Based on the official Star Trek Chronology, the series begins ten years prior to the founding of the United Federation of Planets, and ninety years after the events of Star Trek: First Contact (1996). Episode one takes place approximately 115 years prior to the start of Star Trek (1966), and 213 years before Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).
The first name of Captain Archer was initially to have been Jeffrey. While the (American) producers of the show didn't see any problems with this name, UK fans pointed out the link to disgraced author, actor, and politician Jeffrey Archer after learning of the name over the Internet. The name was changed to Jackson, but there was exactly one person in the country named Jackson Archer. To avoid lawsuits, Jonathan was chosen for a name, because there were twenty Jonathan Archers.
During filming of the pilot serial, Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) actors Brent Spiner (Lieutenant Commander Data) and Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker) visited Scott Bakula on the set to give him advice about what to expect while working on the series. Both Brent Spiner and Jonathan Frakes guest starred in season four with Brent Spiner playing Data's creator's grandfather Dr. Arik Soong and Jonathan Frakes playing his original character looking at a retrospective history of Enterprise.
The episodes Star Trek: Enterprise: Home (2004) and Star Trek: Enterprise: Daedalus (2005) both reveal that Earth and Vulcan are sixteen light-years distant from each other. According to Gene Roddenberry, James Blish (who wrote short-story adaptations of episodes from the original Star Trek (1966) series, plus one original novel, "Spock Must Die!"), and multiple background sources (including endorsements from various scientists from the Harvard - Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), planet Vulcan would likely be in orbit around the trinary star system 40 Eridani, a real-life trinary star system located 16.45 light years from Earth.
This was the first Star Trek series to have an actual theme song, a fact that caused controversy among fans, who were split on the idea. The pilot episode used a different piece of music for the closing credits (in fact, an instrumental of the opening song) from the rest of the episodes. Beginning with the third season, the theme was revised to be more upbeat.
T'Pol held the rank of Subcommander. This rank is traditionally associated with the Romulans. However, since the Romulans and Vulcans were originally one race, it would make sense for them to have similar terminology or military structures.
Because the show is one hundred years before Kirk, some old technology has reappeared: - flip-open communicators - manual sliders on the transporter - the science station viewfinder - Most of the sound effects for the Enterprise come from the original Star Trek (1966) - including all the bridge sounds, doors, communicator chirps, and most of the panel sounds. Instead of shields, the Enterprise has polarized hull plating, and instead of hand-held phasers, the crew are introduced to phase pistols. There are no photon torpedoes, simply torpedoes (until the start of season three). The transporter has only recently been approved for transporting bio-matter (people), and no one on the crew trusts it. It has four docking doors for shuttlepods. The design of 22nd century Enterprise NX-01 bears a striking resemblance to the 24th century Akira Class starship, first introduced in Star Trek: First Contact (1996). Enterprise carries a designation of NX-01 which, according to established canon, indicates a prototype starship. It also indicates the first Starfleet starship to use this naming convention. Enterprise is the first Starfleet vessel to use the new warp 5 engine developed by Zefram Cochran and Jonathan Archer's father, Henry.
The American astronaut shown in the opening credits is Alan Shepard, the first American astronaut in space, and later commander of Apollo 14. There is also archive footage of: Charles A. Lindbergh next to his plane Spirit of St. Louis, the Enterprise Shuttle, Amelia Earhart next to her plane, the Wright brothers flight combined with Robert H. Goddard the father of modern rocketry writing his theories on a blackboard, Chuck Yeager and the Bell X-1 with which he broke the sound barrier and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins as they board Apollo 11 to become the first men on the moon.The astronaut seen floating in space next to the shuttle with the jet pack is Astronaut Bruce Hartwell, the first to test the jet pack, nicknamed the Buck Rogers space pack.
Originally Jolene Blalock's character of T'Pol was supposed to be called T'Pau. This was the name of a character that appears in Star Trek: Amok Time (1967), an episode of Star Trek (1966) written by Theodore Sturgeon. They changed it at the last minute because if they used the character of T'Pau, they would have to pay royalties to Sturgeon's estate every time T'Pau was used, i.e. every episode of "Enterprise." Incidentally, the character of T'Pau later made an appearance in the three-part Vulcan renaissance story arc in season 4.
In the wake of the destruction of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia on February, 2003, an opening screen was added to the episode Star Trek: Enterprise: Stigma (2003) (first air date February 5, 2003), which read "In memory of the Columbia crew...You will always be an inspiration." Further, just as the original U.S. Space Shuttle prototype (which never reached space) was named "Enterprise" after the ship in the original Star Trek (1966), so it was revealed in Star Trek: Enterprise: The Expanse (2003) (first air date May 21, 2003) that the second Starfleet prototype ship (designation NX-02) was named in honor of the "second" Space Shuttle (actually the first to reach space), Columbia. Although the initial glimpses of NX-02 were of an incomplete ship in dry dock, she was seen more extensively in a story arc in season four. It should also be noted that an "S.S. Columbia" was mentioned in the original Star Trek (1966) pilot, (The Cage), and a scout ship "U.S.S. Columbia" (designation NCC-621) appears briefly in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).
Art imitates life imitating art. During the opening credits a brief shot of the space shuttle Enterprise is seen. During the roll out of this real space shuttle, Star Trek (1966) creator Gene Roddenberry and many members of the original Star Trek cast were in attendance. The space shuttle was named Enterprise because of a huge letter campaign from Star Trek fans. Therefore, the opening credits are for a show about a fake ship, named after a real ship, which is named after a fake ship, that is named after the fake ship, for which the show is named.
Longtime Trek actor Vaughn Armstrong (famous for his many alien roles on various Trek series) appears here as a human for the first time. His character, Admiral Maxwell Forrest, is the commander-in-chief of the fledgling Starfleet.
The theme song to the show, called "Where My Heart Will Take Me" and performed by Russell Watson, was composed by Diane Warren for the film Patch Adams (1998), and was recorded under the title "Faith of the Heart", by Rod Stewart, for that motion picture.
The Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise is Doctor Phlox. The name Phlox was a character of the Hierarchy race from the Star Trek: Voyager (1995) episode Star Trek: Voyager: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy (1999). However, the name of the character in the Voyager episode was only used in the script, and was never mentioned on-screen.
In various episodes, we see a small statue on top of a shelf inside Captain Archer's office. The statue is that of a man standing with his arm reaching out towards the sky. This is a smaller-scale model of the twenty-meter tall statue of Zefram Cochran that Geordi describes to Cochran himself in Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
T'Pol's age became a matter of some debate among fans (and a minor running joke on the series itself) during the show's first 3 seasons. According to the original writers' "bible" for the series, she is 67 years old at the time of Star Trek: Enterprise: Broken Bow: Part 1 (2001), a fact confirmed by Jolene Blalock in interviews. In the season three finale, Star Trek: Enterprise: Zero Hour (2004), however, T'Pol revealed that she is actually 65 years old (and will turn 66 on her next birthday). It has been speculated that either the writers shaved a few years off her age (since bibles are only guidelines), made a mistake, or T'Pol is lying about her age, and is really 70.
Julia Rose, who has a recurring role as a space marine (MACO) in the 2003-2004 season, wears a uniform previously worn by Hilary Swank in The Core (2003). According to a September 2003 interview with Rose, the uniform still has a label with Swank's name on it.
Scott Bakula jokingly suggested prior to the filming of the two-hour premiere that Captain Jonathan Archer's middle name might be Beckett, a reference to his previous television series, Quantum Leap (1989), in which his character was Dr. Sam Beckett.
The Captain's chair, used in the fourth season, was originally from the Enterprise-E bridge set in a deleted scene from the ending of Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), which included Steven Culp, who had played Major Hayes in Enterprise's third season, as Picard's new First Officer.
The first season hinted at a budding romance between Doctor Phlox and human Crewman Elizabeth Cutler. Tragically, actress Kellie Waymire died in 2003 before their fictional relationship could be further explored.
The arm patches for the Enterprise crew, which features an overhead view of the Enterprise, is based upon the NASA mission patches, which features the image of the rocket, capsule, or space shuttle used on the mission.
Jeffery Combs has the distinction of portraying eight different characters on Star Trek series. He has played the roles of Brunt, Weyoun, Shran, Tiron, Kevin Mulkahey, Penk, Krem, and a holosuite guest. He is one of only five actors to play seven or more different characters in the Star Trek franchise, the others being Randy Oglesby, J.G. Hertzler, Vaughn Armstrong, and Thomas Kopache, all four of whom have appeared in at least one scene together with Combs.
There was an incorrect rumor during the fourth season that William Shatner would make a guest appearance on the show in a desperate attempt to boost ratings. Shatner's role was said to be an ancestor of Kirk, or perhaps a time displaced version of Kirk. Both Shatner and the show's producers denied that this was ever even considered.
While many cast members from "Star Trek" series have become typecast, and often find other work aside from acting (as Roxann Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill did), the cast of "Enterprise" moved on to steady work and series regular roles on other programs.
In many of the ready-room shots, a common modern-day CD rack can be seen on Captain Archer's desk. In fact, these common CD racks make another appearance (slightly modified) to appear as computer circuits onboard the Vulcan vessel Seleya during the third season episode Star Trek: Enterprise: Impulse (2003).
This was the first Star Trek series whose opening credits did not consist of a series of dramatic camera flybys of the ship or space station. Rather it is a build up of historical (and make-believe-historical) events that led to the show's era.
This series did not use the traditional sound stages reserved for Star Trek series, because one of the stages, which last held the Star Trek: Voyager (1995) sets, was demolished following filming of the last Voyager episode Star Trek: Voyager: Endgame (2001).
Several episodes feature clips from classic movies as the crew enjoys occasional "Movie Night" diversions. Most of the films that have been featured, such as For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and The Court Jester (1955) are, naturally, Paramount films (and Enterprise is produced by Paramount). However, one episode prominently featured footage from Frankenstein (1931), a Universal Studios production. By using films from its own libraries, Paramount thus avoided having to pay royalties.
Malcolm Reed was named for a minor character in C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower books, which were also a major inspiration for the original Star Trek (1966). Both characters were English and came from families that had generations of career Navy men, although Malcolm Reed in Enterprise was the first to join Starfleet.
Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather) once auditioned for two different roles on Star Trek: Voyager (1995), one of which was Tuvok's son Sek. Montgomery was the last actor to read for the role of Mayweather.
This is the first science fiction (or any other genre) television series ever to include footage actually taken on another planet, the Sojouner rover from the Pathfinder probe on the surface of Mars in the opening titles.
In Star Trek: Voyager: In the Flesh (1998), it was revealed that there is a member of Starfleet in the 24th century named Valerie Archer. It has been speculated that this is a descendant of Jonathan Archer. Valerie Archer's name, according to creator Nick Sagan, is an homage to Dave Bowman from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Eleanor Arroway from Contact (1997), the latter written by his father, astronomer Carl Sagan.
In Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Battle (1987) the system that the Enterprise D is in is called Xendi-Sabu. Based on how it is pronounced in that episode, this is a possible reference to the Xindi from Enterprise's third season.
The Mars rover footage in the opening credits is actually a still image of a Mars rover sliding across a still image of Mars. On Blu-ray copies of the show, the wheels can be seen not moving as the vehicle moves, as a still image would not be animated.
Costume designer Robert Blackman decided to look forward from the present rather than backward from Kirk's time, thereby creating uniforms that resembled futuristic NASA uniforms instead of earlier versions of those seen in the original Star Trek (1966). Blackman was also tired of having to hide all the zippers in the previous Star Trek series' costumes, and incorporated 13 visible zippers into each of the new jumpsuits. However, the suits were designed to be so trim that the actors were hardly able to carry anything in any of these pockets. In fact, practically none of the zippers actually featured a pocket behind them.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
It was later revealed that if the series had returned for another season, one of the major story lines would have been the beginning of the war with the Romulan empire as originally mentioned in Star Trek: Balance of Terror (1966). Another idea that never got to fruition was to explore the backstory of the Borg Queen (first featured in Star Trek: First Contact (1996)). She was originally a Starfleet medical technician who got assimilated and abducted by a Borg drone from Star Trek: Enterprise: Regeneration (2003), and there were serious plans to bring back Alice Krige for the part.
Executive Producer Manny Coto has stated that if the show were renewed for a fifth season, Commander Shran (Jeffrey Combs) would have been made a member of the Enterprise crew and become a regular on the show.
Had the series been renewed for a fifth season, one idea that was pitched was to have the Enterprise undergo a 180-day refit to add a secondary hull attached to the ventral side of the saucer section, which would've included an improved warp core, and a larger, more powerful deflector dish. The NX-01 refitted redesign would have resembled the Constitution-class U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from Star Trek (1966).
If the show had been renewed for more seasons, the writers had two ideas for the identity for the mysterious "Future Guy" behind the Temporal Cold War: A Romulan agent trying to interfere with the formation of the United Federation of Planets, or a future version of Captain Archer actually trying to prevent some sort of massive disaster or devastating war.