Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season Studio: Paramount Year: 2004 - 2005 Rated: NR Length: 939 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, Anamorphically Enhanced Audio: Dolby Digital English 5.1 Closed Captioned and subtitled in English Special Features: Audio and Text Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes, Gallery Suggested Retail Price: $129.99 USD Release Date: November 1, 2005 For season four of Enterprise, I was hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. As a lifelong Trekkie, first seeing the original series in reruns in the early Seventies, Enterprise never attained that spark that I was looking for. The first two seasons were okay, but not impressive enough to schedule a weekly viewing. I ended up Tivo-ing most of the episodes and catching up as time allowed. Season three started to get interesting, until the crazy turn of events in the final moments of the season. As I mentioned in my review of season three, the final few moments turned me off to such a degree that I didn’t tune in for the fourth and final season of Enterprise. Some may say that was my mistake. However, I know I’m not the only one who tuned out after season three. One has to wonder if, without that “jump-the-shark” moment, Enterprise might have regrouped enough to remain on the air for another season. Indeed, season four took huge strides in improving the show, tying it into the established Star Trek universe, and resolving continuity problems that plagued some of the earlier seasons. A new writing staff did what they could to rejuvenate the failing program, but the audience didn’t return in sufficient enough numbers to save the show. It’s too bad, because, aside from a few missteps, this was the finest season of Enterprise in the show’s four year run. I always like it when I see a show on DVD without having seen the broadcast first. Marathon sessions can really enhance the viewing experience. I managed to view all 22 episodes in three days. The first two episodes were tasked with getting the story out of the jam it was placed in at the end of season three. Thankfully, “Storm Front I & II” end the annoying temporal cold war arc once and for all. After that, the season got on with the task of reintroducing species and tying into events and history introduced in the original series. This is what many old-time fans wanted... how was the Federation formed? What was the story behind Khan? Who were the Orions? There were tie-ins with other series, as well, including the emergence of the secret organization Section 31, first seen in Deep Space Nine. Season four consisted of a number of mini-arcs, which enabled Enterprise to explore some of these tie-ins in great detail. The first arc dealt with the genetic engineering that produced Khan. The episodes include “Borderland”, “Cold Station 12”, and “The Augments”. Aside from a clumsy introduction involving the Orions (who deserved their own episode, rather than serving as a mere distraction in this arc), this is a great story that ties in with the original series, The Wrath of Khan, and The Next Generation. Brent Spiner guest stars as Dr. Arik Soong - ancestor to Noonian Soong, creator of Data. The next arc explores Vulcan culture, and resolves some complaints about the portrayal of the Vulcans in Enterprise. It is a three part arc, including the episodes “The Forge”, “Awakening” and “Kir’Shara”. It brings in some Trek lore such as the Sehlat and IDIC. “Daedalus” is a relatively forgettable stand-alone episode involving the transporter, a-la “Relics”. “Observer Effect” is a retread of a number of episodes from TNG where aliens are studying humans - and their studies have a negative result on the crew. There is a multi-episode arc involving the feud between Andorians and Tellarites, which ties in with an episode from the original series. Other episodes bring in “Section 31” and provide a plausible explanation for the changing appearance of Klingons. “Bound” is another episode that takes a closer look at the Orions. The two part “In a Mirror, Darkly” has a lot going for it, but fails on one major point. On the positive side, it revisits the “mirror universe” seen in the original series and in Deep Space Nine. It also gives us the most complete view of a “Constellation Class” starship that we’ve seen since the original series. It also ties in the Tholians and the Gorn. In short, it is a treasure trove of set pieces and alien species - not to mention plot devices, from the original series.... What Fun! The problem with the “mirror” episodes is that, in an effort to eliminate any possibility of continuity problems with Trek lore, the episodes take place entirely in the alternate universe. Every other time the mirror universe has been visited, it involved characters from the familiar universe crossing over. This two parter is entirely self-contained. The problem with that is, we have no investment in these mirror characters. We don’t have an emotional involvement in their fate. While the episodes are fun to watch for the tie-ins, the drama suffers significantly. “Demons” and “Terra Prime” are a two part arc that examines the beginning of the Federation, and a resistance movement in opposition to its creation. It’s a thrilling arc with a strong guest performance from Peter Weller, and the arc really presents a perfect wrap-up for the series. Unfortunately - there is one more episode to go. “These are the Voyages” takes place years in the future, as the NX-01 is to be decommissioned and the Federation Charter is to be signed. It all happens framed from the perspective of a holodeck program being run by Commander Riker and Deanna Troi from TNG, during a mission from that series. The episode just doesn’t work for me. The second-to-last episode was such a fitting end to the series, it’s a shame they didn’t end it there. Overall, I was amazed at the turnaround this show made in its fourth season. This is the series I expected when I tuned in four years ago. If it hadn’t taken so long to get to this point, I wager the show would still be on the air. Viewscreen On Season four is very consistent in quality as the previous seasons. As before, the anamorphically enhanced image is nicely detailed and exhibits excellent contrast. Black levels are strong, with good shadow detail. Colors are accurate and nicely saturated. There really isn’t much else to say, as the video is identical as all the previous seasons of Enterprise. Hailing Frequencies As with the video, the audio is consistent with prior seasons of the series as well. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track delivers an active, open soundstage across the front channels, containing panning dialog and effects and a nice, full range of frequencies. LFE effects are solid when called for, but not quite as punched up as you’d find in a well mixed feature film. Rear effects are, on average, more subdued than other Trek series TV DVDs. However, there are some ear-catching effects, on occasion, that stand out. While you’ll find more active mixes on feature films on DVD, this is a good mix for TV on DVD. In the case of Enterprise, consistency in A/V quality from the previous seasons is a good thing, as they have all been quite well done for a television show. Special Features Deleted Scenes on the episodes “Storm Front, Part I”, “The Aenar”, “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II” Audio Commentaries “In a Mirror, Darkly” - Mike Sussman, Tim Gaskill I sampled this commentary rather extensively. It seemed like the perfect episode for a commentary, with all the tie-ins and recreations from the original series. It’s a pretty good commentary, covering more of the minutia than the big picture. “Terra Prime” - Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Tim Gaskill Text Commentaries by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda “The Forge”, “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”, “These Are the Voyages” I sampled the text commentary for the “Mirror” episode. There is a lot of material for the Okuda’s here, what with the recreation of the old series ships and species. A solid text commentary. Enterprise Moments - Season Four (16:23) Scott Bakula, Connor Trineer, Manny Coto and John Billingsley talk about the directions the fourth season took, and how the mini-arcs all tie in with the “future” of Star Trek as relayed in previous series (this is something largely ignored in previous seasons). They also talk about the guest appearances (Brent Spiner, Peter Weller), and the final episode penned by Braga and Berman. Ignored is my least favorite arc of the season, the “Mirror” arc - though that gets a featurette of its own... Inside the Mirror Episodes (15:41) Manny Coto, Mike Sussman, Michael Westmore, Dan Curry and John Teska discuss the “Mirror” arc, explaining how they brought so much Trek lore into the two-parter without violating continuity. Also examined: the building of the Defiant sets, and creating the Gorn. Good stuff, here - even if it isn’t my favorite story arc. There is less detail on the building of the sets, however, then we saw in the Deep Space Nine tribble featurette. Enterprise Secrets (5:52) A visit to the set on the last day of shooting for the series, with introductions to many of the unsung heroes of Enterprise, who came out for cameos in the finale. Visual Effects Magic (13:25) Building a period Manhattan, bringing Hitler to New York, Xindi designs, Tholians. Dan Curry and others from the visual effects crew show us how they did it all... well - as much as possible in 13 minutes. That’s a Wrap (8:59) Speeches and candid interviews from the wrap party. Most of the cast is represented, with the notable exceptions of Connor Trineer and Jolene Blalock. Links to the Legacy (4:25) A rundown of many of the links to the legacy of Trek - including Vulcan Sehlats, IDIC, the Andorian homeworld, Klingon foreheads, and Section 31. This short featurette is presented by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens. Enterprise Outtakes (2:16) Perhaps the funniest blooper / gag reel from Enterprise - but far too short. Some great gags in here - including a particular blue antenna. Photo Gallery About 60 production stills Borg Invasion Trailer NX-01 File 10 (4:42) The “Save Enterprise” campaign... fans at the gate, and responses from Connor Trineer and Scott Bakula. Final Thoughts This, the final season of Enterprise, and likely the final iteration of Star Trek for the next few years, is surprisingly good. The show finally found its stride, only to be canceled before its audience could return. It’s too bad... it was a better show than Voyager, yet it ran three seasons shorter. The A/V quality is consistent with the previous seasons of Enterprise on DVD. The extras, though having a similar running time as previous seasons, seem a little thin. Still, this DVD package is a good send off to a show ended in its prime. Sadly, the shorter season doesn’t see a reduction in price. Recommended.