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.
Enterprise was a series that seemed to be struggling to find its identity, exploring “temporal cold wars,” post-9/11 terrorism allegories, and eventual attempts to tie the series more directly to Trek’s Original Series. Elsewhere in the season two extras, Braga praises the show’s fourth season as his favorite, noting they had less studio interference during that period and saying, “I always thought season four should have been season one.” Braga also blames studio interference for crippling the show’s first season.
I think part of the problem, honestly, was being stuck with this fucking standalone-episode shit was really crippling us creatively. Star Trek was primed to do something different. [Enterprise] should have done something different from the beginning.I blame the studio for pushing us to do more of the same.
Braga says the aforementioned “temporal cold war” also came down to studio meddling. Apparently the studio was nervous about making the show a prequel, so they wanted the time travel elements to tie the show into the existing Trek series, even if only in a limited way. Braga describes the temporal cold war elements of the show as “strangulating.”
You can find out tons more about Enteprise’s history and struggles on the newly released Star Trek: Enterprise – Season Two Blu-ray set, which you can purchase here. You can also watch the show streaming on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix Instant.
Finally, you can check out a brief clip of Braga discussing Enterprise below.