The 20th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek: Enterprise is in just a few days. Now the star of that show is talking about how everything changed before they were even on the air. Scott Bakula also weighs in the show’s struggle with corporate politics and gives a hint at a reboot of his other big sci-fi show, Quantum Leap.
How 9/11 took over Enterprise
Scott Bakula was this week’s guest on Bob Saget’s Here For You podcast, covering all aspects of his long career in show business. When it came to talking about his time as Captain Jonathan Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise Bakula said he was “very much” a fan of Trek before landing the job and he was “honored” to lead the new series.
Bakula also spoke highly of Gene Roddenberry, saying he had an “enlightened vision” of the future. Regarding the launch of Enterprise (which debuted on September 26, 2001), he talked about how the series had to confront the reality of that time:
From the beginning from until today, the Star Trek stories have relevance. We haven’t achieved the vision by any shape or form. Of course, our series was colored by 9/11 happening. We were shooting then and that eventually took over the direction of our show in terms of mirroring that event and casting it into the studio and painting it with the Star Trek brush. All of a sudden, we had the last two and a half seasons were all basically finding the people that had attacked Earth and chasing them down and where that led us in the universe.
Life imitating art and art imitating life, that was a very real part of our of our [show]. And I think that it holds up. I think that there was merit in doing that. It was really hard. If you’re a writer, you’re going to write about what’s going on in your world and in your life. And that that certainly took over all of our lives for a good amount of time, that event, and still to this day.
Star Trek: Enterprise was part of UPN, which was launched in 1995. UPN would become fully owned by Viacom and Paramount by the time the series debuted, only to be dissolved and transformed into the CW by 2006, following the splitup of CBS and Viacom. Bakula talked about what it was like for the series during all of this corporate jockeying:
And we were part of UPN. We were kind of their big star presentation. We were the big name on the marquee… We were the first one out of the gate for the UPN network which then aborted and combined with the WB a few years later… it was tumultuous.
When asked if he noticed budget cuts in the fourth and final season of the series, Bakula said he felt being part of UPN kept the show from running longer:
I don’t have a memory of [season 4] getting less. I know that they were spending money. When we got out of the gate we had huge numbers, and they were just going crazy about it. And we also had the misfortune of being on network television, because all the other [Star Trek shows] were syndicated. So they just they went in and they set up their deals with all the little stations all around America for seven years, and they went and made a TV show for seven years. Which we would have done also if we had been syndicated. Because we were on network television and subject to the whims of thenetwork and the advertisers and all of those things, we were lucky we got the four years, but we didn’t get the seven everybody else was getting in syndication. But it didn’t feel like we cheaped it out on the last year.
There is some good news for fans wanting to see Scott Bakula return to a sci-fi role, specifically the role of the time-traveling Dr. Sam Beckett from the series Quantum Leap, which ran from 1989 – 1993. During the same interview, the actor spoke about how things appear to be heating up for a reboot:
I think we are definitely living in the reboot era… I think there’s very significant conversations about it right now going on. But I don’t know when it would be. I don’t know who would have it. The rights were a mess for years and I dont know if they’re even sorted out now. That’s always been the biggest complication.
He mentioned that he has kept in touch with Quantum Leap creator Don Bellisario, indicating the reboot would include both Bakula and his co-star Dean Stockwell:
Don [Bellisario], for years he and I talk about it periodically. And he would always say, “I can’t write it without thinking about you and Dean [Stockwell].” I said, “Just think about me and Dean and write your show and get it out there. If you have an idea, just write it. I’m sure it’ll be great.”
Last year, NBC’s head of programming said he was considering a Quantum Leap reboot for Peacock.
During the Emmy Awards show last weekend Scott was part of a skit with the gag being actors who never won an Emmy getting together as part of a support group. Also included was Jason Alexander, who also was in Star Trek.
Watch the full podcast with Bakula
Find more on Star Trek history at TrekMovie.com.