On this day, twenty years ago, the first episode of “Enterprise” first aired. As a franchise, “Star Trek” had been on an unbelievable run. Since 1979, there had been a new Trek movie in theaters every three years or so. And starting in 1987, there had been a “Star Trek” show airing on television — sometimes two at the same time.
So, when Paramount’s UPN network aired the first episode of a new Trek series, there were high hopes. Reviews were generally good for the first episode, “Broken Bow,” which aired on Sept. 26, 2001. Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, the show ended after just four seasons, which made it an outlier. All of the ’90s Trek shows which proceed “Enterprise” lasted a full seven seasons.
Despite that, the show broke new ground for “Star Trek” and is remembered as one of the most well-liked of all the series, and one which some fans are determined to bring back. So, to celebrate 20 years since the debut of the show, here are 10 things that are unique or done first on “Enterprise.”
1. Enterprise Was the First Trek Prequel
Since the 1960s, all Trek shows moved forward on the same timeline. Kirk’s show was first, followed by “The Animated Series,” followed chronologically by “The Next Generation.” This was the first to break that pattern and tell stories before Kirk’s time.
2. Archer Was Not a Womanizer
As noted in earlier articles, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) was quite the ladies’ man. And to some degree, Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Sisko (Avery Brooks) had their share of romances as well. Even Janeway had the constant tension with Chakotay to worry about.
Archer (Scott Bakula) was written differently than the captains before him and certainly as a contrast to Kirk’s womanizing. Thanks to Mark A. Altman and Ed Gross’s book, “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” fans have a little insight into this. Producer Antoinette Stella told Gross and Altman why Archer was different.
“In the original, Captain Kirk slept with every single alien female he met, and then, by contrast, Scott Bakula became something of a monk because he always held back,” said Stella. “Forty years later, we didn’t want trained women out in space just being any port in a storm, so it was respectful to women … but it was also less exciting storytelling.”
Bakula also was relieved that the possible romance with T’Pol never worked out.
3. First Trek Show to Change Its Name
As some of us can remember, the show’s name was changed from “Enterprise” to “Star Trek: Enterprise.” Between Seasons 2 and 3, the name of the show was changed.
4. Militarization of Trek
The MACO unit was a big difference for “Star Trek.” The “Military Assault Command Operations” were not part of Starfleet, but they are still closely associated with the show. This sort of affiliation with the military was always there (see David Marcus’ rant during “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”), but the presence of MACO made it even more pronounced. Not even the war with the Dominion on “Deep Space Nine” had troops in camouflage like what MACO wore.
5. Vulcans Were the Bad Guys
In all previous versions of Trek, the Vulcans were allies of humanity. Arrogant and even condescending, but still on the same team. On “Enterprise,” they were written so that fans started to hate the Vulcans. This was a far cry from Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock, a character that became beloved the world over.
6. ‘Enterprise’ Changed After 9/11
As we’ve noted recently, “Star Trek: Enterprise” was the first Trek to react to the 9/11 attacks. This dramatically shifted many of the stories which were planned and much of the tone of the show itself.
7. First Trek Show With a Pop Song Opening
Like many fans will share, this was a controversial decision. Thanks to co-executive producer Rick Berman, “Enterprise” was the first (and possibly last) Trek show to have an opening featuring a song… with a singer.
8. First Show to Temporarily Change the Opening
While showrunner Manny Coto was in charge, he got the show’s opening to be completely changed. This was for their exploration of the Mirror Universe. Instead of the Rod Stewart song, fans saw the horrors of war and how the Terran Empire built its empire. In a way, this was brilliant because the intro made it clear to fans what exactly they were in store for. Also, Dennis McCarthy and Kevin Kiner created music for that opening which was haunting. No Trek show since has attempted such a bold and temporary change.
9. First Show With Pockets
Besides the Monster Maroon coats in the TOS films, pockets on “Star Trek” were a no-no. There were just a few instances where pockets were allowed. The uniforms on “Enterprise” were supposed to be more primitive than what Kirk and Spock wore, which meant they were closer to what we see on our astronauts today. And the guys and gals in space in 2021 all have pockets on their uniforms.
10. First Trek Show Filmed in HD
Unlike “Voyager” or “Deep Space Nine,” this show was created at the right time to be filmed in high definition (HD). This was a big deal back in 2001, as HD was not yet available everywhere. This decision was also wise because “Enterprise” is available in HD today on streaming platforms and for purchase on Blu-ray.