As the series finale of Star Trek The Next Generation tells us ‘All good things come to an end’. And so has the last Star Trek series, after only 4 seasons it was cancelled in 2005. The show had a fantastic last 2 season but viewer fatigue and a lack of innovation meant it got cut short just when things started to get interesting. Star Trek had been steadily dropping in ratings since DS9 and Voyager which makes the course that was set with Enterprise all the more ludicrous. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed rewatching the series on Blu-ray, the 1080p visual do add to the experience. Season 4 was memorable with its short story arcs that lasted 2 or 3 episodes. It was an improvement for those viewers who didn’t like the Xindi story arc that lasted for a whole season the year before. With the short story arcs the procedural elements that had become stale could be hidden and the show could focus on more meaningful drama.
I myself remember vividly the three-episode arc on the planet Vulcan. The relationship between T’Pol and Tucker was fleshed out through characterization instead of seeing them get naked every episode or so for ratings during season 3. The three-episode arc involving The Augments that saw the guest appearance of Brent Spiner as Dr Arik Soong gave me the chills and reminded me a lot of The Wrath of Khan. I cannot think of higher praise. There more gems such as these during season 4 but some fans can’t look beyond how the show ended. With a sense of irony the guest appearance of Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis came in what is regarded one of the worst Star Trek episodes ever, it also happened to be the show finale. Most fans will readily agree that this final episode entitled ‘These Are the Voyages…’ should never have aired.
And so I come to the review of this Blu-ray edition of Season 4. It is absolutely fine in my opinion. I have been looking forward to this perhaps even more than I was of the season 3 Blu-ray release. Though I will skip the last episode, I have watched it once in 2005 and I can’t just bare to watch it again. Enterprise season 4 can bought from Amazon at a rather steep $74.96 or from a European website for mere 39.99 euro’s. For a review of the first season of Enterprise on Blu-ray click on the link.
The principal cast are…
- Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)
- T’Pol (Jolene Blalock)
- Charles “Trip” Tucker III (Connor Trinneer)
- Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating)
- Hoshi Sato (Linda Park)
- Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery)
- Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley)
Suggested episodes to cherry pick.
As the season deals mostly with short story arcs there seems little point in picking out the top individual episodes as you would either miss the introduction or the conclusion.
Augment arc; the three episodes dealing with the augmented genetically engineered soldiers from the time of Khan starts with episode 4 ‘Borderlands’. Brent Spiner plays Dr Arik Soong, a scientist who has revived the embryos of the augments in the present day to try and convince that they are not harmful. The story arc is a chilling reminder of The Wrath of Khan. It also stars Alec Newman whom most will remember as Paul Atreides from the Dune and Children of Dune miniseries.
Vulcan arc; there are three episodes starting with episode 7 ‘The Forge’ that finally lift the mystery of the Vulcans that persisted throughout the series. Jonathan Archer has to deal with a Vulcan society that has been infiltrated by the Romulans. The Romulan threat will persists through the entire season.
In a Mirror Darkly Part 1 and 2; this is set as you might guess in the mirror universe. Archer and his crew are part of The Empire, a xenophobic conquering race that happens to stumble upon the Enterprise commanded by James T. Kirk. The two episodes are complete with the cast wearing authentic TOS uniforms with many fans happy to see Jolene Blalock as T’Pol wearing a skirt uniform. I myself found Linda Park wearing bear midriff shirts. Her character becoming Empress Hoshi Sato by the end of the story arc was an unexpected cliffhanger.
The visuals for this season of Enterprise are top notch, as can be expected from the last ever Star Trek show that aired from 2004 to 2005. This season was also filmed digitally to cut costs and as such there is far less film grain. Such film grain were still noticeable during season 1 and this bears testament to continued production improvements. Somehow I always imagine season 3 with its Xindi plotlines to be very dark in colour. It is true that there were more space shots and dark interiors during season 3, season 4 offers on contrast a lot more colours. The production crew used vivid set decors and the actors clothing are also memorably bright and colourful. As such season 4 has managed to create a distinct visual style that makes me wonder what they could have achieved with a fifth season. The Blu-ray transfer is in 1080p High Definition at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I do not believe that the show was remastered like TNG is for its Blu-ray release as at time there small black boxes at the edges, they are of course not noticeable while viewing on a screen but taking some screenshots for this review did highlight some of them.
Below you can watch a video from TrekCore that compares the Blu-ray release with the DVD release.
There is not much to say about the audio, its top-notch as can be expected of a show only ten years old. The audio recording is in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 meaning there is the possibility for surround sound, sadly the occasion are few for this to be truly used properly but there were occasions such as during space battles when it seemed properly used.
The extra’s that came packaged with this season are unusual, during the previous Blu-ray releases most of the documentaries were lifted straight from the DVD release, but I guess that because this was the concluding season for a controversial show that wouldn’t have sufficed. Below you can find an overview of the extra’s to be found on this disc set.
- Archival Mission Logs and Commentaries;
- Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise (HD); This documentary is actually a series of small interviews with the principal cast. Most of the stuff discussed has been said before but there are a number of gems.
- Deleted Scenes on Select Episodes;
- In Conversation: Writing Star Trek: Enterprise (HD); this documentary is a roundtable consisting of most of the creative staff including Brannon Braga who shows up 20 minutes late. They go into quite a amount of detail of the troubles surrounding Enterprise. Apparently season 3 was supposed to be its last and few counted on a fourth season.
- Newly Recorded Audio Commentaries on Select Episodes
It is a sad occasion writing about the last season of Enterprise. A season that reminded some more of The Original Series than any of the other shows or even the movies. In my opinion there should have been a fifth season, doing a sixth or even a seventh was never really a possibility. However, it appears we are lucky to get even 4 seasons. Watching this Blu-Ray release is a bittersweet experience as it is so dammed good and yet it is a very much the end of the line. Star Trek will be back, a third movie with Chris Pine is in the works and a new TV-series has been rumored for some time. That show could learn from Enterprise’s fourth season, ditch the procedural storytelling!
Score; 9 / 10. A few bad apple episodes prevent this release from getting the full whack. Be sure to shop around for a good price!