John Shiban: The Trek is Out There
Source SciFiPulse

23 July 2002

By Ian M.Cullen

‘The Truth is Out There’. For many years those were the words that writer John Shiban lived by while writing for ‘The X Files’. There days Shiban is ‘Engaged’ in his new role as the new CO-executive producer for ‘Enterprise’. Journalist K.Stoddard Hayes talked to Shiban about his new role for Star-Trek: Monthly.

“It’s only day 11”, Shiban reveals, referring to the amount of time that has passed since he got the job. “I’ve seen every episode. I’ve finally finished my homework”, he reports. “I’d seen a number when they aired, and liked what I saw, but working on the ‘X Files, as with any television show, there’s not a lot of time to watch T/V. Since I came aboard, they got me every tape and every script, so it’s been a crash course for the last few weeks”.

Shiban is the first to admit that he’s had to adjust to the optimistic future that is ‘Star Trek’. “I won’t say there weren’t a couple of moments in our first two weeks - when Brannan Braga would say, ‘if this were X Files, yes, we would kill this person….’ “, He recalls, but adds that the difference between writing for ‘Star Trek’ is not that different than writing for the ‘X Files.

“In the ‘X Files’, as dark as the world is, there is always hope…. Because that emotion is still there in ‘Enterprise’, I think as a writer I’m going to be tapping it a lot of the same places, and especially because we (the audience) know the optimistic future- Archer and T’pol don’t. In ‘Fight or Flight’, there wasn’t a lot of optimism. Space is a scary place, there are creepy aliens and we don’t know if we’re going to succeed. That was the heart of that story”.

Shiban enjoys the frontier aspect of ‘Enterprise’. “As much as I love the ‘Star Trek’ franchise and the Gene Roddenberry future, this is kind of a different animal, because it’s much more like the Mercury astronauts going out there. For me as a writer, it’s exciting to go in places where the characters don’t know what’s happening”.

Shiban doesn’t have any preferences when it comes to naming which characters he’d like to write for. “There is a great dynamic between Trip and Archer, tow guys who’ve known each other for a long time; and then there’s a wonderful relationship with Trip and Reed which started in ‘Shuttlepod One’. The Trip and T’pol dynamic is a good one, Archer/T’pol is a little different. There’s one that I think was only in one episode but it’s a really pleasant dynamic, which is Dr Phlox and Hoshi, and we don’t want to build on that”.

Shiban goes on to explain a little about the character dynamics that he is working on for the pending season two episode, ‘Mine Field’. “In my first episode, we’re playing up the Archer and Reed dynamic. We don’t know a lot about Reed, which makes him a very interesting character. We know what his favourite food is, and we know a little bit about his relationship with his parents. He and Archer don’t have a friendship that Archer and Trip have. We’ve got a situation in mind where they’re forced together, so what do they learn about each other, and how do they work well together, how don’t they?”

Shiban concludes my expressing his thoughts on his stint on ‘Enterprise’ this far. “We’ve got some good Stories".