It was with some sadness mixed with relief that I received the news of Star Trek Enterprise’s cancellation last week. I’ve been a Star Trek fan for most of my life and in a lot of ways I feel like I grew up on the Enterprise of the original series. The lessons from the original Star Trek still shape much of how I see the world. So I was certainly happy when the series was revived with new movies and television series.
The revival was a rocky one, beginning with a motion picture whose reach far outstripped its grasp and then a new tv series that was quite awkward the first couple of seasons. But improved writing and great acting eventually gave us two great new series. Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine developed into wonderful shows that faithfully fleshed out and extended the Star Trek universe. They also, IMHO gave a new lease on life to science fiction on television. Babylon 5, one of the greatest science fiction series ever, might not have gotten its chance if the new Trek series had not demonstrated the new viability of SF on tv. The same might be said for Stargate, and Farscape (another favorite) as well.
It seems that all good things must come to an end though, as the final Trek series largely failed to live up to the standards of the previous series. Star Trek: Voyager was the beginning of the end as the writing just never got up to speed. Not only that, it seemed that the cast of Voyager never jelled as a team. I never got the impression from what I saw and read, that the cast of Voyager even liked each other. When a cast doesn’t work well together, it can only limit what the writers can do. As for Enterprise, I think there were some good ideas there but they just couldn’t get it together. That whole Xindi thing was a terrible detour from what should have been a story of early pre-Federation history. Deep Space Nine did a great job of introducing some new civilizations and making them a part of the Star Trek universe, why couldn’t Enterprise?
I think that in the end, the powers that be tried too hard to make Enterprise like any other show on tv today. Yeah, more sex, and more violence. Star Trek has never been about that! Bigger boobs and fighting that makes no sense will never hold the Star Trek fan’s interest for very long. And everyone else gets tired of it too. Perhaps if Star Trek: Enterprise had spent more time exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no one had gone before, it would have had better ratings.