It’s official: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE Cancelled
That’s very unfortunate. Star Trek series typically need a couple seasons to stabilize and find an audience. TNG and DS9, for example, were excellent, but the early seasons of both were not particularly good. Even the much-maligned Voyager improved a lot as it progressed. In my opinion, Enterprise started stronger than either TNG or DS9 did. The acting was great. The characterization was excellent, and the stories generally avoided the old-plot-new-crew syndrome that inevitably turns up in Trek.
Unfortunately Enterprise never quite caught on with hardcore fans. It was created as a prequel to the original Star Trek (TOS). It was a good idea, but this decision was red meat to the continuty police who nitpicked every detail in light of thirty years of accumulated Trek canon and folklore.
The series creators expected this, of course, but for dramatic reasons they had to make some allowances. A series that runs on rails toward a predetermined future doesn’t create much suspense. I personally thought it was obvious from the start that what we seeing was not a straight prequel, and the writers strongly hinted that we were seeing an alternate timeline created by the interference of the Borg in First Contact and fallout from the tactics used in the Temporal Cold War. So, yeah, stuff is different from we might expect, but it’s not because the writers are ignorant buffoons. We’ve seen lots of alternate timelines on Trek before and I don’t know why some wouldn’t accept that this was one of them and enjoy it on its own terms. Even things which made pefect sense in light of later episodes (like the unexpectedly antagonistic Vulcans) were never given a chance to develop before being ripped to shreds on the message boards. Some devotees of past series complain that Trek now needs something new and unexpected, but, sadly, a certain breed of fans are unable to tolerate the unexpected when does arrive.
The decision to move the series to Friday nights was the killing blow. This is ironic since the point of the move was to escape competition with Wednesday’s Smallville. Unfortunately the SciFi Channel’s new Friday night lineup turned out to be pretty good, particularly the excellent new Battlestar Galactica series. The ratings inevitably suffered. Either way, Enterprise
should’ve been given at least another season to build up an audience
before cancellation was even considered.
Let me note here that I really hate Nielsen Ratings, and I frankly have no clue why anyone takes them seriously anymore. As Wikipedia notes, Enterprise was one of the top 25 Season Passes for Tivo owners, meaning that many viewers who decided to watch both Smallville/Stargate and record Enterprise were completely ignored by the official ratings. Given the popularity of PVRs with science fiction fans, I think that more of our favorite shows will suffer the same fate before the networks catch up with reality. It’s always been foolish to force fans to choose between shows they like, and today it’s even more foolish to ignore those viewers who go out of their way to watch both shows.
UPDATE: James Joyner isn’t happy about this either.