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What Could Have Been / Star Trek: Enterprise

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Conception

Initial plans for the show that were changed before filming:

  • Rick Berman and Brannon Braga wanted to allow Star Trek to rest from what they felt was "franchise fatigue." However, UPN wanted them to make a new series quickly enough to air alongside Star Trek: Voyager's last season. Berman and Braga agreed to make the series, but only if it aired after Voyager ended. One wonders what would have happened if UPN got its wish (or if Berman and Braga had gotten theirs).
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  • The original concept for Enterprise as conceived by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga was to have the first season take place on Earth while the NX-01 Enterprise was being constructed, centered around a plot and setting inspired by the film The Right Stuff, and only actually launching Enterprise in the season finale (which would make the title Enterprise a bit of a pun, in fact). The season would have established and fleshed out the main characters as well as demonstrate how difficult the project was for the newly United Earth and recently commissioned Starfleet, all the while having the characters have to bypass controversy and fear over the mission being flared up by a rapidly xenophobic faction on Earth who wanted to stop the mission (an aspect which was revived for the final season in "Terra Prime"). The executives at UPN would have nothing to do with this, as it was too much of a departure from the typical Trek formula, and the last time a Trek series deviated from the norm (Deep Space Nine) it performed weakly in comparison to the other series. Hence why the first two seasons are very similar to what had already been seen and done on TNG and VOY. The second season episode "First Flight" is a capsule of this rejected idea.
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  • The Klingon crash landing in Oklahoma in the pilot was originally supposed to be a Klingon attack on Earth (specifically Iowa) that would force the NX-01 out into space to find and neutralize the Klingon threat. This also probably served as the inspiration for the Xindi attack on Earth and subsequent story arc that started with "The Expanse".
  • Another aspect axed by executives was the NX-01 mission being portrayed as incredibly dangerous and risky, with crew members getting killed off regularly, and the trauma of this making the characters wonder if it's all worth it. The show was originally to feature a far more dangerous mission, where not only hostile aliens but spatial anomalies and unexplained phenomenon prove deadly for Earth's first deep-space mission. Executives nixed this idea, and as such the first two seasons are some of the safest in Star Trek (even Star Trek.com criticized this by pointing out the NX-01 mission seems considerably less dangerous than the Enterprise-D mission 200 years later. When the official website of the franchise criticizes the show, you know there's a problem). This probably explains why, when allowed to shake things up, Enterprise gets a massive beating in Season 3, with several crewmembers dying.
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  • The Temporal Cold War plotline was introduced at the behest of executives worried that Enterprise didn't have sufficient ties to the TNG era (to rope in more viewers). The concept originated from a TV pitch made in the 90s by Brannon Braga that had nothing to do with Star Trek, which explains why the plotline feels so awkward and forced. Braga, Berman, and the rest of the writers have admitted to having no resolution or clear concept for the plotline, and even called it "strangulating," which explains why when given the chance, it's completely canned in the fourth season, never to be mentioned again.
  • The EM Pistol shown in the pilot was supposed to be the main weapon of Starfleet, but the upper heads felt it wasn't "Star Trek" enough, so phase pistols were introduced as a replacement within the pilot.
  • The Suliban, a not-so-subtle reference to the Taliban and terrorism in general, have a complicated history. According to internal documents, the Suliban were conceived as early as the 6th season of Voyager, and were slated to originally appear in VOY, complete with a backstory which explicitly explained why they never appeared in any other Trek series; the explanation involved being assimilated by the Borg in the 23rd Century, and a few being rescued via time travel. Braga and others wanted the Klingons to be the main villains in the early concept pitch, however neither that nor the Suliban foreshadowing in Voyager happened, and as such the Suliban appear out of nowhere in the franchise with no explanation as to why they're in ENT, until just being dumped for good with no explanation by the last season. A confusing chapter in the history of this franchise, which didn't endear itself to fans.
    • The Xindi in turn were conceived of after the failure of the Suliban to interest viewers and only after the Klingons (and later the Romulans) were again rejected as villains for season three.
  • Andre Bormanis' original pitch for the character Phlox (strangled in the crib by Berman and Braga) was that Phlox turns out to have not been a doctor but a veterinarian on Denobula, and was expressly forbidden from operating on humanoid life-forms.
  • T'Pol was originally going to be T'Pau, who appears in TOS episode "Amok Time" as the priestess officiating at Spock's wedding. It was rejected due to issues with royalties and other legal reasons. T'Pau later appears in the fourth season as a young woman on Vulcan who is leading the Syrranites, reformers who want to re-establish Surak's anti-military, non-violent principles.
    • According to documents posted by TrekDocs on Twitter, Archer's backstory would have had the character spending a year on Vulcan as a young man, meeting T'Pol beforehand (with a sexual relationship strongly implied), learning about mind melds (which would have been common Vulcan practice right from the get-go) and feeling a close connection to Vulcan culture. Of course the series upon release did the exact opposite, with Archer being a barely constrained racist toward Vulcans, with pretty much every human sharing this same view until the last season.
  • Travis Mayweather was originally envisioned as older and more seasoned, making him a valuable advisor to the comparatively rookie Captain Archer. He was ultimately re-written as green and desperate to prove himself, not unlike Wesley Crusher.
  • Executives considered having a boy band featured in every episode, but this was (thankfully) successfully shot down by the producers.
  • There were various designs of the NX-01 prior to the Akira-class look-alike, many of them resembling the old Constitution-class. One design even looked like it was mimicking the Phoenix from Star Trek: First Contact.

Seasons 1-4

  • Writer David A. Goodman pitched the idea of a human spy being planted on Vulcan in the early days after First Contact, to see if the Vulcans were actually hostile invaders, but it never got off the ground. Years later, he'd feature a story similar to this in the reference book he wrote, Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years.
  • "The Andorian Incident" was originally supposed to feature the Gorn as the antagonistic race, with the Vulcans and Gorn in conflict. This plan was scrapped due to issues with special effects (they didn't think they could do the prosthetic effects justice) and fears of violating continuity with the TOS episode "Arena." The Gorn would eventually appear in "In a Mirror, Darkly" albeit in CGI form.
  • Jeri Ryan expressed interest in appearing as an ancestor of Seven of Nine, but for unknown reasons, nothing came of it.
  • "Future Tense" was originally supposed to involve the Tholians capturing the USS Defiant, which had traveled back in time after the incident in TOS's "The Tholian Web." This was shot down for continuity reasons, but the idea resurfaced in the Mirror Universe two-parter in Season 4.
  • J.G. Hertzler lobbied for his Klingon defense attorney, Kolos, to join the NX-01 crew. "They could use an old curmudgeon like me to balance all the hot young men and women on the show!"
  • "Future Guy," who disappeared after Season 2, was to be revealed as a future Archer who was involved in a plot to correct the "timeline"...or something, at least according to Braga. Others claim he was planned to be a Romulan agent.
  • The Klingons were originally considered as the villains for Season 3, but were quickly rejected for, again, not being an "original" idea. Mike Sussman then tried to get the Romulans to be the main villains, but this was immediately rejected for the same reasons, hence the Xindi were created to fill the role.
  • Mike Sussman's original idea for "E-Squared" would be the Columbia being thrown back in time instead, a result of trying to use Xindi vortex technology (likely salvaged from the crashed probe). The NX-01 crew would thus meet the NX-02 crew's descendants. Executives forced a number of changes that ended up making the episode highly resemble the DS9 episode "Children of Time."
  • The network wanted to kill Archer off at the end of "Zero Hour," which would have been...interesting. Executives even considered a younger, "sexier" captain to take his place. Manny Coto has admitted that he was tempted.
  • Rick Berman originally wanted the entire fourth season to be one arc centered on the "Storm Front" plot, which was thankfully shot down.
  • Originally, Arik Soong (Brent Spiner) was going to be Colonel Phillip Green, the mad eugenicist from "The Savage Curtain" (TOS). This explains why Archer and co. have to bust him out of prison. As the script developed, the writer decided that Green was just too evil, he couldn't be redeemed; so the character was retooled into an ancestor of Data's. Mike Sussman and the Stevens family, known for writing Star Trek novels, wrote another script, also featuring Green and involving Earth's first starbase and the Reed family, but it was quickly rejected by Braga for being "too dark."
  • "In a Mirror, Darkly" Parts I and II arose from plans for an episode to feature William Shatner guest-starring as Evil Kirk, last seen in "Mirror, Mirror," who was trapped in the past after it was revealed the Tantalus field actually transported people to another dimension and time. Another idea, originating from Rick Berman, was for Shatner to appear as the chef of the NX-01 who becomes involved in a time travel plot involving Temporal Agent Daniels. Shatner was interested, but negotiations fell through and the idea never materialized.
  • Manny Coto conceived of a story arc involving a Martian independence movement that would have threatened to crash comets into Earth with the use of a Verteron array unless allowed to secede in a sort of "Cuban Missile Crisis" scenario, with the NX-01 having to mediate. The story never materialized, but some of its concepts ended up appearing in "Demons" and "Terra Prime."
  • "These Are the Voyages...": Mike Sussman had originally pitched an idea which was a take-off of "Shadows and Symbols" (DS9) and "Pathfinder" (VOY). It opens with Robert Picardo's EMH treating a patient inside a holographic re-creation of the NX-01. The patient, also played by Scott Bakula, is totally convinced that he is, in fact, the Jonathan Archer, and he needed the Doctor's help to get back to his own century. So the finale was originally going to be a glorified Voyager episode as opposed to a glorified TNG one. Sussman even admitted it wouldn't have worked as a finale, and it would have given Enterprise a sort of Gainax Ending. It would likely have received even worse reception than what we eventually got.
    • Mike Sussman pitched another ending for Enterprise, which would have featured Leonard Nimoy returning as Spock. It was have started with Spock in the 24th Century giving advice to a young Human/Vulcan officer in Starfleet, telling a story about how in the beginning of the 23rd Century, he received consul on his life and career from T'Pol, who is a legend by the 24th Century. The story would have featured the entire NX-01 crew returning in aged makeup, involving them stealing the NX-01 Enterprise to go on one last mission. No doubt this would have been seen as a far more proper "passing the torch" and finale than Berman and Braga's attempt to make the finale a TNG episode, and Mike Sussman is still frustrated his idea was not picked up.

Unfilmed Season 5

Plans for a fifth season, which was never made due to the show being cancelled:

  • The NX-01 would have been refitted with a secondary hull underneath the warp nacelles, ceramic plating, and a deflector dish, making it look very much like the prototype for what would become the Constitution class in TOS. The new design appeared in the 2011 "Ships of the Line" calendar. Doug Drexler claims the staff was not totally sold on this idea, however.
  • Shran would have become a main character and joined the NX-01 in an advisory capacity. No doubt foreshadowing Andoria's co-founding of the Federation along with Vulcan, Earth, and Tellar. Jeffrey Combs had been bucking to become a Trek regular since the eighties, and compared his perpetual b-status to watching a baseball game from the outfield.
  • Several reappearances of characters or species from the original series would have included the character Flint, the cloud city of Stratos, and the Tan Ru probe.
  • An episode involving a strange force compelling Phlox to create "Frankenstein monsters" was in the works.
  • Plans were in the works for a Borg Queen origin story, explaining that she was a Starfleet technician assimilated by leftover Borg from "Regeneration".
  • An episode called "The Treatment" that would have guest-starred the incredibly-long-lived TNG character Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), an appearance by Spock's grandfather, Skon, and the lyrics (yes, there are lyrics) of the original TOS theme song being sung out loud by a Capellan (Chase Masterson).
  • An episode titled "Kilkenny Cats," featuring the Star Trek version of the Cat-like race of the same name that is seen in Larry Niven's Known Space, was in the works. The episode was intended as a prequel to the TAS episode "The Slaver Weapon". It was the product of Jimmy Diggs, an intern on TNG and later freelance writer on DS9 and Voyager, who had tried to pitch a Kzinti episode for TNG in 1994, and then later on DS9 and VOY. He was so adamant in his pitches that Brannon Braga referred to the Kzinti as "Jimmy Diggs crazy cats". No one else involved in the franchise at the time were interested in their return, so he later wrote a script for a proposed CGI film starring Captain Sulu of the Enterprise-B fighting an invasion of the Federation by the Kzinti, titled "The Lions Of The Night". It too never got off the ground; however, he finally got his luck when Enterprise got new management in its final season, with Manny Coto expressing interest in the return of the Kzinti. Working with Neal and Jana Hallford, he wrote a new story about the NX-01 bringing a Kzinti child on the ship. Designs for a 22nd-century Kzinti spacecraft were made, and models of re-designs of the Kzinti were made as well. There's every indication this episode would have been made if not for Enterprise's cancellation. Indeed, Diggs was so confident after meeting with Coto that he believed at least three Kzinti episodes would be made, and that they would become major villains in the fifth season.
  • There would have been more stories set entirely in the Mirror Universe, following up on "In a Mirror, Darkly." They would have consisted of several standalone episodes interspersed throughout the season, after an idea to set the entire fifth season in the Mirror Universe was rejected.
  • Tensions with the Romulans would have escalated as a prelude to the forthcoming Earth-Romulan War. The Romulans, furthermore, would have been explored more culturally than they had been in previous shows, and the writers planned to incorporate aspects of Diane Duane's Rihannsu novels into the worldbuilding.
  • More would have been revealed about T'Pol's father, specifically that he was a Romulan sleeper agent, leading up to the reveal that T'Pol was half-Romulan, explaining her inherent difficulties with emotion.
  • Peter Weller would have directed a few episodes, as part of the deal he made for his guest role in Season 4.
  • Manny Coto wanted to invite veteran science fiction writers to write episodes in an effort to get the show to explore innovative sci-fi themes like in TOS and TNG.
  • Coto also wanted to devote considerable time to Earth's history in Trek, and how it became the post-scarcity near-paradise bragged about in the other series.
  • An episode essentially nullifying the unpopular ending of "These Are the Voyages" and reviving Trip in some way. (A book that was written, albeit without any guidance from the writers of the series, basically said that the death and its inclusion in the Holodeck program was part of a cover-up to hide the true purposes of a mission.)
  • And, of course, in general, the fifth season would have been in the vein of the fourth season in terms of structure and tone. Given that it is nigh-universally agreed that Season 4 was vastly stronger than the other seasons, it seems very likely that a Season 5 and even 6 would've salvaged the show's reputation with the wider viewing public in the same way TNG is considered to have improved dramatically after its rocky start.

Other projects

  • Russell T Davies, who was writing Doctor Who at the time of ENT, was planning on making overtures to Paramount for a story in which the TARDIS showed up on the NX-01, but Enterprise was canceled before he could do so. He admitted it probably wouldn't have happened (for obvious reasons), and certainly not in a way that the two creative teams would have liked. But still, the two longest-running SF Franchises in history...
    • Doctor Who and Star Trek would eventually cross over via a comic book miniseries, however it was the TNG crew who'd end up meeting the Doctor.
  • There exists an interview with Scott Bakula conducted in the run-up to the release of Star Trek: Nemesis in which he says, with utmost confidence, that the next Star Trek movie would be about him and his crew. Come 2008 (later delayed to 2009, but close enough), after what would have been the customary seven years, we did indeed get a new film...about Captain Kirk. Presumably, if either Nemesis or Enterprise (most likely both) hadn't bombed, we would have seen Captain Archer on the big screen instead.

Related

  • After the series was cancelled after four seasons, a fan-driven effort was launched to raise money to pay for either a fifth season or a wrap-up TV movie. Dubbed The Enterprise Project, the effort did manage to raise more than $150,000 before it was shut down, with Paramount and other authorities saying it was a waste of time, effort and money to attempt this. This was in the spring of 2005, before the concept of Kickstarter or crowdfunding was widely understood and before there was actually an online infrastructure to support it. Had this happened only a few years later, it might have been possible for fans to, if not raise enough for a full-length season, at least raise enough for a movie. Ironically, only a few years after this failed attempt, fans of a fellow cancelled UPN series, Veronica Mars, successfully made use of the then-new Kickstarter to partially fund a theatrical movie.

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