DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete Third Season (Recommended)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Scott Kimball, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season



    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 2003 - 2004

    Rated: NR

    Length: 17 hours, 6 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1, Anamorphically Enhanced

    Audio: Dolby Digital English 5.1

    English Subtitles

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: Featurettes, Audio / Text Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Photo Gallery

    Suggested Retail Price: $129.99 USD


    Release Date: September 27, 2005

    The third season of Enterprise was a “make or break” season for me. I’d sat and watched most of the episodes of the previous two seasons when they aired - and while I saw promise, the show rarely delivered.

    The cliffhanger at the end of season two caught my attention. 7 million people on Earth are killed in a prelude to an all-out attack on Earth, by an alien species previously unknown. I thought, certainly, the events in the cliffhanger would open up some interesting and gritty storylines for season three.

    Enterprise finally began to deliver. That’s not to say the show was perfect. There were a few minor diversions along the way. Overall, however, season three provided solid entertainment.

    It took a couple of episodes, Xindi, Anomaly, for Enterprise to get its footing, only to be nearly derailed with episode three, Extinction. In this episode, Archer, Reed and Hoshi contract a virus that mutates them into a primal lifeform. Perhaps Berman and Braga forgot that they had done this episode at least twice before, on The Next Generation and Voyager. Just when things were getting fresh and new...

    There is a quick recovery with the middle-of-the-road episode, Rajiin, in which a mysterious refugee aboard Enterprise has hidden motives for coming aboard - she is gathering intelligence for the Xindi.

    Impulse is a nod to zombie films, when Enterprise responds to a Vulcan vessel in distress. It seems that the Vulcans have been - altered - in this region of space, and T’Pol begins to become affected, as well.

    Exile is another been-there, done-that, followed up by a good, action oriented episode - The Shipment. In this episode, Enterprise tracks materials that will be used to build the next weapon launched against Earth.

    Twilight is a so-so alternate-future type episode, with only an ancillary relationship to the meta-story.

    North Star is also a stand-alone episode - a Western. While it has certainly been done in Trek before, there are some nice elements to this story.

    Similitude finds Dr, Phlox cloning Commander Tucker in order to harvest transplantable tissue to save the commander’s life. This becomes very much a Tuvix-like episode, referencing an episode from Voyager in which Tuvok and Neelix become combined into one being - one which must die to save the other. This episode is handled better than the Voyager episode, but I still found it too familiar.

    Carpenter Street is an okay action, time-travel episode that sends Archer and T’Pol back to 20th century Earth to stop the Xindi Reptilians from creating a bio-weapon. Kind of a silly, tired plot when you think about it, but there’s enough action to keep you entertained.

    Chosen Realm harkens back to Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. In it, religious zealots take over Enterprise, seeking to use the ship in their fight against others of their own race who have a different religious belief. This episode is better than Battlefield, but still uses a sledge hammer to drive its point home.

    Proving Ground sees the return of the Andorian commander Shran. But is Shran really there to help? Strategem finds Archer trying to manipulate information out of Degra, the Xindi creator of the weapon used against Earth. Harbinger begins to explore the reasons why the Delphic Expanse is so dangerous.

    Doctor’s Orders is another misstep. In it, Phlox must navigate the Enterprise through a dangerous region of space, while the entire crew is sedated - due to some effect the region will have on the human brain. Again, Berman and Braga seem to have forgotten that this was done on Voyager. There is nothing new, here. Only John Billingsley’s performance makes this interesting.

    Hatchery finds Archer playing mother to a bunch of Xindi eggs. Stupid.

    The final seven episodes are essentially the continuing story of the search for the Xindi weapon. It’s an excellent run to the finale, with good storytelling and solid action. Damage stands out as perhaps the best episode of the season, when Archer must go against everything he believes in, in his desperation to save Earth. It is a compelling episode with excellent performances.

    The final hour, Zero Hour, is a solid finale, right up to the cliffhanger. The show takes such a severe left turn in the final minutes that, instead of being shocking (which is likely what the writers were looking for), it ends like a “shaggy dog story.” After the last third of the season provided so much entertainment, and a fair amount of original storytelling, the last five minutes of the finale washed it away with a very tired image - one which has been visited countless times in the Trek universe. It was an about-face which really turned me off to the show - in a very literal sense. I never tuned in again.

    It’s too bad, too - since I hear that season four was the best of Enterprise.

    I will give season four a chance when it is released on DVD. It is the only season of any Star Trek show that I have yet to watch. Given the fan reaction to the season, I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be worth my time.

    Viewscreen On
    As with the previous seasons, the anamorphically enhanced image is decently 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.

    There is every indication that season three was authored to the same standards as the previous seasons.

    Hailing Frequencies
    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 TV DVDs. However, there are some ear-catching effects, on occasion, that stand out. Occasional space battles and ship flybys stand out, while it is the average ambient noise that is subdued in the surrounds.

    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

    With the seventh disc containing only the special features (and no episodes), it would have been nice to have seen some more featurettes. There would have been plenty of room for some input by Herman Zimmerman, Dan Curry, Michael Westmore or Michael Okuda. Certainly, the visual effects and makeup in season three warrant some discussion. With two CGI alien species taking center stage, there isn’t a single mention of the efforts undertaken to get them on the screen.

    It should be noted that disc one of the set contained semi-forced trailers for other Paramount DVDs. I consider this a bug, not a feature. I don’t review advertisements, and I skipped over these as rapidly as possible... so don’t ask me what they were. It is unfortunate for this trend to invade the Star Trek sets, which have remained immune, up until now. Given the price on these sets, it would be nice to have them ad-free.

    Here is what you will find for special features:

    Commentaries
    “The Xindi” - text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.
    “Impulse” - text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.
    “North Star” - audio commentary by assistant director Mike Demeritt
    “Similitude” - audio commentary by writer / executive producer Manny Coto
    “Countdown” - text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda.

    I haven’t viewed the text commentaries or listened to the audio commentaries. I’ve had some unfortunate season four spoilers revealed to me in previous commentaries on these sets. View / listen to them at your own risk. Generally speaking, most people know what to expect of the text commentaries. I have heard good things about Mike Demeritt’s commentary.

    Deleted Scenes from the following episodes:
    “Similitude”, “Chosen Realm”, “E Squared”

    The Xindi Saga Begins (13:08)
    Rick Berman and Brannon Braga relate how Paramount pressured them to retool the show, leading them into creating a season long arc about Earth in peril. This allowed the episodes and the characters to become darker, and provided a solid backdrop to explore the characters deeper than before. Included are comments from much of the writing staff, as well as Scott Bakula and John Billingsley.

    Enterprise Moments: Season 3 (12:54)
    This is standard fare for the Trek boxed sets... a capsule review of the season, with comments by cast and crew.

    Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (17:12)
    A rather extensive interview with the actor who plays “Trip” Tucker, interspersed with clips from the show and comments from cast and crew.

    A Day in the Life of a Director: Roxann Dawson (17:24)
    The cameras turn on Trek actress-turned-director Roxann Dawson, as she directs the episode “Exile.” Dawson takes the time out of a busy shooting day to describe her approach to certain scenes to the audience. We also see Dawson, actors and crew block out and shoot scenes, and we see the finished product. A nice procedural documentary of a day on the set.

    Outtakes
    A decent 6 minute reel of bloopers and jokes. Maybe not as good as last season, but nice.

    Photo Gallery
    The focus of this gallery seems to be on the many alien characters from season three, with a few regular cast portraits and crew shots thrown in for good measure.

    Borg Invasion Trailer (:32)

    NX-01 07: John Billingsley talks about Phlox’s sex life and a nude scene
    NX-01 08: Costume Designer Robert Blackman talks costumes
    NX-01 09: Mike Sussman talks about “E (squared)”

    Final Thoughts

    Season three was a turning point for the series. After two luke warm seasons, the show finally found its legs. Unfortunately, the complete about-face in the final moments of the season finale stole the thunder from a season which featured some excitement and originality, plunging it into the land of the retread where Berman and Braga have so often gone before. The series was on shaky ground for me - I was just beginning to respect where it was headed. Then, in five minutes, all the respect I had gained for the show was washed away in such a narrative about face that it would be difficult for any viewer to hold respect for it.

    Finding better things to do with my time upon the show’s original airing of season four, I chose not to tune in. I know of others who had the same reaction. The creators of the show hadn’t yet earned the right to pull a stunt like that. It’s too bad. I’ve since heard good things about the final season. I just couldn’t get past that “jump the shark” moment.

    At any rate, the third season of Enterprise is served up with fine A/V quality in this boxed set. Special features total a bit over an hour. While what is provided is interesting, there was a lost opportunity to explore the visual effects, makeup, or art direction in a pivotal year for the series.

    Despite the cliffhanger and the lost opportunity for an effects featurette, Enterprise: Season Three is:

    Recommended.
     
  2. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    Shouldn't this be in the TV software section?
     
  3. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Yup... already requested that it be moved.

    -Scott
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  5. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    I watched the third season when it was originally broadcasting and while ther were indeed some standout episodes, I wasn't too thrilled on this 24 episode storyline. After the first two seasons, which I enjoyed quite thoroughly I just wish Paramount and UPN had given this series a chance to fly on its own. I Suspect that if this series would have went for a fifth season, which UPN could have granted it, to end it at the end of the fifth season as is common with most sci fi shows these days.

    Still, this series was closer to Gene Roddenberry's original concept of Star Trek since the original series aired. While I did like TNG, DS9 and Voyager, I think I enjoyed Enterprise most of all.
     
  6. Sean.S

    Sean.S Stunt Coordinator

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    The third season was truly astounding. The fourth season was even better--possibly one of Trek's all-time best.

    But, the third season was also very excellent. It was a bit darker without being DS9-level-dark, and maintained the Trek spirit without. I can't wait to purchase this season tommorow. Some of my personal highlights include...
    The Enterprise-J in "Azati Prime," the truly superb acting and production values in all, the alternate future in "Twilight," the awesome battle sequences in the finale, the re-appearences of Shran, the remixed theme song, and of course the jaw-dropping Alien Nazi season cliffhanger!!
     
  7. John*D

    John*D Second Unit

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    Dear Paramount,

    Cut the price in 1/2 and then we'll talk!


    Sincerely,

    Someone refusing to pay roughly $100 per season for the various ST season sets on DVD.
     
  8. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    I have to agree with John. Paying $100 for these sets is really a bit much. I haven't bought one single season of Star Trek ever since they released their sets. Paramount only has the Star Trek shows to make money on the DVD's now and they really need to re-adjust the pricing structure on these sets. Since they're all released for every show, they need to drop the pricing to around maybe $60 or $70. I would consider going back and buying the previous shows as well if they did drop their prices. But, I don't expect Paramount will on this point because Star Trek DVD's are their cash cow right now with no Star Trek TV broadcasting.
     
  9. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Um, shouldn't the aspect ratio be 1.78:1, not 1.85:1? Considering the series was broadcast in hi-def and the DVDs sets of seasons 1 and 2 were 1.78:1.
     
  10. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Regarding Disc 7 on the set, there was plenty of space to include the two extra featurettes, "Enterprise Secrets" and the director's feature on Marvin Rush, that were left off the disc for the master sets and yet were slapped onto a "bonus disc" for Best Buy customers. These bonus discs are getting extremely ridiculous.

    Did you happen to notice the forced trailers at the head of Disc 1? Three DVD trailers for Star Trek: TOS S3, MacGyver S4, and The 4400 S1. And how many times do we have to get the Borg Invasion 4-D trailer on every ST DVD set?

    StarTrek.com has a new exclusive podcast audio commentary on its site today, this one with Mike Sussman on "Twilight". Check it out! [​IMG]
     
  11. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Yes. My apologies. It was an editing error. It has been corrected.

    -Scott
     
  12. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    The last couple of minutes of "Zero Hour" (like Scott said) were the biggest let down of the season. Some eppy's I liked better than others (the last 1/3 of the season was awesome) but it was solid and there was a direction to the year. It-and Trek-got screwed.

    Good to know this set is the same as the others, more or less. I can't say I'll be picking it up, tho.
     
  13. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    I have to agree with the bonus DVD thing. The biggest problem is that these studios seem to be purposely taking bonus features off some sets when they were originally scheduled for the set only to take the feature off in favor for certain exclusive disks for certain store chains by paying extra money for such an exclusive forcing customers to go to that store chain in order to get "exclusive" content they they think is exclusive.

    It's a legitimate poor marketing gimmick. Fans of certain DVD's don't realize they have been "snookered" until after they hear about it from an online source or something. In the case of Enterprise Season 1, I had heard that the UK edition that was released had some content on one of the disks in the set and then instead of Paramount creating new "exclusive" content they took that feature, that I remember hearing from some site that was supposed to be part of the mass market set and threw it on the bonus DVD that was available only at Best Buy stores.

    I'm not barfing the idea on these bonus disks, I think they are a great idea, but a little more thought needs to go into creating truly exclusive material for these store chains.

    It makes you truly wonder about those disks for Vovayer, DS9 and TNG, doesn't it?
     
  14. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    Although I own all of TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY on DVD, I paid the full asking price only for TOS and DS9. The rest of the season boxes were acquired at various "Used DVD" stores in the area like 'Replay" and 'GameStop'. So there's really no need to pay the full asking price for these season boxes. Having said that, I agree that a $69.95/Season MSRP would have probably doubled Paramount's initial sells on these boxes; especially for Voyager and Enterprise.

    By the way, you need to be aware of the fact that Paramount will be releasing a series of "Themed" Star Trek DVD boxes all during 2006 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek. These sets will typically be comprised of 7-8 episodes on 2 double-sided discs and will be priced at $24.95 MSRP (which means at most outlets you'll be able to pick them up for $19.95.) The episodes on the discs will be culled from all 5 live action Star Trek series. For example, there will be a Star Trek: Explorations box which will contain episodes like 'Space Seed' from TOS and 'One Small Step' from Voyager. There will also be the obvious Themed boxes like 'Klingons'; 'Borg'; 'Romulans'; 'Time Travel'; and so on. These boxes could be an inexpensive way for the casual Star Trek fan to get some good Star Trek on DVD.
     
  15. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Do we have official confirmation of that, Joseph? Just wanted to ask to make sure.
     
  16. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    Personally, I'd like to see all of the two parter episodes on a boxed set release ...
     
  17. RickER

    RickER Producer

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    Paramount and double sided discs, say it aint so! Was the Picard set double sided?
     
  18. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    It's official that there will be a series of "Theme-based" Star Trek DVD boxes released all during 2006 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Star Trek.

    What's not known at this time is the actual Themes that will be released and/or which episodes will be included in the Themed boxes.

    About six months ago Paramount revealed this plan on the 'Startrek.com' site and at that time they solicited the members to vote for both Themed boxes that they would like to see and the episodes that would comprise the selected Theme. Some of the Themes that were available to be voted on included "Best Time Travel Stories", "Best Space Exploration Stories", "Best Klingon Stories", and so on.

    I would expect that an official announcement would be forthcoming around November-December of this year and the actual Themes that were selected would be revealed at that time!
     
  19. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    The season sets fit four episodes on single sided disks with no problem. If these themes sets have 8 episodes on two discs, there's no reason for them to be double-sided.

    That was probably a typo that should have read "dual-layer discs".
     
  20. Mark Talmadge

    Mark Talmadge Cinematographer

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    I'm curious if these double sided disks are made by the studios to cut their prices when making these sets and increasing their profits by not reflecting that reduction in the retail prices.
     

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