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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: Enterprise—The Complete First Season (2001-2002)

"Someday, my people are going to come up with some sort of a doctrine. Something that tells us what we can and can't do out here. Should and shouldn't do. But until somebody tells me that they have drafted that...directive, I'm going to have to remind myself that we didn't come out here to play God."
- Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)

Review By: Matt Peterson  
Published: May 02, 2005

Stars: Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, Connor Trinneer
Other Stars: Vaughn Armstrong, John Fleck, Gary Graham, Kellie Waymire, Julianne Christie, Erick Avari, Jeffrey Combs, William Utay, Diane DiLascio, Lawrence Monoson, Matt Winston, Christopher Rydell, Michelle Bonilla, Gregory Itzen, Robert Pine, Enrique Murciano, Keith Szarabajka, Stephanie Niznik, Ethan Phillips, Clint Howard, Rene Auberjonois, Annie Wersching, Dean Stockwell, Fionnula Flanagan, Clancy Brown, James Horan
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sci-fi violence, some language and shameless sensuality)
Run Time: 19h:07m:00s
Release Date: May 03, 2005
UPC: 097360569643
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B-A-B+ A-

DVD Review

It certainly has been a long road. After the sputtering, Borg-drenched death throes of Star Trek: Voyager, Paramount saw fit to develop yet another series in their long-running franchise. Fourteen years of television success, spearheaded by the intrepid crew of the Enterprise-D, was nothing to scoff at. A fresh, new concept was in order. Tired with the "evolved sensibility" of the stuffy 24th Century, creators and sometimes unfairly maligned producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga developed a radical new idea. The new show would be a prequel, set 100 years before the bold exploits of Captain James T. Kirk. Dubbed Enterprise in its first two seasons ("Star Trek" would be added to the title in the third to remind the forgetful masses this is, well, Star Trek), the fifth series would feature the first crew of the starship Enterprise. This would be Star Trek, The Right Stuff-style, full of bold, pioneering adventure, flavored with the strengths and faults of the human spirit.

Great. Sounds like a novel idea. Just one problem. Wasn't Kirk's Enterprise the first starship to bear the name? Oh, wait, the United Federation of Planets doesn't exist quite yet, so we can work around that one. The first Warp-5 Earth vessel, Enterprise, designated NX-01, is a pretty sleek-looking ship, based loosely on elements from Matt Jeffries' original series design. More like a submarine than a luxury liner, this is a functional ship designed for exploring, not comfort. There is a rough quality to her hull and innards, but the technology here looks far more advanced than Kirk's "futuristic" vessel. Granted, the original series was a product of the 1960s, and even our computers today are more advanced than Majel Barret's bionic voice. Creators "split the difference" between elements of the original series and making the show seem futuristic to techno-savvy 21st-century viewers.

Discrepancies are forgivable if they result in a solid show, and Enterprise's concept is certainly full of potential. There are some radical shifts here, beginning with the dreadful opening credits song by Diane Warren, sung by Russell Watson. Okay, I can deal with hitting the mute button during those choice images of human advancement. I for one am willing to bend the rules a bit to get a fresh series that traces the origins of all we know and love in the Trek universe.

The opener, Broken Bow, starts out in some strong territory: humans are just getting their space legs after 100 years of "guidance" by the Vulcans, who made first contact with Zefram Cochrane decades before. There is a welcome and logical sense of animosity here; the Vulcans don't think the arrogant, prideful humans are ready for the challenges of the cosmos, while the humans are chomping at the bit to launch. Jonathan Archer (serviceable sci-fi vet Scott Bakula), the new captain of the NX-01, is one of the most resentful, even bigoted. His father, developer of the first Warp-5 engine, never got to see his creation fly because of the Vulcans' tight leash.

An opportunity for vindication lands in Archer's back yard. A Klingon crashes in a cornfield in Oklahoma, chased by two Suliban, a treacherous new alien species that has been genetically modified to shapeshift. Starfleet uses the incident as an opportunity to launch Enterprise, much to the Vulcans' chagrin (our pointy-eared friends seem far more emotional this time around). Archer and his new crew are charged with returning the Klingon to his homeworld, where he is to deliver a message revealing the Suliban's treachery. The Suliban are engaged in a Temporal Cold War, where forces from the past and the future are battling, altering the timeline to their advantage. This is a conflict that would run throughout the series including Season One's Cold Front and the thrilling cliffhanger Shockwave, Part I.

Archer's crew is as wet behind the ears as they come. Chief Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III (the talented Conner Trinneer) is Archer's longtime friend, and an outspoken Southern gentleman; Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating) is the British weapons man, head of security; Ensign Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) mans the helm; communications officer and linguist Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) is reluctant about space travel; the Denobulan Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley) is an animated, curious, and talented physician who stocks his sickbay with as many exotic creatures as medications. Finally, the Vulcans have seen fit to place an "observer" on board; the voluptuous T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) is at first repulsed by the smelly humans, but shortly becomes their greatest ally, helping ease relations between Earth's adventurous race and the cranky Vulcans. After the success of their first assignment, Starfleet sees no reason why they shouldn't keep going. The mission? Simple: to seek out new life and new civilizations. Roddenberry smiles.

The first season is not quite what I expected, but it remains entertaining and certainly has its strong points. As a fan of the franchise, there is a lot to enjoy here. A welcome sense of adventure is present throughout, featuring episodes full of the euphoria of exploration: Strange New World starts as a sunny discovery, but turns into an homage to the original episode Shore Leave; spatial phenomenon are explored in Breaking the Ice and Fusion; a rogue planet hunting ground is explored in, well, Rogue Planet.

Complimentary to exploration is the theme of first contact. New aliens abound. Enterprise sometimes seems like the local repair ship, meeting vessels and aliens in need of assistance in Unexpected and the mysterious Oasis, among others. In Terra Nova, Archer searches for a long-lost human colony, and finds their descendants have turned primitive. If Archer can't make first contact with humans, he believes he has no business being out among the stars.

It really feels like this is the first group of humans to go boldly, and the show exploits their neuroses and fears about space travel. The transporter is still quite experimental (no one really wants to use it), and there are no photon torpedoes or tractor beams (yet). I still think the crew seems a bit too comfortable. They should be uncertain, make mistakes, and without the net of the Prime Directive, intervene when compelled. Still, the show does a decent job of exploiting these fallacies: Trip gives Ah-nold a run for his money by inadvertently getting pregnant in Unexpected; in the standout The Andorian Incident and Shadows of P'Jem, the crew is caught in Vulcan/Andorian intrigue at the monastery of P'Jem, where the Vulcans are hiding a dangerous secret. The crew also realizes the universe is a dangerous place, and is threatened in the horror-tinged Fight or Flight, and Silent Enemy.

Exploration and first contact dominate, but other staples of Trek are present. Lessons of morality culminate in Dear Doctor, one of the first season's strongest entries; when Doctor Phlox is called on to cure a disease that is wiping out an entire species, he discovers the cure may effect their natural evolution. This is a powerful prophecy of the Prime Directive. It is also an example of Enterprise's shift from plot driven stories to more character driven tales. Tucker and Reed continue the trend in the "bottle show" Shuttlepod One, a strong, superbly acted entry that puts the polar duo in a dire situation. Stuck in a pod with only hours to live, conflict and bonding ensues. As expected, some of the lesser crew members are somewhat overlooked by the writers.

This isn't a terrible start. The all-CGI visuals and sets are gorgeous. The cast is solid and has a good dynamic. But one major problem makes this show even weaker than Voyager at times. We are learning next to nothing about the origins of Trek. In truth, this is not far removed from the forehead-of-the-week formula of series past. The themes of exploration and inexperience are welcome, but why do we need new aliens like the Suliban? What of this somewhat throwaway Temporal Cold War (which really never gets resolved)? Why are we wasting our time on these elements when we could take the smallest bit of unknown backstory from the original series, and make an intriguing tale? Braga and Berman even bring in 24th-century regulars, such as the Ferengi (in the awkward Acquisition). Are we out of ideas already? Future seasons continue this inexplicable trend, but the show improves after the second season.

As we all know, Enterprise has now been cancelled—a first since the original series. It's in the midst of its fourth, final, and best season. Headed by Manny Coto, it has finally learned what to do: trace the origins of Star Trek!

Isn't that what a prequel should be all about?

Disc 1: Broken Bow, Fight or Flight, Strange New World
Disc 2: Unexpected, Terra Nova, The Andorian Incident, Breaking the Ice
Disc 3: Civilization, Fortunate Son, Cold Front, Silent Enemy
Disc 4: Dear Doctor, Sleeping Dogs, Shadows of P'Jem, Shuttlepod One
Disc 5: Fusion, Rogue Planet, Acquisition, Oasis
Disc 6: Detained, Vox Sola, Fallen Hero, Desert Crossing
Disc 7: Two Days and Two Nights, Shockwave Pt. I, Special Features

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Another first for Star Trek, Enterprise was shot and broadcast in 1.78:1 widescreen. While the first three seasons were shot on film, Season Four was shot on HD video. The quality here is decent, but not as good as I expected for such a new show. The image contains some detail, but can appear soft at times. The CGI visuals are crystal clear, contrasting heavily with the occasionally grainy live action footage. These still look very good.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is mostly front centered, and the surrounds are occasionally engaged during action scenes. They are mostly utilized for ambient fill; you'll be hard pressed to find a ton of directional effects. These are good mixes, but not as dynamic as they should be. The original 2.0 tracks are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Borg Invasion 4-D
16 Deleted Scenes
7 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga on Broken Bow
Packaging: Box Set
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Three Easter Egg featurettes, dubbed NX-01 Files
  2. Text commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda
Extras Review: Let's start with the packaging and menus. Season One's seven discs are housed in a book-like arrangement of dark blue plastic disc trays, not unlike the Voyager sets. This is enclosed by a clear plastic slipcover with the crew patch on the front and "Season 1" on the sides. This bit shows through very small openings on the spine of the gray outer case, which is embossed with raised silver lettering on the front, and the crew patch on the back. This is a snazzy looking package, but it's a bit oversized and quite impractical. The menus begin with an animation of Enterprise leaving drydock, and the image transforms into a control panel interface. Classy.

Thankfully, Paramount has put a bit more effort into this set, delivering the kinds of extras fans have been asking for. Disc 1 contains an audio commentary by Berman and Braga on Broken Bow. Their comments are informative and quite subdued, and they defend some of the questionable (and sometimes horrid) choices that were made. The duo covers the infamously gratuitous "decontamination" scene in the pilot. This is a good track, but unfortunately this is the only audio commentary on the set. Michael and Denise Okuda contribute their trademark text commentaries on Broken Bow, The Andorian Incident, and Vox Sola. These are comparable to the info found on previous series DVDs.

We are also treated to 16 deleted scenes, all presented in anamorphic widescreen and Dolby 2.0. These bits are spread throughout the set, paired with their corresponding episode. You will find deleted scenes on Broken Bow, Fight or Flight, Unexpected, Sleeping Dogs, Shuttlepod One, Oasis, Fallen Hero, Two Days and Two Nights, and Shockwave, Part I. Some of these scenes are missing visual effects and have only rough sound mixes, but they're decent quality and contain some intriguing moments.

Now, on to the expected, fluffy featurettes (all 4:3, Dolby 2.0). Creating Enterprise (11m:27s) begins with an awkward intro by Bakula introducing the crew, and goes on to discuss the concept and inception of the show with creators and cast. You will find some nice behind-the-scenes footage of the sets being built.

O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula (09m:30s) is a praise fest for Archer and the actor who plays him by cast and crew, including director LeVar Burton.

Cast Impressions: Season One (12m:25s) resumes the love with comments by the cast about the show, working together, and some on-set hijinks (Blalock is refreshingly candid here, talking about the season's hits and misses).

Inside Shuttlepod One (07m:56s) is a look at one of the season's best episodes, with comments by Braga, Berman, Trinneer, and Keating. This entry was meant to be a money saver, and the result was quite impressive.

Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold Wars and Beyond (08m:11s) is kind of a useless piece that begins with Berman and Braga defending the limp Temporal Cold War. It then turns to a glorified PowerPoint presentation on past episodes and movies that have dealt with time travel (there have been more than a few...).

Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage (05m:13s) is another strange little profile of recurring guest star Vaughn Armstrong (who has played about 10 roles on Trek so far). He begins with a little song to the ravishing females of the franchise, then shares some casting anecdotes. Vaughn seems like a good guy, but I dare you to watch this and not feel uncomfortable.

Enterprise Secrets (01m:59s) is one of the shorter, yet more interesting pieces. It takes a look at the low-tech aspects of the show's setpieces. You get to see the tinfoil and wood that lines the inside of the warp core, and how plastic funnels make the replicators work. More of these are promised for future sets.

The best featurette is Enterprise Outtakes (09m:03s), a collection of flubs from the show. There are some real gems here, including Phlox dishing out some coarse language, Archer violating the "no tobacco" law in Starfleet, Trip wanting to say "Captain and Tennille" instead of "Captain and T'Pol," technobabble problems, and more. Very funny stuff.

Some additional bits: you will find a trailer for the Borg Invasion 4-D ride in Las Vegas (there is also a coupon enclosed for the attraction), three easily accessible easter eggs (mini-featurettes dubbed NX-01 Files, found on the Special Features menus), and a nice booklet with an episode guide and some background info on the show.

I applaud Paramount for putting forth more effort this time around. The deleted scenes, commentaries and bloopers are great, but the featurettes are still too fluffy and promotional, and don't really give a fan too much new info to chew on.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Armed with a fresh, exciting concept that promised to trace the origins of the Star Trek universe, Enterprise should have soared. Instead, we are left with some entertaining sci-fi that gets bogged down in unnecessary subplots. Heck, I still enjoy it, and I'll still recommend it. I'm more loyal than Archer's beagle Porthos. Season One has some strong themes of exploration and inexperience, but the series doesn't really take off till Season Three. Paramount has sweetened the deal with some great extras, snazzy packaging, and good a/v quality. Just get ready to mute the opening credits.

 


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