Keep On Trekkin'
The new retro-charged 'Star Trek' prequel, ENTERPRISE, lifts off with a Kirk-ish Captain (Scott Bakula), a va-va-voomy Vulcan, and a quest to shake up Gene Roddenberry's aging brainchild
UPN, 8-9 p.m.
Debuts September 26
”They’re nipples,” announces Star Trek makeup artist Michael Westmore, proudly presenting three pink blobby things on a tray. ”One of the characters gets pregnant by an alien and starts growing them on his arm. They’re made out of gelatin, like the stuff you buy in the supermarket, which has more luminosity than rubber or latex.” He gently pokes one with a fingertip. ”You could actually eat these things if you wanted to.”
Maybe later. For now, let’s just follow Westmore inside Stage 18 on the Paramount lot and onto the set of Enterprise, the latest in the ever-expanding universe of Star Trek spin-offs. Only five hours of the new show have been shot so far — including a two-hour pilot, which will air on UPN Sept. 26 — but it’s already venturing where no Trek series has even thought of going before: into that space-time continuum called a prequel.
Set in the year 2151, Enterprise beams the franchise back to an era two centuries before Picard made it so on The Next Generation and about a hundred years before Kirk hot-rodded around the galaxy in the original Trek. In this more primitive patch of the future, humans have just earned their learner’s permits for faster-than-light deep-space travel, Klingons and Vulcans are still our newly discovered neighbors, and Starfleet uniforms are dark blue jumpsuits that sometimes get accessorized with baseball caps.
”The whole feel of the show is different,” says Scott Bakula, who’s taking a quantum leap into the captain’s chair as Jonathan Archer, commander of Starfleet’s very first starship. ”It has a pioneer feeling to it, like we’re in the Wild West, strapping on our guns and holsters. The characters are more emotional, more familiar. They still get scared seeing aliens. It makes the show feel a lot more contemporary and accessible.”
Not to mention sexier, especially for viewers with a thing for pointy ears. Joining Bakula on the bridge is Jolene Blalock as subcommander T’Pol, a Vulcan scientist so icily hot, Spock himself would be biting his knuckles and leering like a Ferengi (”It’s standard-issue Vulcan wig and ears,” she says, revealing her beauty secret). The pilot even has a steamy shower sequence featuring Blalock and Connor Trinneer, who plays engineer Trip Tucker, slathering bio-decontamination jelly all over each other’s bodies (which is not, incidentally, how Trinneer’s character ends up sprouting Jell-O nipples, but we’ll get back to that later). Also on board are Linda Park as Hoshi Sato, an astro-linguist with a fear of flying; English actor Dominic Keating as tactical officer Malcolm Reed; Anthony Montgomery as helmsman Travis Mayweather; and John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox, a ridge-headed alien of uncertain origin. ”He comes from Planet X,” Billingsley offers, ”which means the producers haven’t figured it out yet.”
”We had no interest in doing another 24th-century series,” says one of those producers, Rick Berman, explaining why the franchise is being plunged backward into the future. ”We’d done 526 hours of that with Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. The thought of creating another spaceship and populating it with X number of crew members and going off on the same sort of mission in the same 24th century was just too…” He can’t even bring himself to finish the sentence.