Merry Christmas from the crew of the Enterprise NX-01 in this video that brought up a lot of memories for me.
Last Christmas, I shared how my mom and I have been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation together. It's the first time she's seen the show, but the umpteenth time for me. The episodic nature of TNG makes it easy to watch any episode in any order that I must've eventually seen this entire series multiple times.
This is in sharp contrast to every Star Trek series that followed, especially Deep Space Nine and Enterprise. All seven seasons of DS9, and the second half of Enterprise, had narrative arcs that made for much better storytelling but less accessibility into the universe. If you didn't start from the beginning or you missed an episode along the way, woe was you. As a result, I've seen these series all the way through only once each.
So when someone close to me started watching Enterprise this year, I was surprised my memories of Enterprise were as vivid as any other series. As she reported back on certain episodes or plots, I found myself remembering exact episode names or even lines of dialogue. We watched the episode "Dear Doctor", which opens with Doctor Phlox flirting with a female crewmember. My memory came back in stages: "Who is that?… Oh, that's Ensign Cutler. What's she doing there?… Oh, she was written as a love interest for Phlox. Why didn't we ever see more of her?… Oh." That's when I remembered actor Kellie Waymire had passed away during the filming of Enterprise, at the young age of 36.
That wasn't my only melancholy experience of Enterprise, nor was it likely the only reason I remember the show so well. My dad got me into Star Trek, and we watched it faithfully from 1987 through 2004. After that, we had only the occasional movie to keep our Trek tradition alive. I didn't know at the time that Enterprise be our last shared television series, but it gave the show a special place in my memory. My only regret is that we never watched the fourth season together — our schedules and relationship didn't align at that point in our lives. When I finally watched it alone years later, I ended in tears, knowing this was the end of something special between me and my father.
When my "Dear Doctor" co-viewer continued on her voyage through Enterprise, I asked if I could join her for the fourth season. Not only do I consider it the finest single season of Trek storytelling ever made, but I wanted to finally share it with someone. Of all the Star Trek that aired from 1987 to 2005, Enterprise was the least-viewed. There aren't many people I can talk to about the events of that season, and I never watched any of its fourth season with anyone. In memory of my father, I wanted to fill that gap in my Trek lore. But watching an entire season with someone is a commitment, and some people have a fear of that; our co-viewing began and ended with "Dear Doctor".
I still have Enterprise on DVD and can watch it anytime — but I won't anytime soon. Until then, I am happy to share The Next Generation with my mom and now Discovery with my Transporter Lock co-host Sabriel. Because that's the way families work: sometimes they shrink, and sometimes you don't get what you want, but there'll always be someone there who loves you and celebrates with you, whatever the generation.