In the waning days of Star Trek: Voyager’s seven year run on the United Paramount Network (UPN), Executive Producers and show runners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, having been asked to keep an iteration of Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek on the television screens, hatched a prequel plan. The timing would give the Voyager show runners no break between one series ending and the other beginning, a fact that would strain the two as their divided attentions and exhaustion – documented in one of the terrific new special features – stretched them to the limit. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Enterprise’s origins, looking back now 12 years on, the show holds up surprisingly well, with characters that are more compelling, stories more engaging, and a sense of adventure more enthralling than was appreciated at the time.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 19 Hr. 9 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray6-Disc Single Case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/26/2013
“When Zefram Cochrane made his legendary warp flight ninety years ago, and drew the attention of our new friends, the Vulcans, we realized that we weren't alone in the galaxy. Today, we are about to cross a new threshold. For nearly a century, we've waded ankle-deep in the ocean of space. Now it's finally time to swim.”
The Production Rating: 4/5
Set in the 22nd Century, 100 years before the 5-year mission of Captain Kirk and crew, the new series would forgo the Star Trek moniker in favor of the broader and simpler title of Enterprise. The series premise involved the maiden voyage of the Starship Enterprise, designation NX-01, and the inaugural interstellar crew led by Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula). Since first contact with the Vulcans on April 4, 2063, humanity had come a long way in unifying as a species and in developing the concept of Starfleet, and despite the Vulcans continued belief that humanity was not ready for the universe, Archer and Starfleet disagreed.
The Captain of the Enterprise, Jonathan Archer, is a no fuss leader with as much a penchant for diplomacy as a scientist’s curiosity, traits that would help get him into, and out of, more than a few tight spots. He is emblematic of a more measured, but still imperfect, human species. Serving as his science officer, initially with some reluctance, is Sub-Commander T’Pol (Jolene Blalock). T’Pol provides a logical spoil to Archer’s at-times untethered enthusiasm on the great frontier, and is at times a frustrating contrarian, though her experience is a valuable asset to the crew. The ships Chief Engineer, Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III (Connor Trinneer), is an eager and highly capable member of the NX-01 hailing from rural Tennessee. Lieutenant Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating) serves as the Armory Officer. A disciplined member of Starfleet, Reed’s dedication to duty learns to make room for his loyalty to his new crew. Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) is a gifted communications officer with an innate and uncanny ability to learn, dissect and digest new languages, often better than the onboard and early stage ‘universal translator’. Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) is a young but steadfast navigations officer. Having been born and grown up on a long-distance interplanetary freight hauling vessel, he brings a unique understanding of deep space travels. Finally, Doctor Phlox (John Billingsley), a Denobulan participating in the Inter-Species Medical Exchange program, comes with as much a sense of adventure and a quest to learn and understand as his human-filled ship he serves aboard.
Featuring Klingons, Vulcans and the welcome return of the Andorians, the first season of Enterprise is a far more solid proposition upon reflection than it seemed during its first run. As the series progressed the storytelling would lean toward longer arcs, similar to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s model, focusing the entire third season on the crew of Starfleet’s flagship responding to a terrorist attack on earth by the Xindi and a pursuit of answers and justice into a region of space known as The Expanse. Throughout seasons one and two Enterprise wove an ongoing plot thread involving a Temporal Cold War into episodes. This central mythology is interesting, but never excited the fans in the way that the recurring Q character on Star Trek: The Next Generation did.
Premiering just a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the events of that day would eventually influence the stories told on the show, even producing the aforementioned attack by the Xindi in season three. But through the first season the primary enemy was the Suliban, a species reportedly named after the Taliban (but long before 9/11 and the prominence the Taliban would have in the news at that time). The main villain of the Suliban species, Silik, is played with menace and sly by John Fleck, who acts as the pawn of the mysterious shadowy figure related to the temporal cold war. The visual effects enhanced species, with their ability to flex and stretch in, through and under tight spaces and their skills at stealth, were an interesting new addition to the Star Trek universe, though Enterprise sought to leverage familiar species often, perhaps in an attempt to make it clear to fans that this prequel would still be able to offer the conflict species we know and love.
Enterprise: The Complete First Season, as with all iterations of Star Trek on television since the original, hit some bumps in the road creatively in the first year, though the prequel remained the most consistent in quality from the outset. There are several stumbles in this season but rather than outright bad episodes, the sin of the freshman year is episodes that fail to amount to much; episodes that sink away from memory almost the moment the credits roll. That’s the product of not taking enough storytelling risks. Episodes like “Unexpected”, “Fortunate Son” and “Shuttlepod One” offer little that is new; though there may be nice character touches to be found, they are anchored by well-worn plot ideas – and ideas that have been explored in one way or another in the other Trek series. Episodes like “Acquisition”, involving an attempted heist of Enterprise’s material goods by a small band of Ferengi – despite featuring a number of Trek Alumni from The Original Series, Voyager and Deep Space Nine – irked fans for its disregard for established canon (the Next Generation crew were the first to meet the Ferengi in the season one episode, “The Last Outpost”). Enterprise would cross that line in the eyes of fans again with episodes that include Romulans and even Borg, though the attempts to remain faithful to the previously established canon were notable.
Despite those stumbles in the first year Season One featured a number of intriguing episodes, including the confident and action-packed premiere two-parter “Broken Bow”, the hostage drama of “The Andorian Incident”, the surprisingly mature and contemplative “Dear Doctor”, the test of strength thrills of “Silent Enemy”, and the exciting season finale, “Shockwave Part I”. These are a strong collection of sound and entertaining episodes that more than prove this show had a bright future – even if that future was just three more seasons.
The cast assembled for Enterprise is very good. Landing Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap fame was a major win, and surrounding him with very capable, interesting actors helped produced a tangible camaraderie among the crew. As with each Star Trek series, the characters experience some growing pains as the writers work to fine tune who they are and what they bring to the ship, but those pains are relatively short-lived.
Complementing the cast is a terrifically high production value. Herman Zimmerman’s production design is nothing short of magnificent. Modeling the interior of the NX-01 after a submarine gives each episode an intimate quality, a quality that spills into the character dynamic. Episode direction by long-time Trek talent such as Winrich Kolbe, David Livingston and Allan Kroeker, strong scores for episodes by composers such as Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, Paul Baillargeon and David Bell, and the story editing talents of André Bormanis (along with some solid members of the writing staff) all conspire to give Enterprise a promising start.
Broken Bow Parts I and II
Fight or Flight
Strange New World
The Andorian Incident
Breaking the Ice
Shadows of P’Jem
Two Days and Two Nights
Shockwave, Part I
The first of any Star Trek series to be shot in the widescreen format – and in HD for season three – Enterprise’s arrival on Blu-ray is both welcome and with reservation. The 1080p video brings out a great deal of detail some of the time, particularly in close ups and in the superb set-design. However, the image can appear murky at times, something not helped by the darker lighting choices chosen by the production team (though a plus creatively). The image also shows the limitations for some of the visual effects which, for the broadcast run, were rendered in 480p (some are reporting 780p) and simply upconverted. Some visual effects were rendered with higher resolution so throughout the first season there is variability in the quality and issues associated with them (the close up shots of the Enterprise in the episode “Acquisition” are superb). The most obvious issues come from aliasing, which is notable in some of the stock Enterprise fly-by shots and some of the shuttle-pod shots as well. Planets are mostly issue free and the level of detail put into them is pleasing to the eye.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Enterprise: The Complete First Season comes with sprightly English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and specific sound effects are dynamic in the surround channels. The orchestral scores are given space to be enjoyed throughout the channels and action sequences – of which there are plenty – rock and rumble pleasingly. The low-frequency effects through the subwoofer are quite impressive and the clarity of dialogue is where the audio really shines. Phaser fights, starship fly-bys, and other incidental sounds such as the creaks of the Suliban as they shift or the gooey sounds of the creature in “Vox Sola” are all ably produced.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The opening theme song still feels out of place on the show despite the visual opening sequence being very good, but I don’t loathe it quite as much as I once did. However, hearing Brannon Braga (in one of the excellent special features) regret the choice makes it somehow a little more bearable.
The special features included in this set contain all of those included in the previously released DVD and comes with some stellar new material. Spread across the entire six-disc set, everything from Deleted Scenes to select audio commentaries to behind the scenes looks at the cast, sets and approach to Season One are here. This is an exemplary collection of special features.
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
The true gem of the set comes from the inclusion of a fascinating conversation with creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga who, in addition to serving as Executive Producers, contributed heavily to the storylines and scripts for the first season; a brilliantly honest and reflective conversation revealing of both pride and regret. Particularly interesting was the initial choice of having U2’s anthem-like “Beautiful Day” as the opening song but having to go to a plan B when the Irish rock group declined to release the track for use (as a life-long U2 fan, that news is disheartening). Berman and Braga have been on the receiving end of considerable fan scorn since around the release of Star Trek: Generations, and while some criticism is fair, the extent to which they have been villified by some quadrants of the fan base goes beyond the pale. This conversation, and some others to be found on the remastered Blu-ray releases of The Next Generation, show a far more complex set of events taking place behind the scenes than merely studio-heads that don’t “get it” or “care”.
This collection is worth having for these special features alone.
- Audio Commentary with co-creator/executive producer Brannon Braga, director James L. Conway, visual effects producer Dan Curry and cast members Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed) on “Broken Bow”—NEW!
- Audio Commentary with Brannon Braga and Rick Berman on “Broken Bow”
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on “Broken Bow”
- Deleted Scenes from “Broken Bow” (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from “Fight or Flight” (SD)
- In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga—NEW! (HD)
- Archival Mission Log: Creating Enterprise (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 02 (SD)
- Cast Introduction—NEW (SD)
- Network Presentation—NEW (SD)
- Syndication Presentation—NEW (SD)
- Deleted Scene from “Unexpected” (SD)
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on “The Andorian Incident”
- Archival Mission Log: Cast Impressions: Season 1 (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Enterprise Secrets (SD)
- Audio commentary with writer/story editor André Bormanis and visual effects producer
- Dan Curry on “Silent Enemy”—NEW!
- Deleted Scene from “Sleeping Dogs” (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold Wars and Beyond (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage (SD)
- Audio Commentary with writers/executive story editors Mike Sussman and Phyllis
- Strong on “Shadows of P’Jem”—NEW!
- Audio Commentary with co-creator/executive producer Brannon Braga, director David
- Livingston and cast members Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating
- (Malcolm Reed) on “Shuttlepod One”—NEW!
- Deleted Scene from “Shuttlepod One” (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: Inside Shuttlepod One (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 01 (SD)
- Archival Mission Log: NX-01 File 03 (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from “Oasis” (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from “Fallen Hero” (SD)
- Text Commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda on “Vox Sola”
- Archival Mission Log: Enterprise Outtakes (SD)
- On The Set —NEW (SD)
- Deleted Scene from “Two Days and Two Nights” (SD)
- Deleted Scenes from “Shockwave, Part 1” (SD)
- Documentary: “To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise”—NEW! (HD)
- Part 1: Countdown
- Part 2: Boarding the NX-01
- Part 3: First Flight
Having watched the entire first season over just a few days, I am taken aback. I remember eagerly watching “Broken Bow” when it premiered on UPN and coming away from the series opener underwhelmed. Perhaps spending so much time in the 23rd and 24th centuries in the television and film outings had acclimated me too heavily to that side of future history. But now, over a decade later, I am enthralled at the sense of adventure in this show. I am energized (no pun intended) by the spirit of exploration and the first crew of the Starship Enterprise who resemble more closely the rugged imperfections of today’s humanity than the more evolved sensibilities of Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway.
Overall Rating: 4/5
This first season comes with flaws. A clearly tired writing staff wades far too easily into familiar territory and fail to take enough risks creatively, but there is a genuinely solid core visible from the outset. It has surprised me just how much I enjoyed revisiting the adventures of Archer and crew and I have no qualms about tagging this release as recommended, even with the image issues noted.
Reviewed By: Neil Middlemiss
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