During last week’s Galaxy Con Live event, as reported by TrekMovie, John Billingsley explained why Star Trek: Enterprise didn’t live up to expectations.
Part of the reason was due to “franchise fatigue.” “We came on after so many years of Star Trek, and in a number of those years, double-dipping,” said Billingsley. “Deep Space Nine actually overlapped with Voyager, for instance. I think by the time we aired there was fatigue, understandable fatigue. The show did really at least need a year off.
“I always felt badly for [co-creators/executive producers] Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] that they weren’t given that time…The bible for the show just needed a little more work. I think the notions were strong and I think with the character development they had some clarity. But in terms of an arc for the first season, I think the Suliban wasn’t quite as thought through as it maybe needed to be. I think there was a little bit more work needed on what the tonal balance was between the darkness of we are the first fucking ship and we don’t know what the fuck we are doing and the nature of what Star Trek is supposed to be, the optimistic spirit…It is a hard tone to strike for what they were trying to do.”
Another issue was with the studio being overly cautious. “And the studio itself also needed to kind of grapple with what they wanted to achieve,” said Billingsley. “I remember there was an early episode where a crew member is transported and they come back. And in the first draft…it was pretty cool because this guy comes back and his head is where his ass is supposed to be and ‘what the fuck!’ and we are afraid of the transporter. By the time it emerges and we are shooting it, the guy comes back from the transporter accident and he has got a little twig sticking out of his forehead. And that to me early on crystallized where I think the timidity of the network actually fucked us. To me there was another level of scariness that the show wanted to move towards, and I felt that the powers that be said, ‘But, but, but.'”
Being on UPN was no help either, as the show was often pre-empted for local sports.