Star Trek: Enterprise ended a long era of Star Trek on television, closing a run of almost two decades that began in 1987 with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Instead of furthering Star Trek into a post-Voyager future, Enterprise brought it back to Starfleet's early days with a prequel.
From the beginning, Enterprise was fraught with issues. It suffered from a myriad of creative strife between production crew and studio executives. Producers and writers struggled to meet studio demands and match the success of their immediate predecessor Voyager.
Baffled by the low ratings, producers and studio executives did everything they could to make it more appealing, leading to some dubious creative decisions.
Many creative choices made during the run of Enterprise angered fans and caused significant backlash against the show and its creators, and even the actors objected to several of the turns the story and their characters took.
The show was so criticized that producers and writers regret some of the writing decisions they made. Just as the cast and crew began to feel the show had hit its stride, Enterprise was cancelled, cancelling the writers' plans for furthering the prequel.
Here are 15 Secrets You Never Knew About Star Trek: Enterprise.
Enterprise received backlash from fans who objected to the creative decisions revolving around T'Pol's portrayal of Vulcans and the focus on her looks, but no one objected to it more than Jolene Blalock as she had to play T'Pol.
Blalock was a Star Trek fan who loved Spock and was excited to play a Vulcan, but she felt the writers strayed from Vulcan characteristics with T'Pol. Blalock stated, "You can't take T'Pol and say 'Okay, you're a Vulcan' and take away the Vulcan characteristics. You might as well clip the ears!"
Blalock also criticized the writers' lack of realism even in their darker plotlines, adding, "T'Pol's hair doesn't move - even in battle! And if it does, we re-shoot it. We don't bleed here, and nobody dies. Give me a break! And we're all-knowing. Where's the risk? Where the danger?"
At the time Enterprise was beginning, Star Trek had already been on the air for 14 years straight. The franchise had produced three majorly successful series, and some of the showrunners did not believe they could continue to extend the franchise.
Producer Rick Berman was worried the show would suffer from "franchise fatigue" if they continued to run Star Trek non-stop, especially as the Star Trek movies also began to wear thin with Star Trek: Nemesis.
Berman expressed his trepidation about creating Enterprise, stating, "I was reluctant. I was quoted many times as saying that you could take too many trips to the well, that you could squeeze too many eggs out of the golden goose, but the powers that be – the powers that were – made it very clear to me that if I did not do this they would ask someone else to."
Star Trek: Enterprise contended with more executive meddling than any Star Trek series that came before it. Executives had already vetoed the early conceptual ideas the producers had brought to the table, and they continued to make suggestions throughout the series.
The studio had significant control over the first two seasons, with the production crew only getting more freedom starting in season three. Even then, the studio had demands to try to fix the low ratings.
Studio executives were responsible for the Temporal Cold War plotline. They insisted the show had to do it, as the executives were worried about making a pure prequel and wanted to insert more futuristic aspects. Brannon Braga found that plotline "strangulating."
One studio executive even pitched the idea of having a different boy band on the Enterprise to perform every week. Fans will never know what the series could have been without executive meddling.
Enterprise had a difficult time just staying on the air. Paramount executives had considered it for cancellation after its second season ended, but it was saved by a vast letter writing campaign from the fans.
Paramount ordered several changes to the show in order to renew it, such as adding a more action-oriented plotline. The changes were made, leading to the development of the Xindi plot, and the show lasted to its third season.
During the third season, there were huge shakeups at Paramount. Several key staff members departed Paramount and Viacom. UPN, which broadcasted Enterprise, was bought by CBS. A cancellation seemed imminent, but it was renewed again.
Unfortunately, it was moved to the same Friday night "death slot" that the Original Series had occupied just before its cancellation. After the fourth season aired with low rating, Enterprise was finally cancelled.
In the fourth season, producers had a plan to bring Captain Kirk into the prequel through the mirror universe introduced in the Original Series.
Producer Manny Coto explained, "We had talked about doing a mirror universe episode ever since we got into Season 4. But then we had the possibility of getting William Shatner.
Coincidentally, the Reeves-Stevens were a pair of writers whom I desperately wanted to bring on the show. Also, as it turned out, they had an idea for a mirror universe two-parter which would feature the return of William Shatner."
The plot would have dealt with a mirror-Kirk trying to get back to his own universe, which did not yet exist, and together mirror-Kirk and Archer would have been responsible for the creation of the mirror universe.
In the end, the plan fell through over a salary dispute with Shatner, but Enterprise still delved into the mirror universe.
Before they received word of the show's cancellation, writers had already developed plans for Enterprise's season five.
They intended to move it in the direction of the Original Series, delving into the Romulan Wars that led to the creation of the Neutral Zone. One planned episode would have also revealed T'Pol as half-Romulan.
Another plotline would have revealed the origins of the Borg Queen as a Starfleet medical officer who made contact with the Borg. It was supposed to feature the return of Alice Krige as the Borg Queen.
Writers also wanted to spend more time on Earth's history and how it became the Trek-era near-paradise, and they planned to make Shran a main character, adding him to the crew as an advisor.
With the heavy plotlines planned, season five could potentially have been the best of the series, but fans will never know.
The series finale of Enterprise angered fans and cast by shifting the focus from the Enterprise crew to the Next Generation characters viewing the history of the crew on the holodeck. It was so poorly received that producers knew they had made a mistake ending the series this way.
Producer Brannon Braga admitted, “I thought it was the coolest thing ever when we were writing it, the idea of doing a ‘lost episode’ of The Next Generation, but they’re going to the holodeck to look back at Enterprise, [co-writer Rick Berman] and I thought was a great sendoff to Star Trek, and it didn’t work out so well."
"It was a kind of a slap in the face to the Enterprise actors. I heard it from everybody, it was the only time Scott Bakula was ever mean to me. I regret it,” he said.
In season three, ratings were dropping, and changes need to be made to appeal to a wider audience. Producers and costume designers decided one of these changes needed to be T'Pol's cleavage. They premiered her new, more revealing look in season three.
Brannon Braga claimed the new costume was about T'Pol needing a change since she had left the Vulcan High Command and would not wear the same uniform. However, costume designer Robert Blackman explained, "The ratings dropped. That's the frank, real answer."
T'Pol's actress Jolene Blalock criticized making T'Pol more rique, stating, "You can’t substitute t*** and a** for good storytelling. You can have both, but you can't substitute one for the other, because the audience is not stupid. You can’t just throw in frivolous, uncharacteristic... well, bull and think it's gonna help the ratings!"
In the episode "Extinction," Archer and his crew became infected by a virus that mutated them into another species. It is considered one of the worst episodes of any Star Trek series, and that sentiment is shared by the people who worked on it.
Producer Brannon Braga wanted to redo the also-terrible Voyager episode "Threshold" and do it right, but even he knew "Extinction" did not work. Braga called it "one of the singularly most embarrassing episodes of Star Trek I've ever been involved with."
According to Rick Berman's assistant, episode director Levar Burton also hated it. He said, "We even had one director go to the producers and tell them he was ashamed to direct the episode where our crew turned into lizard people. The finalé was one of those where you’d go down to the stage and see people shaking their heads while reading the script.”
In the early stages of development, Brannon Braga and Rick Berman had a different idea for the prequel concept of Enterprise. Instead of starting out on their mission, the entire first season would have taken place on Earth, and the Enterprise would only be launched in the first season finale.
The villains of the season were going to be xenophobic humans who did not want the Enterprise to launch and reveal human civilization to countless alien species, and first season would have ended with Klingons attacking Earth and forcing a mission to end the Klingon threat.
The first missions would have been extremely dangerous and deadly, reflecting the new environment humans were thrown into.
Studio executives hated all of those ideas. They told producers to start exploring space immediately, and they directed producers to create the relatively riskless first two season of Enterprise.
At the end of the third season, the network suggested Enterprise change things up by killing off Captain Archer and replacing him with a new captain.
Brannon Braga explained, "They suggested killing Captain Archer in the final Xindi episode saving Earth and finding a new captain – a young, exciting captain; younger. Rick was extremely against it because he loved Scott Bakula. If you kill your captain, you’re basically admitting that your show doesn’t work on such a profound level."
Producer Manny Coto was tempted. He added, "I was in the room with Rick and he were discussing Bakula dying. And I got to admit – I love Bakula – I did think it was an interesting concept... It seemed like a great batch of dramatic possibilities. But, ultimately, it was the right decision not to kill Scott."
When writing a prequel, writers are constrained by the events that fans know happen following the prequel. Many fans felt that the episode "Regeneration" violated this rule by messing up the continuity of the Borg. In this episode, Archer and his crew were sent to deal with Borg who were attacking scientists in the Arctic.
There were many concerns behind the scenes about including the Borg in Enterprise, as it was the wrong era to introduce the Borg. Since the Next Generation crew was unfamiliar with the Borg when they first encountered them, it made little sense to include the Borg in a prequel.
Some fans have even theorized that since the episode alluded to the Borg in First Contact, the movie might have created an alternate timeline that Enterprise took place in. Other fans speculate that Archer was just really bad at writing reports.
Although Star Trek is meant to be a step forward into a more diverse future, some fans felt like it was a step back when they noticed how the two main minority characters - Travis Mayweather and Hoshi Sato - were frequently sidelined and ignored during the series.
Author David Greven stated on the underutilization of these characters, "Ensign Travis Mayweather, the helmsman, is African American and a complete blank, rarely given even one non-technobabble line an episode; without the slightest exaggeration, it is entirely accurate to say that Nichelle Nichols's Uhura on Original Trek had more lines of dialog."
He added of Sato, "Ensign Hoshi Sato is an Asian American linguist and the communications officer. Prone to fearful fits and generally seen as ineffectual in any terms other than the linguistic aspects of her job, Hoshi is the resident screamer."
In the third season, Enterprise made a drastically darker turn. Season three was action-packed with several casualties along the way. At one point, Archer was pushed to the edge and threatened to open an airlock and kill a prisoner if he would not give up information.
This dark turn for the series was inspired by influenced by the changing sociopolitical landscape of the present after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Scott Bakula explained, "Well, I think we were all so consumed by that event, and it wasn’t something that happened to somebody else on our planet, it happened here. You know, Vietnam happened on another continent."
"So it became something in the writers room that they felt they couldn’t ignore, and it kept coming through in how they were feeling, and that’s natural. That’s how writers write. They’re affected by their lives and their world and what they’re feeling," he said.
In the early stages of the series, Archer and many other crewmembers hold some fairly racist views about the Vulcans they are being thrown together with. The unfamiliarity with Vulcans and the tension between Vulcans and humans was a major undertone of the first seasons, but it did not have to be.
There was a draft of a backstory for Archer that would have made him the appropriate cultured, understanding captain to lead the mission. In this version, Archer had spent a year on Vulcan when he was younger and already met and had some kind of relationship with T'Pol.
He had already learned Vulcan practices like mind melds and had an appreciation for the Vulcan culture. Instead, the writers went with the more racist version of Archer who would have to overcome his prejudices during the series.
Can you think of any other secrets behind Star Trek: Enterprise? Let us know in the comments!