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Enterprise: The Preview
New Star Trek Series Picks the Pockets of Babylon 5
© Alan Gratz

This fall, crewmembers of the Starship Enterprise will boldly put their hands where no Star Trek hands have gone before - in their pants.

Set in the 22nd century, about 150 years before the events in the original 1960s Star Trek and about 100 years from now, Enterprise will focus on the history of the galactic upheaval that leads to the formation of the Federation. The fifth show in the ever-expanding Star Trek universe will cover the pioneering days of space exploration, when interstellar travel - and interstellar fashion - was in its infancy.

According to the official Trek page (www.startrek.com), Next Generation vets Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner both visited the set of the new Enterprise for a sneak peek and found something startling: Star Trek uniforms with pockets. "Among other things," the site reported, "the new uniforms are looser, are made with natural fibers, lack foot stirrups and have zippers and pockets." A source on the Sci-Fi Channel's news site (www.scifi.com/scifiwire) also described the new uniforms as "navy blue jumpsuits with colored yokes and shoulder piping and shoulder patches with the Enterprise logo."

Somewhere J. Michael Straczynski is laughing. Or calling his lawyers.

The two-hour premiere, tentatively scheduled for late September, will focus on the first mission of the first starship to carry the Enterprise name. Script rumors and reviews at Dark Horizons (www.darkhorizons.com) report that the first episode, "Broken Bow," sees the Enterprise's first crew quickly thrown together to return home a Klingon warrior who's crash-landed on Earth. Directing "Broken Bow" is Trek vet James L. Conway, who's helmed episodes of TNG, DS9 and Voyager.

Sitting in the big chair on board the new Enterprise as Captain Jonathan Archer is Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula, who was given a fair bit of creative control in return for joining the cast when Paramount witnessed the groundswell of fan support at the rumors of his signing. In what is being billed as a Scully/Mulder character dynamic, actress Jolene Blalock will play Archer's Vulcan First Officer T'Pol. Blalock's previous credits include the beautiful temptress Medea in NBC's 2000 mini-series Jason and the Argonauts.

The S.S. Enterprise's Medical Officer is Dr. Phlox, an alien played by John Billingsley, who had a recurring role as Professor Miles Ballard on the short-lived TV series The Others, and who has appeared in single episodes of both Freakylinks ("Subject: Desert Squid! Myth or Legend") and The X-Files ("Timmy the Geek"). Connor Tinneer, Another vet of shows like Freakylinks and Sliders, will play Engineer Charlie "Spike" Tucker.

Actor Dominic Keating brings a fair amount of professional credits to his role as weapons man Lt. Commander Malcom Reed, with both British and French films on his resume and appearances on Poltergeist, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, G vs. E, and even Special Unit 2, the show that will follow Enterprise on UPN on Wednesday nights. Keating also had a recurring role as Mallos in the dreadful Lorenzo Lamas vehicle The Immortal, but in this case he and Enterprise producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga hope Trek fans are willing to forgive and forget.

Two relative newcomers with connections to the WB's Popular round out the cast. Linda Park will warm up the chair for Lt. Uhura as Enterprise's first Communications Officer, Ensign Hoshi Sato, and Anthony Montgomery will do the same for Mr. Sulu's seat at the conn as Navigation Officer Lieutenant Joe Mayweather. You may not have caught Montgomery appearing as waiters in hit sitcoms or playing the recurring character George Austin on Popular, but who among us can forget his memorable turn as Postmaster P. in Leprechaun in the Hood?

"Every version of the Star Trek franchise takes off the launching pad at warp speed, with thrusters on full, blasting away the competition, living long and prospering," said UPN Entertainment President Tom Nunan, mixing and murdering as many Trek metaphors as possible when he officially introduced Enterprise for next fall. Despite no signs of intelligent life at the head of UPN, this Trek fan remains optimistic.

Let's just hope we don't see an episode where they can't get away from the Klingons because Captain Archer left the keys to the Enterprise in his other pants.

Contributing writer Alan Gratz is happy that loose-fitting, natural fiber uniforms were long gone by the time Deanna Troi joined Starfleet. For up-to-the-minute news on anything and everything Star Trek, we highly recommend TrekToday.

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