It has been a rocky road for the Enterprise Crew, but Connor Trinneer believes there are more Treks yet to take.

Connor Trinneer smiles and smiles and then he smiles again. "Hi, nice to meet you, " he says, reaching out to shake a fan's hand. The fan, a woman in her 50s, sits next to Trinneer and they both grin. A flash bulb fires and a photographer captures the moment forever. "Nice to meet you," Trinneer says. Another fan approaches. "Hi, nice to meet you." And so it goes for nearly an hour, as Trinneer meets, greets and poses with fans at Creation Entertainment's Star Trek convention in Las Vegas.

When Trinneer has sat for his last photo, Roxann Dawson -- who's next on deck for an hour-long fan photo session -- comes over to say hello. She tells him that she'll be on the Enterprise set in a few weeks, directing him in an upcoming episode. After a brief exchange, Trinneer heads toward the dealers' room exit.

"It's funny how people will stand on line to pose for photos or get autographs, or how they'll sit in a room if I'm on stage, but I can walk through this place without being recognized by too many people, " Trinneer remarks. "Maybe it's because we're walking so fast. Maybe they're not used to seeing me in blue jeans and a Hawaiian shirt."

"Hi, Trip!" a man shouts, interrupting Trinneer's thought and drawing an ironic grin from the actor. Trinneer says hello back and continues walking. Twenty yards later, a teenage girl greets him. "Excuse me," she says. "Can you shake my sister Emily's hand? She's too afraid to ask you herself. " Trinneer stops in his tracks. "Sure," he says, taking the sister's hand. "And I can give you a kiss, too." He kisses Emily on the cheek, causing her to smile and then blush. "Thank you," she says. "My pleasure," Trinneer responds. As he continues on his way out, Trinneer shrugs. "So much," he grins, "for my theory about not getting recognized."


If only Trinneer could kiss every Star Trek fan and television viewer out there in Nielsen land. Then maybe he could help raise Enterprise's fading ratings. The series' saga goes like this: In fall 2001, Enterprise warped out of the gate with terrific ratings, which dipped at the first season's end. Season Two started off with lackluster Nielsens, and continued to slip from there. Fans seemed to abandon the show. Critics declared Enterprise to be running on fumes. Rumors spread that Paramount nearly cancelled the series, and only renewed it for the third season at the 11th hour. Mainstream magazines, those fair-weather friends of the genre touted "Can Star Trek Be Saved?" stories, and follow-up features proposed lotsa ways to salvage the program.

"My feeling, generally, is to question everything," notes Trinneer, now seated at a table in a darkened, empty bar away from all the convention action. "We shouldn't necessarily be given a free pass just because we're Star Trek. But having said that, I think that it takes a little time to figure out what the hell you're doing on a show as complex as this franchise. We've given it a good shot to get where we're at. I have a bone to pick with all this ratings stuff. We're run twice a week in many markets. We air on Wednesday and Sunday, and most people I know don't watch it on Wednesday. They watch it on Sunday, and Sunday doesn't count. In many of UPN's large markets, we're preempted by basketball and baseball games. So the ratings stories are a little misleading."

"I'm not saying we're CSI, but it's not fair what the media is saying about our ratings being low or lower. Granted, some viewers might have left [the show]. I'm sure that's a given. It happens all the time. It would be good if we could get more people to watch Enterprise. We're busting our asses to keep this show on the air. So watch it on Wednesday. Don't watch it on Sunday. If you're a fan and watching it on Sunday, you're not helping the show at all."

So, what did Trinneer make of Season Two? "It was a pretty good prelude to where we are now," he replies. "I think that Season Two, and I can only speak as an actor, was less intimidating than the first year. I don't know if intimidating is really the right word, but I was more settled into what I was doing than in the first year, where it was all a new process for me. Last year, I felt a little more seasoned. They continued to write for me and to develop the character. They wrote interesting stories for Trip. The stories that I was heavy in were really good."

Trinneer stumbles momentarily when asked to cite specific episodes. "It's funny, because all of that goes into my short-term memory as I'm working on the show," he explains. "I'm working very fast and dealing with the latest episode, so it all kind of goes away. But the two episodes that I liked the most were 'Dawn' and 'Cogenitor.' In 'Dawn,' we were able to achieve something very difficult, which was to have Trip and an alien communicate without being able to speak the same language. I thought we pulled that off really well. The guy who played the alien, Gregg Henry, is a really good actor. It's nice tossing the ball back and forth with somebody who has the chops. When you have episodes that are heavy like that, there's a certain amount of freedom to it, because you're going by your wits."

"There's a scene in 'Dawn' that I really enjoyed. Trip ties the alien up and is trying to fix the radio. He can't understand the alien, so he's not sure if the alien's telling the truth or not. He could be tricking him. But they begin to have a dialogue about whether or not they can get the radio fixed, and I thought that scene worked well. And in 'Cogenitor,' they did a good job of completing the story idea -- giving it gravity and having her end her life in a believable way. The episode had tension throughout the whole hour and it resonated. Again, the actress was great."


Season Two went a long way toward building the relationships between Trip and his Enterprise mates. More often than not, Trip found himself in the company of Captain Archer (Scott Bakula), T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) or Reed (Dominic Keating). "The most surprising relationship has been the one between Trip and Malcolm," comments Trinneer, who spent his recent hiatus traveling and getting engaged. "I wouldn't have guessed that. That resulted from us working well together. Dominic and I are a bit like the Odd Couple, and that's always great to play -- and it's probably great to write, too, which is why they've run with it."

"I've heard that they're interested in exploring some kind of relationship between Trip and T'Pol, though I don't know anything specific yet. At this point, she's just giving him some help in sleeping, because Trip's sister was killed and he's having a hard time of it. Where that relationship is going, I have no idea. For the longest time, Trip and T'Pol were at loggerheads, so at least we're facing each other. But I don't know what's going to happen from there. And the relationship between Trip and Archer is terrific. They're two men who are good friends and also work well together." Season Three kicked off just a few weeks ago. Everyone aboard the ship is dealing with the Delphic Expanse, the presence of the MACOs, and, of course, the hunt for the Xindi -- the aliens who attacked Earth, killing seven million people, including Trip's sister. "Right now, we're pretty focused on this mission of chasing the Xindi," Trinneer says. "In the first few episodes, we're searching for clues that will help us find them. Last year, we had lots of character episodes, but I don't think we're going to have quite as many this season."

"We have about 20 episodes left to shoot, and I definitely think we'll have some character-driven ones, but they'll be in relation to this quest to find the Xindi. Enterprise, this year, has a less ambiguous mission. It's very specific, and the stories are going to revolve around that. There are many new alien races involved. I have yet to take part in the zero-gravity elements, but you can't do everything at once. I don't know how long this arc is going to last. They probably don't want to throw it all out there at once. If [this storyline] continues for a while, they'll probably want to hold back some of their cards and play them a little later on.

Trinneer stresses that there's no sense of panic on the set. Executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga did not, he says, gather everyone together and speak of lighting a fire under the show or its actors. "I think that Rick and Brannon like what we do, and they have confidence in us," Trinneer says. "That's my feeling. So there has never been a conversation about, 'We're now going to do this, that and the other thing.' I've heard people talk about the changes in the show, but I can't say it has changed a great deal. Yes, Enterprise will be much more specific in regard to our mission, but all the same characters will be there. We'll still be Enterprise, and we'll still be a Star Trek show."

And as such, Trinneer just wants to keep playing Trip and revealing new facets of his character. Trip has always been a loose cannon, so there's no need, Trinneer argues to make him a "looser cannon." Rather, he would like to see how Trip handles his sister's death as the ship enters within striking distance of the Xindi.

"As an actor, the things I don't know about Trip are the same things I don't know about myself, "he says. "If you put Trip in a situation, you can't tell how he's going to react, how he's going to behave, what he might say. One of the interesting things about Trip as a character is the way that he reacts to people and situations. He's a little unpredictable. He wears it all on his sleeve. And that will continue in Season Three."


Trinneer needs to excuse himself in a few moments, as he has to grab some lunch and make a few phone calls before sitting down for an hour-plus autograph session. So there's just enough time to talk about getting used to Enterprise's unusual aspects -- namely the special FX and, again, the Star Trek fan base.

"It's an ongoing learning process -- how that stuff works and how you make it work for you and your performance," Trinneer says of the show's special FX. "The more I do it, the better I get at it. You get used to talking to someone who's not actually there. You also get used to and better at dealing with the inorganic way in which a TV show is made: how it's done out of order, piecemeal, and so quickly. You grow accustomed to that and begin to pay more attention to detail and doing your homework. Because TV is shot piecemeal and so much of it is completed in post-production, you have to be aware of your own personal arc on the show."

As for Trekkers, Trinneer looks out at the bustling walkway that spans from the Las Vegas Hilton's main casino to the hotel's convention center. Fans are walking, running, and, in some cases, rolling along in wheelchairs. Some are dressed in Starfleet uniforms, others are costumed as their favorite aliens. Many are admiring autographed photos, while a few carry Star Trek model kits and other memorabilia.

"I don't want to be a celebrity," Trinneer says. "That's not why I'm doing this. But I appreciate the fans. And I've never had a situation where a fan has made me feel uncomfortable. They're a respectful group. I've done a number of conventions, and I've had a really good time at them. Walking into a room and having 2,000 people stand up and cheer for me is a pretty damn good feeling. So what am I going to complain about? Plus, they're paying to see us. It's an ego boost. And we're all busting our asses, so it's nice to have that recognized."

Trinneer stands up and prepares to bid farewell. Asked if there's anything he didn't get to address during the interview, he raises an eyebrow. "I just want to say watch the show on Wednesday, " Connor Trinneer reminds. "Don't watch it on Sunday. Sunday doesn't count. Certain people up on the ladder of power need Enterprise to have better ratings. We're doing our part. We're making the best show we can."