Enterprise, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager

Enterprise (2001-2005)
Star Trek (1966-1969)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1992-1999)
Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
Type: Franchise
Group: 10

   Okay, while Enterprise is clearly part of the Star Trek universe, they have as of this writing not done a bona fide crossover with any of the other Star Trek shows. Thus for the moment I am lumping them all together in one big pile detailing what the deal is with Enterprise. So get ready. This is basically a quick ramble through Trek history until I get something more specific to write about.

   Enterprise was the fifth Star Trek series to hit the air (sixth if you count the Star Trek cartoon) but this whole mess started in the sixties with the original Star Trek.

   Star Trek told the story of James T. Kirk, his starship the Enterprise and its crew. They were on a five year mission of discovery to search the galaxy, boldly going where no man had gone before. The show used its sci fi setup to deal with social issues of the day. A staory about racism involving blacks and whites might have made network suits uncomfortable but hide it by making it about the gruslang bunny people of Natbo 5 and the lobster assed squirrels of Boofaloo 2 (I call copyrights on both those) and you can say pretty much anything you want and no one will notice. Just a silly space show anyway right? Hehehe. Fools! Star Trek was teaching social and moral lessons and no one noticed because "it's just a silly space show".

   When it was on the air on NBC Star Trek was just a cult hit and didn't really catch on with the general audience. On Prime Time it had to compete against other Prime Time shows and parents who had control of the television and weren't about to sit around watching some sci fi crap just so there kids could see it. Plus there is something else I think has gotten forgotten: for most of its run on NBC Star Trek was scheduled from 8:30pm to 9:30pm or 7:30pm to 8:30pm. ?!?!?!? That's the kiss of death! I mean come on. Viewers set their viewing habits on the hour. 8pm to 9pm you're going to watch to sitcoms or an hour long drama. For somebody to remember at 8:30pm to change the channel they have to want to see that show. Many people might be in the middle of an hour long show just then. There was no chance at grabbing casual viewers scanning the dial, especially in the pre-remote control sixties. The show was cancelled after only three years, two short of that damn mission plan (although if you count the cartoon that came after it they did pick up one of those years). The seed for later success was planted though.

   Star Trek reruns went into weekend syndication all over the world after the show was cancelled and more people started just running into it as they flipped the dial. No Primetime stuff to compete with, just weekend daytime TV crapola. And less chance of parents taking total control of the TV. More people started seeing it. And digging it. It got big. Conventions started. Fan art, fan fiction, monkeys dressed like Spock running wild in the yard! Well, okay, that monkey thing was probably limited to my one weird neighbor and his pets. But the point is Star Trek got big.

   With science fiction becoming huge business in the 70's with the success of Star Wars, the Hollywood big shots could see they had a potential goldmine in Star Trek. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had a new Star Trek series in mind but the suits were so excited they decided to put Star Trek on the big screen as a film franchise. So the new show became the new movie, then movies all with the original crew.

   But the crew was getting older and would not be around forever. Plus suddenly a hit TV show and a film franchise sounded pretty good. Enter Star Trek: The Next Generation a new TV show to be run in first run syndication (syndication is where Star Trek became a hit). Set further in the future than the original series Next Gen featured an all new cast, updated equipment and updated looks for many of the established alien races. With a whole new cast this show was not a guaranteed success. Was Star Trek a hit due to the cast or due to the world they operated in? It turned out new crew or old Star Trek was popular. After a rocky start The Next Generation became a hit.

   Midway through Next Generation's run Paramount, Star Trek's studio, decided to rev up another Trek show for syndication. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a darker Trek. It was set in an old space station postioned near the alien world of Bajor and a valuable wormhole in space that could be used to travel to far end of the universe. It put off some Trek fans as not being quite... Trek enough and maybe because of that and its competing for part of its run with Next Generation it didn't do quite as well in the ratings. In my mind the lack of a Trek vibe might be because, in my opinion, the show "borrowed" heavily in a lot of its setup from competing sci-fi show Babylon 5 (even though DS9 hit the air first Paramount had access to the Babylon 5 "Bible" before well before DS9 went into production). That said DS9 is a good solid show on its own and not just some rip off. It was dark but cool.

   Halfway through Deep Space Nines run the next Trek show, Star Trek: Voyager was launched. And with Paramount starting its own network, UPN, the new Trek would be used as the network flagship rather then being aired in first run syndication. Voyager debut to okay ratings but they weren't as big as the last two shows' numbers. The intent had been to always have two shows on the air at any time with one starting up while the last one was still halfway through its run. But the numbers on Voyager convinced Paramount one Trek show on the air at a time was all people really wanted. Two was too much. The plot of Voyager was that the Starship Voyager is lost in deep space and will spend the run of the series trying to find its way home. And while it did have fans it was not the ultimate in Trek shows. The idea to send them way off to the far end of the universe was supposed to mean new aliens! But it turns out inventing brand new alien races that are fascinating is not that easy. Some work, some don't. And so far from the established Trek universe meant they couldn't bring in the alien races folks loved, at least not without a lot of hassle. Similarly getting cameos from established Trek characters was problematic. Eventually they did bring in one of Treks uber-villians the Borg and sexed the show up with a purposely hot Borg crewmember for Voyager. Still even juiced up the show had problems that even the show's makers seemed aware of. In the final minutes of the show's final episode Voyager made it back home... leaving no time to see the most interesting part of the plot - what happens when they get home. Sorry. I'm still bitter.

   Which brings us to Enterprise. For the next series after Voyager the Trek people really wanted to breath fresh breath into the franchise. It seemed they had run the Star Trek universe into the ground. Where was left to go? And with every show the tech got more elaborate and all encompassing meaning more and more plots were solved by BS tech solutions.

   "The ship is going to explode!"

   "Well if we crosswire the narcoleptor into the farfigneugen then that show create a reverse energey cascade that will cause the protoplextor collector to implode saving us all!"

   "Ummm... okay."

   Sure technobable solutions work and with all the advanced technology it makes sense but it lacks... any drama at all. And misused and abused it just reeks of a cheat to end a plot that way.

   Well what are ya gonna do? They have explored everywhere, the tech is able to solve most problems. The answer? You go retro. Instead of setting Enterprise even further in the future requiring even higher tech toys and where even more of space has been mapped out and made safe they made it a prequal set years before even the first Star Trek series. Enterprise was set at a time just after humanity had first headed into space and made contact with alien races. Nothing had been explored. Every place in the universe was new and dangerous. The old reliable tech like the transporter beams? Now they were new and highly unreliable... dangerous even. The old races who humans had established relationships with in the other shows? Now we didn't know or trust any of them. It was a clever idea that did promise to liven things up. Enterprise would follow the adventures of the very first crew of the very first Starship named Enterprise as mankind made its first steps into space. The show producers even had the guts to take Star Trek out of the show's title! A Star Trek show not named Star Trek?!?!? They figured having Trek in the title might put off some viewers who would think it geeky to watch Trek and that by taking it out they might broaden their audience. Enterprise is just as powerful a name to Trek anyway.

   With all the positive potential making created by making Enterprise a prequal it did introduce some potential negative elements. For one thing, setting the show in Trek's already well defined pre-history meant the potential for the show to stomp all over already established continuity. And make no mistake, there are tons of Trek fans who are very touchy about keeping continuity in order. I mean there are books written nitpicking the mistakes made on several of the shows! They could easily make a bad move and cause snits galore from the fans. Also, if setting Voyager far from home made crossover appearances by other Trek characters difficult, setting the new show centuries before most of them were born made crossover guest shots almost impossible! Which, well, sucks for me and leaves me rambling on about Trek history in general.

   Like I said, even though Enterprise hasn't as of yet had crossover characters they are set in the same universe with the same aliens. The Vulcans are around. And the Klingons. Yeah, the Klingons...

   The Klingons present a problem. In the original Trek they looked kinda like humans. Then for the movies and later shows they were redesigned with a whole new look. Then in a time travel episode where Deep Space Nine crossed over with the original Star Trek it was established that, yes in fact, the Klingons did for a period of time look different for some mysterious reason. But the Klingons of Enterprise all sported the new and improved look. So at some point between Enterprise and Star Trek something happened to the Klingons and then was corrected before Star Trek: The Motion picture. (If anyone from Paramount is reading this, drop me a line,. I have the solution. Seriously.)

   Enterprise even brought back the Andorians, blue freaky aliens used in the original Trek but largely ignoed by all the later Trek shows because they're so... cheesy. Cool but cheesy. Like velveeta... except blue.

   One of the first things to make fans nuts was an episode of Enterprise featuring the Ferengi. The Ferengi were a greedy race of aliens first introduced in The Next Generation. The problem is we supposedly met them for the first time on Next Gen. So how could we have met them earlier? The answer was that as things were set up the crew could not established communication with them. We couldn't speak their language, they couldn't speak ours. The meeting was like a nasty mugging in space rather than a formal first contact meaning that even though it was contact it wasn't the kind that would make the history books. This might piss off purists but I like this kind of writing. The best shot Enterprise has is playing in those margins of the history books, getting into the fact that what is in the history books is an interpretation of what happened and not 100% accurate.

   I should say, the potential does exist for formal crossover with the other Trek shows. One of the shows first running plots involves time travel with the future which is just what is needed to make one of these crossovers possible.

   As a final kind of unrelated note, Enterprise also flirts dangerously with a crossover connection to Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap starred Scott Bakula as time traveler Sam Beckett and Dean Stockwell as his sidekick Al. Scott Bakula starred on Enterprise as Enterprise Captain Archer. First, it was reported that Scott Bakula wished to name the Captain in a way that would indicate he was an descendant of his previous character of Sam Beckett. Second, as I've said, one of the running plots of Enterprise heavily involved time travel. Finally, midway through the first season Dean Stockwell made a guest appearance reuniting him on screen with his former costar... but not as his Quantum Leap character. Still, I have never seen two shows just busting to connect. Come on you guys! Team Knight Rider already soiled things. If it can crossover then why not let a better show like Quantum Leap do it too.

Other Star Trek Crossover Links
Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek and Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek and Team Knight Rider

Other Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Crossover Links
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager

Other Star Trek: The Next Generation Crossover Links
Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager

Other Star Trek: Voyager Crossover Links
Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek
Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Links To Star Trek Related Web Sites
Cynics Corner (Star Trek Episode Reviews)
The Official Star Trek Web Site

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