Star Trek notoriously stayed away from big names to play their captains, until the debut of Enterprise that is, when Scott Bakula was cast to play Jonathan Archer. Bakula’s run on Star Trek: Enterprise was a bit of a mess at first. The series, serving as a prequel, aired the year after Voyager ended, and changed several tenants of the show that angered the hardcore audience.
Firstly, the show was just called Enterprise, dropping “Star Trek” from the branding. Then the show debuted a more melodious pop song as the theme, and while there are proponents of the theme, fans rightly pointed out that it was a deviation from previous installments.
The other big deviation that happened was the hiring of talented, but relatively unknown actors to play their famed captains. William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew, Patrick Stewart, and Avery Brooks all had some amount of success before they laned the roles that changed their career, but they all got their biggest breaks thanks to Star Trek. Bakula was already a household name at this point in his career thanks to Quantum Leap, a show that at its peak, rivaled Star Trek.
Quantum Leap saw its season two numbers hit 15.5 million viewers, while Star Trek: The Next Generation hit just 11.5 million. They aired around the same time as one another.
So the expectations were high, no longer were the producers relying on classically trained actors and actresses to carry these shows, now they’re paying for name value. It almost worked, too, as the last two seasons are among the best in all of Star Trek, but to get there, fans had to sit through some rough episodes. And, to be fair, some great ones.
Ultimately Enterprise would only get four seasons and would be canceled, despite a tremendous tour-de-force from Bakula as the first Captain of the Enterprise.
Now with rumors that Bakula could return to the role that he should’ve had so much more time with, there’s a tremendous hope among fans that Bakula would be given a fair shake this time around, as fans have softened their stance against Enterprise as a series.
It would even make sense for him to do it with regards to branding. Star Trek is owned by ViacomCBS, and Bakula is the biggest star on one of their biggest shows; NCIS: New Orleans.
That type of brand synergy is rare and the network would be more than happy to work around schedules if it means getting a name like Bakula on both their NCIS and Star Trek brands.
Hopefully, the rumors are true, because Star Trek needs Bakula and the fans deserve him.