Review: ‘Enterprise’

Exec producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga continue to fulfill "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's promise to take viewers where no one has gone before with this, the fifth incarnation of the profitable sci-fi franchise.

Exec producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga continue to fulfill “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s promise to take viewers where no one has gone before with this, the fifth incarnation of the profitable sci-fi franchise.

Proving that space is indeed infinite, Berman and Braga, after successfully exhausting plots in the 24th century, go back to the future of the 22nd century, to the pioneering days of intergalactic travel.

By making “Enterprise” a prequel to the four “Star Trek” series as well as a follow-up to events introduced in the feature film “First Contact,” the show not only gives its devoted fans what they love most — continuity monitoring — but rejuvenates a somewhat tired notion.

From the opening segment featuring a folksy Rod Stewart number to the rocky beginnings of the first Enterprise mission, viewers are reminded that this is more akin to their father’s “Star Trek.”

It’s been 90 years since first contact with the Vulcans and still 100 years before James T. Kirk swashbuckled his way around galaxies. Star Fleet is a fledgling organization carefully supervised by the Vulcans. The Vulcans are wary of letting humans venture into interstellar travel because of their “provincial attitudes and volatile nature.”

Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), whose father helped develop the warp drive but never got to see it in action, is resentful of the pointy-eared politicos.

When a lone Klingon crash lands in Broken Bow, Okla., Archer and the crew of the Enterprise are assigned to return him to his home planet. To ensure the humans don’t screw up too badly, Vulcan attache and science officer T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) is assigned to the mission.

Sparks fly. Literally. The ship is an anomaly at a warp factor of 4.5. Phasers are just prototypes and nobody really trusts the transporters.

Debut seg establishes an adventurous tone and, unlike the series “Voyager,” sets up more in the way of multi-episode story arcs.

It turns out the errant Klingon is a pawn in a cold war orchestrated by a mysterious enemy from the future who trades evolutionary DNA with the Sulibans in exchange for instigating a Klingon civil war.

The episode also boasts an interstellar strip club scene, a kiss from a galactic babe for Archer and more underwear scenes than a Hanes commercial.

As Archer, Bakula doesn’t have the instant bravado of William Shatner’s Capt. Kirk, but it’s fair to assume this Star Fleet captain helped lay the groundwork for interstellar dating. Bakula does brings an earthy quality back to the captain’s chair — his character even gets to have a dog on board — and is personable and accessible.

Archer’s best bud and chief engineer is Charles “Tuck” Tucker (Connor Trinneer), a good ol’ boy who in Trek-speak is the Bones to Bakula’s Kirk.

Blalock, as the prickly T’Pol, has Spock’s love of logic and Seven of Nine’s form-fitting wardrobe from “Voyager.” Her part is a blatant beacon to the young male audience, although the sexual tension and possibility of romantic adventures could be a ploy to attract female viewers as well.

Other characters are merely introduced in the pilot but are given plenty of ammunition for future episodes. They include Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), a communications officer and crack linguist who becomes the first human to interpret Klingon; Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), the plucky armory officer; Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery), ship’s helmsman; and Phlox (John Billingsley) an alien doctor with a penchant for Chinese food.

Tape reviewed lacked final technical credits, although makeup by Michael Westmore and costumes by Bob Blackman appear to be up to the standards set by previous “Star Trek” installments.

Enterprise

UPN, Wed., Sept. 26, 8 P.M.

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Paramount Network Television. Executive producers, Rick Berman, Brannon Braga; producers, J.P. Farrell, Dawn Velazquez; co-producers, Steve Welke, Brad Yacobian; director, James L. Conway; writers, Rick Berman, Brannon Braga.

Crew

Camera, Marvin Rush; editor, J.P. Farrell; sound, Greg Agalsoff; music, Dennis McCarthy; casting, Junie Lowry-Johnson, Ron Surma. 2 HOURS.

Cast

Capt. Jonathan Archer - Scott Bakula
Chief Engineer Charles Tucker III - Connor Trinneer
Vulcan Subcommander T'Pol - Jolene Blalock
Lt. Malcolm Reed - Dominic Keating
Ensign Travis Mayweather - Anthony Montgomery
Ensign Hoshi Sato - Linda Park
Dr. Phlox - John Billingsley
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