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…