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Yes, you read that headline correctly. Enterprise is my favorite of all the Star Trek televised incarnations. Don’t get me wrong; I like them all. It is just that Enterprise stands out for me. I realize that the show has an unfortunate reputation within pop-culture. It is generally seen as the show that killed the franchise as outspoken Trek fans rallied against it and that it only lasted four seasons.
I largely don’t agree with any of that. The Trek fans that rallied against it typically were the type that could never enjoy anything in first place with needlessly high expectations. Personally, this came from preconceived notions of what Enterprise should have been. Being a prequel, this show clashed with many ideas that fandom assumed happened before the days of Kirk and Spock. The show did its own thing and the more militant fans got angry, and those fans are typically the type that are the loudest and, unfortunately, “speak for the fanbase”.
I never found the show to really “break canon”, and, to be honest, I never cared about any of that. On its own, I found the show to be great from beginning to end. Granted, the show was canceled much earlier that the other Trek series from that era, but there were a lot of factors that played into that, which I am not going to get into here.
So, back on point, Enterprise is my favorite. I think a lot had to do with the fact that I was really starting to come into my own when the show was first airing. I was in college, and I began to really understand and “get” what Star Trek was. I knew what Trek was about previously, but in my younger days, I could never really appreciate it to the full extent. I began to see and absorb the ideas and concepts inherent to what makes Star Trek unique.
Previously to Enterprise, I had watched Deep Space Nine and Voyager (with Next Generation in repeats). By the time Voyager was ending, I was getting burnt out. Voyager was an overall weak show. It had its moments, but there just seemed to be a lack of direction and enthusiasm from what was going on that it made me hard to care about any of it and Trek in general. Enterprise seemed to be a shot in the arm. There felt like there was a lot of care going into what the producers, writers, actors, etc. were trying to do. I got caught up in it. Perhaps it was the new setting for the show which was able to reset the board and made things seem fresh.
A common complaint (and not unjustified) was that many of the stories those first few years seemed rehashed from previous Trek episodes. In a franchise with over 600 episodes, there are definitely going to have some repeats, but what kept me invested were the characters. Another reason I loved Enterprise was because of the characters. Archer, T’Pol, Trip, Malcom, Phlox, Hoshi, and Travis were really interesting to me (well, maybe not Travis – his character got the short end of the stick). Out of all the Trek series, these characters felt most realistic right out of the gate. Maybe it was because the show was allowed to have more conflict and personal quirks than some of the other ones, but I felt I could identify with them much easier and quicker than main Trek characters.
Helping that out is that the show was perfectly cast. The producers nailed it with getting the right actors. They worked for their roles and had some really good chemistry with each other. Trip was probably the break-out character from the series. A lot of that had to do with Connor Trinneer. He brought an instant likability to the character and was able to easily sell a wide range of emotions. It can be an incredibly tough thing, but he did it. And the show shined for it.
I also love Enterprise in that I felt it make Star Trek somewhat relevant again in terms of the type of stories they were telling. All the Trek series have made culture allegories tales, but outside of the original series, none of the spin-offs really had that driven home affect. Enterprise changed that, particularly with their Xindi story-arc which comprised the entirety of the third season. The Xindi storyline, clearly influenced by the September 11th terrorist attacks, firmly pointed a finger at war, people’s reaction to it, and the concept of retaliation. Other Trek series have done long war stories (Deep Space Nine was masterful with it), but it never was so on-the-nose of what was going on at the time. In some ways, this brought Trek back to its roots.
Was all of Enterprise perfect? Absolutely not. It had its weak elements and questionable episodes. “These Are the Voyages…” I am looking at you. Objectively, it is probably not the best of all the series. I realize and accept that. However, the show struck me at the right place and the right time. And for that, and the above reasons, Enterprise is my favorite Star Trek series.