Star Trek: Enterprise – music by Dennis McCarthy

Star Trek: Enterprise soundtrackMy sincere apologies to Dennis McCarthy. I initially shrugged off the music from Enterprise when I watched the pilot movie – I liked the theme song and opening credits (and, by the sound of things, I’m one of approximately five people who openly admit to liking the song, and one of the others is Rick Berman, if that tells you anything). Now I realize that my beef is with Berman, not McCarthy. The newly released soundtrack from the pilot movie is actually a fine addition to the musical canon of Star Trek.

Topped and tailed with two different versions of Russell Watson’s rendition of “Where My Heart Will Take Me” (originally written by Diane Warren), the Enterprise soundtrack CD features most of the hour-long score, excluding a few source music cues, recorded for the two-hour episode. One of the nicer things about the score from Broken Bow, the two-hour pilot movie, is the all-American-flavored theme used for both Captain Archer and the Enterprise herself (which you do actually get to hear in the show each week – as the end credit music, on the rare occasion that UPN doesn’t do the annoying but almost ubiquitous credit squeeze). Like the theme McCarthy coined for Captain Picard some 15 years ago, Archer’s theme fits perfectly and has its own grand sweep (though sadly, like Picard’s theme, it seems to have disappeared from regular use over the course of the show’s first season, probably due to Berman’s aversion to any of the composers creating specific themes associated with any character). Many of the tracks are infused with an edgy energy that may come from the musicians’ and conductor’s reactions to other events that occurred on the second day of the scoring sessions for the pilot: September 11th, 2001. (In his liner notes, McCarthy dedicates the music on this CD to victims of that tragedy.)

Some of the music will sound familiar – “Klingon Chase / Shotgunned” in particular, though it’s among my favorite tracks, sounds like it could easily be slotted into the soundtrack from Star Trek: Generations. (I do like that menacing downbeat chord combination, though.) McCarthy even steps right up to the edge of quoting his own theme music from Deep Space Nine in the next-to-last track, “New Horizons”. The music also gets slimy, low-key and discordant for scenes involving the shape-shifting Suliban, and downright weird (but in a good way) for the climactic, time-warped fight in the track “Temporal Battle”.

Some fans – those other four people out there who like the song (and I’m sure Berman’s already gotten his copy of the CD) – will also be pleased to hear both the long album version and the shortened TV version of “Where My Heart Will Take Me”. I still find it to be an inspiring little number, especially when combined with the show’s opening title montage. Quite why fandom has bared its teeth at this song and the opening credits, I just haven’t managed to comprehend yet. I actually thought it was a nice switch from the usual Goldsmithian-sounding opening credits that have become de rigeur for Star Trek spinoffs.

I was surprised to see this album appear on Decca, rather than GNP/Crescendo, which has done an excellent job of giving us one to two Star Trek (or related) CDs a year since 1991 or so. From what I understand, this is more to do with the behind-the-scenes negotiating needed to include Russell Watson’s theme song on the CD, not a reflection of any kind of dissatisfaction on Paramount’s part with Crescendo Records. GNP/Crescendo certainly could have done better with the packaging, which is kind of bland here – though there’s only so much you can do with those pre-launch publicity photos where the crew looks like they’re standing inside the round-patterned walls of Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

Hopefully more Enterprise music will be forthcoming, whether Decca or Crescendo issues it. Some of the first season’s episodes have had very interesting music, with the most notable being the surprisingly melodic Vox Sola, with its sly, sinewy theme for the parasitic life form. Crescendo has already turned out a “Best Of Season One” CD for Stargate SG-1, and hopefully they may follow suit with Enterprise – even if it means ditching “Where My Heart Will Take Me” from future releases; after all, we have it on this CD. (Sadly missing, however, is the 4 out of 4acoustic guitar rendition of that song which was heard only on the un-squished end credits of the pilot episode; the track “Archer’s Theme” is now used as the end credit music.)

Love it or hate it, Enterprise is worth a listen. Kudos to Dennis McCarthy for introducing some new energy and material into his Trek repertoire – don’t stop now, Dennis! The show desperately needs it.

Order this CD

  1. Where My Heart Will Take Me – Album Version (4:09)
  2. New Enterprise (1:40)
  3. Klingon Chase / Shotgunned (2:05)
  4. Enterprise First Flight (2:50)
  5. Klang-Napped (2:10)
  6. Morph-o-Mama / Suli-Nabbed (2:45)
  7. Phaser Fight (5:53)
  8. Breakthrough (2:01)
  9. Grappled (4:09)
  10. The Rescue (6:40)
  11. Temporal Battle (8:05)
  12. Blood Work (2:11)
  13. New Horizons (1:26)
  14. Archer’s Theme (1:24)
  15. Where My Heart Will Take Me – TV Version (1:28)

Released by: Decca / Universal
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 49:22