode of the original series) cloaking technology was supposed to be a new invention. It can be said that these inconsistencies are trivial when compared with some of the holes presented in the original series. The decision to have the Borg appear in the second-season episode "Regeneration" angered many who felt this was a continuity violation.

The series has provoked controversy between fans who believe that fan-created canon (also known as fanon) is being violated, and those who feel the show is remaining faithful to televised canon. For example, the phase pistol argument above is an example of fanon, as no previous televised Star Trek episode or film of Star Trek ever established when phasers were invented, therefore it is not a canon violation for the weapons to appear on Enterprise (a similar argument can be made for the presence of transporter technology). Likewise, no date for first contact with the Klingons was ever given prior to the first episode of Enterprise establishing same.

Having a ship named Enterprise does not necessarily violate canon, as the Enterprise NX-01 is an Earth ship and not a Federation ship, and so therefore the Enterprise NCC-1701 is still the first Federation starship of that name. However, this implies that the Enterprise is either destroyed or decommissioned at some point before the founding of the Federation.

Additionally, some complain that the series doesn't preserve continuity within itself. For example, an episode from the first season establishes that Vulcans do not eat food with their hands, as T'Pol eats a breadstick with knife and fork. However, an episode in a later season shows her eating popcorn by hand. Actress Jolene Blalock has gone on record as objecting to such inconsistencies. Some fans, however, take issue with this criticism, stating that the series is simply establishing that T'Pol is adapting to being around humans, while most of her "inconsistencies" in the third season can be explained by her actions as revealed in the episode "Damage."

The series has polarised some areas of the Trek fan community, to the point where two "factions" have been identified: initially the term "Gushers" was used to describe fans who enjoy the series, while "Bashers" was applied to Trekkers who did not like the show. Each group tends to object to these titles, however, and more recently the terms have been modified to usually refer to only the extreme fans on both sides (i.e. those who reject any criticism of Enterprise are called gushers, while those who hate the show and refuse to be swayed are called bashers). The negative extreme is illustrated by the existence of the "Kill Enterprise" movement that was created in response to fan-based efforts to save the show. An ongoing debate among Trekkers is whether or not the cancellation of this series will mark the end of televised Star Trek. In an ironic twist to the years-long fight to bring Star Trek back to television in the 1970s and 1980s, there are a growing number of Trekkers who feel that the concept has worn itself out and should either be retired, or laid to rest for a number of years. Enterprises producers have stated on a few occasions that, no matter how long the current series runs, when it ends it will probably be the last Star Trek television series for some time to come.

The producers of Enterprise were faced with a controversy of another kind with the 2004 episode "Harbinger" which included a love scene in which T'Pol's buttocks were briefly shown. Aside from complaints from some fans that such nudity was inappropriate for Star Trek, the episode was also scheduled to air not long after the Super Bowl XXXVIII controversy in which Janet Jackson "accidentally" exposed a breast on live TV, leading to a upswing in censorship in America. As a result, when the episode was finally aired on UPN, the scene was censored. Viewers in Canada, however, saw the uncensored version and it is assumed that the uncensored version will appear on the upcoming DVD release.


Despite most critics agreeing that Enterprise's third season is its strongest yet, the series continues to suffer in the ratings. This, along with the poor box office performance of Star Trek: Nemesis, has given the Star Trek franchise an uncertain future. While some have placed blame on the current production staff or on the concept of the series, others blame its parent network UPN for not promoting the series and allowing major affiliates to preempt it on many occasions for local sports coverage, a fact they say is ignored by critics. Many fans also reported that they chose to watch UPN's weekend rebroadcasts of the series, which were not counted in the ratings.

There was speculation that the series would be cancelled if ratings did not improve before the third season ended in May 2004. In response, some fans launched a campaign dubbed "Save Enterprise" to convince CBS president Les Moonves to keep the series.

On May 20, 2004 it was announced that Enterprise had been renewed for a fourth season, but that the show would move from Wednesday to Friday. Paramount cut its per-episode price and reduced the number of season 4 episodes so that the series would be more financially attractive to the struggling UPN, and it is assumed that one reason why the show was renewed was so that Paramount would have enough episodes for proper syndication should it be cancelled in 2005 (even though it will only have 98 episodes completed, not the 100 episodes generally deemed necessary for this).

The new timeslot, it is hoped, will reduce the number of network affiliate preemptions of the show and allow a more accurate account of its viewership. Unfortunately, this now appears unlikely, as viewers reported that UPN's affiliate in New York City aired a baseball playoff game rather than the fourth season premiere on Oct. 8, 2004. This, combined with other UPN affiliates airing coverage of the second debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry that night in lieu of network programming, resulted in very low ratings numbers for the fourth season premiere.

There were reports during the summer of 2004 that UPN had only agreed to a half-season committment for Enterprise, allowing them to cancel the series if ratings do not improve quickly, though this has yet to be confirmed by the network.

Despite an apparent uncertain future for both Enterprise and televised Star Trek in general, Paramount Network Television president Garry Hart was quoted in an August 2004 New York Times article that Paramount and UPN stand by the series and hope to see it continue for several more seasons. However, Hart's subsequent departure from his position a week later has placed these sentiments in doubt.

A new executive producer, Manny Coto , has been brought in for the fourth season. Coto has decided to retain the "arc" concept, but reduce it from one arc for the entire season to several "mini-arcs", each over three episodes. One of these arcs will resolve the "Temporal Cold War" storyline set up in the pilot episode.

Over the summer of 2004, it was reported that a special appearance by original Trek star William Shatner was being planned, reprising his character James T. Kirk, though as of September 2004, an announcement had yet to be made. New reports in early October indicated that negotiations between Shatner and Paramount were "warming up" however. A major stumbling block is said to be Shatner's asking price, coupled with his commitments to the TV series Boston Legal. It is confirmed that Brent Spiner of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be making an appearance in the fourth season as Arik Soong, an ancestor of Noonien Soong who created the android Data.


Main characters

Recurring characters

See also

External links

Star Trek

Television series
Original Series | Animated Series | Phase Two | Next Generation | Deep Space Nine | Voyager | Enterprise
The Motion Picture | II: The Wrath of Khan | III: The Search for Spock | IV: The Voyage Home
V: The Final Frontier | VI: The Undiscovered Country | Generations | First Contact | Insurrection | Nemesis

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45