Plot: What’s it about?
This year saw the end of two great franchises. The first ended with a bang, the other with a whimper. The bang I speak of comes from the much beloved Star Wars franchise. The third film in George Lucas’ prequel trilogy shocked and dazzled most audiences and proved that there really was a point to the prequel series. The whimper, on the other hand, comes from Star Trek. Over 30 years of franchise history under it’s belt and somehow, the fans just disappeared.
To be honest, I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Star Trek T.V. shows beyond ‘The Original Series’. The shows were fun occasionally, but I found them to be too soap operatic for my tastes. Rather than fulfilling Gene Roddenberry’s vision as a space age western (Joss Whedon’s Firefly did a great job at capturing this idea), the show slumped into cheesy melodrama, thanks to executive producer Rick Berman. Berman never watched the old series before taking over and thus he didn’t really have an idea of what he was doing. Sure, ‘The Next Generation’ was a huge success, but that success had to end sometime (Star Trek: Nemesis comes to mind).
Enterprise is a very disappointing death rattle for the Star Trek franchise. It’s, by far, the weakest of the Berman produced shows, trading in good characters, fun and fast paced action sequences and memorable moments for pop-infused socio-sexual imagery. In other words, the show enjoyed showing off the voluptuous bodes it’s female stars more than it enjoyed being a space odyssey.
Now granted, there are a few gems among the rough. Enterprise does have its high moments starting during the second season and continuing. The show only gets better from here, but never seems to lose its pumped up sex driven stature. Even the show’s opening theme song, which I know has nothing to do with sex, seems more pop driven than Trek driven. It seems like producer Rick Berman wants, very desperately, to find something new to attract a newer, younger and hotter audience, but he loses more and more hardcore fans with every new attempt at cashing in on the current mainstream.
If I’m not mistaken Star Trek was never about the mainstream. Just watch Trekkies and you’ll see my point. Sure the movies fared well in the theaters, but Trek was about an ideology; Gene Roddenberry’s ideology. It was this root that sprouted in fans and grew over time and it was this root that was severed so tragically by Enterprise.
Video: How does it look?
“Star Trek: Enterprise” is shown in a great-looking anamorphic transfer that faithfully re-creates the 1.78:1 aspect ratio (as shown on television). Unlike the earlier season sets like “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine” which were full-frame, we really get more of a sense of feeling and depth here. The transfers reflect the somewhat grittiness and the blue hues that tend to dominate don’t detract from the video quality in the least. Paramount got the hint with “Star Trek: Voyager” and has done a fine job since then. “Star Trek: Enterprise” fans are rejoicing as this final season of the series looks better than ever.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and just like the previous seasons, the audio is fairly complete here, surrounds kick in at the right times and though it’s not the greatest soundtrack in the world (keep in mind, these were made for TV and not movies), the track is robust enough to get you into the show a little more. Dialogue is very clean and natural. While the majority of the action being located in the front channels, it’s hard to say that this is a “strong” track, but for what its intended to be, the audio here sounds very good.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Extras Review: The collection of special features on this set is similar to the previous three seasons. The packaging and menu designs are the same, as is the disc art. There’s an insert that contains an episode guide, as well as a brief introduction to Season Four, chronicling the exploits of the previous season. There’s also an essay that delves into the various examples of genetic manipulation featured on various Trek shows.
The majority of the extras can be found on Disc 6, but there are some episode-specific supplements. For Storm Front, Part I there is one deleted scene (02m:37s) with some nice jokes about Orson Welles and a quiet moment between Archer and one of the resistance leaders. The Aenar also contains a deleted scene (00m:45s), which shows the Romulans in the face of defeat. The third and final deleted scene is from In a Mirror Darkly, Part II (02m:19s) and features more of Archer’s speech to his troops. None of these scenes are essential to stories, so they were wisely cut out.
Other episode-centric features include audio and text commentaries. On The Forge, Trek veterans Michael and Denise Okuda provide a text commentary, which they also do on In a Mirror Darkly, Part II and These are the Voyages…, with information about the episodes and tons of references to other series. Like in their previous efforts, they seem to point out some obvious facts and offer only some occasional insight about the various episode productions. Writer Mike Sussman and startrek.com editorial director Tom Gaskill provide audio commentaries on Through a Mirror Darkly, Part I and Part II. They talk about difficulties in the production and different ideas about using the “mirror universe.” Nothing discussed is too in-depth, but they still record a pleasant commentary. Gaskill also teams up with screenwriters Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens for an audio commentary on Terra Prime. The three strike an amiable, conversational tone and sprinkle in some discussion about the themes of the episode, also. None of the commentaries is exceptional, but they’re all enjoyable.
On Disc 6, there is a collection of featurettes and documentaries. Enterprise Moments (16m:22s) contains interviews with Scott Bakula, Connor Trinneer, Manny Coto, and others who discuss the last season of the show. Coto explains his difficulty resolving the Season Three cliffhanger and the ideas behind doing various story arcs throughout the fourth season. All of the participants here seem to have enjoyed their work on the show and display a real appreciation for the fans. Inside “The Mirror” Episodes (15m:41s) discusses the various ideas tossed around for the two episodes, as well as continuity problems. Manny Coto claims the original intention was to bring William Shatner back, though I’ll leave it Trekkies to decide whether that was a good idea or not. Much attention is paid here to recreating the original sets, along with all the various problems that entails.
Enterprise Secrets (05m:41s) takes a look on the set of the final scene of the final episode. The cast and crew are joking around and seem to be a nice bunch, though the featurette is too brief to learn much of anything. Following that is Visual Effects Magic (13m:25s), which shows animatics and final shots of the various CGI shots in the show. They discuss the evolution of CGI characters during their four season run and how to make visual effects involving previous series remain true to the source, while not appearing dated. This is a nice, concise look at the art of visual effects. Another featurette, That’s a Wrap (08m:59s), takes us through the show’s wrap party, with various cast and crew members discussing what it means to them, showing a nice sense of family. The final featurette is Links to the Legacy (04m:25s), with the Reeves-Stevens’ discussing the various links they made to other series in the realm of Trek.