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'Enterprise' Reactions

By Christian Höhne Sparborth
Posted at May 14, 2001 - 11:51 PM GMT

When Paramount officially announced the next Star Trek series on Friday, it caused more excitement than the online Star Trek community has seen in a long while - the fact that the new Enterprise forum on our own Trek BBS already has more than 200 threads is proof of that. To gauge the general opinion of fandom, we asked several on-line personalities for their reaction to the Series V announcement and concept.

Donna Dickenson, Project Quantum Leap

With Scott Bakula in the lead role, Enterprise will not only be closely followed by Trekkers, but also by the 'Leapers' - fans of Bakula's Quantum Leap series. Webmistress Donna Dickenson at Project Quantum Leap said that the Leapers are very much looking forward to Enterprise.

"I'm very excited and happy to finally hear the confirmation that Scott will lead Enterprise," Dickenson told us. "Now the world will know what Scott's fandom has known for years - what a fantastically creative and talented actor he is. We're very happy to see him back on weekly television, and especially in the newest Star Trek. Most QL'ers are Trekkers from way back."

Dickenson was also anticipating the series for other reasons than Bakula's involvement. "From what I know of Enterprise's concept, I think it's a great idea. TNG, DS9, and Voyager have explored the future. Now it's time to explore the past, and regain some of the wonder and excitement generated by TOS. The relationship between Archer and T'Pau is very interesting to me. T'Pau has been a favorite character of mine. (Also of my dad - who taught me everything I know about Trek.) Considering the role she plays in the future, it's going to be fascinating to see the road she travels."

When asked what Bakula would bring to the series, Dickenson joked, "Do you mean besides a huge fan base?" She added, "I agree with what Rick Berman said. Scott will bring charm and intelligence, but also a lot of energy and determination to make this show work. I know in my heart Scott wouldn't have signed on unless he was ready to devote 210% to the show and the character. I can't wait to see him as Captain Archer."

Star Trek Novelists

Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of the recent TNG novel 'Diplomatic Implausibility' and webmaster of DeCandido.net, said he would reserve judgement until the series actually airs. "To be honest," he said, "there are no bad concepts, only bad executions. You can have the dumbest concept in the world and make it work -- you can have a great concept, and it's irrelevant if the execution doesn't live up to it. So I don't want to judge anything until there's an actual product to judge."

The Series V element that interested DeCandido most was the casting. "Probably the element that has me most excited is the casting of Scott Bakula, of whom I've been a fan since Quantum Leap debuted. (Heck, I was one of the six people who actually watched Mr. And Mrs. Smith....) He's a versatile actor who has the chops to lead an ensemble, and the charisma to pull off the captain of a ship."

Peter David, best-known for his Star Trek: New Frontier series, echoed many of DeCandido's sentiments. "I've learned long ago that commenting on something as ephemeral as concepts is a waste of time," he said. "Something that seems like a terrible idea can pleasantly surprised; something that seems like a brilliant idea can be a horrible disappointment. It's all in the execution. All I know is, I'll certainly be sampling the series, I'm pleased that Scott Bakula has a weekly gig again, and I hope they do an episode where he gets to sing as soon as possible."

Finally, Jill Sherwin, author of the recent Definitive Star Trek Trivia Book, said she was looking forward to the series. "I'm thrilled and excited that such a talented actor as Scott Bakula will be leading the way for the next Star Trek series. He brings a charisma and a depth that is crucial to Star Trek captains. I think he's a great choice to 'boldly go' where no Star Trek series has gone before."

David Henderson, Psi Phi

David Henderson is the webmaster of one of the longest-running Star Trek sites on the internet, PsiPhi.org, having covered Deep Space Nine, Voyager and the Star Trek novel line. Henderson said it was likely Psi Phi would be having a greater presence online for Enterprise than he had for Voyager over the last couple of years, and also said he thought it had great potential.

"The concept of a prequel has a lot of potential for exciting stories, but the real key to its success will be in the execution.

"Some people have expressed unease about Brannon Braga being in charge of the series, based on his leadership of Voyager... but I am willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt. Braga took over the reigns of Voyager and shifted the show from what it was to something else; this obviously upset fans who liked the show in its earlier years who didn't like his changes, or who thought his style clashed with the style of the show.

"On the other hand, Braga is in from the very beginning with Enterprise, so his leadership style should be very much compatible with the concept of the show. It should definitely be interesting to see how this works out.

"Also, the involvement of Scott Bakula in the creative aspects of the show, based on his comments about being more interested in characters than technology, will hopefully prove a counterbalance to Braga's more 'high-concept' ideas."

Kenn Hoekstra, Raven Software

At Raven Software, Kenn Hoekstra was one of the developers in charge of creating the 'Voyager: Elite Force' computer game. Hoekstra was excited about Bakula being cast as Jonathan Archer, but did not care so much for the prequel premise.

"I'm extremely happy with the choice of Scott Bakula as Captain Archer. I think he's a fine actor and the role of starship captain will suit him well. I'm not a big fan of having the series take place before the original series, however. I was hoping for a series that bridges the gap between TOS and TNG...perhaps with a Captain Sulu or a Captain Rachel Garrett."

"In a prequel series, the primary antagonists would almost certainly be the Klingons. I think that fans know just about everything there is to know about "Klingons as the enemy" storylines and would much rather see the Romulans or a new enemy emerge as the nemesis in a series. That's another reason for my disappointment at the time period choice.

"One nice thing about having it take place before the Original Series is the "gunboat diplomacy" methods the Federation supposedly used in that time period. I expect a lot of action, a lot of conflict and a lot of hot tempers...more akin to the last few seasons of DS9 than anything the Next Generation had to offer. At least that's what I should expect unless they're going to throw the "Wagon Train In Space" approach of TOS right out the window. If they use this series to de-legitimize the Original Series and crew, I think they will have a bunch of angry fans...myself included. That said, I don't think that will happen. I expect this series to have an identity of its own.

"I looked at the credits list sent out in the press release and didn't recognize any of the actors listed (beyond Scott Bakula of course) so I can't really formulate an opinion on the cast. Ultimately, I'm going to reserve judgment until I see a full season of the series. In the meantime, I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best."

Jamahl Epsicokhan, Star Trek: Hypertext

Jamahl Epsicokhan at Star Trek: Hypertext is easily one of the most prolific Trek reviewers still writing, having reviewed all seasons of The Original Series, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Despite this, Epsicokhan said it's not yet certain he will also be returning for Enterprise.

"I'm not one to make snap judgments; I'm undecided on whether or not Enterprise is a good concept, simply because that's something that I don't think can be determined until after the show airs and has probably a lot of its first season in the books. Honestly, I've become convinced that a premise isn't even half as important as what the creators do with it. I think Voyager has proven that belief, because Voyager had what many people considered Trek's most promising concept -- but that concept was largely ignored in favor of turning the show into a 'TNG in the Delta Quadrant. Enterprise could go down a similar path if the writers don't make a conscious decision to tell at least some stories that do their central premise justice.

"Enterprise has definite potential because it deals with an era of Trek's history that we haven't seen explored very much. One of the poignant selling points of 'Star Trek: First Contact' was in seeing some of the Federation's origins opened for us, and Enterprise will have the potential to do that on a weekly basis. The question is whether it will seriously examine the Federation in this time frame or whether it will opt to simply "boldly go" and retell starship stories we've been seeing on New Trek for the last 14 years.

"Of course, the extremely obvious potential pratfall is that misusing or ignoring the central concept will be fatal to fans who care about the franchise history and its continuity. Enterprise, before even rolling any cameras, has already built in at least one contradictory element in the presence of a Vulcan serving on a Federation starship. That in itself may not be a big deal, but I'm wondering if the creators are interested in appealing to any of the fans who watched TOS or, now in 2001, even TNG. It may simply be a matter of attracting the younger and younger audience members who haven't seen Trek in its original form -- or even TNG. For us die-harders who've seen the entire Trek canon, it may get more and more tiring as a side effect of an aging franchise. Hopefully, to keep us interested, Enterprise will also take some new dramatic turns in terms of theme and attitude, which certainly seems possible given the premise. I for one wouldn't mind seeing a less-evolved Starfleet.

"For me, the obvious question -- whether or not I will be reviewing it this fall -- does not yet have an answer. I'd say the chances are pretty good, but lately I've been wondering if maybe I'm a little too jaded or burned out to find these starship stories fresh anymore. Andromeda, for example, what I thought was a good, goal-oriented premise, has so far in practice been more disappointing than I expected. In the past I've argued that the Trek franchise needs a rest, but maybe it's me who needs a rest. Then again, by fall, when I've had a break and I'm itching to start up the reviews again, I'll probably feel differently."

Ashley Edward Miller, 'Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda'

Ashley Edward Miller first became known to fans for writing reviews of Star Trek: Voyager. Though he has now moved on to the writing staff of the Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda television series, he is still a Star Trek fan, and said he was looking forward to Enterprise.

"Enterprise has the potential to be a great show. Setting the series in a different context from the previous spin-offs should allow for a fresh take on the material while preserving what makes Star Trek special. If Enterprise can successfully combine Trek's amazing production values with the kind of storytelling modern audiences have come to expect, it could be "lightning in a bottle" all over again. There are obvious challenges in crafting a story around a circumstance that puts the "accompli" in fait accompli; i.e., the founding of the Federation. However, these challenges are not insurmountable and could be part of the fun. With a great cast headed by the likes of genre favorite Scott Bakula, Enterprise has all the elements it needs to be a success."

Steve Krutzler, TrekWeb

Steve Krutzler, webmaster of Star Trek site TrekWeb, said Enterprise would offer fresh new opportunities for the Star Trek franchise.

"Assuming Enterprise is indeed a prequel, as reliable insiders seem to speculate, I think the concept is good only insofar as the established Trek mythos and history is not disturbed, nor exploited for ratings purposes. This means, the producers should be mindful that the show's audience will not tolerate incongruous changes or additions to what the previous series and movies have defined as what it means to be "Star Trek" -- i.e., "the history of the future." In addition, the show should avoid excessive links to the "future" by way of "cutesy" remarks or mentions week after week.

"The concept does allow for a radical change in the heretofore explained Star Trek universe, at least with regard to technology cliches and other elements of the 24th century that have been dealt with ad nauseum since 1987.

"The most interesting potentiality of a prequel series to me is that it can create its own separate universe of aliens, events, and characters that only minorly affect what is accepted as Star Trek history, and that this universe could be based on a human era not so far removed from our own, and thus make the show more accessible to a modern audience as well as add a sense of pioneering spirit that perhaps the "life is so easy on a starship" mentality of TNG, DS9, and VOY suppressed.

"That said, I think a future jump of a hundred years could provide such a pioneering theme as well as a prequel, without the dangers of tampering with Trek history. In any case, the series premise is radically different from previous series and contingent on these various issues, could prove quite beneficial to the franchise. Everyone knows now that you can't just slap "Star Trek" on a show and have people watch it; unless the writing is far superior to what we've seen in the majority of the episodes over the last six years on both DS9 and VOY, the show slump and become a major obstacle for the future of Star Trek to overcome." Krutzler intended to remain involved with online fandom. "This is the first Trek series for which I have been online since long before it's development and now its forthcoming premiere. I intend to -- the costs/benefits of running TrekWeb.COM permitting -- to stay involved for however long Enterprise lasts and long after. TrekWeb isn't going anywhere!"

Adam Bailey, Optical Data Network

Adam Bailey, editor of the oldest Star Trek newsletter still running, the Optical Data Network, was moderately positive about the series.

"Although Paramount has yet to describe the Enterprise series concept, the fact that everything announced thus far fits nearly perfectly with what we already knew, that it's a safe bet that Enterprise will indeed be set in the early days of the Federation.

"I think this premise has considerable promise. Once again we have a chance to explore the unknown and deal with the galaxy's mysteries and dangers that won't be described in a massive computer database. Gone will be the overwhelming comfort of the previous three series. Gone will be the easy life that made each situation largely unaffecting. Gone, we hope, will be the many elements of Deus Ex Machina that have so riddled previous series. Enterprise has the potential to be everything Voyager wanted to be, yet often failed to be.

"Of course, there is just as much likelihood that Enterprise will also fail to live up to its potential. The concept is good, but execution will be key. We should hope that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga have learned not only from their previous successes, but also from their previous failures, and can make Enterprise more than just another science action show."

David E. Sluss, The Cynics Corner

David E. Sluss, reviewer at the Cynics Corner, said he initially was also rather cynical about the leaked casting sheet.

"First off, I have to admit that I thought the casting sheet that circulated a few weeks ago was completely bogus, and so I am surprised that the details of the new series match that document so closely.

"The series, as a prequel to all previous Trek series, is a potentially interesting idea, but there are a lot of pitfalls. The two biggest that I can see (outside of the fact that we're getting pretty much the same seemingly burned-out staff of writers) are continuity and technology creep.

"The continuity issue is obvious, considering that in large measure, these are the people who brought us Star Trek: Voyager, a series that often wasn't able to maintain continuity with its own episodes, or even within a single episode. Can these people keep track of what can and can't happen a century before Kirk?

"Technology creep is a related issue. Will these folks be able to keep the technology/babble suitably "primitive," or will they be unable to keep themselves away from holodecks, metaphasic shields, etc.? Can they create present a vessel that looks advanced and whose sets meet the expectations of today's viewers, while at the same time not making it look newer than Kirk's ship?

"The cast: I don't know any of them instead of Bakula, who seems to be a reasonable choice.

"The characters: The casting sheet's description of these people sounded like some kind of fanboy wet dream, which was the main reason I thought it was bogus. They sound like walking Trek cliches, but I'm sure TNG's casting sheet didn't look much better.

"THE BOTTOM LINE: Wait and see. Regardless, I'm awaiting Enterprise with virtual hatchet in hand (assuming I ever get caught up on this season's reviews)."

Tim Hansen, Section 31

Tim Hansen at news site Section 31 expressed some trepidation about the show's concept.

"When I posted the official press release on my site last night, my worst fear was confirmed. It turns out the next series, Enterprise, was going to be a prequel-based Star Trek series set in the 22nd century. I have to admit that for months I was hoping the casting sheets we posted regarding the next series would be proven to be a hoax, but obviously that is not the case. I was really hoping Paramount was launching some form of misinformation campaign, but that would be a first even for them. Ever since we knew there was going to be another Star Trek series, it was my hope that it would be either in the current timeline of Trek (TNG, DS9, VOY) or be in the distant future.

"Although I have a dislike for this prequel concept now, it's tough to judge the series without seeing a single frame of footage. I'm going to try and approach it with an open mind. The only thing that might interest me at this stage is the chance to see some historically significant events in the Star Trek universe. There is also the possibility for continuity blunders galore if the writers and producers are not careful. Right now the announcement is bringing a lot of excitement to Trek fans all over the world.

"As for Section31.com's online presence, we're not going anywhere. We plan to cover the new Enterprise series in the same fashion we covered Voyager the last couple of years. We also plan to cover Trek X just as heavily. As to which I'm more looking forward to between the two... definitely without a doubt Star Trek X!

AntonyF, B5LR.com

Until recently, AntonyF was webmaster of Fandom.com's Star Trek Central. He has since moved on to Babylon 5: Legend of the Rangers fan site B5LR.com, but still maintains an active interest in Star Trek.

"I was really uninterested in a new series, at first. I feel we should have had a gap, made us eager again. I feel like I've been Trekked out. The announcement of Bakula though, and actually seeing the actors involved, has made my interest grow. It's nice to see the people that will bring it to life. I think Voyager started off wonderfully, but lost its way. I just hope that they can stick to the Enterprise core premise, whatever that may be, when the show comes under pressure to perform in the fierce ratings wars." Antony said he thought the possibility of vulnerability was the aspect of the series that interested him most. "The possibility of the vulnerability. I feel we can relate to characters when they are vulnerable. I hope we see situations where they really are in very real danger through their exploration."

Jim Wright, Delta Blues

Finally, one person who certainly will not be active in the same way in Enterprise fandom as he was with Voyager is Jim Wright, editor of Delta Blues. As befits the writer of the longest Star Trek reviews online, Wright also sent us the longest reaction to the Enterprise announcement:

"It would have been tricky to keep The Fans happy no matter WHAT they chose to do -- is there consensus about ANYTHING in fandom these days? -- but I like what I see so far. A lot.

"Some might complain about the return of a White Man in the big chair instead of breaking some new glass ceiling, but given the 22nd century setting, it's not unreasonable. Besides, I'm a long-time Scott Bakula fan -- he brings likeability to every role. I have the same excitement I felt when Richard Dean Anderson took on Stargate SG-1.

"The setting has a lot of potential, both for excitement and for inconsistency. It'll be fun to see how they navigate the continuity minefields, and how they choose to portray the FIRST draft of the "history" we have heard referred to in TOS and the 24th centuries. I can see them enjoying the opportunity to tweak our expectations, while still showing how the Trek history books got written the way they did. It'll be a challenge, but there's a lot of freedom within the constraints, and I see more opportunity than obstacle there.

"The really fun part is, this series will have permission to be not only less-than-perfect, but often outrageously so -- this was the era where they made all the mistakes that led to the codified Prime Directive. They're writing the rules, and that often comes through sad experience. It's a great opportunity to return to the heart of Gene Roddenberry's concept--exploring humanity by forcing it to confront its cherished notions of self. By the end of the 24th century most of those questions are assumed to be answered; in the 22nd, on the first real foray into the unknown, they aren't.

"All in all, I believe Enterprise is a solid concept, and the casting looks good. I wish it all success, and I'll be right there watching.

"As for my own involvement in fandom...

"My reviewing days will end with the conclusion of Voyager. Covering Voyager has been a labor of love--emphasis on labor. I gave it all I had for seven years, and though I don't regret it, I'm burned out. I'm eager to return to my original writing projects and to get on with my life.

"Many people asked me why I didn't review DS9 or the other series. Aside from the time factor, it was a matter of personal need. With Voyager I was always looking for that little hook or spin for the later rewrite. I welcomed the simple pleasure of watching DS9 as a fan rather than a critic.

"I'm not divorcing myself from fandom; in fact, I'm looking forward to rejoining it--I'll have the have the time to participate in discussion boards and answer my email. I haven't written much fanfic; that will change. My site will remain up, and if someone wants to try to pick up the reviewing baton, I wouldn't mind mentoring or providing site space. "One of my early reviewing heroes, Ashley Miller, is now writing for Andromeda; I don't expect to follow his footsteps, but I'll submit a script or two to Enterprise and see what happens.

"Fandom has been very good to me. I've met people from around the world, online and in person, and I've appreciated the opportunity to bring Voyager to fans who otherwise wouldn't have been able to "see" the episode for months or years after they aired in the U.S. The reaction to my efforts has been overwhelmingly positive, and--particularly this season--incredibly patient and supportive. That's what I'll miss most when I stop reviewing."

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Christian Höhne Sparborth is one of the three editors of the Trek Nation, as well as of Andromeda site SlipstreamWeb.

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