Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete First Season
Length: 19 Hours, 7 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, Anamorphically enhanced
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1: English, English 2.0
Special Features: Audio Commentary on "Broken Bow", Text Commentary and Deleted Scenes on select episodes, featurettes, outtakes
Estimated Street Price, $100 USD
Fan reaction to the premiere of Enterprise was decidedly mixed. Many hardcore fans felt that the series was an insult to the franchise - it had taken too many liberties with the Trek timeline and tried too hard to distance itself from the franchise in an effort to be different. The show’s producers went so far as to not include Star Trek in the title, calling it, simply, “Enterprise.” This would change in later seasons, in a failed attempt to win back some of the Star Trek faithful.
The Trek geek in me is going to show, here, as I attempt to divulge some admittedly small issues that had many Trek fans disappointed. The little things count, however - a cumulative effect turned off many viewers before the Enterprise left spacedock.
The very first incursion into the established lore was the appearance of a Klingon with the brow ridges that first appeared in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I’d have been happy to see an old-style Klingon, who fit into the timeline. This little inconsistency is never mentioned in any of the commentaries or featurettes.
The prologue brings us to the title sequence. Trek fans have gotten used to seeing “beauty shots” of the vessels set to a classical theme. It’s been tradition since the original series. Enterprise changed gears and delivered a pop music theme over a historical progression of images relating to exploration. It’s a nice enough title sequence - but it was one more shock to the system.
Many long time fans were shocked with the portrayal of the Vulcans as a controlling, manipulative race. Very different from the Vulcans of old... Berman and Braga explain it away as a hundred years of political evolution having changed their attitude toward other races, etc. I don’t buy it. It would take longer for such a change to take place within a culture where the people’s life spans exceed one hundred years.
Then there are the Ferengi... a race that was supposed to have it’s first introduction to the human race in a conflict with Captain Picard and the Enterprise D... unless you count the Roswell incident from DS9. Now we find them introduced to Starfleet in the pre-Kirk days.
I could go on...
The casual fan may wonder what all the fuss is about. The problem is that the long time Trek fan has a personal investment in the franchise. Many wanted a show that was true to Trek history and lore. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga didn’t understand that. They wanted creative freedom, and ignored established lore to increase that freedom. If that’s what they wanted to do, they should have disconnected the series completely from the Trek universe.
Now I’ll turn my geek mode off.
If you can get by all that I’ve stated above, and accept Enterprise on its own merits... it isn’t a bad show. It’s not up there with Deep Space Nine in terms of story arc construction, or The Next Generation or The Original Series in terms of chemistry between characters. But it exceeds Voyager in most respects, and is certainly better than most of what passes for “sci-fi” on television these days. I will have some comments on future seasons in my future reviews - there was a point where I gave up on the show - but I’ll discuss that at another time.
Some standount episodes in season one include:
“The Andorian Incident”
Archer, Trip and T’Pol visit a Vulcan monastery only to discover it has been raided by Andorians, who have been in a long cold war with the Vulcans. The Andorians believe that the Vulcans are hiding weapons or surveillance equipment at the monastery.
“Civilization” has Archer pondering the effects that spacefaring races can have on undeveloped cultures when they find an advanced race secretly conducting mining operations on a more primitive world. The operations cause an illness that spreads through the community.
“Cold Front” introduces (for better or worse) the concept of the “Temporal Cold War,” a thread which would run throughout the series.
“Dear Doctor” is a moving episode in which Phlox is asked to find a cure for a disease which infects a large population on Valakia. When he realizes that a cure would impact the future of the planet, he and Archer face a difficult decision.
“Shuttlepod One” finds Trip and Malcolm marooned on a shuttle with no way to reach safety before their air supply is exhausted.
“Vox Sola” finds the crew facing an extremely unusual first contact.
The Enterprise is tasked with transporting a Vulcan ambassador to a rendezvous with a Vulcan ship. Along the way, they meet up with several ships that want to stop them. The Enterprise is put to the test in a race to the rendezvous.
“Shockwave” is the season’s cliffhanger, bringing back the time-travel plot once again.
Then there are some less impressive episodes... probably the worst of which, “Unexpected,” finds a male crewmember pregnant. Other less desirable episodes include Strange New World, Breaking the Ice, Silent Enemy, Fusion, Rogue Planet, and Two Days and Two Nights.
Here we have the first anamorphically enhanced Star Trek TV series on DVD, and it looks mighty fine.
The image is sharply detailed and exhibits excellent contrast. Black levels are strong, with good shadow detail. Whites are bright and restrained, retaining detail in the brightest highlights.
The wonderful set design of the Enterprise really comes through with fine texture detail. Panel displays and source lighting are well rendered. Visual effects come across very nicely and believably.
There are a few, very rare and mild, instances of moire effects and mosquito noise, but they are hardly worth mentioning and will go unnoticed by all but the most scrutinizing viewer. This is the finest looking Star Trek TV series on DVD.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers the goods as well as you’ve heard for a television source. The soundstage is open and active, containing panning dialog and effects and a nice, full range of frequencies. LFE effects are solid when called for, delivering room-shaking effects.
The mix is clean and never allows music or effects to obscure the dialog.
While you’ll find more active mixes on feature films on DVD, this is good stuff for television.
Audio Commentary by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga on “Broken Bow”
While not as revealing as the Braga/Moore commentaries on the TNG films, there is a lot of practical information in this commentary. It is a very reactive commentary, very scene specific. It is revealed that the two hadn’t seen the pilot for a few years prior to recording the commentary. Topics covered include the use of digital effects to a much greater extent than in previous Star Trek series, sets and set design, casting, fan reaction to controversial aspects of the series, etc. Also discussed: efforts to “date” the look of the series, and liberties taken to reflect current design standards while trying to give the impression that the series took place before the original series. While there is some discussion of the alterations to the Trek universe, there isn’t a lot of focus on the subject, and no apologies beyond the notion that they couldn’t please everyone.
Text Commentaries by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda
These commentaries appear in a similar format as seen in the last couple of season sets of TOS. The graphic and text frequently takes up a large amount of screen real estate. In “Broken Bow,” there are a few very minor discrepancies between the text commentary and the audio commentary. A word of warning: there are spoilers in these text commentaries that go as far forward as season four - divulging the ultimate fate of one character. This, to me, was completely unnecessary. As one who has nott seen any of season four, this was information I’d rather not have found out. You have been warned.
Text Commentaries are available on: Broken Bow, The Andorian Incident, Vox Sola.
Deleted scenes are available for select episodes: Broken Bow, Fight or Flight, Sleeping Dogs, Shuttlepod One, Oasis, Fallen Hero, Two Days and Two Nights, Shockwave (Part 1).
In most cases, the scenes were most likely cut for time. Many of them have interesting character development, or are good scenes that were just unneeded for exposition. Other scenes that were cut were very brief or uninteresting.
The deleted scenes are available individually, or with a “play all” feature when there is more than one included with the episode. The scenes are without sound effects, music, or (in some cases) visual effects. The video quality is at or near the same quality as in the episodes.
The featurettes are not anamorphically enhanced - a disappointment given that the show is the first enhanced Trek program.
Creating Enterprise (11:27)
This begins with footage taped, apparently before the premiere of Enterprise, of Scott Bakula introducing the cast on the bridge set.
Rick Berman and Brannon Braga talk about the decision to make Enterprise a prequel, and the opportunities that would open up. Berman talks about staying “true to the timeline” (!). Most interestingly, Herman Zimmerman talks about the design the the new starship - and placing the sets in the proper timeline with proper design. He compares some of the props with props from the original series.
O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula (9:30)
Most of the cast take a moment gushing about Bakula, the man. Bakula talks about his character, and his approach to the character in an on-set interview. Aside from cast members, there are comments from Andre Bormanis and LeVar Burton. Interspersed between interviews are some behind the scenes clips, and clips from some episodes.
Cast Impressions: Season One (12:25)
All of the main characters get a chance to talk about their casting, early days adjusting to their roles, and “finding their characters.” The interviews were done on set and in costume. Pretty standard fare.
Inside Shuttlepod One (7:57)
Brannon Braga talks about his love for the episode “Shuttlepod One.” He relays his feelings that it was important to create more character-driven episodes. Connor Trinnear and Dominic Keating talk about their work on the show. Rick Berman talks about the show from a budgetary perspective, saying they needed to do a cheap show. As usual, there are clips from the episode between the interview segments.
Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold Wars and Beyond (8:11)
Brannon Braga reveals that the idea for the Temporal Cold War came about by way of pressure from the studio to include a more futuristic element in the show. Michael Opuda comments on the difficulty of maintaining a Star Trek timeline, due to the amount of time travel seen in the show, and the huge number of writers over the years. The featurette is ended with a series of text and photo slides showing instances of time travel throughout the Star Trek franchise.
Enterprise Secrets (2:00)
We are taken on a brief tour of what’s behind some of the practical effects of the Enterprise. What makes the warp core light up? How does the food dispenser work? You’ll find the answers here.
Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage (5:14)
Vaughn Armstrong sings about the women of Trek.
Armstrong is one of the busiest character actors in all of Star Trek. In Enterprise, he steps out from behind the makeup to play a human character, Admiral Forrest. Armstrong talks about his work on Trek, and his audition (for the role of Ambassador Suvol). Not satisfied to stay out of makeup, Armstrong also plays a Klingon in an episode of Enterprise.
Enterprise Outtakes (9:03)
We hoped for blooper reels for the original series. We got them here.
Nine minutes of line flubs, laughing, tripping, practical jokes, etc. This is a pretty good blooper reel. It’s not every day you see a Vulcan laugh.
Borg Invasion Trailer (:32)
A trailer for the Borg attraction at the Las Vegas Hilton
NX-01 FILE 01 (2:56)
Jolene Blalock talks about Shadows of P’Jem
NX-01 FILE 02 (2:11)
Dan Curry talks about Klingon designs for Broken Bow
NX-01 FILE 03 (4:58)
Artist Geoffrey Mandel talks about ship control designs for season one
Watching all these episodes again on DVD, I had a different reaction than when I first watched the show during the original airing. Perhaps, the first time around, as an avid Trek fan, there was just too much “different” for me to take in. It was a shock to the system.
While I like most of the other Trek series better, this show bests Voyager in its willingness to cover new territory - even if it is at the expense of established lore at times. The willingness to be different is both a benefit and a deficit to the show.
This boxed set is served up with a commentary on the pilot which is fairly interesting, some text commentaries on select episodes which contain serious (and unnecessary) spoilers, and several featurettes, deleted scenes and outtakes.
Most of the featurettes are standard fare - familiar to those who have seen previous Trek TV sets. I can’t say that they were compelling - but some did provide some entertainment and the occasional interesting nugget of information. The outtakes were fun, as well.
Most importantly, the set features excellent transfers.