Article: TUCKER'S LUCK


Despite the uncertainty surrounding the future of Star Trek:Enterprise, at least

Connor Trinneer is still enjoying his job.

According to some reports,there is a general feeling of foreboding on the set of Star Trek: Enterprise . Revamped in its third year as a response to dwindling popularity the season has subsequently faced a revised order from UPN, its 26 episodes cut down to 24. The cancellation of Jake 2.0 , the fantasy show that aired just before Enterprise, leaves the series exposed. Could it be that the Star Trek franchise is about to face an enforced rest?


Connor Trinneer, who plays the ship's endearing engineer Trip Tucker, admits that the cast hasn't overlooked the issue.


"There's really been a lot of conversations about that," he tells Starburst . "I don't know much about this stuff, but my feeling is it wouldn't make any financial sense to not get your 100 shows and then go into syndication, because that's where you get your money back."


It's a valid point, one that suggests the series has at least a year's reprieve (the fourth year would, presumably take Star Trek:Enterprise exactly to its 100th show). Yet it seems strange to be discussing cancellation when the series has finally started to deliver, with a single story arc encompassing the season in which Captain Archer and his loyal crew have faced the hazards of the Delphic Expanse in order to find the Xindi and prevent them from destroying Earth.


"I think it's the best year," Trinneer affirms. "There's an energy that we've gathered through the season. In terms of the arc of the story, we're building up the right way to the climax. We've really begun to accelerate to get to that point, and I've never done an arc like that - it's an extraordinary opportunity."


The Xindi mission is personal for Trip: in Season Two's cataclysmic finale, his sister was among seven million people wiped out in the alien assault on Earth . That episode propelled Enterprise into darker and more edgy territory, with viewers keen to find parallels between the attack and the terrorist strikes of September 11th.


"There was an initial sense of innocence in our first couple of years that didn't really reflect how we all feel in terms of what's happening globally," Trinneer ponders. "I think this year has been a more truthful reflection of how we as people get through and the choices we have to make.


What's great about Star Trek in the first place, what makes it work, is the fact that it is a reflection of us - in an 'alien' environment. We're back on that track, whereas before we were taking that notion of going out there just to see what it was like. Now we've been affected."


How does Trinneer approach playing a character so affected by grief, who at the same time must put personal feelings aside for the sake of his mission?


"It would have been harder when I was younger. I have a sister who I love dearly, so in doing those scenes last year when he finds out, I was surprised how easy it was to go there. You just tap into that place, which on one hand is a really neat thing to do, but on the other it is really exhausting. I said to [executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga], 'Throw anything at me, I'd like to have a real go at this. I know I can do it.' "


Throughout the early part of the season, Trip's despair manifests itself predominantly in the form of insomnia - an affliction for which Berman and Braga have found a controversial cure. After hinting at a possible relationship between Archer and T'Pol in the first two seasons, the focus has now shifted to the Vulcan and Trip, as she helps him sleep using pressure point therapy. Those near-naked scenes have caused quite a few outraged letters to the Starburst mail bag.


"I do think there is a certain purity to the relationship she has with the Captain," defends Trinneer, "and I know that a lot of people really hate the fact that Trip and T'Pol are f***ing around. Our relationship will see change, and it's so much fun not to know what your deal is going to be. Both [Jolene Blalock] and I have lots of questions about it when we talk to Rick and Brannon, and they'll give us enough to latch onto and try to make it real. I do think that it's going to come cool."


Away from the Enterprise set, Trinneer remains good friends with Dominic Keating, who plays Lt Malcolm Reed.


"We hang out all the time," he says "When we do scenes together that have something to them, we understand the humour as our own characters in that odd couple balance, and that's one thing I'd like to see more of. I have talked to Brannon about the fact that Malcolm and Trip are really a good odd couple, but that's not this year - this year isn't about ' getting to know me' episodes."


When Starburst met with Trinneer he had just five episodes left to shoot - although he admits to having no idea how the season might conclude.


"I got the latest scripts the day we shot it!" he reveals. "That stuff is always complete speculation on our show : there's no way we can ever know what they're going to give us. But I like that because it keeps you present."


Should the worst happen, and Enterprise is annihilated in a surprise attack by network executives, it won't be just the multitude of Star Trek fans that will mourn its passing. "I have a rocking job, " beams the actor. "I love going to work and playing this guy. It's been a combination of them giving me the reins a little bit to see how I do, and me showing up the plate. Sometimes it's working and sometimes it hasn't, but overall they have faith in me and they hear my voice in that character, which I think makes it easy to write. If nothing else, they wrote me a kick ass part."


MAKING SIMILITUDE


Alongside Scott Bakula and Jolene Blalock, Connor Trinneer appears to be rewarded with the lion's share of the action in Enterprise . The triumvirate of Archer, T'Pol and Trip has echoes of the focus on Kirk, Spock and McCoy in the original Star Trek , although it's evident that the remaining members of the ensemble are being sidelined into less prominent roles.


Among a host of terrific Trip stories in the third season, perhaps the best is Similitude , a morality tale of the kind that Star Trek does best. It finds the engineer terminally injured after an accident, and his only hope of survival is spare part surgery from a 'Mimetic simbiot' - or clone. The story allowed Trinneer to play two roles, Trip and his doomed counterpart Sim.


"I put myself in a certain place to play Trip, and you put yourself in a certain place to shift away from that," he says. "I can't say that was difficult per se , but I really thought there should be careful handling of the morals of that story. "


"Working with [director] LeVar Burton with that was just awesome: I've worked with him before and enjoyed that process but it was nothing like this one. His acting chops came through and he would tweak things that I was doing. He really had a clear vision about this story as well, and he fed me things and I fed him things and I think we wound up with a truthful story."


- Starbust Magazine N° 310, April 2004 -