It is the mid 22nd Century: over a hundred years before Kirk and Spock. The crew of Earth's first Warp 5 starship led by Captain Jonathan Archer, continue to make history with every light year. Back home many believe Starfleet are partly responsible for drawing dangerously unwanted attention to Humanity. Last season, a lethal probe sent by the Xindi killed 7 million in an unprovoked attack. Having prevented the Xindi superweapon reaching Earth, this first crew now try to resume their mission of exploration... but for some scars the remain raw. Season Four continues to build on Enterprise's less advanced setting, with frequent use of space suits and decompression airlocks in order to get anywhere, a grappler instead of a tractor beam and polarised hull-plating, rather than shields. Those coming straight from JJ Abrams' 2009 movie will probably appreciate this show's uncomplicated style and "down-to-earth" characters the most. The rest of us get to have fun spotting familiar elements from past series, especially by the fourth season - as we visit the Mirror Universe, encounter green skinned Orions, while the Vulcans gradually come to respect their illogical allies and together make the first steps toward uniting warring aliens and form the Federation.
Out of all the Star Trek series, I generally keep returning to Enterprise for more. I love the characters, while being the less than moral humans Gene Roddenberry would've created, they do in fact hold true to his ideals - that of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Archer, interested me from the outset (being familar with Scott Bakula's other work) his Captain out there alone with no support, no rulebook or role models to learn from their mistakes. His 'quid pro quo' relationship with Shran (a blue-skinned Andorian) with whom he forms a bond, both skeptical of the Vulcans' agenda and yet building bridges which will ultimately lead to an interstellar alliance. Trip, likeable Southern Engineer who's friendship with his Captain, manages to survive his occassional bouts of insubordination. T'Pol, initially an observer from a Vulcan government concerned about the impact of humankind on the galaxy. Her relationship with Trip, which manages to rise above its somewhat exploitive origins and her struggle to maintain control over her emotions. At this point, I should also make it clear I loved what Enterprise did with the Vulcans and how they are every bit the race seen all the way back to the Original Series. I could continue to outline traits of the various other regulars, who are anything but cyphers in my opinion. Under developed in comparision to the big three for sure but I feel that was changing...
I love the technology... phase pistols and EM rifles, airlocks and shuttlepods deployed from bomb bay doors underneath. When you're at a disadvantage, you have nothing but your wits to rely on and this show was about as far from the technobabble approach as it was possible for Trek to get, while staying futuristic.
I still believe this is the show with the most potential left unexplored. 2 good seasons, 2 excellent ones and yet still barely scratching the surface. Had I been in charge of CBS/Paramount in 2005, I certainly would not have cancelled this... not considering how well the stories were coming along in leaps and bounds. I hope they're looking at the popularity of Star Trek in cinemas at the moment, and think back to that day fans held a rally outside the studio, sent emails and letters... all protesting the loss of a show that had finally turned the tide against fan apathy, only to be unjustly rewarded with the axe. Shame on the Executive who made that decision.