When production of Season 3 concluded last March, it was still uncertain whether the cast and crew would be returning for a Season 4. But, with a sigh of relief, they have, and principal photography concluded Thursday on a most unusual episode.
Audiences were left downright perplexed by the season cliffhanger of "Zero Hour," but this episode will end the guessing game about that bizarre ending. Archer and the NX-01 did indeed end up in Earth's past, during World War II — except that events have been altered by the Temporal Cold War. Archer, of course, is on the surface, fending for himself as he tries to figure out what the heck is going on, while his crew is in orbit doing the same. In fact, what has happened is that, with alien help, the Nazis have conquered the eastern portion of the United States, and much of the action of this episode takes place in a German-controlled Brooklyn. The title is "Storm Front," written by Manny Coto, and is the first of two parts.
John Fleck and Matt Winston make return engagements as temporal agents "Silik" and "Daniels," respectively. Other guest stars include Tom Wright, who turned in a striking performance as the title character of Star Trek: Voyager's "Tuvix." Here he plays one of those Nazi aliens named "Ghrath." (By the way, those aliens are not Remans as some have conjectured; they are a new species, a Temporal Cold War faction called "Na'kuhl.") As for human Nazis, J. Paul Boehmer, as an SS Agent, plays one for the second time in Trek — he was the holographic "Kapitan" in "The Killing Game." Boehmer was also the Borg "One" in "Drone," the Vulcan "Mestral" in Enterprise's "Carbon Creek," and other roles. Christopher Neame, who played "Unferth" in "Heroes and Demons," also returns as a German General.
The guest list also includes some "stunt casting" (the words of UPN president Dawn Ostroff) for the roles of some of the 1940s New Yorkers. Golden Brooks, best known as "Maya" in UPN's Girlfriends, plays "Alicia," an African-American woman who helps Archer get back on his feet. There are also two ringers from HBO's The Sopranos as resistance fighters of dubious moral character: Joe Maruzzo ("Joe Peeps") as "Sal," and Steven R. Schirripa ("Bobby 'Bacala' Baccalieri") as "Carmine."
Production commenced on Thursday, July 15, with director of photography Marvin Rush behind his new digital Sony 900 camera — this is the first Star Trek episode to be shot entirely without film (related story). Allan Kroeker was in the director's chair for "Storm Front," picking up where he left off with "Zero Hour." The schedule over the last two weeks actually bounced back and forth between "Storm Front" and the second episode, "Storm Front, Part II," directed by David Straiton, which explains why the seven-day allotment for the first segment stretched over two weeks.
The first two days were spent on standing ship sets such as Sickbay, the Bridge, Ready Room and Transporter Alcove. Connor Trinneer and Anthony Montgomery also got inside the Shuttlepod setpiece to complete the scenes started in "Zero Hour." The wardrobe and makeup were carefully "distressed" to match the look from the Season 3 finale, including the healing wounds on Linda Park's temples.
The following Monday, Scott Bakula hooked up with Brooks and the Sopranos guys for interior scenes in a New York apartment, constructed inside Stage 9, the normal swing-set soundstage. Tuesday there were other swing sets involving scenes with the Na'kuhl characters. Wednesday, Fleck reported to work for scenes from both Part I and Part II.
Thursday, a portion of the Paramount backlot was transformed into a Nazi-occupied New York. On the storefronts, there were posters plastered all over showing an American eagle holding a swastika and reading "Your New America" and "Two Nations, One Voice." One of those posters, prominently placed, had graffiti painted over it reading "Nazi Butchers Go Home!"
There was another, particularly ingenious stroke of art design on this backlot set: Other posters scattered about promoted a boxing match at Madison Square Garden between "Kid McCook" and "Mike Mason," with a second match, "Prado vs. Bailey." Sound familiar? It's a reproduction of the boxing poster prominently seen in a similar New York setting in "The City on the Edge of Forever." (If you look closely enough, however, it's not a perfect match. For instance, on the bottom, instead of an admission price, there's a line that says "Pevney Boxing Company" — a reference to "City" director Joe Pevney. Hey, it's an altered timeline, okay?)
The names you will see on the storefronts are all inside references. For example, "T. Purser Hardware & Plumbing" — Tom Purser is the show's construction coordinator. "Drozdowski Merchantile & Dry Goods" — Dennis Drozdowski is part of the special effects crew.
One end of the backlot set was the same corner where Archer and T'Pol stopped at an ATM in Detroit, in last year's "Carpenter Street," also one of the same locations used in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Time's Arrow" and Voyager's "11:59." You might also recognize a subway stop from "Non Sequitur."
It was also for these backlot scenes that Wardrobe and Props had to outfit a number of Nazi soldiers with proper attire and weapons. A number of period vehicles were also brought to set.
On Friday, the call time was in the evening, for night shots taking place in the alleyways behind the Enterprise soundstages. The following three days (Monday through Wednesday of this week) were devoted to Part II (stay tuned for the next production report). Part I finally wrapped Thursday with a location shoot 63 miles north of the studio. The crew set up in a place called Sable Ranch in Canyon Country, near Santa Clarita. A number of World War II-era "picture vehicles" — namely a German Jeep, Truck and Motorcycle — were put into use. Bakula did daytime scenes in that location, with his stunt double Vince Deadrick Jr. performing some of the more physical moves. Once the sun went down, Trinneer and Montgomery did night scenes dressed in period civilian attire. (Pictures from that location shoot are posted on the next production report.)
Writer Coto, who also carries the title co-executive producer, is the new "showrunner" of Enterprise alongside Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, which puts him substantially in charge of the creative direction of the show. Coto made a splash last season with scripts for "Similitude," "Chosen Realm," "Azati Prime" and other notable segments. Kroeker has been Star Trek's main go-to guy for season premieres, finales and important two-parters over several series, especially Enterprise.
Season 4 is currently set to premiere on Friday, October 8, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
More cast listings for "Storm Front" can be found at its Episode Detail page, which is where all future information will be posted.