Bakula: Beam me up

Meet the captain of the next Star Trek frontier: Scott Bakula.

A veteran sci-fi actor, Bakula (TV’s Quantum Leap) will play Capt. Jonathan Archer in the fourth spin-off of the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise.

Bakula follows in the formidable shoes of William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew as leader of a Federation starship boldly going where no one else has gone.

“Obviously, I love the genre and am a longtime fan of Star Trek,” Bakula said in a statement.

Executive producer and co-creator Rick Berman returns the sentiment.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Berman said. “Scott personifies the charm and intelligence that the role calls for.”

Bakula‘s Archer is described as “a physical and intensely curious captain with a bold personality,” according to a statement by Paramount Network Television. “Although he has a strong sense of duty, he is a bit of a renegade and is not afraid to question orders or even disobey them if he feels in his gut that he is right.”

The fan site says that one aspect of Archer’s personality is that he blames Vulcans for slowing human progress, which is a source of friction between Archer and his science officer Sub Commander T’Pau, a Vulcan.

Paramount is banking that Bakula (American Beauty, Life as a House, Necessary Roughness) will have the same effect that other big name actors have had on recent sci-fi television shows. Formerly MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson now solves problems on Stargate SG-1. Kevin Sorbo (The Adventures of Hercules) is now the hero of Gene Roddenberry‘s Andromeda.

Bakula, a Golden Globe winner and Tony award nominee, recently filmed the pilot episode of CBS’ Late Bloomers, filling in after Burt Reynolds pulled out. But Bakula won’t reprise his role in the serial, even if it does get a commitment for further episodes.

Paramount’s press release did not officially confirm the next series’ setting, but this news makes it all but certain that the series will indeed be set aboard a 22nd-century Enterprise, predating the period of the first TV series. Other cast members include John Billlingsly, Jolene Blaylock, Linda Park, Anthony Montgomery, Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer.

Star Trek: Enterprise is expected to air on Paramount’s UPN Network, though a deal hasn’t been finalized yet. Shooting begins Monday on the new series.

UPN officials would not comment.

Enterprise is picking up soon after Star Trek: Voyager ends. Voyager, whose series finale will air May 23 on UPN, has had a seven-year run. Voyager was the third spin-off since the original Star Trek hit the airwaves in 1966. In between, there has been The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and finally Voyager, which stars Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway at the helm of the 24th-Century spaceship.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Star Trek universe, writer John Logan (Gladiator, Any Given Sunday) is currently working on a second revision for the 10th movie in the Star Trek filmography. The film will reportedly be set for a Thanksgiving 2002 release.

Rumor has it – on a number of Trek-centric Web sites – that most of the Trek characters that currently appear in the movies will be killed, paving the way for a new crew to take over. A new villainous race is also rumored to appear, nothing quite like anything seen before in the Star Trek pantheon. All this supposedly follows Commander Riker and Counselor Troi’s marriage in the first scene.