By the time Manny Coto became an executive producer on the show’s fourth and final season, Enterprise was already a show in trouble. It had been an ungainly beast from the start: a Frankenstein’s monster pulled back and forth between conflicting desires to do something new and to maintain the safe status quo of the Star Trek franchise. It wasn’t entirely Enterprise’s fault, but when it wrapped up in 2005, it marked the first time since The Next Generation’s 1987 premiere that there wasn’t at least one current Star Trek series on the air. That left the Trek franchise in such a mess that they decided to take drastic action, which led to J.J. Abrams’ divisive reboot in 2009. But Manny Coto? He was just a lifelong Trek fan who tried really hard to salvage a ship that was already in bad shape.
Enterprise was always the underdog among the Star Trek spinoffs. By the time the show premiered in 2001, Gene Roddenberry’s beloved universe had long since become a capital-F Franchise, and that’s rarely good for creativity. Preserving the status quo becomes paramount (ahem) and merchandising frequently trumps storytelling. After Deep Space Nine has broken with the “people in a ship boldly going” format, Voyager had leapt right back onto that tradition. And for Enterprise, we got much the same, only relocated to the early days of the very first Enterprise. But as it turns out, Enterprise’s first season was originally intended to be a huge departure from the Trek norm: it was supposed to unfold almost entirely on Earth.
That revelation comes from the “In Conversation: The First Crew” documentary on the Enterprise season two Blu-rays that just came out. As reported by Ain’t It Cool, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga originally pitched a very different freshman season for Enterprise, one that would follow the building of the vessel, the gathering of the crew, and humanity’s first encounter with Klingons (that last plot point did survive into the finished pilot, “Broken Bow”). Berman supposedly pitched the series as “The Right Stuff in outer space.” Had the studio given the original concept a thumbs up, the Enterprise wouldn’t have begun its maiden voyage until the first-season finale.
After the success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter, crowdfunding is currently the go-to pipe dream for fans hoping to resurrect their favorite cancelled TV shows. Before that, it was “Maybe Netflix could bring it back.” Before that, it was “Maybe [INSERT RANDOM CABLE NETWORK] could bring it back.” As if to remind us all that Kickstarter is not a magical panacea capable of granting new life to everything from Firefly to Welcome Back, Kotter, former Trek writer/producer Brannon Braga has hinted that, if there is any chance of Enterprise rising from the ashes, it rests with Netflix.
The ruddy-hued streaming giant led the pack among non-traditional media companies moving into the world of original content with last year’s Lillyhammer and the recent, extremely high-profile House of Cards. It’s got several other irons in the fire, including Eli Roth’s supernatural thriller series Hemlock Grove, which premieres on April 19th, and — even more importantly — a fourth season of the cancelled 2003 – 2006 sitcom Arrested Development. That latter series set the precedent that many a fanboy has pinned their hopes on, with Netflix rumored as a possible home for series including Jericho and Terra Nova. So could Netflix bring back the last Trek TV spinoff? Braga thinks…maybe. He told TrekCore:
The best possible thing the fans could do is, if they want to see another season of Enterprise, is watch it on Netflix…My neighbor produces Arrested Development, and they’re making a new season of Arrested Development. I recall him telling me that it’s because for that show, they know they’re gonna get… they have data! They know a certain number of people are going to watch that show. I’ve heard rumors in town that the CBS show Jericho might get another season, because the numbers on Netflix are big! Watch Enterprise!
To boldly go where no man has gone before is one thing. But to go to a place which man has been familiar with for most of his many millennia, one had better be ready to explain themselves when the facts start giving way to a more exciting story element. Star Trek Into Darkness, I’m looking at you, only I can’t see you because you’re underwater.
In the Into Darkness trailer, and opening nine minutes of the film according to Beaks from AintItCool, the USS Enterprise is seen underwater, apparently because the crew “can’t surface for fear of violating the Prime Directive,” which seems like a perfectly plausible thing to do, as one would try to avoid any bigtime violations by any means necessary. Even by taking a shit on physics? Apparently so, according to electrical engineer and Badass Digest contributer Ray Wagner, who professes the near impossibility of such a thing happening.
Before the instigator side of you comes out and calls everyone a party pooper for ragging on what could end up being an insignificant factor, this is a franchise deeply embedded into the science community, inspired by those who were inspired by it and so on. It’s like calling yourself a magician when all you do is stage hypnosis, or something much more masculine. It all lies in the expectations, and when one crack in the hull is found, it doesn’t tend to be alone.
Ranting aside, here is Ray Wagner’s take on the underwater Enterprise, among other things…
CBS/Paramount is having great success upgrading and converting its Star Trek franchises into high-def re-releases, with all three seasons of The Original Series already out and The Next Generation about to release its second season scheduled to hit Blu-ray next Tuesday, December 4th. While Blu-ray sets of Deep Space Nine and Voyager seem inevitable, Trek fans will be getting Enterprise Blu-rays before either of those series get an upgrade. CBS/Paramount has Enterprise: Season 1 scheduled for a Blu-ray release sometime in 2013, and they want fans’ help choosing the box art.
Trek fans can vote on their favorite choice over on the official Star Trek Facebook page. And just to make your day easier, you can see the choices below. I’m kind of partial to the blue “starship version,” personally. Then again, I don’t plan on buying the set, so my vote doesn’t really count.
Whether living, dead, or resurrected in some complicated manner, James Tiberius Kirk will always be one of the cornerstones of Star Trek‘s legacy, the Platonic ideal by which all other characters in the universe are measured against. And while characters from the original series such as McCoy and Scotty put in cameos on The Next Generation, Kirk didn’t stride into the Next Gen timeline until the underwhelming Star Trek: Generations. Despite leaving him with a thoroughly disappointing death in that movie, Kirk almost made one more triumphant return into televised Trek. The producers of Enterprise wanted the character to show up on that prequel series…and they wanted Shatner to play him.
Given that Enterprise was set decades before even the Original Series, the question is how the show’s writers planned to pull it off. In an interview with Comic Book Resources, former Trek executive producer Brannon Braga reminisced about the idea that, unfortunately, never came to fruition:
The only crossover that was exciting was there was a brief time when we were going to put Captain Kirk on ‘Enterprise,’ and we even met with William Shatner, but it just never happened. We had some story concocted about why Kirk was there and how he got there. I don’t remember. I think Shatner had a pitch. It was actually going to be a pretty cool two-part episode. I don’t know exactly what happened. It might have been that we couldn’t make a deal with Shatner or something like that.