Enterprise - Cast Photo, Season 3

STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE

Season One
For fifteen years, Star Trek fans have lived in the era of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Captain Kathryn Janeway. With Janeway and the crew of Voyager returning home to Earth at the end of seven years of exploring the Delta quadrant, producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were faced with a dilemma. We have just completed 15 years of non-stop Star Trek, spanning 526 episodes - running chronologically from the timeline set by Gene Roddenberry at the introduction of The Next Generation. Could a fourth series based on the same time period generate enough interest to carry the television based Star Trek torch for the next foreseeable future? Should they leap forward in time? Leap backward? And how far should they go? Rumors ran amuck with speculation - everything from a Starfleet Academy based program, to Captain Kirk while still in the Academy, to the adventures of Captain Sulu while in command of the USS Excelsior.

But they decided to take a page out of something they tapped in the most popular Star Trek film in recent years. Star Trek: First Contact took us back to the first contact of mankind with the Vulcans. With 605 episodes and nine motion pictures built around the events that all began with First Contact, what an amazing opportunity to explore the events surrounding the first Starfleet crew - back before The United Federation of Planets even was formed. Back to the very first Starship to bear the name Enterprise.

Set 150 years before the exploits of Captain James T. Kirk and 100 years after First Contact with the Vulcans, Enterprise follows Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and his crew on the first mission by humans into space. Right off, we meet some familiar faces - those of the Klingons. The encounters are eventful, but do not have any of the overt hostility that will come with time. We also see, for the first time since The Original Series, the Andorians. The Vulcans are not the benevolent race that we have come to know - they are deceitful and callus, one could say almost Romulan-like.

But we also get humankinds first encounter with the Suliban - both the peaceful race and the genetically enhanced Cabal that are the puppets of an unknown power behind the Temporal Cold War. As each new species is encountered, it becomes more clear that the escapades of Archer and his crew will be the building blocks of the policies upon which the United Federation of Planets will be eventually built. Everything from interspecies mating to rules regarding contact.

Our gallant crew is at a loss without the wonders of the Universal Translator that allows Klingons to speak in English and so misunderstandings frequently result. I am amazed that some people can pick up on languages from another species so quickly - I had trouble just attempting to learn Spanish. But causing interspecies conflicts is not all that the Enterprise crew have been up to.

And what Star Trek season wouldn't be complete with mucking about with the temporal timeline. While Enterprise and her crew do not have the necessary technology (hey - the transporters barely work), that doesn't stop those from the future coming into the past to create as much chaos as possible. We have two 'time-line' episodes this year, including the season cliff-hanger - which is the first 'cliff-hanger' to appear in the first year of any Star Trek series.

As with all previous Star Trek outtings, much work is done building the characters our our new venture. This is by far the most 'down-to-earth' crew we've had to date. That really goes without saying as the militaristic nature of Starfleet has yet to really come in force. This is no where more evident that when we see Captain Archer in the shower (with actual water) or pacing in his quarters in boxer briefs. You would NEVER have seen Picard to that.

This is a new Star Trek series (yet does not have "Star Trek" in the title), and as such, no series would be complete without the sprinkling of previous Star Trek actors and directors. Jeffrey Combs returns to Star Trek (previously seen in several character roles including Weyoun on DS9) as both an Andorian and a Ferengi. René Auberjonois (Odo on DS9) and Ethan Phillips (Neelix on Voyager) return as guest "Alien of the week". Even Scott Bakula is reunited with his Quantum Leap co-star Dean Stockwell for an episode.

Our Directors for this season are the usual talented group of Star Trek directors. LeVar Burton (Geordi on TNG) helms two episodes as does Roxanne Dawson (Torres on Voyager). Robert Duncan McNeill (Paris on Voyager) and Michael Dorn (Worf on TNG & DS9) both direct a single episode each this season.

Season Two
The sophomore season for Enterprise started off strong, picking up where the cliffhanger from Season one left off. With Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) stranded 900 years in the future with Daniels. In the meantime, T'Pol must start to stretch her beliefs - flying in the face of her superiors in the Vulcan Science Directorit. The Suliban are quickly dealt with, and we see little of them for the remainder of the season.

This year, the show tries to focus too much on the newness of Earthlings being so far out in space. A significant amount of time is spent with inter-species conflicts. Some could say that the balance of 26 episodes was spent trying to force the principles of Humans on all of the universe. The Federation is still several years from being formed, but the completely backward way that Enterprise and her crew are presented makes one wonder how a planet so far behind in the exploration of space and the required technology to defend itself manages to be the foundation upon which the Federation will be formed. Perhaps it is through the formation of the Federation that Earth will catch up to the rest of the Alpha quadrant in terms of technology. Are we the only space-faring species that doesn't have shields or tractor beams?

We do get to find out more of T'Pol's history. The visitation of Vulcans to Earth in the 1950's is revealed - and if we are to believe that T'Pol is telling the truth (as opposed to spinning a really great story), then we owe a debt of gratitude to the Vulcans for the invention of Velcro®. T'Pol's previous work in Vulcan Security is also explored - and we are left to constantly question everything we've come to know of the Vulcan people. If I didn't know better, the Vulcans are behaving more and more like the Romulans. Their constant deceit with the humans and the Andorians continues and even their attitudes toward "Vulcan" things is bizarre. A prime example is the Vulcan Mind Meld. Granted that the time of Kirk and Spock is a few years off, but in this time frame, the act of a mind meld is forbidden - even discussing it is frowned upon. How is it so widely accepted as just one of those "Vulcan" traits just a few years in the future?

But T'Pol isn't the only member of the crew with a past. We get to learn more about all our crew members. We go back and visit Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) family owned and run cargo freighter. A trip through the history books to learn how Archer came to be the Captain of Enterprise. Hoshi's fear of - well - practically everything - is further explored with an interesting transporter incident (which reminds me of a very similar story involving Lt. Barclay on The Next Generation). We get to meet one of Dr. Phlox's numerous wives and discover that on Denobula, the moral standards are quite differ net than those of Humans - or at least Commander Tucker.

In true fashion with everything that is Star Trek, Enterprise didn't shy away from dabbling with the temporal timeline. With all this time travel and general disregard for mucking around with the timeline, one would have to wonder why it took the Federation so long to create the Temporal Prime Directive. The season starts off with Archer in the future, runs into a space ship from the future about mid-season, and then end the season by having the Earth attacked by aliens from across the galaxy with technology from the future. And then he have the stuffy Vulcans beating their chest spouting "time travel is not possible." Give us all a break already.

Moving in through year two, one gets the feeling the show is starting to center on a trio of main players. In The Original Series, you had Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager never really did this. Most of the main characters were kept involved, rather than being little more than set dressing. Enterprise it would seem, is starting to focus too much on a new trio of Archer, Conner and T'Pol (replacing the Doctor from TOS with the Chief Engineer, but keeping the Captain/Vulcan (Science/First Officer combo intact). We get the occasional story line involving Reed, Sato, Mayweather and Phlox, but they are clearly bit players.

Archer has managed to do one thing of importance this year. While he was the 'golden boy' to the Klingons in season one, he has managed to piss off the Duras family pretty quickly - to the point where he's sentenced to life laboring in the dilithium mines of Rura Penthe. The same sentence that Kirk was given in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. You've got to give it to the Klingons... Of all the species that have spanned the five Star Trek series - the Klingon's have managed to remain the most constant in character and purpose. We'll do like the Star Trek producers do and ignore the fact that during The Original Series, they looked like your typical humans - except with a "George Hamilton" tan.

One of the most creative episodes this season was a continuation of the storyline from Star Trek VIII: First Contact. As much as this entire series spins off of that theatrical feature, this episode deals directly with the fragments of the Borg sphere that Picard and crew destroyed at the beginning of that film. While the term "Borg" was never actually used (and you can't without damaging the events that occurred in the TNG episode "Q Who?"), it was clear to us what was really going on. Scientists are the same in any universe. Just can't help but tinkering with the unknown. And look what it gets you - assimilation.

Our Directors for this season are the usual talented group of Star Trek directors. LeVar Burton (Geordi on TNG) helms a pair of episodes, Roxanne Dawson (Torres on Voyager) steps up to the duty on three episodes and Robert Duncan McNeill (Paris on Voyager) directs a single episode this season.

Season Three
In a Season Two cliffhanger which rivals that of Jean-Luc Picard being assimilated by the Borg, Earth is attacked by a new enemy - The Xindi. The mysterious creature from the future that has been at the heart of the Suliban's interest in Enterprise since the very beginning gives Archer some real information which sets us on a course. Archer and company must stop the Xindi from deploying an even more powerful version of the same weapon that wiped out most of Florida. How long will this story arc last? Will it be the entire season or a handful of episodes. At the start of the season - no one knew - or wasn't saying.

While the ratings struggled, so did the crew in the expanse - running into insane Vulcans, spatial anomalies of all kinds, aliens that transform the crew into another species and a virus that amazingly allows for corrections in the space-time continuum. Some of the stories stretch the belief system so thin, it's almost transparent. But for the most part, the story arch spread across the shortened season of 24 episodes remains on tract - with only a few outings which have nothing to do with the ultimate goal - stopping the Xindi threat. About mid-way through the season, it seems as though the writers figured they were moving along too slowly and started a renewed push to resolve the story arc. Each episode after the holiday break pushed the crew further towards the resolution and the showdown with the real enemy - a group of trans-dimensional aliens with a gift for manipulating the Insectoids and reptilians. Could the writers be trying to tell us something - the warm-blooded species are more intelligent than the cold-blooded ones?

T'Pol's relationship with Trip develops, helped along by her exposure to a toxic substance that breaks down her emotional barriers. The old 'dual identity' plot-line gets a twist as Trip is cloned in order to 'grow' replacement parts for the original. That should have had the anti-cloning groups in arms - but with so few viewers, the point was lost. The stories this season also deal with current day issues such as Biological warfare and interracial conflicts.

Our Directors for season three is the usual talented group. LeVar Burton (Geordi on TNG) helmed a trio of episodes, Roxanne Dawson (Torres on Voyager) continued to stretch her directorial muscles and helmed an astonishing four episodes and Robert Duncan McNeill (Paris on Voyager) directs a pair, including "Countdown".

Paramount and UPN collectively decided to prune this season by two episodes, dropping from the standard of twenty-six to only twenty four. One could speculate that this was a cost saving measure, given the high production costs of over $1.5 million per episode. This combined with the relatively poor ratings this season could have prompted UPN to cut the season sort. But as the season ended the rumors of cancellation continued. UPN and Paramount negotiated new rates for the floundering series, dropping the per-episode cost to UPN of $750,000. They also moved Enterprise from her usual Wednesday night berth to Friday. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Season Four
As Season Three drew to a close, Captain Archer and the crew of the Enterprise had located the Xindi, but had failed to stop the deployment of the superweapon capable of destroying the Earth. However, they were successful in causing it's distruction, and the termination of the real threat behind the Xindi attachs. Of course, there cannot be a massive explosion with transdimensional beings are involved and not have a ripe in the fabric of space/time. And Season Four starts out on just such a note. The temporal cold war thread returns for the final time in the 2-part season opener and is finally put to rest. None too soon for my taste.

The ratings continued to struggle. It was well publicised by this time that Season Four would be the final flight of for this crew, with an even more abbreviated schedule - dropping another 2 episodes to round out the season at 22. While the stories this year were some of the more creative of the series, the death-slot time period - Friday Nights at 8pm only further eroded the audience. A good deal of the stories tried to tie various aspects of Star Trek lore together. We are given an explaniation as to the change between the Klingons between The Original Series and all other Star Trek instances - more of that genetic tinkering that spawned Khan from the TOS Episode "The Space Seed" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" - complete with the return of Brent Spiner to the role of Dr. Soong, the ancestor of the man who will eventually create Data. Episodes this year are typically not self-contained stories. Scaling back on the concept of a single story-arc over an entire 24 episode run as was done in Season Three, this season utilized shorter story arcs - typically three episodes.

T'Pol's relationship with Trip develops, helped along by her exposure to a toxic substance that breaks down her emotional barriers. The old 'dual identity' plot-line gets a twist as Trip is cloned in order to 'grow' replacement parts for the original. That should have had the anti-cloning groups in arms - but with so few viewers, the point was lost. The stories this season also deal with current day issues such as Biological warfare and interracial conflicts.

A pair of stand-out episodes pick up the story of the original USS Defiant, lost in a dimensional rift in The Original Series episode The Tholian Web. The ship, effectively captured by the Thilians appears in the timeline of Archer and company and their "Mirror Universe" counterparts (see Original Series episode "Mirror, Mirror") find the ship and hijack it.

Our Directors for season three is the usual talented group. LeVar Burton (Geordi on TNG) helmed two episodes and Roxanne Dawson (Torres on Voyager) directs a single outting this year.

Updated: December 11, 2010
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