John Billingsley: ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ Needed More Development, Was “F#*ked” By Network Timidity

In 2005 after four seasons, Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled, ending a continuous run of Star Trek shows on television that started with Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. Now the man who played Dr. Phlox, John Billingsley, diagnoses what killed the show, along with some help from his co-stars Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed).

Enterprise actors point to studio and network for the show’s struggle

Last week Galaxy Con Live held a virtual panel with Star Trek: Enterprise stars John Billingsley, Connor Trinneer, and Dominic Keating (who dipped in and out due to tech issues). The panel covered a wide range of subjects, including how the show is finding a new audience in the age of streaming. After joking about how “we were the show that killed the franchise,” John Billingsley offered some of his own analysis of why the show wasn’t as big of a ratings success as previous Trek shows:

Billingsley: We came on after so many years of Star Trek, and in a number of those years, double-dipping. Deep Space Nine actually overlapped with Voyager, for instance. I think by the time we aired there was fatigue, understandable fatigue. The show did really at least need a year off. I always felt badly for [co-creators/executive producers] Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] that they weren’t given that time…The bible for the show just needed a little more work. I think the notions were strong and I think with the character development they had some clarity. But in terms of an arc for the first season, I think the Suliban wasn’t quite as thought through as it maybe needed to be. I think there was a little bit more work needed on what the tonal balance was between the darkness of we are the first fucking ship and we don’t know what the fuck we are doing and the nature of what Star Trek is supposed to be, the optimistic spirit… It is a hard tone to strike for what they were trying to do.

Trinneer agreed with Billingsley’s assessment, adding ” You are right that things weren’t quite fleshed out.”

John Billingsley, Dominic Keating, and Connor Trinneer virtual panel with Galaxy Con

Billingsley then used a specific example from the episode “Strange New World” as an example of how Paramount and their former network UPN were not willing to take risks with the show:

Billingsley: And the studio itself also needed to kind of grapple with what they wanted to achieve. I remember there was an early episode where a crew member is transported and they come back. And in the first draft… it was pretty cool because this guy comes back and his head is where his ass is supposed to be and [flails around] ‘what the fuck!’ and we are afraid of the transporter. By the time it emerges and we are shooting it, the guy comes back from the transporter accident and he has got a little twig sticking out of his forehead. And that to me early on crystalized where I think the timidity of the network actually fucked us. To me there was another level of scariness that the show wanted to move towards, and I felt that the powers that be said, “But, but, but.”

Billingsley and Trinneer also added that the show suffered due to UPN not being available in some major markets, and that Enterprise was often preempted to make way for local sports events.

Transporter accident from “Strange New World”

Manny Coto’s season four too meta?

Billingsley had high praise for writer Manny Coto who joined the series in the third season and became showrunner in the fourth:

Billingsley: It’s absolutely no slight to Brannon and Rick, but they had been writing Star Trek for many years. For Manny, I think there was a sense of joyousness of, ‘Oh boy, I get to write Star Trek!’ He was a lover and appreciator of the first series. A lot of the Mirror Universe, the how did the Klingons get their new faces, a lot of those love-letter episodes in the third and fourth seasons came about because Manny was deeply enamored with Star Trek.

However, the actors also had some disagreement on the fourth season, including those Mirror Universe episodes:

Trinneer: I did not like [the Mirror Universe episodes].

Billingsley: The fans kind of I think dug the Mirror Universe stories more than I did. I think it was all effect and no point. They said if the show had continued they would have gone back to that world and it would have been developed more, but I thought it was sort of banal.

Trinneer: I thought it was pandering.

Keating: They were good fun, John.

Billingsley: I don’t know. There are a few episodes I adored. There are some episodes in the third and fourth season that I thought were a little too meta.

Connor Trinneer and John Billingsley in “In a Mirror Darkly, Part I”

GalaxyCon has more virtual Star Trek panels line up for Summer 2020.


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The third and fourth seasons were the only good ones.

That’s the irony though, most of the shows don’t start getting good until the third season (which I’m hoping that happens for Discovery too). If Enterprise had the chance to continue on like the rest it could’ve been an amazing show overall! We’ll never know obviously but I loved most of the ideas for season 5 at least. The show was just getting started.

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

Exactly. If TNG had ended after the fourth season, we would be saying today that the third and fourth seasons are the ones really worth watching. (Though, like Enterprise, there were bright spots in the first two seasons, too).

ENT started to get good literally around the same time TNG, DS9 (and to a lesser effect) VOY did. Why? Because like all those shows it’s the third season when the big changes started to be made or just go in a different direction. TNG and DS9 didn’t just become better in a vacuum, they made REAL changes and fans took notice.

Same with ENT, it was just too late by then in terms of ratings and as Billingsly said people were just too fatigued. Again, I’m one of the people he’s talking about. I stopped watching the show after first season and even when I heard it was getting better later I STILL never watched it unfortunately. I just stopped caring. Now I really care lol.

And of course I agree with you, ENT had a lot of great episodes in its first two seasons as well just like EVERY show has. People who are dogging DIS now can admit that show still had a few fantastic episodes, especially in second season. Even though I still had a lot of problems with it, I think DIS probably had a better second season than most of the Trek shows actually but its ONLY my opinion people.

But ENT is exactly why I’m giving DIS a wide berth because I DON’T want it to be another ENT and ironically it’s doing what all the Trek shows have done in its third season and shaking things up…big time. I hope the shake up gives the show a different reputation but we’ll see.

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

Totally agree Tiger2.

While I wish Trek series could each find their own groove more quickly, it seems that each one suffers from a whipsaw effect of struggling to make its own concept work while being hampered by the franchise expectations of both fans and network executives.

I see enough good ideas and good overall strategy to keep cheering Secret Hideout onwards, even when I’m calling them out for some persistent patterns of shortcomings.

At least Secret Hideout Trek has new and different shortcomings and fresh style, and a demonstrated willingness to eschew dignity for some of the trippiest Trek since TOS.

I’m not sure that some of the Berman-era fatigue that torpedoed Enterprise couldn’t have been avoided if some edgier or trippier production design, music and stories could have been permitted in Voyager and Enterprise.

When I contrast Enterprise to Farscape, I can only think about what might have been. There was this great episode in Enterprise S1 where Tripp crawls into an alien spaceship with no clue what might happen…definitely a road not taken.

Last edited 21 days ago by TG47

Yeah, that’s how I see things as well. I don’t hate Berman at all and I have said I wouldn’t have a problem if he was running the franchise today. For me, he did more good than bad. I can only believe that because 20 years later I’m still watching his shows all the time including Enterprise, I just avoid the mostly bad stuff lol.

But same time, I don’t have a problem with Alex Kurtzman either. What I like about Kurtzman is he is DESPERATELY trying to get it right. All the issues I and others had about Discovery first season he recognized that and tried to make big changes early on. To me that’s a POSITIVE, he’s actively listening to the fans (but they all did that, he just seems more proactive about it). It doesn’t mean it’s still perfect but it’s improving. Even if you don’t like Picard for example, you can see a stark difference of how that show started versus Discovery because they avoided a lot of the issues that plagued the other show (but fell into other problems ;)).

I have been disappointed with season he has produced so far BUT same time I felt every season has improved on the last. That’s something lol.

I just don’t villianize these people. YES you can certainly just not like the directions they are taking the franchise as many people really hated where it ended up with Berman and people not liking ANYTHING Kurtzman is doing lol. But for me I really enjoyed the type of Star Trek Berman did while admitting it probably needed a major shake up; which ironically why I like Kurtzman because he is trying to do just that even if I’m still not completely onboard with it.

Fans will like what they like and hate what they hate, that’s all fine. I just get so frustrated when people make everything so black and white. You don’t like DIS so everything is putrid and goes against Trek values although there have been episodes that proves that wrong. You don’t like Enterprise so everything about THAT was a complete failure that everyone else hated although people clearly says they grew to love the show and its one of their favorites today.

It’s this very black and white view we throw on all these shows and the people who make them. NONE of them are perfect, but they all seem to have merits because we are all still talking about them and watching them today so that SAYS something.

Enterprise was a flawed show for sure, but news flash so are all the others. The fact it improved like all the others proves there was a great potential we were just starting to get. And I truly feel that way about DIS and PIC now. Those shows are clearly faaaar from great but I still believe the potential is there and why I root for them today. And I wasn’t big on the idea of DIS at all when it was announced but I was completely onboard when PIC was; and yet I still want to love them both JUST as equally while admitting I love neither at the moment.

It furthers the point none of this is black or white for a lot of us. It’s all very nuanced for us fans who just want to love the franchise overall and embrace all the shows and films. And it’s frustrating to talk to those people who do look at everything in black and white terms sadly and always want to tell you the show they love is great while the one they don’t is completely worthless. I don’t want to engage with people like that if I don’t have to (although I still do lol).

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

I agree only to a certain extent, but DS9 was great right out of the starting gate, and so was TOS, whereas Voyager never got great–it just became less bad. The formula you’re describing really only applies to TNG and Enterprise.

I’m not counting TOS. That was the first show and we all know third season was definitely NOT its best lol. And since it was cancelled that season, then clearly it doesn’t count.

And you may have liked DS9 at the beginning but it was considered the black sheep of the franchise very early on and many people DID have many issues with the show early on. They made that point very clear in the documentary What We Left Behind. For the record, I didn’t hate DS9 at the beginning, but it did take a while to really like it on the same level of TOS and TNG. Today its my favorite show but it didn’t start out that way. ;)

And my real point is that these shows got better because they made a LOT of changes to them by the third season. In fact, until Discovery came, I would say DS9 had the biggest changes in its third season by giving us the Dominion, the first time Star Trek had a permanent villain on a show (they were originally just suppose to be in two episodes). It was also the year the show started to become serialized, another first for Star Trek. Then they also added the Defiant because they got tired of hearing complaints the show mostly took place on the station and wanted to find a way for the entire crew to go on away missions. They also de-emphasized the Bajor stuff on the planet because fans complained those episodes were too slow and boring. PLENTY was done in third season that made it feel like a different show in the first two. They had to find ways to shake it up more.

And fourth season they went another step by adding Worf to the cast and starting a war with the Klingons. DS9 went from a more slice of life stories in the first two seasons to a more aggressive show with a lot more conflict and longer story arcs.

The funny thing is for Enterprise third season, they basically took the DS9 play book and did the same thing giving it a long term villain and serialized it a lot more. But it only lasted one season because I read UPN was still not keen on making the show permanently serialized and that was the compromise.

But ALL these shows got a lot of big changes after third season. As said VOY got it the least but they still made some by obviously adding Seven of Nine and making the Borg the main villain through the rest of the show the same way the Dominion was for DS9, just not as directly or frequently.

Last edited 20 days ago by Tiger2

DS9 was garbage in season 1 & 2, possibly 3rd worst after Disco and Picard.

Actually, there was no stabilization in the ratings whatsoever during seasons 3 and 4 of Enterprise. Fans kept dropping the show at the same rate as in seasons 1 and 2.

The reality is that the whole four years pretty much stunk, and the ratings stats bear this out.

There is no “reality” or “non-reality.” You might not have liked seasons three and four, but a large number of fans do.

Not the fans watching at the time it was originally on the air — they kept dropping the series at the same rate as in the first two seasons.

The only thing I’ll say there is that apart from TNG catching on and the boost Seven of Nine gave Voyager for awhile, quality is rarely reflected in Star Trek’s ratings. DS9’s numbers fell every year, The Final Chapter includes the show’s lowest-rated episode.

“apart from TNG catching on and the boost Seven of Nine gave Voyager”

Exactly. We saw a ratings improvement or stabilization trend in both of those two series when major changes were made. For TNG, when Berman fully took the reigns (basically replacing Rodenberry) in Season 3, the ratings improved. And on Voyager, the introduction of Seven of Nine stabilized the ratings and reduced the rate of decline — which pretty saved the series.

Contrast this to Coto being brought in on Enterprise, where we saw ZERO effect on the ratings and rate of ratings decline. Fans, at that time, were obviously not appreciating this supposed improvement of the show, because unlike on TNG and Voyager, their was no change to the ratings or rate of ratings decline like we saw with similar major changes in the TNG and Voyager examples.

It is what it is.

Last edited 19 days ago by Methusalah

You’re still ignoring that DS9’s ratings fell every year, despite Worf and the ever-improving critical and fandom notices. The Dogs of War is the lowest rated episode of DS9, and it’s the penultimate story at the height of The Final Chapter!

Also, Voyager’s ratings still sank again in the second half of season 4 and only perked up for the occasional event episode. It too experienced season averages that were lower each year. There was still no actual danger of UPN ever canceling it.

Every Star Trek show dropped in ratings with the exception of TNG. ENT was just the worst out of all of them. And moving it to Fridays didn’t help. Same issue that got TOS cancelled faster.

It probably would’ve went a few more seasons if networks took DVR viewings more seriously then as they do now. I read the show was getting tons of viewings that way. More people were still watching just less and less in live viewings. But the advertising model was different then for DVR at the time still being pretty new.

ENT would probably do well on streaming today. At least as well as Discovery. Just my opinion though.

>The reality is that the whole four years pretty much stunk, and the ratings stats bear this out.

That’s not how causality works.

It works a heck of lot better than “trust us 10 fans who post all the time on Trekmovie, the show was better in the last two seasons” LOL

Last edited 19 days ago by Methusalah

Popularity is not always an indication of quality. In the movie world, movies like Shawshank Redemption had bad turnout before awards season gave it some recognition. I rank Enterprise as third best Trek series behind the Shatner original and TNG.

Wrong

Enterprise is still my favorite Star Trek series as it did so many things right and was going to answer a question I always wanted to be solved: how has humanity become such an important factor for the Federation. Whats about us humans that make us special? There are some episodes giving hints in that direction, but I would love to see Enterprise continue to work it out. What is humanity about? What are our strength, what are our weaknesses and how can different races form something bigger then they are part by part? This also would be a great question to ask these days.

I also loved the private moments in Enterprise. The meals with the captain. The video nights. Seeing the crew do things normal people do. See the excitement for discovery when there is a new planet. And I loved the music. Best music ever.

Really bad has been how T’Pol was written, and the desinfection chamber.

I would also love to see (in any star trek series) how humanity envolved after world war three to get a global community worthy of first contact. How was that achieved. Was it one big scientific breakthrough? The united nations? Big companys?

Wow!!!

I generally agree. I loved ENT, and was really disappointed it ended early. Sure there were some weak episodes, but no more so than any other Trek series. I didn’t even hate the theme song (and I loved the visuals of the opening sequence). Worst finale episode of any Trek though. I hope some future Trek explores the founding of the Federation that ENT would have explored more had it lasted. Maybe SNW will have some flashbacks to those days. Fingers crossed.

Last edited 21 days ago by Mike2

Clearly we’ve got different tastes Wehmut.

While the disinfection scene was unforgivable, I generally loved T’Pol, and found all the episodes with T’Pol and Tripp fantastic.

On the other hand, I never bought into Scott Baluka as a captain, and still wish him off the screen most of the time he’s on.

The music had its better moments, but the opening theme seemed to be all about Americans in space, both stylistically and in content. For me, this undermined the idea of “humanity’s” leap forward.

Was there a Baluka Whale on Enterprise?

Seriously, you are correct. Bakula was a dud as a Starfleet Captain. It’s weird, because he’s been a good actor in many other roles.

Disagree. Thought Bakula’s Archer reminded some of Kirk.

I liked Enterprise overall and thought it pretty darn good, to be honest. But the mistakes… I feel they tried too hard to recapture the Kirk-Spock-McCoy thing with Archer, Trip & T’Pol. That felt forced. And Bakula was badly cast. I know they felt they had a casting coup when they signed him up right after Quantum Leap. But he was bad for the part. He just looked like he was acting up there. It never felt natural. The part just wasn’t good for an actor like him. And that temporal cold war thing UPN insisted on was just silly. Other than that I felt the show was pretty decent. And it REALLY took off for me in season 3. That is how Trek can do a season long story arc. SH should look at that season and try to learn some things from it. And then season 4 was just their best with Coto taking over the reigns. It just felt reinvigorated. Too bad it never got its chance to continue once it discovered what worked best for it.

For me I never had a problem with Bakula as Archer at all. He’s not my favorite captain or anything but I always liked him a lot in the role. But he does seem to get a lot of scorn. Maybe not in the same way Burnham gets scorn today, who as you know I also like but not love, but yeah.

But I can admit, maybe I’m just biased since I love Bakula so much, but him being Archer wasn’t the issue of the show for me. And I like how physical he was like Kirk. I mean they are all physical, even Picard at times, but Archer brought back the more ‘rugged’ captain we didn’t had since TOS.

Last edited 20 days ago by Tiger2

Fair enough. And I had no problems with the character of Archer. I liked the idea of a throwback. It was set before TOS after all. I only had a problem with the actor playing the part. Some actors just aren’t right for some parts.

The reasons to watch Enterprise: Trip, T’Pol, Phlox, Shran

The reasons not to watch Enterprise: every other character

Agree!! Except for the opening song, Enterprise was exceptional.

I’m glad he said it, because every time I post these sorts of comments here I get killed by all the fans here who think Enterprise was some great, misunderstood series. Thanks Mr. Billingsly — YOU SAID IT!

How about Kurtzman giving them a second chance!? Mini Series, Short Trek, Time Travel Hybrid, anything will be good for everyone. The killing of Trip Tucker was totally unnecessary, would be great to see his return.

X Files was revived and it was mostly a disaster ratings wise and mostly because it wasn’t very good.

It all depends. Some shows come back and they do well. My brother is a Stargate Fan and he was very pleased with pretty much all the TV shows.

I don’t think the new X-files were that bad, but that may be because I am a big fan. The trouble with the show I think was that Chris Carter was still stuck in the 90s. There wasn’t anything relatively modern about it and I think as a result it didn’t really gel with the younger viewers. I still enjoyed it though.

Their Mirror Universe was not my favorite. You can see the cast very cynical. I think they had very strong reasons to be upset, right after finding out that the show was cancelled.

I always think Michelle Yeoh watched the whole Enteprise MU to mold Emperor Georgiou. She is related to Sato, right? Good question for her at a Convention. If she had the time to watch/research previous MUs, and which if any.

I really like Yeoh, she is great in lot of movies. Maybe the production wanted her this way, not sure, her “Cable Guy” acting style is not my favorite. I always hope they get rid of the Emperor and bring her back as Prime Phillipa.

Last edited 21 days ago by Jay

She is related to Sato, right?

This is like saying “Picard must be related to Scotty because they’re both Europeans.”

Hoshi Sato is Japanese (or possibly Brazilian-Japanese; they never made it clear whether she was merely teaching at a Brazilian university or whether she was part of the Brazilian-Japanese community). But she is absolutely not Straits Chinese.

DISCO stated that Georgiou was from Malaysia, like Michelle Yeoh herself. She is clearly not ethnically Malay; she is Straits Chinese, again just like the actress. Straits Chinese have nothing to do with Japan (beyond having been singled out during the Japanese occupation during the war).

It is possible that MU Georgiou took the title “Iaponius” in reference to Sato. But they are clearly not related.

I know! Doesn’t make sense River Temarc. But I remember in an interview from Kurtzman or one of the writers, don’t really remember, he stated that they are related. I was surprised and I am still waiting how. I really thought Hoshi Sato was showing up as an old lady in Discovery. (^_^)

Insane we are in a world where CSI / Cop Shows / Medical dramas are the norm that TPTB would frown away from people with machine guns facing day to day hardships, dealing with the limitations of technology and conflict in favor of TNG blandness.
Which hollywood writer goes in and is like audiences loved CSI, Marvel movies, etc – let’s make sure we force transporters, phasers and subspace communications to ensure NO relatability and minimize the drama.
Even canon called for action, adventure and hardship on the frontier. Again.. humanity having to rebuild post WW3, the Captain representing all of humanity out of contact with Earth, Earth trying to prove itself to the Vulcans/Andorians, put up with privative spacecraft where the Klingons try to kill us, the Romulans try to enslave us, short on resources, first contacts gone wrong, nuclear weapons, everyone more advanced than us, colonization, etc.
Nope.. it’s peace with the Klingons, phasers on stun and transporters in the first hour. And even then it’s still an improvement over TNG blandness because no holodeck.
Oh what could have been!

Last edited 21 days ago by Cmd.Bremmon

Earth trying to prove itself to the Vulcans/Andorians, put up with privative spacecraft where the Klingons try to kill us, the Romulans try to enslave us, short on resources, first contacts gone wrong, nuclear weapons, everyone more advanced than us, colonization, etc

This is not particularly what I want to see on Star Trek, and indeed it sounds like the problematic parts of DISCO’s first season. And I certainly don’t want to see “CSI/cop shows/medical dramas” in space with “people with machine guns.”

Enterprise is that one forgotten Star Trek show…

Well it’s not forgotten in terms of canon. It’s been referenced in Discovery and every Kelvin movie. Beyond’s entire back story actually came from Enterprise.

And I loved how they did it. UNLIKE STID they didn’t hit you over the head with it while still using a part of past canon to tell their story. That’s how they could’ve done STID and simply have Harrison be an augment and alude to Khan without shoehorning it as much as they did.

It’s also why most fans like Beyond more because it honored Trek in more subtle ways without all the needed fan service.

Anyway I would love to see more Enterprise references in the future but that’s probably less likely until SNW starts now that DIS has moved on from the 23rd century.

I’m still holding out we may get an Enterprise character appearance somewhere but not holding my breath.

Last edited 18 days ago by Tiger2

Enterprise should have never been made. Although, season 4 was good.

No, the fourth season was not too meta.

The amount of ads before the comments is ridiculous. Are the site owners trying to kill comments altogether?

It has to be a glitch. It happened to me yesterday, it was out of control. You have to move fast to the end of the page and scroll up again without reaching the Ads. If you do, 100 new ads will show up.

The comments GI looks different to before , at least on my phone it does. Could be a unforeseen glitch in the new user interface?

I love the new interface. It finally brings this website into line with best practices on blogs, rather than something out of the year 2000!

*blink*

The best practice on blogs is to spam readers with so many ads that they give up and walk away in disgust?!

Don’t bogart the joint, River Temarc, because I want summa what you been smokin!

The ads are getting too much

Way too much.

The number of click bait ads has gotten totally out of control. Will the webmasters of this site please respond to the complaints about the situation. Also, what Gabriel just asked never occurred to me; “Are the site owners trying to kill comments altogether?” I hope that is not what’s happening but it is possible. Comments are what set this site apart from all other Trek sites to get a reading on what fans really think, both good and bad. If the owners of this site now basically only want news items with click bait ads; they owe it to the fans who helped create the source of their newly increased salaries the motive behind the changes. Nobody wants to spend time and energy in a place where they are considered irrelevant or worse, treated as disrespected fools.

They responded in another article. There was some glitch after the message board upgrade and working with the advertising company now to fix it.

Thank You. It’s good to know. You have restored my good feelings about this site.

There is too much ads on the site. The comments section looks a lot different. I will start using ad block soon. The ads are getting ridiculous.

There was love for Enterprise, the cancellation was not well-received. Heck, fans even raised millions of dollars pre-Kickstarter to pay Paramount to make the show. But as a network show relying on traditional advertising, and on a network that gave up on sci-fi years ago, it just could not stay above water. I think it would have made a nice companion to Doctor Who and Battlestar on SyFy, but it was not a cheap show. If All Access existed in 2005, Enterprise would have been a no-brainer for porting over.

The irony is that more people were probably watching Enterprise in its final season than people are watching Discovery right now ;). Streaming just have different metrics obviously but for me All Access is kind of the UPN of streaming sites lol. It’s improving but yeah just like UPN back in the day I really only watch it for Star Trek and very little else (but I don’t watch CBS in general much outside of Survivor). I imagine that’s true with most Trek fans considering how many still complain about it including this site.

And the other irony is I think if ENT was on a streaming site, it could’ve taken more chances like the producers originally wanted JUST like Discovery and Picard can be different shows that take more chances. I said this before but if DIS was on CBS that show would probably be very different today. Not necessarily bad, just a lot more generic like most of CBS shows feels (and exactly why I watch very little of that network now). Neither shows would be dropping F bombs or showing Klingon nipples at least. ;)

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

I agree. I like the comparison of All Access to UPN. It does speak to how Start Trek gets used as a guinea pig for Paramount/CBS all the time for trying out new ways to cut out the middle men and/or forge a new path. Phase II was going to launch a 4th network. TMP launched a movie franchise. TNG cut out the networks. Voyager launched UPN. Discovery expanded All Access.

There’s less danger of All Access de-prioritizing Trek since they’ve invested in so many spin-offs and streaming works differently, but UPN is a cautionary tale – once they gave up on finding compatible shows for Voyager, they pursued seemingly every other demographic they could until Enterprise found itself a pariah alone on Friday nights.

It is funny how Star Trek is constantly used over and over again for these kinds of experiments. It does speak to how strong they feel Trek is on one level although in TNG case the syndication thing came out of desperation when all the networks turned it down basically. But it was better for it and probably thrived in syndication the way it wouldn’t had on a network because it just had a lot less competition from the start and could build an audience in its own way.

But that’s also what gives Star Trek the advantage a lot of the times, its usually the only well known brand like it was on UPN when VOY first started and really the only show that brought that network real attention for years. I read the only reason why they didn’t put more Trek shows early on was because DS9 was also running and felt three shows would’ve been overkill (that’s kids play today lol). The irony is the only other show they added on that network with instant brand identity was The Twilight Zone just like All Access! It only lasted one season there though.

As for AA, I know many people still don’t like it, but let’s be honest, no way we would be getting this much Star Trek today without it and exactly WHY its so smart to have it on a new streaming site, because like UPN, its really the only well know brand drawing people to the site.

If Discovery landed on CBS as just another show, I don’t even know if it would’ve lasted long considering its cost (but I also assume it wouldn’t cost as much as it does), because unlike AA CBS has tons of big shows it would’ve had to compete with. And I’m partly basing it on the fact when the first episode premiered on CBS, it only got around 9 million people to watch the first episode. It’s actually the lowest premiered Trek show. For comparison, Enterprise got 12 million on UPN, a network that wasn’t in every household at the time. So that was on the low side for CBS and if ratings slipped more it may have been done very early. But again, who knows, maybe it would’ve did the opposite and got more people onboard but I just have my doubts. Supergirl ended up on the CW because it got under 10 million its first year on CBS. If it wasn’t for that it probably would’ve been cancelled too.

But on AA even if it just gets 2-3 million viewers it’s probably considered a hit on that site. And it could be getting a lot more than that today because AA has gotten a lot more subscribers now; more than I even thought it would at this point. So its doing better for sure, but still on the lower side compared to the big boys.

But yes Trek can now thrive on AA for years to come. I mean seriously what ELSE is on that site do most people care about?

Last edited 20 days ago by Tiger2

Totally agree. I always try to get people to really think if they reasonably could see Trek doing well enough on a big network to last 7 seasons. UPN eventually became a liability, but it was also a small pond where Trek could be a big fish. Ditto All Access, but now with more stability with viewers being monetized in bigger ways. For all the complaining about AA, people should be grateful it’s a haven for Trek. That’s of course separate from whether people think the shows are any good.

Now, how’s about getting them to fund a DS9 remaster… ;)

People give AA a hard time and for GOOD reasons but overall it’s only going to be a good thing if you’re a Star Trek fan, much more so if they put these shows on a traditional TV network. Yes, if you think Kurtzman Trek sucks then that’s a different issue entirely but if you just want to see the franchise thrive AND still have access to classic Trek from TOS-ENT, then its great. I’m hoping for the day all the movies shows up as well, at least the TOS and TNG ones.

But yes the other problem is AA is still a pretty small site. I still run into people, actual Star Trek fans, who has never seen an episode of Discovery yet because they don’t have AA and no real interest to get it. And I think the bad word of mouth the show has gotten doesn’t help either. It’s still pretty early though and most shows has changed a lot of people’s minds later on like Enterprise has.

Fact — the fans kept bailing out at a steady pace both across the four seasons, and episode to episode within the seasons. For example. Season 4 has less fans watching than season 3, and during season 4, fans kept bailing throughout the season. That’s why it got cancelled — fails kept bailing, and there WAS ZERO effect on the rates of fans bailing on the series during the final two seasons when Manny Coto was the show-runner. This is all completely confirmed by the viewership numbers.

It it what it is — a failed show that only a studio run by morons would choose to continue given the continuing drops in ratings.

This is in contrast to the Kurtzman-developed series today, which are doing so well, that CBS keeps green-lighting series after series.

Last edited 21 days ago by Methusalah

You are taking out some context here – shows on streaming services can function on lower numbers of loyal viewers because its a subscription model. If the 3-4 million US viewers watching the last gasps of Enterprise were monetized, that would have been just as valuable as Discovery once the middle men were taken out. I’d actually be surprised if Discovery was reaching a much bigger niche now than Enterprise did then.

“I’d actually be surprised if Discovery was reaching a much bigger niche now than Enterprise did then.”

That’s an apples to oranges comparison, but OK, I will play that game — so let’s reverse the POV on this comparison.

So, can you imagine back then if they asked fans to directly pay for Enterprise given how fans kept bailing out of the series from Day 1? Hypothetically, if that series was the first series on CBS-AA, you can forget about ever seeing Picard and the other new Trek shows — in fact, Enterprise Season 1 was so bad it might very well have sunk CBS-AA.

Last edited 19 days ago by Methusalah

Not really a fair argument because Star Trek is still used as a carrot for All Access just as a Voyager was for UPN – you come for Star Trek, you stay for the rest, hopefully.

Had Enterprise been streaming with and started with a season average of 6 million paying subscribers and seen 3 million of them leave, then yes, that would be bad optics, but again the idea of that even happening is absurd – the service would have been more than one show, just as now. And think about that revenue: assume 6 million subscribers paying say, $8 a month on average, for 6 months of content. That’s $48 million before international sales and advertising revenue. That’s also the show’s entire budget paid for just on subscriptions alone. Even “only” $18 million for season 4 is hardly chump change.
Discovery monetized a similar-sized audience to Enterprise season 4, on a higher budget both in total and per-episode. That much we can quantify by seeing by how much subscriptions increased for AA when it debuted. The show is totally subsidized by Netflix, just as Picard is by Amazon, leaving the All Access subscription money as pure gravy. They keep adding content and don’t share individual show viewership figures, so there’s little more data available. But I don’t think your argument against Enterprise holds water or is realistic.

Great article TM!

It’s amazing how much I love watching Enterprise today. I just started rewatching the Andorian/Tellerite three parter literally yesterday. I probably watch the show just as much as I do the other classic Trek shows. At least a few episodes every month.

But I agree with pretty much everything Billingsley said. It’s sort of weird how UPN basically pushed for another Star Trek show when they wanted the franchise take a few years off but then didn’t trust them to make the show they wanted. The main problem sounds like the networrk just didn’t want a prequel and I can’t completely blame them because *I* didn’t want a prequel either lol. I thought it was a mistake just like I thought making Discovery was a mistake but at least Discovery decided to reconcile that mistake early on (but that still doesn’t mean ti will be a better show but I’m hoping a more interesting one at least).

BUT before people start yelling at me, I realize I was wrong about Enterprise, it wasn’t really a mistake of making it a prequel so much as the ideas early on didn’t really show the potential which we got later and made me started to love it. I think if Manny Coto did the show from the beginning fans would’ve fell in love with a lot sooner. It wouldn’t have been the Right Stuff type of show they originally wanted but it would’ve really tied into TOS and the bigger universe in general which really works for it and let’s face it what most fans want. It’s exactly why people are excited about SNW.

The one thing I do disagree with Billingsly on is I LOVE the MU episodes and Enterprise are my favorites out of all the shows actually. I retwatched it last month in fact. But I think those episodes have always been pretty divisive in general like they were in DIS, which I also loved. Those episodes in DIS is really the only thing that I even LIKED about season one outside a few other episodes. I know others here really hated them and thought they were a distraction to the main story line. I don’t even have an issue with Lorca being from there. But if I knew they were going to give us Space Hitler full time I would’ve happily done without them (sigh).

Anyway the show definitely had its problems but no more than most Trek shows in the beginning, it just didn’t have the time to adjust like the others. I would give anything if Manny Coto was running Discovery or Picard and Discovery seem to have even MORE problems than Enterprise did (at least ENT felt like it belonged in the time period it was in) but that’s just my opinion only.

I’m just glad a lot of people have given Enterprise a second look and enjoying it more today, including myself.

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

I don’t dislike Enterprise MU episodes, but is not the best MU from the whole franchise. For some reason when I watch it, I feel Bakula, Trinner and Keating were over sarcastic. They look like they were upset when they were shooting these episodes.

Yeah I agree they definitely over did it in the acting department, especially Bakula. I think that’s why people have an issue with the MU stories, so many come off as caricatures a lot of times. Not all of them, but enough, put it that way.

It’s literally why so many have a problem with MU Georgiou now, it’s practically cartoonish the way she acts and structs around. It’s hard for a lot of us to take her seriously. At least with DS9 and ENT, it was an episode or two out of a season, so it was mostly just a side story and easy to avoid if you don’t like them. But she’s now a recurring character and they want to give her her own S31 show (ugh). I’m really hoping they came to their senses and put it on the back burner at least since no one but a tiny few even wants that show.

Last edited 21 days ago by Tiger2

Note to mods: What is with the new format where we have to scroll through what seems like endless garbage links to get to the discussion?

My reply to you was flagged for moderation, probably because I included a screencap of how bad this has become on the mobile version of the site. So I’ll just say that it’s NOT your imagination, it HAS gotten a LOT worse, and something DEFINITELY needs to be done about this or TrekMovie is going to lose eyeballs because no one has the energy left to deal with this nonsense.

Thanks for confirming I’m not going crazy, Scott! Appreciated.

ENT should of been about the coming conflict with the Romulans from the beginning, not the stupid Temporal War.

SO true! That was the biggest mistake from the beginning IMO. People wanted the Romulan war and it would’ve been nice if they laid the seeds earlier. If not season one then why not season two OR three? By the time they started in season four sadly it was just too late.

Apparently they were saving the Romulan War for what they hoped would be movies set in the Enterprise era. http://legacy.aintitcool.com/node/34635

I heard about that before and while I didn’t like the idea that much originally I really have grown to like the idea. But it probably would have been more riskier to go with than the Kelvin movies.

It is my understanding that you can blame the network for that. They were the ones who wanted some sort of overriding threat at the start of the show. That is what they came up with but it was only due to outside insistence. I agree that fatigue was an issue and I was saying at the time they they should take a couple years off Trek before starting the next series. But yeah.. That TCW thing sure didn’t help.

TrekMovie, YOU HAVE GOT TO FIX THE COMMENTS SECTION.

This comments didn’t even load for the longest time, and the main reason is that—at least on the mobile site—the section is absolutely buried under a metric megaton of banner ads. I don’t think that I am exaggerating when I estimate that 90 to 95% of this page is nothing but display ads, with the 5 to 10% of editorial and user-contributed content at the stratospheric top and dungeonistic bottom of the page.

I would happily pay for a subscription to suppress this obnoxious avalanche of advertising, but since there is no such option, I beg you—I beseech you—I plead that you MAKE IT SO—do something about this supergiant cluster of ads that would put neutronium to shame!

(deep breath)

Nice article. John Billingsley is a gem of a straight-shooter and I agree with everything he said 100%. I wish I had more to contribute, and I did, but I forgot everything I originally wanted to say because I am so frustrated and utterly defeated by how unusable the mobile TrekMovie site has become.

LLAP.

Hear, hear!

I don’t think he quite gets the true issue–Berman and Braga were the problem. If Paramount said, “I want a prequel,” they were not the people to develop it. Star Trek basically was in full decline since they threw Captain Kirk off a bridge and made a bigger deal out of Data finding his cat than Kirk’s death.

Berman and Braga were clearly not fans of the original series, and given some of their stories, it came off that they hated it.

No better example of that hate than Flashback, which came off as something they were forced to do rather than something they wanted to do.

They were unoriginal, lazy writers, and just didn’t have the talent to make Star Trek great.

And they never left.

So by the time Enterprise came around, it was just more of the same. A copy of a copy of a copy. It was a series mandated to be a prequel to TOS, created by people that didn’t get TOS.

I think that had Coto and the Reeves-Stevenses been on board from the creation of the show, with no input from Berman and Braga, we would have got a much better prequel, maybe even something in line with Diane Carey’s Captain April books.

I think they set it too far into the past, and played in a sandbox that they didn’t have the ability to handle.

Coto had some good ideas, and had some terrific writers, but by then, there was only so much that could be done.

Agree 100% on Berman/Braga. There was no creative inspiration on their end. Braga has stated as much. In general I think prequels are a lazy way to tell a story. We already know what’s coming so the ride better be entertaining. Manny Coto injected some long overdue energy to the show but by then it was too late. After Berman/Braga I blame UPN. Their lineup of channels was much worse than what TNG/DS9 enjoyed in syndication. In my area the local cable company acquired the signal of the nearest UPN affiliate (125 miles away) and most of the time the picture was so bad I couldn’t even watch it. I have zero issues with the cast. They did as well as they could with what they were given. Scott Bakula is a real deal TV star and yet ENT couldn’t take advantage of him and make Archer a more dynamic figure. To the show’s credit, it’s a much better rewatch than VOY. Maybe it’s the HD but it’s easier on the eyes and as flawed as the stories are, they hold my interest more than VOY. Not much of a compliment but that’s all I’ve got.

I enjoyed Enterprise and I think it got a bum rap.
Trek, as a franchise, gets so much scrutiny. From fans, from critics and the suits WRITING the checks.
DSC cost 6-8 mil an episode. CBS wants a return on that investment, plain and simple.
I’m sure UPN was the same in 2001. Here is a new network, fighting for eyeballs.
Berman had to walk a fine tightrope balancing the demands of the network and what fans wanted.
Yes, I think it was vanity, dropping “Star Trek” from the series title.
In the end, I suspect Berman knew he had a cash cow as far as his salary was concerned. He did more CYA than take risks. Look at the series finale. He took his 18 years of dumptrucks full of money and went away.

The only difference between Enterprise and the other trek spin-offs is Enterprise was on a failing network. Just like all the others, Enterprise’s quality improved with age and maturity. Honestly, if it had been broadcast like TNG and DS9 it could have been a 10 year series leading to the founding of the Federation.

I don’t think people realize how much of a lifeline All Access is to Star Trek. TNG was lucky it broke out when first run syndication was viable for dramas, Voyager was lucky to be the flagship show of a new network for most, if not all, of its run. But DS9 experienced first hand the drying up of the syndication market (ironically in part because of new networks like UPN swallowing up independent stations and free prime time slots) and Enterprise came in during the dwindling of UPN into a husk bound for The CW, focusing on urban viewers, young females and wrestling fans. TV is merciless, and safe behind a paywall, the niche but loyal Trek audience is highly valuable.

First, it’s getting more frustrating to access the comments section from my phone with all the ads. Is there an easier way to do that? (I’m on a laptop now)

Anyway, I agree that the studio or network were being very cautious and conservative with the show. It was way too similar to what came before. While I still enjoyed it overall, it should have had LESS traditional Star Trek tropes. The transporter should have not been introduced until season three or four, and then only for non-organics. Perhaps a big transporter save in the last few episodes of the series. Also, there should have been LESS new aliens.

Like the cast, I was not a huge fan of their Mirror-Universe episodes, although it was cool that they used a toy phaser. I really liked how they experimented with the Xindi-war during season three and then the mini three episode arcs in season four. It was not perfect, but still good.

There were many really good episodes. Carbon Creek, A Night in Sickbay, Demons, Terra Prime, The Forge three-parter, Minefield, The Catwalk, First Flight, and Broken Bow are my favorites

I think he’s right about the MU. It was not a very good episode. It was 100% fan service. Sure it was fun to see the old uniforms, the Tholien, the Gorn… But the episode itself was not very good. But that is part of the problem with the MU episodes in general. They just aren’t that good. Part of it was the episode was created out of an opportunity for a Shatner guest appearance as MU Kirk. But when that fell apart the entire episode should have been scrapped.

The NAZI thing killed it for me. Found it hard to watch after that, only casually bothered to tune in afterwards and haven’t watched any of it since. Killing Tripp in the end was another piece of crap, a lazy way to kill the character. I assumed the actor wanted assurance he’d never be bothered to do the role again.

I don’t get all the bad vibes on Voyager. Still like that show even now, more than DSN by a long shot.

For the record, those who wrote the alien Nazi cliffhanger did so knowing they would not be around for the conclusion. “It’s someone else’s problem” was the attitude. That someone else ended up being Manny Coto, who had to think of a way out of it as well as wrapping up the TCW. He managed to do it and was able to move on to the the things the show should have been about in season 1.

i am just going to say i agree

If “network timidity” is the reason we didn’t get ripped out eyeballs, cluster-F-bombs and unabashed partisanship on Enterprise, give me network timidity any day!

We as Trek fans didn’t know what we were watching concerning ENT We were thinking and got use to Orchestra and we witnessed a Ballad.

I’m always impressed when the actors seem to actually remember the details of the story they were apart of. Sometimes it seems like Star Trek actors are just cogs being told what to do, so it’s refreshing to see some real analysis from them.

Enterprise was fairly consistent from end to end, I don’t think it ever really progressed or got better as the series went on. The storytelling was still hit or miss, some of the key actors never seemed comfortable with their characters, the story arcs lurched from episode to episode without direction. Much of the storytelling was just banal dated sci-fi alien fair with cheesy dialogue. I was watching the episode with the Xindi species discussing their plans to conquer the Humans, and it’s the worst written and acted thing I’ve ever seen on Star Trek, it’s embarrassing stuff. I understand his point about the Mirror Universe episodes, they are insufferably painful to watch in some ways (Bakula is awful in it), but also fun (especially Phlox’s character ironically).

The production quality of the show still holds up today, Enterprise really modernized its production style post Voyager.

I completely see where Billingsley is coming from. Also I remember it being said the first season would’ve been entirely on earth getting ready for launch and season 2 would be out in space. They should’ve been allowed to take risks, they earned it. Maybe that’s why I appreciate Discovery so much for being different. It’s what Berman wanted to get to in many ways.

I very much agree with their assessments. The worldbuilding for the 22nd century should have been much more thought-through, I’d prefer to see something looking more like the continuation of our current day space programs, with more scientists an engineers involved, starships more similar to the Enterprise picture from ST:TMP. And a much stroner sense of danger, as John Billingsley suggested (eg. Klingons actually being scary, like in ST3:TSFS). Arguably this was ruined already by First Contact, where they showed The Phoenix employing familiar-looking warp nacelles, and friendly first contact being made on Earth (so without going far) with the much more advanced Vulcans.
And yes, the fourth season went too far with all the story arcs trying to give background for what we see later, especially in contrast to the previous seasons. In the end it looked like for the first two years of Enterprise’s mission there was nothing of note going on in history, then for a year there was a lot going on that was completely forgotten, and for another year all the relevant events took place, with the Enterprise getting involved in all of them.
One difference is that I liked the mirror universe episodes the way they were. Eg. the modified intro is brilliant. They grounded the show in canon by showing the USS Defiant as a much more advanced ship. And it was a great decision to avoid any other connection to the regular universe, not to risk creating any contrivance (like certain other showrunners did years later, quite generously). I anyway believe that the concept of the Mirror Universe raises too many questions to be used as something central to the plot (which is something I disliked in Discovery) (questions like: why are the people mostly the same if the events play out in a different way? why don’t the powers of the two universes try to establish some diplomatic relations?). It’s perfect for one-off fun episodes like the one in ST:ENT, where the characters become caricatures of themselves (like the nazi Phlox).

Enterprise was a breath of fresh air from the other 1990s Trek shows which got a bit too convoluted and hard to follow. Archer (Scott Bakula) was a.pivotal figure in the formation of the Federation. Seeing how Vulcans were not always embraced at the start was very interesting. I found the characters very relatable.