May 17, 2001
By Franklin Harris
I know there are still fans of "Star Trek: Voyager" out there. I hear from you every time I mention how bad "Star Trek: Voyager" is. But even you must admit it's time for The Franchise, as Trek is known around the Paramount lot, to take a rest.
Alas, there's no rest for the weary.
Paramount officially announced last week what everyone with an Internet connection already knew: Trek series five is a go. But this time, instead of boldly going where no one has gone before, it will go, boldly or not, where Trek has already been.
The latest series, "Enterprise," will take place before the original series — before, in fact, the founding of the United Federation of Planets — when humanity, with the help of the Vulcans, is taking its first, tentative steps to the stars.
And, as the title suggests, the action is set aboard a starship with a familiar name, although this isn't the same Enterprise commanded by James T. Kirk.
If the Internet rumors are right — and they have been so far — the pilot episode will feature humanity's ill-fated first contact with the Klingons.
As this column goes to press, it is 99 percent certain that "Enterprise" will end up on UPN, locally WHDF 15. UPN was to announce its fall schedule today.
There is nothing wrong with the premise of "Enterprise," but then there wasn't anything wrong with the premise of "Star Trek: Voyager," either. It's all in the execution. Unfortunately, the same old producers, Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, neither of whom thinks of Trek as anything more than a soap opera in space, are still in charge.
Can we expect more technobabble? More galaxy-size plot holes? More overuse of time-travel stories? More episodes that seem to change everything, only to restore the safe, predictable status quo at the end?
Wait and see. But I know how I'm betting.
On the up side, however, Paramount seems to know that some shaking up is in order. So, this time they've cast a name actor in the role of ship's captain.
Taking on the role of Capt. Jonathan Archer is Scott Bakula, who, having spent five seasons jumping through history on "Quantum Leap," is no stranger to sci-fi.
Rumor has it that Bakula, in addition to a hefty paycheck, is getting some creative control over the series. Considering that Berman and Braga can use all the help they can get, this could be a good thing. But the track record of Trek captains allowed creative input isn't exactly stellar. That's how we got "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" and "Star Trek: Insurrection."
Hopefully, Bakula has better ideas than William Shatner and Patrick Stewart.
According to TrekWeb.com, UPN is also looking at picking up another sci-fi series — a revival of "Battlestar Galactica."
Both original "Battlestar Galactica" producer Glen Larson and star Richard Hatch (not to be confused with the guy on "Survivor") were vying to produce a revival of the '70s sci-fi series. But wiser heads prevailed, and someone decided that if anyone was going to resurrect "Battlestar Galactica," it was going to be someone who might know what he is doing.
That someone is "X-Men" director Bryan Singer.
If UPN snags the series, the Sci-Fi Channel may air repeat showings later in the week, according to the TrekWeb report.
So far, the rumor mill has been quiet as to what we can expect from Singer and company. They may or may not use members of the original cast, and goodness knows Hatch could use the work.
By the time you read this, we should also know the fate of "The X-Files," which Fox is considering keeping around for a ninth season.
Frankly, it's past time this series was put to bed. Not that I want to deny die-hard X-philes their favorite show, but watching the series' slow decline is downright painful, and the current season is the worst yet.
It's clear that not only does "X-Files" creator Chris Carter not have any coherent plan for his show, he can't even keep plotlines straight from season to season.
I thought we learned last season that Agent Mulder was the last hope of humanity. Now, as we approach Sunday's season finale, it looks like Agent Scully is going to give birth to the planet's savior. So, which is it? Mulder or the baby? Who knows? And, more to the point, who still cares?
And need I mention how cliched Scully's "miraculous" pregnancy is? As if Darth Vader's virgin birth in "The Phantom Menace" wasn't bad enough.