How ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ Nearly Got a Very Different T’pol

Jolene Blalock as T’pol

CBS Jolene Blalock as T’pol

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the show’s debut, many are taking a look at “Star Trek: Enterprise” again. Much has been written about how the show was not supported by its network and ended too early

It was rushed into development to ensure that there would be no time when a new “Star Trek” series was not on the air. Thanks to a book written by Ed Gross and Mark A. Altman, fans know a bit of that time. 

For “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” Altman and Gross interviewed many of the minds behind the series, including creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. The two reported that the head of the United Paramount Network (UPN) opposed starting a new Trek show, as the ratings for “Star Trek: Voyager” declined through its run of seven seasons. But the president of Paramount TV, Kerry McCluggage, won out. 

Berman argued for a few years’ break between “Voyager” and “Enterprise” but was unsuccessful. “I managed to get them to at least wait until ‘Voyager,’ was off the air,” Berman told Gross and Altman. 

A New ‘Enterprise’

Since the show was set before the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Berman and Braga had some characters — or at least characters’ names — to pull from. Many thought that the show would star Captain Robert April. He had been featured on an episode of “Star Trek: The Animated Series” in the ’70s. 

Instead, they chose to create Captain Jonathan Archer… or, actually, Jackson Archer, as he was referred to by early on. They cast the popular actor Scott Bakula to portray Archer. And since Bakula was already known for his role on the time travel show “Quantum Leap,” 

“McCluggage was a friend of Scott Bakula’s and brought him in, and we were blown away to have somebody of such popularity,” Berman told Gross and Altman for their book.

The Vulcan — T’Pol

The next and possibly the most critical role to cast would be the female Vulcan character, T’Pol. She would be the crew’s conscience and an alien observer who both judged and advised the humans aboard the NX-01 Enterprise. 

The casting sheet for “Enterprise” revealed that she was supposed to be “cautious and guarded around humans, whom she considers primitive and irrational, she’s developed a grudging respect for Captain Archer.”

That set of notes also disclosed the plan to make this Vulcan character T’Pau, who debuted in a classic “The Original Series” episode — “Amok Time.” This character would link “Enterprise” to Shatner’s Trek with a straight line.

Unfortunately, Theodore Sturgeon, the scribe who wrote “Amok Time” back in the ’60s, raised some legal concerns. So Braga and Berman instead created T’Pol and set to cast her, even though T’Pau would appear in “Enterprise,” played by Kara Zediker

“Amok Time”

Thanks to an interview with “Enterprise” casting director Ron Surma, fans know how difficult it was to land actress Jolene Blalock for the part.

“That was the toughest role to cast,” said Surma. “My assistant at the time, Chad, had put her picture up above his desk from the beginning.”

“Her agents said no numerous times,” Surma said. “She wasn’t interested. And that last week, she decided to come in.”

Actress Marjorie Monaghan

While Surma and ‘Chad’ struggled with Blalock’s agent, a different actress was considered for the role. Marjorie Monaghan, who fans might remember from her role as “Number One” on the show “Babylon 5,” was in the running. 

Monaghan may have been able to pull off the part of T’Pol, and certainly knew her way around a science fiction show’s set. And she did appear on an episode of “Voyager,” but her full-time presence might have caused fireworks among some hardcore “Star Trek” fans. In the mid-90s, “Deep Space Nine” and “Babylon 5” were rivals. In fact, some thought that DS9 was a “rip-off” of Babylon 5.  

Either way, the casting of Monaghan did not work out, and Blalock appeared on the entire four-season run of “Enterprise” as T’Pol.

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