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Feature: Star Trek: Enterprise

Captain on the Bridge

Archer in command

On Quantum Leap, Scott Bakula travelled through Time as Dr Sam Beckett. Nowadays, he’s journeying through Space as Captain Jonathan Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise. The actor recently took a break from filming to chat about life aboard the Enterprise NX-01.

When Enterprise began, T’Pol and Phlox were the lone alien presences among a sea of Humans surrounding Jonathan Archer. But as this prequel draws closer to the era of the Federation of the ‘later’ series, actor Scott Bakula is surrounded by blue-skin, pointed ears and pig-like snouts when he arrives onset.

“We’re currently in the middle of filming part one of a three-episode arc featuring Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans,” explains Bakula. “The overall story has Archer and the planet Earth becoming involved in the early negotiations that will one day lead to the birth of the Federation. There’s also a Romulan element that appears in this trilogy as well. All this is, of course, part of the desire of our producers and writers to bring to the show some of the ideas that existed in the days of Kirk and Spock and the original Star Trek.

“These particular stories are very complicated and intense, not to mention emotional. Tensions are running rather high with these different species going up against each other and Archer bringing some of them together in the same room. It’s making for great drama, though, as well as great Star Trek history. We’ve got some new Tellarite characters that come into play, along with Romulans. I’m also lucky to be working again with Jeffrey Combs, who plays Shran. Whenever we’re on-set together we end up laughing a lot. So while this story arc may be a complex one, we’re all having a ball shooting it.”

The notion of such arcs is relatively new to Trek, though it’s come to dominate the rest of tele-Fantasy in the years since Babylon 5 began.

“It used to be popular belief that the best way to do a season of Star Trek was to have 26 standalone episodes,” notes Bakula. “However, contrary to that, I think we discovered last year with Enterprise that fans really enjoyed the Xindi arc, so there’s been a commitment to do mini-arcs, or three-story arcs, this fourth season. That enables the show’s writers to approach each block of three episodes as basically a movie with three acts. It also allows for more in-depth storytelling and character development, both of which are important.

“We certainly got off to a wonderful start this year with the two-part story Storm Front,” continues the actor. “It finished up the Temporal Cold War and also resolved most of the questions left over from last season in a very interesting and wild way that involved Time travel, Nazis and aliens, and it worked. I have to tip my hat to Manny Coto [see interview in issue]. His script had some big ideas and we were able to pull them off.

“It’s eerie when you’re shooting a piece that takes place in another era and you get into a situation that represents dark times for Humanity. I mean, at one point there I was as Archer sitting in the back of a truck with actors dressed like Nazis and behaving as such.”

by Stephen Eramo

Get the full interview,
plus series runner Manny Coto in
TV Zone #184

Photo © UPN
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #184
January 2005
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