I’m just curious about one thing. I loved Star Trek: Enterprise and thought it was a very good show, but, I honestly do not believe it was the best Trek ever produced.
I would have loved to see it get a full 7 seasons as did all the other spin-offs of TOS, just to see where the story arc would have gone and how close they would have stayed to canon as we approached closer to the days of Robert April and Christopher Pike. With Coto at the helm for the remaining last 3 years it would have been interesting indeed.
Now, back on topic – I digressed:
As far as innovation is concerned, of course TOS wins hands down by virtue of it being the very first, and unique for its originality of concept, ideas and ideals. But, because it was made in the 60’s and on a very tight shoe-string budget, we all know that the special effects left a lot to be desired, so the visual quality was certainly not up to snuff. But, its stories and plots and character developments have stood the test of time.
As far as just great writing, acting, directing and story-telling is concerned, well TNG is the #1 winner in that scenario. Consistent good plotlines and fleshing-out of the Star Trek universe. TNG was what Gene Roddenberry had always hoped TOS could have been and he succeeded on this one.
As far as exploring Star Trek and sending it boldly where no space opera had gone before (the inner workings of the minds and attitudes of Star Fleet and aliens of all types) then nothing can beat Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This was a unique adventure into the very lives of the different aliens and humans who were forced to live in very close quarters and proximity to dangers from more than just one quadrant of space. DS9 opened the door to new areas of the galaxy via the stable wormhole within Bajoran space. This had never been done before and DS9 did it beautifully.
As far as wondering a “what if” scenario then Star Trek: Voyager takes the lead. The program asked the question “What if, a crew of mismatched Star Fleet Personnel and mutinous ex-Star Fleet members (the Maquis) had to join forces in an area of space so far from the Alpha Quadrant that it would take them more than a lifetime to get home? “What if, they were placed right smack in the middle of the Borg’s home territory? How would this well-oiled machine, matched up with independent rebels, led by a female Captain and spiritualist 2nd Officer do in that kind of situation?” Would their years of Star Fleet training be an assest or a hinderance, and so forth. While the writing, failed the show in more ways than one, the crew and cast still managed to pull off some pretty fascinating TV watching for 7 years.
Now we come to Enterprise. Franchise fatique, on the part of its producers and writers (not its fans) became evident, almost from the outset. Something was missing. By the beginning of the second season, the show no longer had that spark, that wonderment we have come to appreciate from the Star Trek universe. Yes, the acting and even direction from cast and crew were excellent and should have walked away with several Emmy’s over the course of its 4 year run, but that was not to be so. Scott Bakula was superb as Captain Jonathan Archer. I can’t think of anyone who could have sat in that center seat any better. Jolene Blalock was pleasing to the eye and was very believable as the first Vulcan, and very young, non-Kolinar trained Vulcan (which was obvious from her inner emotional battles) to ever serve aboard a non-Vulcan starship. But something was missing, and I believe I know what it was.
Awe! That’s what every other Star Trek program still inspired. The awesomeness of the Star Trek universe. The wonder that still hinted of a Gene Roddenberry vision. Around every nebula held a new secret to be explored, a new alien race to encounter and new challenges for the ship’s Captain and crew. By the 5th year of Voyager that was just starting to ebb. If it hadn’t been for the Borg story arc and the bringing in of a now more emotionally stable Barclay to help them out of their difficulties, then we may have seen the end of Star Trek on television by the 6th season of Voyager. But that task, sadly, fell to Archer’s crew. I’m not sure anything could have saved Enterprise, even from its outset. I am greatful for the attempt of Paramount to at least try and get one more chapter out of the classic Trek lore and only sorry that the production and writing, early on, couldn’t sustain it for 7 seasons. I had high hopes when they brought on Manny Coto in the end, but is was too little, too late.
I, personaly, do not suffer from “Franchise Fatique,” but I do suffer from poor production quality and non-innovative writing from those who were entrusted with the future of Star Trek. May the spirit of Roddenberry infuse the soul of some young writers and producers down the road so that when Star Trek does return (and it will), then that AWE that is such an intergral part of this legend will return to inspire another generation of dreamers and scientific groundbreakers.