The Future of Star Trek lasted four years. A lot of fans of Star Trek disliked this series. I wasn’t one of them. True, I did not faithfully follow it from the beginning, in part because Paramount was not taking scripts from the general public. However the third season really drew me in. I am not saying it was the greatest Sci-Fi ever. It certainly falls short of a series like Farscape. But I did like the cast, and honestly it was probably the cast that allowed it to stay on for those four years.
Star Trek has one main problem, Roddenbery especially in the Next Generation made his “world” a utopia. The problem with utopias is that they are generally boring. If people live in a perfect world, then there is no conflict. But to make great characters you must have conflict. That is why I have liked Deep Space Nine over say, Next Generation. I know this will piss off a lot of you out there. The core to any good drama is conflict and out of conflict the growth of characters.
Unfortunately, Enterprise suffered from lack of character growth. The three main characters, Archer, Trip and T’pol, do have character growth, but the rest of the cast was sorely underused. I remember one thing from the end of the fourth season that the Doctor is using a phaser against someone and the Doctor character did seem to be against the use of force, and that bothered me.
However having said that, I like the relationships between Archer, Trip and T’pol. It reminds me of the original series with Kirk, Bones and Spock. Decision, Emotions and Logic. I loved this in the original series. You have the platonic concept of the chest (the decision maker, ) the heart (seat of emotions,) and the head (the foundation of logic.) I am sure this return to the old formula of the original series was done intentionally. As a kid I remembered the banter between Kirk, Bones and Spock, and I saw this slowly develop with the Archer, Trip and T’pol.
As far as pilots go, this is probably the best pilot since the original series, and I don’t really count the original series because it was the starting point for everything that follows. The whole point of this episode is sending the first starship Enterprise on its very first mission. As the notes point out, this series was a prequel but also a sequel because it takes place after the events in Star Trek: First Contact. We have the villain introduced in the cornfield along with a Klingon that no one on earth has ever seen before. Yes, we know who they are, but the characters are taking there first steps into this great unknown. The Vulcans, not like the peaceful Vulcans of previous shows, tend to look down on humans as they are little children. The reason for this is explored in the fourth season, but in this series the Vulcans are more a hindrance than a help in the new series.
The main character change in this story is that he has to learn to trust his Vulcan science officer. If you watch this in syndication, this episode ends with Archer remembering the time with his father flying model starship and T’pol is there. That is one of the strong relationships in Enterprise. I know I chide the series for character development but I mean among the secondary characters, also Star Trek has always had a tendency to have an “easy button” for its characters. As if what happened in the last episode had nothing to do with the present episode. Personally, I like the way Ronald Moore took Battlestar Galactica and made it a complete world. When something happens on Battlestar Galactica it has ramifications for the series. I believe that Moore knows where things are going on the show, but unfortunately the producers of Enterprise did not work this out ahead of time. They should have known from the beginning who Future Guy is. For those who do not know, he is the guy behind the evolved Suliban attacks. But according to the DVD release of the series, they did not know where this was going. To do any epic TV you have to know where you are going before you set out, but the producers failed here. The whole major plot of the Temporal Cold War was scratch off because people did not understand it. I think this in part was because the producers did not do their collective homework.