Star Trek Enterprise Series Analysis


Star Trek Enterprise Series Statistics
SeriesAverage Rating# of EpisodesPoints
Ent season 14.9226128
Ent season 24.7726124
Ent season 35.6324135
Ent season 46.4522142
Ent as a whole5.498529

Star Trek Enterprise was Rick Berman and Brannon Braga's response to Voyager's poorly received status among fans. They thought that by taking Star Trek in a new direction, namely out of the 24th century, that new life would be breathed into the series. There was nothing wrong with that rationale, but once again there were issues with the execution. As a prequel, there was a lot riding on Enterprise in terms of expectations from the fans. One needs only to look at the Star Wars prequels to see how difficult it is to maintain those expectations. In terms of how Enterprise met those expectations, it did even worse than the Star Wars prequels. Enterprise was set in the 22nd century, ten years before the founding of the Federation. From what we know of Earth history in Star Trek, the Earth-Romulan war was to take place during this time period. The assumption was that Enterprise would deal heavily with this.

Instead, what we got was a confusing plot arc concerning a "temporal cold war" being fought across time itself. Episodes not dealing with the temporal cold war were simple exploration, in the TNG style formula. The formulaic exploration is easily forgiven, seeing as how Enterprise is Earth's first warp 5 ship, but it went on a bit too long. More importantly, the temporal cold war arc was entirely superfluous, wholly unnecessary, and extremely frustrating for fans. It wasn't until season 2 that the Romulans were finally properly introduced, and after that, we didn't see them again until season 4, with season 3 being a DS9-style war arc featuring the temporal cold war and the Xindi, an entirely new alien threat. Season 3's Xindi/temporal cold war arc was some good fun to watch, but entirely the wrong plot arc for the show to be focusing on. So three seasons go by, and everybody stops watching. The show was systematically squandering its time and alienating its fan base.

Season 4 marked the end of the temporal cold war arc and the beginning of the buildup to the Earth-Romulan war, but the show had already been on borrowed time since season 3. Having alienated so many fans in Enterprise's early seasons with the temporal cold war and filler episodes, the amazingly awesome fourth season was too little, too late. The show was canceled at the end of its fourth season. It's almost scary how well Enterprise's demise parallels Farscape's. Similarly, Farscape wasted a great deal of its time and lost significant viewers in the first three seasons, then in the fourth season finally became the show everybody wanted it to be, too late in the game.

So Enterprise was an even bigger failure than Voyager. At least Voyager was a successful formulaic second generation science fiction show about exploration. Enterprise failed at both the formula and the attempts at a continuing, dramatic plot arc. But despite Enterprise having been the black sheep of the Star Treks, it managed to produce some truly great episodes once in a while, reaffirming that it was, in fact, still Star Trek. Episodes like Minefield, Cogenitor, Twilight, Similitude, most of season 4, and my personal favorite Enterprise episode, the highly underrated Vox Sola make the show well worth watching. While Enterprise's cast was not as strong as other Star Trek shows, characters like Trip, Hoshi, and Reed were a lot of fun to watch. The show did well at portraying humble characters in humble circumstances and while I would overall rank Enterprise below TNG, DS9, and Voyager in terms of quality, I still think it's superior to the TOS era.

Enterprise effectively killed the Star Trek franchise, so it's popular to hate it. I understand this sentiment, but do not share it. With better writers, Enterprise could have given us a war story better than DS9's and exploration stories better than TNG's and Voyager's. Again, like Voyager, the idea behind the show was solid. It was just a highly neglected show by its primary writers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. It's amazing how much episode quality shot up when Manny Coto signed on as the primary writer in season 4. Contrast that work to the series finale, the worst of any Star Trek, which was written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. It's clear that in order to move forward, a new Star Trek will need new writers who are more in touch with the fan base, such as Coto. As a result of this loss of touch with the fan base and refusal to adopt new storytelling trends, an 18 year straight run of uninterrupted Star Trek came to a disappointing close. Any number of negative emotions could describe the resulting state of the Star Trek fan base. For the first time in Star Trek history, many fans were not calling for a revival, like after the end of TOS, but instead advocated that the show should never be revived for fear of the demonstrated drop in quality persisting. I can only hope that this low point in Star Trek history is not fatal, that Star Trek does continue on for many more years and that important lessons are learned from Voyager and especially Enterprise in later Star Trek productions.