Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005)
10/10
Star Trek: In The Beginning...
12 July 2009
It is the mid 22nd Century: over a hundred years before Kirk and Spock. The crew of Earth's latest breakthrough Warp 5 starship; led by Captain Jonathan Archer, are making their first steps into the galaxy. Firmly believing humankind has been held back for too long by Vulcan interference, Archer is eager to embark on Enterprise's mission of deep space exploration. Survival proves perilous the farther from home they travel. Outmatched by superior aliens equipped with far more powerful weaponry, this first crew face a steep learning curve. Among their challenges will come Klingon aggression, militaristic Andorians, territorial Romulans and the Suliban; a race receiving aid from the future. This Temporal Cold War story arc heats up with the arrival of a probe sent by the Xindi and seven million people die in an unprovoked attack. With another more powerful weapon being assembled deep within the Delphic Expanse, Starfleet hastily curtails the Enterprise's assignment, sending their most experienced crew in a desperate attempt to save Earth. Along the way, we discover familiar trek-nology from future Star Trek series at a less advanced stage including a crew scared to use the transporter, so frequent use of space suits, decompression airlocks & shuttle-pods and instead of shields, polarised hull-plating. Those coming straight from JJ Abrams' 2009 movie will probably appreciate this uncomplicated style the most. The rest of us get to have fun spotting familiar elements from past series, especially by the fourth season - as we visit the Mirror Universe, encounter green skinned Orions, as the Vulcans gradually come to respect their illogical allies, as they make the very first steps toward uniting warring races.

Out of all the Star Trek series, I generally keep returning to Enterprise for more. I'd like to think that's down to something deeper than knowing the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine & Voyager inside and out.

I love these characters and while they're definitely not the perfect, moral human beings Gene Roddenberry might have have created, they do in fact hold true to his ideals. They're ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, stumbling and making mis-steps along the way with best of intentions.

Archer, interested me from the outset (being familiar with Scott Bakula's previous work) his Captain out there alone with no support, no rulebook or role models to learn from their mistakes. His 'quid pro quo' relationship with Shran (a blue-skinned Andorian), both skeptics of the Vulcan's agenda and yet building bridges that will ultimately lead to an interstellar alliance known as the Federation. Trip, likable Southern Engineer who's deep friendship with his Captain, manages to survive his occasional bouts of insubordination. T'Pol, initially an observer from a Vulcan government concerned about the impact of humankind's deep exploration. Growing more accustomed to the crew and their perspective. Her relationship with Trip, which manages to rise above its somewhat exploitive origins and her struggle to maintain control over her emotions. At this point, I should also make it clear I loved what Enterprise did with the Vulcans and how they are every bit the race seen all the way back to the Original Series. I could continue to outline traits of the various other regulars, who are anything but cyphers in my opinion. Under developed in comparison to the big three for sure, but I feel that was changing... even Travis Mayweather got in on the action by the end.

I love the technology - a grappler instead of tractor beams, phase pistols and EM rifles, airlocks and shuttle-pods deployed from bomb bay doors underneath. When you're at a disadvantage, you have nothing but your wits to rely on and this show was about as far from Voyager's technobabble saves the day approach as it was possible for Trek to realistically get.

I still believe there is unexplored potential left in Enterprise and indeed it firmly has feet under the franchise table, as a prequel to both the 60's TV show and JJ Abrams' motion picture based in an alternate reality. 2 reasonably good seasons, 2 excellent ones kept me watching and yet still barely scratched the surface. Had I been in charge of CBS/Paramount in 2005, I certainly would not have cancelled this... not considering how well the stories were coming along in leaps and bounds. I hope they're looking at the popularity of Star Trek in cinemas at the moment, and think back to that day fans held a rally outside the studio, sent emails and letters... all protesting the loss of a show that had finally turned the tide into fan acceptance, only to be unjustly rewarded with the axe. Shame on the Executive who made that decision.
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