As the captain of UPN's upcoming Star Trek prequel series, Enterprise — which is set a century before the Kirk administration (or 150 years from today) — Scott Bakula has the distinction of being the franchise's first commander-in-chief. Still, the former Quantum Leap hero concedes that he'll never truly be No. 1 — that honor belongs to William Shatner.
"In my mind, he's the first — and the last really," Bakula tells TV Guide Online. "He's the ultimate guy... You'll always live in the shadow of Shatner. But if we can achieve a little of what [his original 1966-69 series] achieved, we'll be doing a good job."
Alas, if the seasoned time traveler was hoping to avoid comparisons between his Capt. Jonathan Archer and Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk, he's out of luck. Although in a recent TV Guide story, Enterprise co-creator and executive producer Rick Berman insisted that Archer "is nothing like Capt. Kirk," the similarities are glaring. For starters, both fit the classic action hero mold, and like Kirk, Archer is expected to be quite the ladies' man.
Even Bakula can't deny that his Starfleet skipper shares more in common with Kirk than any other Trek titan. "[Archer's] a free-spirited guy... not afraid to say what he thinks [or] buck authority," Bakula explains. "[He's] bold and brash and yes, the closest to Kirk — even though I'm a 100 years before Kirk."
It's that pre-historic twist that ultimately sold Bakula on Enterprise (airing Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET beginning Sept. 26) — and assured him that this would in fact be his father's Star Trek. "Yeah, it's been done a lot, but it's not being the first captain, on the first starship, going out for the first time into the wilds basically," he marvels. "So, part of your brain is saying, 'Well, gosh, can they keep doing it? Are they burned out?' But the other part of you is saying, 'That would be really cool.'"
Speaking of cool, Bakula couldn't help but be moved the first time he stepped foot onto the ship's new yet not-improved bridge. "You definitely felt like there was an energy," he recalls. "Everyone's just standing around to see how everybody would react to being on the bridge, kind of vibing that thing out. And everybody waited to see when I was going to sit in the chair and if I was going to sit in the chair... There was a whole thing going on."It's kind of bizarre — knowing that you're going in with all of this history," he continues. "It also feels good, because we're not following — we're the first. It just feels fresh. We're kind of discovering something each day."