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HTF REVIEW: Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete Second Season

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#1 of 16 Scott Kimball

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Posted July 29 2005 - 04:35 AM

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Enterprise - The Complete Second Season







Studio: Paramount

Year: 2002

Rated: NR

Length: 18 hours, 31 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: Dolby Digital English 5.1, English 2.0, French Mono

Subtitles: English

Special Features: Audio/Text commentaries, Deleted scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes, etc.

Estimated Street Price: $100 USD
Release Date: July 26, 2005


When Enterprise season two aired in 2002, I approached the show with continued skepticism. As a lifelong Trekkie, beginning with the original series and moving up through the films and the string of new series which began in the 80’s, Enterprise just didn’t seem fresh. It’s ironic, really, since the producers of the program sought to provide something new and interesting - all the while providing rehashed plots that caused the show to gather little traction.

If it didn’t become so tiresome, it might have been interesting to track how many times Captain Archer found himself held captive by one alien race or another. If it wasn’t so ridiculous, one could count how many times crew members of the Enterprise ran about the ship in their skivvies. These inane devices provide nothing more than fodder for a drinking game.

Still, among all the retreads, there is the occasional instance of solid storytelling. And season two ends with a real shakeup - one that would lead to a long and often interesting arc for the whole of season three. For that season, even if the show went off track on occasion, it actually went where no Trek had gone before. That’s what this fan wanted - not more retreads... not a prequel to Voyager. I wanted something different. Something that challenged me as a viewer and engaged me as a Trekkie.

Season two began on fairly solid ground, wrapping up the interesting two-part cliffhanger, Shockwave. While part two plays it a bit loose with some key resolutions, the episode is satisfying, and gets the season off on the right foot.

The second episode, Carbon Creek, may not be a fan favorite - but I found it to be an interesting episode. The whole episode is an Earthbound historical flashback - or is it? At any rate, the lack of any boldly going makes this episode a bit of a sleeper - but it's interesting, nonetheless.

Minefield flirts with the Trek timeline, in that it introduces the Romulans. It manages to do so in a way that doesn’t conflict with the established lore, and it provides a satisfying adventure to boot.

Dead Stop is one of the more interesting episodes of Enterprise. In it, the Enterprise, having sustained serious damage in the previous episode, seeks repairs at a mysterious alien space station. The completely automated station effects repairs on the Enterprise at a record pace, and for a paltry sum. The station harbors a dark secret, though, which puts the lives of the crew at risk. Excellent episode.

And here it is where everything goes horribly wrong for this, the sophomore season of Enterprise. A Night in Sickbay is a poorly scripted episode that fails in its attempts at humor and puts the leadership ability of the captain in serious doubt - not for the crew of the Enterprise, but for us, the viewer. When Archer’s dog, Porthos, takes ill, Archer loses not only his ability to command the ship, but also his ability to act as a diplomat in a first contact situation. He also, inexplicably, has sudden difficulty dealing with an attraction to T’Pol. Now, I love animals as much as the next guy - but really!

Marauders and The Seventh take us out of a space show and put us in episodes of MacGyver. Sorry... that’s not what I watch Star Trek for.

From there, too many of the episodes reek of familiarity, having been done at least once at some point in time in the universe of Trek. Add to that the “issue” shows like Stigma and Cogenitor, much of the season is hard to stomach.

The few bright spots in the latter part of the season include episodes such as Future Tense, which manages to offset its brilliance by not knowing what to do with itself at the end, and not following up on an intriguing concept in future episodes of the season. The Crossing, Regeneration and First Flight are worth a look, and the exciting finale, The Expanse, is a good episode that will set the footings for future seasons.

Viewscreen On
The anamorphically enhanced 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.

There are a few, very rare and mild, instances of mild artifacting, but they are hardly worth mentioning and will go unnoticed by all but the most scrutinizing viewer.

This is very much the same quality as seen in Season One.

Hailing Frequencies
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers an active, open soundstage across the front soundstage, containing panning dialog and effects and a nice, full range of frequencies. LFE effects are solid when called for.

While rear effects are, on average, more subdued than other Trek TV DVDs (in terms of engine noise and general ambiance), there are some ear-catching effects, on occasion, that really pop. Note the escaped bat in A Night in Sickbay, for instance (if you can sit through the episode). Occasional space battles and ship flybys stand out, as well.

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 a good mix for TV on DVD.

Special Features

Commentaries

Audio Commentary on Dead Stop by Michael Sussman and Phyllis Strong.

This is the only audio commentary I listened to. I found it engaging and informative throughout. My favorite episode of the season is backed by a solid, revealing look in this writer’s commentary.

Audio Commentary on Regeneration by Michael Sussman and Phyllis Strong.

Text Commentaries
are available on Stigma and First Flight. I assume these to be the usual Okuda commentaries. I did not view them, however, due to the serious future-season spoilers contained in these commentaries on the season one set. Having not seen the series through to its conclusion, I didn’t want to take any more chances.

Deleted Scenes are available for a number of episodes.


Featurettes

Enterprise Moments: Season Two (19:08)


The typical season recap, as seen on all prior Star Trek season sets. Includes comments from Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Michael Okuda, Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock and other cast members.


Enterprise Profile: Jolene Blalock (14:25)
Jolene Blalock talks about her pre-Enterprise experience, the auditioning process, and creating the T'Pol character. The handling of the Vulcans in the series is discussed. Typical shooting days, camaraderie with cast and crew, the usual stuff. Included are comments from Brannon Braga and several cast mates.


Levar Burton: Star Trek Director (7:00)
An interesting visit with Levar Burton... he discusses his focus on his producing and directing career since TNG. He goes in depth talking about the production of the episode "First Flight".


Enterprise Secrets (4:48)
1st Assistant Director David Trotti, who was a DGA Trainee for Star Trek VI, talks about revisiting Rura Penthe for the episode "Judgment".


Inside A Night in Sickbay (11:14)
In inside look at a cost-saving "ship" episode. Frankly, there are better episodes which could have been profiled.


Outtakes
Some good bloopers, outtakes and practical jokes. A nice collection, lasting over 10 minutes.


Photo Gallery
50 pictures

Borg Invasion Trailer

NX Files
NX-01 File 04 Scott Bakula talks about visitors to the "Enterprise" set
NX-01 File 05 Linda Park talks about the relationship between Hoshi and T'Pol
NX-01 File 06 Anthony Montgomery talks about being awestruck by big-name visitors.

Final Thoughts
The second season of Enterprise is as ho-hum as the first. A couple of real standout episodes, and a gripping finale that sets up a new direction for the show make it palatable.

The A/V quality and collection of extras should please those who liked season one.

#2 of 16 Dave Scarpa

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Posted July 30 2005 - 02:09 AM

Good Review. While the 3rd seasons new direction was at least interesting I still it a Hacneyed attempt of porting 9/11 over to Star Trek. Season 4 is what Enterprise should've been all along albeit way too late to save the series.
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#3 of 16 ChrisBEA

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Posted July 30 2005 - 12:11 PM

Agreed.

Season 4 was easily the best season they produced, and the only one I am terribly interested in owning. S2 did have some good episodes, but as a whole is generally weak.

#4 of 16 david_hu

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Posted July 30 2005 - 12:49 PM

Season 4 has been praised by alot of fans and much statements of how the show should have been, but it still didn't attract the viewership back. Others say it was too late, but if it WAS that good then at least some would come back. They didn't.
Most trek fans these days derive from TNG and really could careless about so called Trek Lore that season 4 was supposed to return to.

#5 of 16 Jay Pennington

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Posted July 30 2005 - 02:12 PM

The fans that had already given up on it had, well, given up on it. Their decision had been made. So yes, unfortunately it was too late.
-Jay

#6 of 16 Nelson Au

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Posted July 30 2005 - 02:36 PM

Good review. I saw Shockwave part 2 today. The thing that struck me about this season box set was the decision to use the Klingon ship in the menus! I can see that they'd want to vary the menus from season to season, but I wouldn't have used a Bird of Prey.

#7 of 16 Sam Davatchi

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Posted July 30 2005 - 07:09 PM

I don't get it. People say "TNG" was weak in the first 3 seasons and then it hit its stride in the fourth season. The same is said about "Deep Space Nine" too. So how come the 2 most successful Star Trek series have that chance but when it comes to "Enterprise" following the same pattern and reaching its strength in the fourth season, it has no chance of continuing and suddenly gets cancelled?!!!

(FYI: I have not seen DS9 and Enterprise S2-4)

#8 of 16 george kaplan

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Posted July 31 2005 - 12:47 AM

Others say it was too late, but if it WAS that good then at least some would come back. They didn't.
Season 4 didn't attract back enough, because it did attract back some. Those who heard about it and gave it a chance (like me), came back, but there weren't enough like me to push up the ratings.
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#9 of 16 Sam Favate

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Posted July 31 2005 - 01:23 AM

Quote:
I don't get it. People say "TNG" was weak in the first 3 seasons and then it hit its stride in the fourth season. The same is said about "Deep Space Nine" too. So how come the 2 most successful Star Trek series have that chance but when it comes to "Enterprise" following the same pattern and reaching its strength in the fourth season, it has no chance of continuing and suddenly gets cancelled?!!!


I don't think "people" say that at all. TNG had its moments in the first two years, but by season 3, it was great. Most people I know would say that season 3 was the best year TNG ever had. As for DS9, the show was strong from the beginning, although its first year or so had its weak points, and by late in season 2, it was very strong. DS9 remains, IMO, the most consistent series, in terms of every season being good.

The decision was made on Enterprise before season 4 ever aired, if you ask me. The studio wanted 100 episodes, which necessitated season 4, but they network didn't care about the show, hence the decision to put it on Friday nights. Enterprise would have needed an audience the size of CSI's to stay on the air at that point. Also, many fans became fed up with the stale creative team behind Enterprise and Voyager. When you watch a show like Voyager for seven years and Enterprise for 3 more and they don't get any better, it's no wonder fans didn't tune in for season 4. Its too bad though, since season 4 was outstanding.

#10 of 16 KyleC

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Posted July 31 2005 - 02:02 AM

No offense to all of you but I don't think we need another debate as to which Trek was better or why Enterprise failed. Let's keep this discussion on the DVDs themselves.

Has anyone watched the special features? I just picked my copy up from Best Buy yesterday and it was the only one left. I hope it sells well. Posted Image

#11 of 16 Ric Easton

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Posted July 31 2005 - 06:15 AM

Thanks for your review, Scott! Informative as always. I love the fact that we are finally getting some TV Trek commentaries. I'll be really interested on your opinions of the next two seasons (Especially the last).

#12 of 16 Scott Kimball

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Posted July 31 2005 - 11:36 AM

Ric, I'll be interested in my opinion of season four as well, since it is the only season of any of the Trek series that I haven't seen. From what some people say, I gave up too soon. I only saw 4.1.

I've already got some opinions on S3, which I hinted at in my review above. I'll spell them out in detail upon the next set's release - as well as attempting to reveal why I gave up on Enterprise at the end of S3 - without revealing too many spoilers.

-Scott

#13 of 16 RogerH

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Posted July 31 2005 - 11:39 AM

I wish I could justify getting this series. I really like it from start to finish but the price around here is 118.99 per season way too much (same as all of the Star Trek sets).

#14 of 16 Bill Williams

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Posted August 01 2005 - 02:18 AM

Great review, Scott! Don't know if you noticed these things on the S2 set or not, but here they are:

- The version of "Shockwave, Part II" that's on the set is in fact the longer extended version that was shown in the rerun. The original telecast was missing about a minute or so of footage, mainly superfluous trims spotlighting the Suliban - nothing significant but still nice little trims to have in the rerun.

- At the start of "Stigma", UPN aired a tribute to the Columbia crew (the first episode to air right after the Columbia tragedy). The DVD does not have the Columbia tribute present on it (similarly, the S1 DVD set left off Scott Bakula's salute to the crew of the naval carrier Enterprise [it had him wearing an Enterprise CVN-65 baseball cap on the bridge set]). I found this omission to be a bit insensitive, given Star Trek's love and appreciation for the NASA space program, and given that NASA scored a success with Discovery's return to space (despite their current situation. To me, I think it should have been included on the DVD.
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#15 of 16 Bryan Tuck

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Posted August 01 2005 - 05:27 PM

Quote:
- At the start of "Stigma", UPN aired a tribute to the Columbia crew (the first episode to air right after the Columbia tragedy). The DVD does not have the Columbia tribute present on it

That's too bad; I was hoping that would be preserved. I actually missed it when it aired, though; I just heard about it. What exactly did they do?

Quote:
(similarly, the S1 DVD set left off Scott Bakula's salute to the crew of the naval carrier Enterprise [it had him wearing an Enterprise CVN-65 baseball cap on the bridge set]).

Was that actually part of an episode?
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#16 of 16 Bill Williams

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Posted August 02 2005 - 01:07 AM

Bryan,

To answer your question about the Columbia tribute at the head of "Stigma", the episode was the first one immediately after the Columbia tragedy. At the start of the episode was the following text: "To the men and women of the space shuttle Columbia... You will always be an inspiration." I remember recording the episode and clearly recall this tribute at the start of the show. When I checked with Bill Hunt (only the best Trek expert on The Digital Bits), he indicated that the tribute was prepared after the completed episode was prepped for airing. Still, it should have been included on the DVD.

As for the Scott Bakula salute in S1, that was also at the head of one of the S1 episodes (I forget which one, but I do recall it was in late 2001 that it aired). It had him wearing the Enterprise CVN-65 baseball cap and said, "We salute the men and women who are fighting overseas. And from the Starship Enterprise to the crew of the naval carrier Enterprise, welcome home." The clip ended with a black-and-white text card that read "U.S.S. Enterprise - Welcome Home". There's also a variant on that clip that I saw on a website that had that same text card superimposed over the American flag.
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"Attention all personnel. Tonight's movie is a holdover from last week and will be shown right after supper, which is also a holdover from last week."





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