Season 3 was the show's lowest ebb.
Actually, I think season 2 was...due to simply being boring and recycled.
Season 3 was embarrassing because it was....they admitted the show wasn't working and needed to be rebooted, but couldn't reboot it well. So it was watching Berman and Braga desperately trying to be "cool" and "edgy", which arguably was actually WORSE than if they'd just stuck to being boring and predictable. It reeked of "desperation".
If you hate season 3, please just skip ahead to season 4, when they booked Berman and Braga out of the writers' room and hired on some Trek book writers.
It couldn't completely undo three years of failure, but it served two purposes:
1 - When Berman and Braga were fired, I remember them *actually pouting* in interviews that "a prequel idea is just hard to do" -- blaming the concept itself. But Season 4 demonstrated that when other writers were in charge, handling it well, it wasn't the concept's fault; it was Berman and Braga.
2 - Ironically...the first three seasons weren't really much of a prequel. And no, a prequel doesn't need to be continuity-heavy. Instead the first three seasons were boring and not really Trek-centric, with occasionally a VERY obscure reference to classic Trek that even fans would have to look up. Meeting the Tellarites? Good idea. Making an utterly obscure reference to the Tellarites in a throwaway line of Technobabble? Bad idea. ****But season 4's new writers, Coto and the Reeves-Stevenses, actually tried to make a "Birth of the Federation" season story which was quite enjoyable.