This is the review of Star Trek Enterprise season 1 Blu-ray that was released about a week ago. I expect the other seasons to be released every three or four months or so. That means the entire show of just four season will be available in about a year. The show’s Blu-ray return is perhaps not as highly anticipated as the TNG remastering but it is more established with fewer noticeable ‘bad’ episodes. This more formalistic approach does come at the cost of creativity.
Enterprise season 1 aired originally from 2001 to 2002 and featured the following actors….
Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer.
Jolene Blalock as Sub-commander T’Pol.
Connor Trinneer as Charles Tucker (chief engineer).
Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed (tactical).
Linda Park as Hoshi Sato (communications).
Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather (helm).
John Billingsley as Dr Phlox.
Enterprise is a prequel show to Star Trek TNG, DS9 and Voyager and is set in the 22nd century. As such it deals with a universe that is less established. It’s characters interact more with their surroundings than they ever did on any previous Star Trek show. Enterprise thus puts its focus more on character development than special effects. The latter are top-notch so the show is also a feast to the eyes. The story’s basic premise is that of Captain Archer commanding the first human efforts to explore the universe. This goes against the objections of the Vulcans. This premise felt a bit improbable to most fans but they came to accept it. The show’s inevitable ending after just four seasons does cast a bit of a shadow on this Blu-ray outing.
Star Trek Enterprise or simply Enterprise is of course the one show of the franchise in recent memory to be cancelled. I am not here to debate where it went wrong. Most fans would agree the rot set in with Voyager and that Enterprise probably even did better than that show. The reason I write this review is that Enterprise despite it’s four seasons has remained in the consciousness of many fans. This is shown in recent suggestions to revive the show with using crowd-funding such as Kickstarter.
If you’re new to Enterprise or just have been a casual fan you may be asking… Is this set worth the 65 dollars? Personally I think so. Especially as the show continued to improve until it was cancelled at the end of its fourth season.
If you’re a hardcore fan of Star Trek you will pick up the Blu-ray release and simply forgive the few instances of it flirting with the official franchise canon. Despite the best efforts of the creative staff Enterprise remained firmly rooted in the formalistic nature of Star Trek at a time when shows like 24 and later Lost challenged the format. Sometime ago the first rumors of a new Star Trek TV show emerged (and strengthened recently by Ronald Moore). The wish list made by fans couldn’t be more different from the previous shows.
Overall, the episodes of this season are mostly very solid and well thought out. Enterprise manages to flirt with drama and comedy more effectively than any previous Star Trek show. Only some flirting with the official Star Trek canon sometimes distract. If you’re keen to read more on why Enterprise got canceled and where the Star Trek franchise went wrong, than I recommend you read an earlier article from this blog that you can find here (Why was Enterprise cancelled?).
Suggested episodes to cherry pick.
First I will discuss two personal favorites and then three that fans have come to form an agreement on.
Detained; perhaps not the best episode as it is a bit of a ‘bottle’ show but the transfer does justice to high level of drama. The interaction between Dean Stockwell and Scott Bakula harkens back to Quantum Leap. For Dean Stockwell his character of Colonel Grat almost seems like a prototype for brother Cavil in Battlestar Galactica.
Acquisition; widely regarded by fans to have overstepped the line because it involves the Ferengi race before they were discovered in TNG. The episode is nonetheless a good laugh because of its light-hearted nature. It noticeably spoofs Jolene Blalock’s reason for being on the show (!).
The Andorian Incident; this episode establishes the Andorian race very well and puts Archer up against the Vulcan’s. The episode also stars Jeffrey Combs in one of his many effective Star Trek characters (Brunt, Weyoun and now Shran).
Dear Doctor; the Enterprise stumbles across a civilization that is slowly becoming extinct. Captain Archer must decide whether he will give them Warp technology to save themselves as treatment of another race on the same planet is raising serious ethical questions.
Shockwave, Part 1; the seasons finale is an effective ‘whodunit’ that luckily doesn’t delve too much into past events to be called a clip show. The episode marks one of the last major attempts by the Vulcans to stop the Enterprise mission once and for all.
The HD transfer in 1080p look absolutely great. As with the Next Generation transfers they add considerably to the experience of rewatching the show. That said, it is not quite up to the same level as TNG because the transfer hasn’t been remastered. Instead it is a transfer from film to the digital format which leaves some granularity that I didn’t notice with TNG. The seasons special effect were originally shot in 720p and then scaled up for this transfer. This leaves them often with lots of granularity and artifacts that can at times distract. Overall, the transfer adds a new vibe to the show similar to the TNG Blu-ray experience safe for a few minor points. The series opener ‘Broken Bow parts 1 and 2’ have slight film edges at the sides and noticeable granularity with the former disappearing in later episodes.
I couldn’t find a flaw with the audio. Enterprise of course started airing just over ten years ago and the audio was digitally recorded. So it is top-notch. As it is DTS-HD MA 5.1 the experience is noticeably more interactive than TNG with its stereo sound.
To be honest, you don’t buy a Blu-ray disc set of a ten-year old show to see the extra’s. You can do that for Star Trek The Next Generation because its first two season have a noticeable murky history. That said, if you want extra’s than you are going to get extra’s. The Blu-ray set comes with the usual commentaries and deleted scenes as well as a featurette formally introducing the franchise. The on-set feature is by far the most exciting thing for fans as it does give a glimpse into world previously little seen. The extra’s are fluffed up with those detailing various technologies of the future and background documentation on Scott Bakula.
For 65 dollars (at the time of writing) you get a very solid Star Trek outing that definitely leaves you wanting more. Enterprise was perhaps in 2001 not the most creative TV show so if you’re looking for out of the box thinking than you’re going to be slightly disappointed. The transfer is solid and so is the audio. The extra’s are many but perhaps a bit superfluous. The HD transfer adds to the drama just like the TNG remastering does. As such makes for a good rewatch for those fans who have already seen the show.
Score; 8.5 / 10.