Enterprise and Continuity

The newest issue of the Star Trek Communicator features an excellent article by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore that looks at Enterprise and its adherence (or lack thereof) to previously established Star Trek continuity, particularly of the Original Series. It’s an interesting article, and it makes the point that the perceptions of fandom that contunity is being tossed out the window left and right doesn’t quite match the reality where the production staff is well aware of Star Trek‘s past and legacy. The article falls short, however, in failing to stack up Enterprise in comparison to the Original Series‘s one foray into the 21st century, the third season episode “Requiem For a Martian.”

Over Star Trek‘s nearly forty year development the vision of humanity’s future in space has altered subtly in some cases, radically in others. Episodes such as “Space Seed” suggested that the 21st century paralleled the development of a Heinleinesque future, with burgeoning space industries, asteroid mining, ready and convenient traffic across the solar system. “Requiem For a Martian” gave Star Trek viewers their first real glimpse of humanity’s spread across the solar system in the mid-21st century, a time before Zefram Cochrane discovered the warp principle, as McCoy and Sulu are stranded on 21st century Mars due to a temporal accident and have to deal with the frontier mentality rampant among the colonists before their rescue. The vision “Requiem” presents of 21st century Mars would not be out of place in the pulp science fiction magazines of the 1940s, and matches the Roddenberry ideal of humanity learning from its mistakes and moving forward into the future secure.

Enterprise ignores all this, presenting instead a humanity moving out into space in the 22nd century, the ghosts of the past still being put behind them. A Voyager episode, “Friendship One,” shows Mars being explored only tentatively in the mid-21st century, a far cry from the frontier towns that McCoy and Sulu found in their temporal journey. More, Enterprise has ignored the indigenous Martian species, exemplified by Richard Kiley’s Martian Shazzerd, the last of his kind. The humanity shown in Enterprise isn’t the secure, mature humanity seen in the Original Series. Humanity’s expansion into space in Enterprise lacks the confidence and certainty that “Requiem” showed was possible.

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