00:30:09 on September 06 2002
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Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced
players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the
turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses,
bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near
the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original
We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS
Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all
interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is
superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we
will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices,
check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away
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Become a 24th century Starfleet officer! Heed the call and
expect the unexpected at Star Trek: A Call to Duty!
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By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features
Written by Steve Krutzler
Reinvigorating the STAR TREK franchise with a fifth television series suddenly seemed a lot easier in early 2001 when producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga landed a marquee name to carry the franchise's slightly less conspicuous banner into the 22nd century. Launching another TREK immediately after three concurrently-running series and feature films was at best dubious and at worst foolhardy, and filling the shoes of a more down-to-earth STAR TREK hero meant not just finding someone who exemplified the role but some way to improve the odds.
In Scott Bakula they found both. The popular actor who played 'Sam Beckett' for four years in the series QUANTUM LEAP earned four Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe Award for outstanding actor, firmly establishing him as a television "star." This made his association with what became ENTERPRISE an important component in convincing viewers of STAR TREK's staying power.
Bakula became not only the first captain of the first Starship Enterprise when the series debuted last fall, but the first one to assume the center seat with a built-in fan base and a successful sci-fi career already under his belt. His performance as the -- you guessed it, likeable -- but not quite unflappable 'Captain Jonathan Archer' in the show's freshman season earned a Saturn Award nomination for best actor in a television series and a People's Choice nod for favorite male actor in a new series. While critics have been mixed, ENTERPRISE has filled the bill for UPN, which enters the 2002 season again-revamped with new leadership. Entertainment trade journals Variety and the Hollywood Reporter have dubbed the show an unquestionable "hit" and the star power of the affable actor has no doubt contributed to its success.
Scott sat down with TrekWeb and other sci-fi journalists this week at Paramount studios to give us the view from the captain’s chair. It doesn't take long to realize it looks pretty good from here.
“We were so well received by press and fans and I was delighted by that,” the actor says with beaming enthusiasm. “That was the big question mark: were we coming back too soon? A lot of people were like, ‘we should let it rest a year, let VOYAGER go away for a year,’ so you go into the year thinking maybe those people are right or maybe not.”
Bakula says the long-standing seven year “guarantee” hanging over a STAR TREK spin-off is anything but a cause for complacency. In fact, the actor has his own impressive expectations for the show this year.
“I can’t say in my head that it’s seven years guaranteed, that doesn’t seem right to me,” he says earnestly. “I think that’s good. Everyone is thinking we have to keep making good hours. You want people to watch you. I want our viewership to go up this year and if it doesn’t, if it levels off or something, it’s going to be a disappointing year for me personally. I think the show has a lot to say, I think there’s a lot of great work being done on it and I think it’s very classy and it’s done extremely well. We need to get the word out that people need to be watching this hour of TV. I’m not like ‘woo, we’re done, please write me out of episodes so I can spend more time with my family.’ I’m here and I’ve been very heavy in the schedule for the first seven shows that we’ve shot except for one, so we’re banging away and we’re not at all resting.”
His four children do, however, make weekend rest absolutely essential and it’s just one reason the actor is the only ENTERPRISE cast member who hasn’t made a convention appearance since the show began. Between family life, traveling for network press junkets and taking part in fund raisers like this summer’s St. Louis production of the stage play I DO, I DO!, convention appearances are low on the priority list. Fan reactions have a way of meandering his way, even with the low profile.
”The contact that I’ve had with fans has been terrific. It’s from the very casual—the cab driver the other day on the road who honked his horn, I looked over, he saluted me and drove on—to the pilot who’s getting on the plane saying ‘you’re my favorite captain’ and it’s like ‘wait, you’re a real captain!’ I haven’t sat down with any long, in-depth conversations with fans. But I have friends who tell me what their friends are saying: ‘We hate the dog, we want you to kick some ass, we want you to kick the Vulcans’ ass!’ People are always compelled to give you their opinions so I get a lot of feedback even though I haven’t been out there much.”
The need to separate work from his personal life doesn’t mean he’s comfortably settled into the role as STAR TREK’s newest leading man, however.
“I don’t think I’ve settled into the character,” he responds brightly. “I don’t think you feel like you’re settling in until you get a script and you’re going, ‘we did this already’ and ‘I want to do something else’ or calling them up and asking them, ‘can’t you think of something else for me to do’. There’re so many twists and quirks and areas that we’re still exploring that I don’t really know the answers to at this point.”
Captain Archer embarked on an arc that began to see movement by the end of last season, with episodes like “Silent Enemy,” “Desert Crossing,” “Dear Doctor” and “Shockwave” starting to reveal the complexities of interstellar space travel. The theme of guilt was actually semi-recurrent in the first season, but the actor says the writers have struck a delicate balance.
“I like that he has guilt and is not a cavalier explorer,” he says. “I liked the episode with John [Billingsley] when we were talking about what to do with the one dying species and the one that’s going to come on. I think those are great things. If this were a real situation and the weight of being a human carrying Humanity into the universe, Brannon [Braga] and Rick [Berman] feel that the guy wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning,” he exclaims humorously. “He’d be like, ‘don’t talk to anybody, just keep going until it’s time to go home’, because everywhere we go we risk so much, if you’re in the reality of it. If I get too drawn into that then he becomes such a heavy character, so burdened [that] we don’t get to see anything but me being this dark and burdened soul. I like that there’s a notion of responsibility because I think that’s reflective [of] true TREK lore.”
Scott is quick to admit that certain expectations for the ENTERPRISE formula may not have worked out exactly as intended last year, citing the original notion of replicating the original series as something that has taken on a metamorphosis for the better.
"What surprised me and all of us was the idea going in that I was going to be the ‘new Kirk,’” he admits. “And I was going to be the new captain who was kind of out there, having a good time and enjoying the ladies and carrying on. I think everyone’s idea—what they were selling to me in the room was—[that] we wanted to go back to that Kirk/Spock/Bones kind of thing and have the kind of camaraderie and ease that those three guys had… that never really flew,” he concedes.
“We’ve had a couple little romantic ideas but nothing as casual as the ‘boys’ did back in ‘the day!’ The thing that was a surprise was that it’s a different energy when you put a woman—and a Vulcan woman—in that threesome. It makes the show not be as predictable as if it was just three guys again and ‘off we go.’ I think that that’s worked out for us, but it’s certainly made the going a little bit bumpier. When you have the luxury of being in a show that, theoretically, will be here for a while, then the bumps are all good!”
One element that hasn’t proven to be a bump is the complicated time travel story involving the Suliban. Even while stranded in the 31st century in last season’s cliffhanger “Shockwave,” Bakula’s experience on LEAP prepared him for the peculiarities.
“In the early days of QUANTUM, I got a book and an angry letter from a fan that said ‘how dare we, we’re breaking all the rules of time travel. Please read this book and you’ll understand that you’re violating the time space continuum…,’” he recalls delightfully. “I’m not really familiar with NEXT GEN and VOYAGER and all those things so I don’t really know how much time travel has gone before. To me it’s a big deal because [for one] every time we talk about time travel I have to get myself out of the ‘oh boy’ mode and remember where I am, but also because it’s a 150 years from today. The notion that there’s time travel 150 years from today!”
Fortunately, illustrating the particulars of this paradoxical plotline hasn’t involved nearly as much tongue-twisting techno-babble as Bakula’s predecessors—or descendants—had to endure. Despite the complexities, he says he hopes the season premiere on September 18th does a good job with these mind-benders.
“I don’t know the answer to where all that’s going but certainly getting me back is pretty involved and very complicated and I hope it makes sense to everybody,” he says. “You have all your tricks to try and memorize [but] there are no handles for some of that stuff. I only really had one episode where I got a page of dialogue and said, ‘this is all bleh.’ For the most part we had words or phrases or things that you could kind of feel like you knew what you were talking about. I think for us to suddenly be spouting into a lot of techno-babble wouldn’t fit in with us, our ship, how we work, how we get dirty and how we take stuff apart and try to figure it out. I think they’ve matched it pretty well.”
The new season will have plenty of surprises, with some interesting new character dynamics opened up for exploration, due in part to thoughts Bakula himself communicated to the writing staff.
“A couple of the episodes this year were somewhat spawned out of some thoughts that I had at the end of the first season,” he told us. “I’ve said to them, ‘you know there’s a relationship that I think we could explore more and this is why’ and then that spawned an episode. I said to them we have something on our ship that we haven’t utilized since the pilot and that just became a big story. I had almost a whole episode with Dominic [Keating] (“Minefield” –ed.), which we never really had last year, I’ve had a whole lot more to do with Jolene [Blalock] this year so we’re becoming more comfortable around each other both on and off the set. There’s a great episode with Jolene where we find out that first contact was not when it’s been previously thought (“Carbon Creek” – ed.).”
Another one of the new relationships being developed further this year is between Bakula’s Archer and Billingsley’s unique Denobulan Doctor Phlox. But the actor won’t spoil what is sure to be an interestingly informative installment.
“We have a huge episode that’s in a sense all about my dog. He’s the background of an entire episode, but he gets sick so I spend the entire episode in Sickbay with Doctor Phlox. We’re exhausted and I’m particularly exhausted and I get into this whole–look it’s called ‘A Night in Sickbay,’ a night in sickbay with Doctor Phlox—that’s all I should have to say! We find out a lot of stuff about him that we may not have wanted to know; like what he does when he’s in his off hours… he has things to cut and trim!”
So much of working in STAR TREK today involves filming extensive sequences that will include visual effects inserted later. Bakula’s no stranger to working around effects, but he says the technology has taken a quantum leap since, well, you know. Episode three, “Minefield,” involves several impressive visuals that made shooting several sequences entirely in green-screened environments necessary (the following couple paragraphs may contain spoilers for “Minefield” that some readers may wish to avoid).
“A lot of the stuff that I was doing in the late 80s, early 90s was not as complex and exciting as what they can do now,” he says astonishingly. “And yet you walk in and the floor’s green, the wall’s green, the ceiling’s green and all you do is just walk to one place and turn around and say a line and you’re in wherever they want you to be. We’re literally on the hull of the ship, it’s a great episode in EV suits and in a minefield and they’ve never done that before,” he says excitedly.
“Dominic and I end up out in space and we shot it all against a green screen and it’ll be terrific. We’re going to be out there on the hull and behind us you’ll see the nacelles and just things that they haven’t visually done before. There’s a moment when a ship materializes behind Dominic when he’s on the hull which I think is going to be stunning stuff.”
As to reports of Romulans in the area: “Have I met a Romulan? No, but I’ve come across them,” he laughs at the tease. “But their names are bandied about in a couple of episodes and we do encounter them but we don’t see them.”
Following the encounter in “Minefield,” the Enterprise will make a “Dead Stop” and eventually defend a colony against a band of “Marauders.”
“We have to have repairs done and we end up on an automated repair station,” he says of the fifth episode, airing before “Sickbay.” “Nobody’s there and it’s a pretty interesting show. We just finished an episode where we land to pick up some deuterium and find out that the people on the planet are being basically held prisoner by Klingons who take whatever they like to whenever they like.”
The episode involved some of the longest location shooting ever undertaken on the series yet, with an alien colony constructed in a California desert.
“[It’s] the biggest set they’ve ever made, we just finished shooting. When you see the set that they’ve built out in the desert—,” he trails off in an awe-inspiring tone. “We were out for five days last week and people we like ‘oh I can’t wait to get back into the studio’—we never go out for that long of a period of time—and you look around and say, ‘we’re so spoiled!’ We’re not out til’ nine o’clock on Saturday morning finishing Friday’s work—I think I got home at 2 a.m. last Friday, which is an unusually late night for us. I think we all feel that we’re so lucky.”
Even with some of the most impressive special effects and expensive production design found anywhere on television, Bakula points out that what he finds most captivating and unique about this series is its root in a sort of “cosmic naïveté.”
“We’re all in agreement to try and keep, for as long as we can, this notion that everything is still new and exciting to this crew,” he offers. “Nothing’s easy and things don’t work well. I said, ‘please let’s not fix the transporter for a while’ because I love the shuttle pod, as painful and challenging as it is to shoot in, it’s got it’s own vibe to it that keeps up away from the easy things of ‘beam in and beam out’.”
Going further, he says small touches like the EV spacesuits really hit home what this series is trying to accomplish.
“They really to me say ENTERPRISE and not any other [part of the] franchises because it’s a primitive get-up. We can really associate them with our guys on the Moon and they’re just not that far away. I’m kind of responsible for them being back in the show again this year partly because the shows like the comet show (“Breaking the Ice” -ed.)— that to me is ENTERPRISE because that was a joy to all of us and to relate it back to the kids on Earth, I love that we can do that. That may seem mundane by other TREK franchise standards but I think it clearly speaks to what this one is about.”
Not surprisingly, some of his favorite episodes in the first season were character pieces like “Shuttlepod One,” which he says don’t always fit the various expectations that a television show must fulfill.
“You had SP1, which is the two guys sitting and talking about who they are and where they’ve been and what they’ve done and I always love those kinds of shows. This episode that we have with Doctor Phlox is very similar to that between the two of us,” he says. “The style of making hour television—again this is part of what the studio wants, part of what the network wants, and part of what Rick and Brannon want—they want a certain amount of action, they want a certain amount of other elements and variety of stories and not always just the character things. Certainly VOYAGER was a little more talking heads and I think we’re kind of, literally, ‘out there’ more.”
This quaint idea of a more practical, pioneering spirit informs his performance of Jonathan Archer. Scott identifies with the characterization of this captain as a real explorer, a role he thinks is lacking in today’s society.
“What I like about this guy continues to be this driving motivation that he has to explore, because I don’t think we have that in our society anymore, really: ‘the great explorers.’ Probably your scientists are the best modern example, the guys who are out there exploring disease and the mind and the body, but in terms of great explorers, short of going to the South Pole barefoot [chuckles]… there’s not a lot,” he says. “I really identify with this notion of exploring and I like this idea of exploring in a world where there are no rules. We’re being told some of what the rules are sometimes by the Vulcans but they’re really the only ones holding any kind of standards or bar that we’re supposed to perform to out there. So I like that I continue to be somewhat of a maverick in that sense, feeling out each situation and talking amongst ourselves about what to do.”
The Vulcans, as we learned in season one, aren’t always pleased with this seat-of-the-pants mentality. Altering the previous portrayal of the legendary STAR TREK aliens has proven one of the more controversial subjects among fans. Jolene Blalock’s character, T’Pol, has been a prime vehicle for exploring this newfound tension and we’ll see more of it this year in “The Seventh,” featuring a guest actor with more than one TREK connection—playing against Patrick Stewart in the new X-MEN movie series and guesting on VOYAGER's "Remember" in 1996.
“I thought they did a great job of keeping all of us guessing about who the Vulcans really are, taking them out of that ‘goody goodies of the universe’ and the guardians of everything that’s proper and sort of changing that,” he says. “We’re shooting an episode today that we just started, and Bruce Davison is going to be the guest star in, and we find out that T’Pol has had a previous career before the Science Directorate.”
Although traditional STAR TREK allegory hasn’t been too frequent in ENTERPRISE, Bakula does reveal that at least one upcoming episode will feature yet more interventionist hijinks—the bread and butter of classic Prime Directive stories.
“We’re going to get into some tampering with another society that we accidentally leave something behind in and have to come back to get, so we’ll start messing with those issues,” he says, noting that last season’s forays into contemporary commentary may have tread the edge of reality too much. “I was nervous last year about [“Desert Crossing”] because we had the whole who’s right and wrong here, these guys want us to come fight the people in town but we don’t really know anything about the people in town, these guys might be the bad guys… But the Suliban internment camp episode I thought that was great. That felt right, talking to internment camps during World War II here in the United States.”
Although the ENTERPRISE production slate now contains several actors-turned-directors, Bakula says he’s content right now to go along for the ride.
“They haven’t been terribly forthcoming [about Archer’s future] and that’s ok with me in a lot of ways, leaving room for things to come along. I trust that Rick and Brannon have a great overview of the whole picture of this franchise, I’m just kind of riding with whatever new experience as they come. There’s something delightful about what we get to. It’s not a drama about being a legal aid in downtown L.A. or whatever. That we get to make our living this way is a joy, period!”
Special thanks to TrekWeb's West Coast Correspondent Lynda Foley for her assistance with this article.
© 2002 TrekWeb.com. All Rights Reserved.
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