In part one of CINESCAPE's Scott Bakula interview, the newly appointed captain of the Enterprise set up the series' universe for those unfamiliar with the show's premise. In this installment, the actor discusses his love of classic TREK, as well as his approach to the character of Jonathan Archer the man behind the starship.
As a fan of the original series, Bakula's admiration for the relationship that bonded Kirk, Spock and McCoy is what initially piqued his interest in tackling the role of Captain Archer in ENTERPRISE. Cheesy effects aside, it was the characters and Gene Roddenberry's vision that made the series a phenomenon in his eyes.
"I loved the relationship those folks had, especially the three guys," says Bakula. "I thought there was a lot of humor on the show. We all kind of smile about the effects back then; there was some terrible stuff being pushed around. But they treated it so seriously that I loved the whole thing. Why? I think that there's an optimistic nature to the series that's appealing and kind of one of a kind in a lot of the sci-fi stuff that you come across that there is a future for us and it's not about the end of our world, and it's about getting it right. I think that's a nice approach to think about and I think people love that. Again, those characters just jumped out, and at the time there wasn't anything like that. STAR WARS didn't come until the late '70s, so they had that kind of area to themselves pretty much."
Tapping into that feeling an emotion that Bakula believes later series have steered clear of is what attracted the actor to ENTERPRISE. That and the fact that the show would be set in a time period never before explored in television or film.
"[Rick Berman and Brannon Braga] talked about going back to a feeling of more of the Kirk, Spock and Bones relationship," says Bakula. "[This show is] more about the relationship between the crew and the captain, as opposed to a relationship with the universe. That right away was very appealing to me much more of a human approach in terms of what's happening on the ship. Being an avid original STAR TREK fan, the opportunity to be the first one to go [into space] was also very appealing to me. So to get the opportunity to go before and do all of the things they were talking about, it was a big carrot to put out in front of me."
As captain of the "new" vessel, Bakula shoulders a huge responsibility in regards to the STAR TREK property's overall success. However, the actor approaches this role as he would any other with a desire to build up the relationship between himself and his crew.
"I've played a fairly good amount of leadership roles and to me they're the most fun," says Bakula. "The reason I got into this business to begin with is because I like the interaction with the other actors and that kind of camaraderie. I'm corny that way, I guess, but it's nice to see if you can create that very special group dynamic you see in successful shows like WEST WING or LAW AND ORDER those shows where you get this sense of a group of people with one goal, working together and creating this great energy. In terms of trying to get to the reality of the work, the approach isn't any different whether you're one guy time-traveling or the captain of a ship, but I certainly enjoy it."
By setting the series in a future that is much more accessible to today's audiences and building in a certain degree of humor, ENTERPRISE and crew hope to lure back the common man the viewer who wouldn't qualify as a Trekkie per se, but rather the one who is more interested in the overall quality of the series.
"We all think we're achieving a level of humor and we hope that people find that," says Bakula. "We were talking about this yesterday on the set -- 150 years from today is not very far. You can get your mind around 150 years from today. There are some things that you can say, 'Oh, no. That definitely will not be here in 150 years.' So while my character is very much a part of the space program and very much a part of that world, the feeling of the show is we're the first guys. We're the first people to go and find out what's behind that moon over there. There's that kind of excitement and fear and all the things that come up that I think we can relate to more than, 'Oh, yes. Look at that. Well, let's pass that one by.' There's that very kind of human grounding to the series; we get dirty and bleed and some real things."
Two TREK staples that have not been explored too much since the classic series are those of action and romance for the ship's captain. After all, who can forget Kirk's double-fisted stomach punch? Or his "lights off" encounters with the female gender of various alien species? However, this is an area Bakula assures us will be revisited with the new series.
"I just heard that I'm going to get my ass kicked a lot in the next episode, actually," jokes Bakula. "But it's been pretty physical and they're enjoying writing to that. The pilot's very physical and it's a very physical cast everybody is really able to get up and go. There's romance in the pilot, as well twisted romance, but it's good. The show, I think, is going to be a pretty sexy show. There's some pretty interesting stuff that's happened in the first six hours. There's definitely some sexuality in this thing, which is great."
As a reporter who had the opportunity to sit in the actual on-set captain's chair can tell you, many fans are curious as to what it felt like for Bakula to assume command position upon the classic prop for the first time.
"It felt great," says Bakula. "The only real sense of [the power the chair has] was the first day when I got this vibe that people were waiting for me to sit in the chair so that they could go back to work. And, of course, being the person I am, I didn't sit in it for a long time I made everybody wait. But it's kind of an odd thing; it feels great. [However,] I spend less time sitting in the chair than I do moving around the bridge that's my character. I want to be over and see what the communications officer is doing. He's real hands-on. He wants to be right behind the navigator. It's not a regal kind of vibe at all to me, which I think is going to work for the character."