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Feature: Star Trek: Enterprise

The end is in sight…

Writer and co-executive producer Manny Coto took the series where it had never gone before. His mission lasted only one year, but he wouldn’t have traded it for the world

It’s no secret that the executioner’s axe was poised and ready to strike at the end of Star Trek: Enterprise’s third season. Much to fans’ delight, the series got a last-minute reprieve as well as the green light for a fourth year, but not without a behind-the-scenes creative change or two. Manny Coto, who joined the show in year three as a writer and co-executive producer, received a promotion to executive producer. He also took over the showrunner reins from Brannon Braga (series co-creator/executive producer). Coto knew a big job lay ahead of him, and he had a plan.

“The direction I really wanted to go in with Enterprise this year was to fulfil its promise as a prequel to the original Star Trek and do stories that set up the days of Kirk and Spock,” notes Coto. “I also wanted to find a new way to tell our stories. Ultimately, we decided to do multi-episode arcs, which was a change from the season-long Xindi arc we did last year, and the stand-alone stories done in the first two seasons.

“I must admit I’m quite happy with how Season Four has unfolded, and my favourite episodes have been the arcs. I think the whole Vulcan arc, starting with The Forge, were some the best stories we’ve ever done. I was also very happy with the Andorian/Tellarite arc; United, in particular, was a strong episode. The three-episode arcs are a lot like mini-movies and have a kind of grandeur or epic quality to them that I love.

“For me, the less successful stories this year have been the stand-alone ones. An episode that immediately comes to mind is Daedalus. I wasn’t pleased with the way the script turned out or with the final production. It was just a flawed episode. I think one of the things we discovered in the fourth season is that Star Trek, or at least Enterprise, worked best on a large canvas with large stories that took multiple episodes to tell.”

Among the scripts that Coto penned for year four is an early one called Home, in which the Enterprise NX-01 crew returns to Earth for a visit, and a later story, Bound, which reintroduces an alien race from classic Star Trek. “I consider Home as kind of the start to this season,” says the executive producer. “The two-parter that preceded it, Storm Front, really served to tie up the Xindi arc from last year. Home then kicked off the show’s new direction.

“As for Bound, well, we’d shown the Orion women and their society in Borderland, so I wanted to follow that up with an episode that centred solely on the Orions. In doing so, I hoped to shed some light on a previously secret aspect of their species, which is that the women are dominant over the men.

Bound was also a good opportunity to bring Trip [Connor Trinneer] and T’Pol [Jolene Blalock] together again and to prove that they belong together by making them the only two who are able to resist the female Orions’ allure. This season I wanted to make the Trip/T’Pol relationship deeper. Last year it seemed to be based a lot on massage therapy, and I felt their relationship deserved to be something richer and more permanent. By the final two episodes, you’ll see that a true understanding has developed between both characters.”

by Steven Eramo

Get the full interview and a visit to the Enterprise wrap party in…
TV Zone #189

Photo © UPN
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #189
June 2005
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