Why the Star Trek: Enterprise opening sequence perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Star Trek

I hold a few dissenting opinions within fandoms – I’ve always been an ardent defender of Love & Monsters, for example, one of Doctor Who’s most despised episodes. But even then, though, while that’s a minority view, I’ve come across a fairly sizeable contingent of people who would agree with me.

Far fewer, however, would agree with me that the Star Trek: Enterprise theme tune is actually pretty good.

Star Trek: Enterprise had often been much maligned. In many ways it’s the black sheep of the Star Trek family; as the only one of the spinoff shows to be cancelled, reaching a mere four years in comparison with the then traditional seven, the poor performance of Enterprise lead to many blaming it for the absence of Star Trek on television – indeed, from the end of Enterprise to the beginning of Star Trek: Discovery, it’ll have been 12 years with no Star Trek on television.

Thankfully, though, people have begun to reappraise Enterprise, and are realising that, while it’s certainly not perfect, it also very much wasn’t the death knell for Star Trek. People are beginning to look on Enterprise and its characters with far more kindness – yet the one thing they won’t forgive remains the theme tune.

A lot of people still blame this music for the decline of Enterprise; because it was such a departure from the sweeping orchestral scores that’d we’d had for Deep Space Nine and Voyager, or the ethereal and mysterious intrigue of the original Star Trek theme, many hated Enterprise’s soft, pop-rock chords because of the change it represented. To many, it was antithetical to Star Trek. Hell, even Simon Pegg – Scotty in the Star Trek reboot movies, and co-writer of Star Trek Beyond – hated the song:

I think that the theme music to Enterprise was probably the most hideous Star Trek moment in history. I couldn’t believe that they had this great idea of sort of pre-Kirk/Spock Star Trek, and they gave it a dreadful soft-rock music start. It just seemed so ill-advised. I mention Admiral Archer [in 2009’s Star Trek]—it isn’t struck off because of the terrible music. Scotty actually mentions him. But [the theme music] is terrible. I’ve never seen Enterprise, because I couldn’t get past that music. It would still be ringing in my ears when the show starts.

I have to admit; I think he’s being remarkably short sighted here. (It’s alright, Simon and I have these friendly disagreements all the time.) Certainly it’s ridiculous to simply dismiss the entire show because of the opening music – though I realise he’s likely being hyperbolic for sake of a joke – but even then, to say it’s “hideous” seems a mistake.

I’m going to take the opposite view, actually – I think that the Enterprise theme tune, regardless of its oft-mocked Patch Adams origins, is in fact one of the best representations of the subject matter of Star Trek.

Let’s take the lyrics for a moment, and analyse them seriously – if only because I doubt anyone else ever has.

It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.
It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near.
And I will see my dream come alive at last. I will touch the sky.
And they’re not gonna hold me down no more, no they’re not gonna change my mind.

Consider what this is about: overcoming adversity and struggle, to come out better and stronger on the other side? Working past our limitations, to reach a goal previously thought unattainable? To make a dream of a utopian future come alive?

The same themes are clear enough as it continues:

Cause I’ve got faith of the heart.
I’m going where my heart will take me.
I’ve got faith to believe. I can do anything.
I’ve got strength of the soul. And no one’s gonna bend or break me.
I can reach any star.
I’ve got faith.
I’ve got faith, faith of the heart.

Isn’t this what Star Trek is about? People might say that religion has little place in Roddenberry’s future (I’d dispute that, of course) but note that this isn’t about religion – it’s about faith. It’s about self-belief and self-actualisation, and aspiring to be something more.

There’s a lot that we admire about Star Trek, and often it comes down to something that we refer to as ‘Gene Roddenberry’s vision’. A vision of a utopian future, where it was possible to believe, even at the height of the Cold War, that one day a Russian, a Japanese man, a black woman and an American could all serve together on the bridge of a space ship. A vision of a future where we have put our problems behind us – one where we’ve reached the stars not just literally, but also in terms of achieving utopia. A vision of optimsim. 

Isn’t that the same journey that this song is all about? The same spirit as well? That’s why I’ll always love the Star Trek: Enterprise theme tune – it’s the best song about Star Trek there is.

(Even I will concede, however, that the drumbeat they added for the third season was a mistake.)

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TOS Reviews

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