The first season of Enterprise (not Star Trek: Enterprise – at least not until its third season) was, to me, a very good one. The constant strife between the fledgling human space fleet and the Vulcan High Command (this was 2151, before the formation of the United Federation of Planets, of course) was a great subplot to the season-long story arc of the Suliban, a species involved in a “Temporal Cold War.” It was fun to see the introduction of characters Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the Vulcan T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), “Trip” Tucker (Connor Trineer, who was possibly the most annoying of any Star Trek character…at least since Tom Paris), Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) and Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) (No one cares about you, Ensign Whatshisname played by Anthony Montgomery – seriously, no one cares about Mr. “Space Boomer”). “Shuttlepod One,” and my favorite episode of the series, “Silent Enemy” (an episode involving an anomaly, the Vulcans, and pineapple), proved to be a great hour of television.
But what hurt Enterprise in the next three seasons proved to be what hurt Star Trek: Voyager before it. Not the fact that it was not in syndication (like Star Trek: TNG and Deep Space Nine) but rather on UPN – remember, this is the (fairly short) time UPN was in relevance. It was Brannon Braga’s (yes, the same guy behind 24, and an actually good series, FlashForward – go figure) wish to make a dark Star Trek – think all of those shows on Sci Fi – excuse me, SyFy – like Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate and its ilk. No more bright, cheery Star Trek, like in the first two series (and to an extent on DS9), no more “Where No One Has Gone Before” – this was war, dammit – war in space, no less – and war is a dark Hell.
What really killed Enterprise, though, was the introduction of the Xindi. This blatant disregard for canon – the concept of the Expanse in and of itself, the trench from Florida to Venezuela causing the death of 7 million – was terrible for the series. Sure, you could do that in the future (apparently, they took inspiration from Star Trek: First Contact), but this was a prequel here – and you couldn’t explain it away by time travel, like in the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek film (which was fantastic). Eventually, the producers decided to use cheap gimmicks, like the return of Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong (ancestor of the creator of Data) and the use of a holodeck mission within an episode of The Next Generation to end the series. This, along with very lackluster films, not only killed Enterprise, but nearly the entire Star Trek franchise, needing half a decade to return to form.