In the fall of 2000, Paramount took the wraps off its latest and some said last incarnation of the venerable STAR TREK franchise, ENTERPRISE. Since its debut this fall, the show has received great ratings and has been well received by fans and critics alike.
Set 100 years prior to the graduation of James T. Kirk from Starfleet Academy and before the organization of the United Federation of Planets, the show follows the initial voyages of the NX-01 Enterprise captained by Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) Earth's first high-warp-capable ship of the line. Thus far in the show's inaugural season, the Vulcans have been revealed as crafty dissemblers, the fan-favorite Andorians (remember them... the little blue guys from CLASSIC TREK) have appeared sporting a comprehensive antennae upgrade and a previously unknown species, the Suliban, are embroiled in a "temporal cold war" which promises further interesting developments.
While VOYAGER was generally panned by critics and dropped by fans, both constituencies have warmly received ENTERPRISE. Executive producer and primary writer Brannon Braga is pleased by the development, but notes, "There's still plenty of criticism... there are plenty of people who think the show sucks and that we're corrupting the franchise and that it's disrespectful and that stuff." However, he is "relieved now that it's been received fairly well, and I'm just trying to keep the quality high."
Braga displays a high level of concern, even anxiety about the quality of the show, which may stem from his experiences on VOYAGER (he remarks that when he was approached to develop ENTERPRISE during VOYAGER's season six, he was "sick of the whole damn thing").
In contrast, the other TREK Lord at Paramount, executive producer Rick Berman, sounds a great deal more sanguine about the prospects for the show.
"I always felt comfortable that it was going to work out," says Berman. "I never sensed that the fans were split. I think that the fans were just waiting to see how this would work out. I think it's proven to be a great show."
Berman also asserts that future storylines for the series have been nailed down.
"We have it mapped out, but we don't have it totally specific. But we've got it. We know what we're doing. We know where we're going."
While there's not a ton of information available in the ORIGINAL SERIES (TOS) concerning the preceding 115 years, cross-indexing data concerning Kirk-era STAR TREK with what audiences have seen so far on ENTERPRISE reveals some very distinct future plot developments:
The great TOS episode "Balance of Terror" introduces veteran-TREK-actor-to-be Mark Lenard in the role of a Romulan Commander. To the surprise of everyone onboard the NCC-1701, the Romulans share an uncanny resemblance to their logical Vulcan crewmember Spock. Moreover, they speak of the "Romulan-Human War," which apparently took place a generation or so earlier.
All signs point to the eventual first contact between Earth and those durable pointy-eared villains. Indeed, each time Romulans are mentioned to members of the ENTERPRISE cast and crew, a new alien race comes up, the Remuns, who may appear in both ENTERPRISE and the upcoming STAR TREK: NEMESIS movie.
Dominick Keating, ENTERPRISE's Lt. Malcolm Reed and ship's tactical officer, may have trouble with the details, but confirms that they are upcoming.
"Oh yes," he says enthusiastically. "Romulans and Remuns. They're next, baby! I have no idea who they are. Are they war-mongering?"
Since Klingons were central to the plot of the initial episode and have since shown up twice, it's safe to bet that the bumpy foreheaded warmongers will be back. Look for relations between Klingons, Humans and Vulcans to deteriorate until open raids against Human and Vulcan bases/colonies become a predictable occurrence.
As the future has proven, those merciless, slave-holding Klingons always make the best villains.
In "Broken Bow," Klaang, the wounded Klingon messenger who is ferried home by the Enterprise, babbles the word "Tholia" in his fever. The utterance is emphasized and repeated by Captain Archer as one of the words that cannot be translated and carries no apparent meaning to the doughty crew. Tholians first appear in TOS episode "The Tholian Web" in which Captain Kirk is lost, floating about in a spatio-temporal anomaly until he is rescued in the nick of time by Scott and Spock. The Tholians build a sort of energy net around the Enterprise for the duration of the episode.
There are numerous parallels between the plots of "The Tholian Web" and "Broken Bow." Is that single word clue an acknowledgement by Braga of his literary inspirations, or a clue to future developments in the new show?
Zefram Cochrane, Henry Archer: Guest Stars?
A number of years prior to the events in the series, Cochrane (played most recently by James Cromwell in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT and "Broken Bow"), the inventor of warp technology, is lost in space, only to surface again in TOS episode "Metamorphosis." It's implied in the initial episode of ENTERPRISE that Cochrane and Henry Archer, Capt. Archer's father, worked together on the same ship.
Time travel... a living actor... you know there's a guest spot coming down the road sometime! And seeing how Henry Archer worked with Cochrane, it seems possible that the captain of the Enterprise may get to see his father one last time.
Check back later this week for part two of our ENTERPRISE speculations.