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Scott Bakula Says Enterprise Was A Victim Of Circumstance

When Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air after only four seasons, it was a dark time for Trek fans. For the first time since The Next Generation premiered in 1987, there were no new episodes of Star Trek on the airwaves. While Enterprise does still have some fans, it was clear that something had gone wrong, leaving the Trek franchise in uncharted waters (at least until J.J. Abrams came along). So why did Enterprise flounder? According to series star Scott Bakula, the show was a “victim of circumstance.”

In a new interview with Jam! Showbiz, Bakula claims that Enterprise was, in some ways, a case of “wrong time, wrong place.”

I have to tell you, there were so many political things that happened in the time that we were on the air, with networks being bought and sold and studios changing personnel completely. I never really felt like we had failed as much as we were victims of circumstance.

I felt like our show got better and better, and the overwhelming conversations I’ve had with people are like, ‘Oh man, that last season was the greatest. You guys were just hitting your stride.’ I said to the cast going in ‘Please don’t count on seven years. We’re on a network with completely different rules.’ We made 98 hours of television, a huge success by most standards.

Bakula may well be right about behind-the-scenes politics playing a role in the show’s demise, but I also think Enterprise suffered from never really finding its own identity. The first two seasons mixed standard-issue Trek-style plots with an ongoing ill-defined “temporal cold war.” Season three saw Earth attacked by the Xindi, and the series began to take on thematic parallels to the real-world “war on terror.” Season four saw yet another change in direction as the show began pumping out fan service by the bucketload, introducing tons of ties between Enterprise and The Original Series. It was fun to see the show try to explain things like the discrepancy between the look of Original Series Klingons and the modern versions, but in the end it was too little, too late.

Regardless of what the real reasons for Enterprise‘s cancelation were – assuming we need more than simply “low ratings” – Bakula’s thoughts will no doubt add fuel to the conversation amongst fans. Now if somebody could actually get a new Trek series on the air…

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/dwb1957 David Barker

    One reason I stopped watching, and there were a few, was the constant short-circuiting of things like First Contact with the different species in the previous series, like the Klingons and the Ferengi.  Sophomoric.  Except for ‘Carbon Creek,’ that one worked.

  • Paul

    I absolutely loved Enterprise it made the series complete. It had so much suspense and nerdy time paradox’s and most importantly what separated it from other series is that it felt like what early space exploration would be like, no fancy technology reinforced hull ect ect. I don’t understand how it could be viewed as a failure.

  • Scribbler1382

    I liked ENTERPRISE much better than DS9 or even Voyager.  It’s too bad they had to finish up with those ridiculous Peter Weller episodes. 

  • Intrigue175

    Bad scripts, really bad! The general massive arrogance of the characters was unrealistic. They gave off the attitude of typical American superiority, yet exploring unknown. None of any other trek show ever had that attitude. It always came from a humbler exploratory point of view.
    Ps I’m an American.

  • OTownStarTrekFan

    The show lost me with the very first scene in the series: the sight of a KLINGON running through a cornfield on Earth.  In my opinion, we shouldn’t have been seeing ANY alien species on that series except for Vulcans (for obvious reasons) until near the end of the first season (and that includes Dr Phlox).  With the exception of the Vulcan first officer (and I didn’t like that decision, either, since it smacks of copying the Kirk/Spock relationship right off the bat), I think the ENTIRE crew should have been human.  In fact, I think we should have gone at least 80% of the first season without the ship leaving Spacedock for the first time.  This was a golden opportunity to see how the first-ever Enterprise crewmembers earned their positions on the ship (remember, there was an episode that described how Archer won the job of commanding Enterprise over his best friend, we could easily have had a half dozen episodes like that with the other staff positions).  We could have also seen what it took to build Enterprise and what decisions were made during its construction and once the ship was launched, how some of those decisions either worked out or backfired.  We could have seen the ship being tested, how it failed some tests and beat others.  The writers could have given fans a chance to get attached to the ship and crew in ways none of the other series explored, but instead they chose to give us the same old formula with different characters.  They could have done all this using multi-episode mini-story-arcs instead of having every story wrapped up in a single episode.  The possibilities for Enterprise were mind-boggling, if only there was a creative staff with enough stones to explore them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Spradlin/1167840031 Greg Spradlin

      I like these ideas, and it would be great for something like this to happen in the future. I still don’t like the fact Enterprise is off the air, always enjoyed some form of ST on the air. The 2009 was great, and it introduced many new fans to the series, but do they really need to make the next one 3D? I really feel 3D movies take away the main focus of the movie itself, and writers try and write in the effects just for the effect itself..3D is over rated! 

      • http://www.facebook.com/indianasmith.jones Harvey Smith

        3D changes the way you focus on a movie, instead of the focus being the movie’s action and plot, the image is all that counts in 3D.  As long as there are things jumping off the screen and into your face then 3D has served it’s purpose but it doesn’t improve the story-line and in fact takes away some people’s concentration on what is going on in the actual movie.  Some of the best movies used people’s reaction and a spoken narrative to describe something, the audience would use their imaginations instead of seeing a 3D, CGi image.

      • http://picasaweb.google.com/JTHolroyd/TileStoneWork JessSayin

        “3D is over-rated”…unless the movie is actually SHOT in 3D, in which case it’s absolutely stellar! Unfortunately most aren’t.

  • flashfast2000

    The Braga/Berman model for Star Trek had grown stale by the time Enterprise started. The premise of the show was great, but a new creative team using an edgier approach to story telling was long overdue. The way Joss Whedon ran Firefly would have worked very well.

  • Alan Crone

    gone but not forgotten

  • http://twitter.com/DeepSpacer Brian Williams

    Enterprise was another show (like SGU) that caught a ton of flack from the fans because it made an honest effort of switching up a formula that had grown stale.
    No doubt, the first season was very boring, but the rest was fun and there were some genuinely great sci-fi stories in there. The one that had Andreas Katsulas in what I think was his last on air performance was a great back-to-the-fundamentals sci-fi story. I also liked how they made a sincere effort of dialing back the technobabble that had reached insane heights with Voyager.To me, it was the best Star Trek show since TNG, and quite honestly the most true to the original series spirit.

    • Jack

      Billy this isn’t aimed at you, but rather the opinion many seem to share with you regarding SGU. Since you brought it up, my reply fits best here instead of as a separate post. 
      Stargate’s core formula NEVER grew stale, the possibilities were & still are virtually endless! It was the writer’s insistence upon turning it into a tv show formula that grew stale. The actors are what kept the fans, or the writer’s flaws would’ve canceled the show long before season 10. The shows were always at their greatest just before the 20min mark, when all the possible directions were still up in the air. The writers would 9 times out of 10 choose the dumbest direction of the lot, & we would watch b/c it was still Stargate.
      The only times they allowed themselves to not be trapped in the “solve everything in 60min format” was later with the goa’uld (although most of them were killed off already in those stupid solve everything in 60min episodes) & also with the Ori. Often the best episodes were the finales, which says a lot about the writer’s concept of content. Every episode could’ve been built like the finales.
      There was no reason for the SGC to not turn the Wraith,Goa’uld,& Ori onto each other’s throats. It would have made for fantastic plotlines & rich scenes. Somehow the writers managed to turn the Universe into 4 or 5 galaxies, each with only 50 or so planets & one main enemy. Pretty shallow writing. 
      Once we finally obtained several realistic enemies, all the series were canned for a pathetic drama-fest smallville wannabe version. SGU is & always will be an utter disgrace to the Stargate brand. They managed to create the only project ever where Robert Carlyle was wasted & unwatchable. This alone is a dubious achievement. Even their inability to name the episodes is telling of their lack of talent & eagerness to reveal the entire plot before you watch it. It’s total garbage. All involved should be banned from any future SG projects. The notion that SGU made an “honest effort” to switch up a formula is a sad take on what happened. 
      Since it obviously needs to be said yet again, every product DOES NOT need to be altered to appeal to everyone! Stop making products for those who do not like the product! JJ Abrams said proudly, he never was a big fan of StarTrek & aimed to make a StarTrek movie for NON-StarTrek fans. This is the dumbest thing to ever strive to achieve!!!!!!! Make your own film, write your own story! Don’t hijack a successful franchise to appease those who don’t care!! They did the same with SGU. The only fans who liked SGU were the same ones who watched other sappy drama shows just like it. The masses of fans who love Stargate & don’t watch garbage elsewhere tuned out after the 1st few episodes. That is why SGU no longer exists. Period.  
      Enough is enough already.  
         

      • Jack

        I said Billy, I meant to say Brian. Guess my Star Wars fandom was thinking Billy Dee Williams. :P

         

        • http://twitter.com/DeepSpacer Brian Williams

          I don’t think you’re looking at SGU objectively at all because of your bias. There were 2 main enemies in just two seasons of SGU, not one. The original Stargate had one main enemy for what, 9 SEASONS? And out of those two enemies, both were actual aliens, not just people with tattoos on their foreheads. And traveling to other galaxies promised more strange enemies, it wasn’t locked into that.

          As for the formula getting stale, all you have to look at is the starships that they had to introduce to the series. The one thing that made Stargate a unique space sci-fi show was the isolation of these little bottlenecks called the stargates that were the only mode of travel through the galaxy and it was the sole secret of a government agency, once they started giving Earth a Space Armada and multiple bases off planet it  defied belief that this show was set in the modern day. I think the biggest disappointment for me about Atlantis was how they tried to up the space opera element even more and take Stargate even further away from what it was originally. Not to mention, yet another galaxy populated with humans, who were under attack by evil space vampires, who were super advanced, but not advanced enough to clone their food apparently.

          Stargate was a plot driven sci-fi show, the characters were always extremely thin and the public has shown it has an interest in character driven sci-fi now since BSG. I don’t think it was a bad idea for the producers to try and capitalize on that after Atlantis tanked. I’ll admit, SGU would have been a much better show if it had not been connected to the franchise. The absolute worst moments in the series was when they would have cross over material between SGU and the other shows, the depth of the characters that had been built for both REALLY showed and it was just jarring.

          Don’t take any of this to mean that I think the original Stargate was a bad show, it was what it was, and it was good at it. But SGU was good at what it did too, and I think your opinion of it would probably be completely different if it didn’t have Stargate in the title.

  • BrotherMatthias

    I didn’t watch because it was a prequel to TOS. I could not get past that. That limited it, and from the few episodes I watched, very much so……

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathan.p.kennedy Nathan Paul Kennedy

    For me, I stopped watching after around the middle of season 2, although I caught an episode here and there, because it was supposed to be set before TOS but kept bringing in things like the Borg, holodecks and Brent Spiner as Data’s creator (can’t remember the character’s name). It didn’t really know what it was trying to be, and failed in the end because the viewers didn’t know what it was supposed to be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/indianasmith.jones Harvey Smith

    Archer was not a very effective Captain. He always had to be rescued by the crew. If he was knocked out or imprisoned, he stayed that way without one inspirational thought coming into his head about how to get out of his predicament.  The vulcan was always looking puppy eyed and not as smart or unemotional as the other vulcans in the series seemed to be.  The crew was a good ensemble but Archer was taller than all of them and appeared to be the poor father  to the diminutive crew, he had no equal on that ship.  They were all better than him

  • Dave Keeley

    I loved the show.  My only complaint was their “first encounters” with races other Trek shows had made first encounters with

  • Baby Fart McGeeziaks

    It was a mix of factors that took the show down. I wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. As for the bad circumstances I was in high school throughout its run and never watched a single episode despite being a casual fan of TOS and TNG at the time. Primetime scifi on network TV flopped then for various reasons but I think there is something to be said for shows airing latenight cable. If they were to bring back another Trek series it would probably be best if it follows that formula… go on SyFy, FX, AMC, etc and have the show come on at 10 or 11 on Sunday or on a weekday without any other big competitors in the time slot.

    Beyond that, I think a less complicated plot. That was the beauty of TOS, you can sit down and watch it and know what”s going on without seeing everyother episode. TNG had it’s moments where the continuity could cloud things up a bit but was generally not that bad. Enterprise, DS9 and Voyager always made me confused if I just randomly tuned in and I consequently never became a huge fan of any of them. Good stand alone episodes with occasional story-arch episodes that are pretty straight forward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BryanHodges1974 Bryan Hodges

    I liked Enterprise. The worst part for me was that UPN came in really bad on my cable network….full of static. My favorite episodes were the Through the Mirror Darkly ones. I loved seeing the USS Defiant (Tholian Web not DS9) in the Mirror, Mirror universe.

  • Startrekfan

    what about Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space 9? TNG is not the last ST! Last premiered somewhere in 1995-6. But there really needs to be new star trek.

  • Zartonis

    The greatest problem I had with Enterprise was the Xindi plot line.  The first season of Enterprise was great and full of wonder and the spirit of exploration, when the Enterprise was turned into a warship and exploration became a thing of the past, Enterprise lost the thing I loved about it the most.  Though I continued to watch the series until it’s end, it never really captured the magic again of the early episodes.

  • Jack

    I agree the show died at its peak. I didn’t really like the copy cat vulcan 1st officer either, & the fact that they needed to use cleavage to push it was lame. I always liked Scott Bakula, so I watched to see what he brought to the table. The other characters grew on me, except Hoshi.

    I honestly think the worst part of the entire Enterprise series is the opening theme song. Gotta be the worst in StarTrek history. Always had to mute the tv or it would ruin the entire show before it started.

    I really wish they managed to do more with the Delphic Expanse. That journey explored some really interesting concepts. They rushed past a few awesome ideas before they really even started, or had a solid chance to sink in.    

  • Elorps

    Brilliant show that was very misunderstood by many. I enjoyed how every show wasn’t a diplomatic passion play. Enterprise brought back conflict. It may have weebled and wobbled, but it did not fall down.  I think the audience got lazy with being spoon fed politically correct TNG style stories, and that whole network political thing? Cripes…  A total drag.  At least they did their best to explain things in the whole Trek mythos that didn’t sync. The whole Xindi affair was and still is some of the best Trek out there.  Anyone who’s ever played Master of Orion 2, or Galactic Civilizations can see the appeal here. Sci-Fi being fun and not being drowned out with a constant barrage of “benevolence in Space”

  • R 2ddummy

    I LOVED Enterprise and was really mad to see it prematurely ended.  I watched all the Star Trek franchise series and Enterprise was my favorite – best/most interesting cast/characters and story lines ever, IMO!  I believe Scott Bakula is right about the reason it ended so soon.  In my market, Enterprise was carried on the UPN (which changed to the WB, and now is the CW!).  Since the UPN was going out, FOX, thankfully, agreed to take on some of its popular shows, including Enterprise.  FOX had to fit the added shows in where they could, I guess, and Enterprise ended up airing its new episodes at 11pm (DVRs hadn’t permeated the market yet, and if I couldn’t watch it live, I had to record it on my VCR, on tape).  Of course viewership would plummet with such a drastic change – only us die-hard fans could find it!  :)
    I anxiously await a new Star Trek series………PLEASE?!!!……

    • R 2ddummy

      Oh, and BTW, another excellent show, “Jake 2.0″, suffered the exact same fate:  its new shows aired after “Enterprise”, at 12am!