Season 2

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Connor Trinneer, Linda Park, Anthony Montgomery, Dominic Keating, Jolene Blalock, John Billingsley, Scott Bakula
Audio:  Dolby 5.1, 2.0
Video:  Color, Closed Captioned, Widescreen
Studio:  Paramount Home Video
Features:  See Review
Running time:  Seven Discs
Release date: July 26, 2005 

“Commander, are you feeling alright?”
“People are gossiping, T'Pol. Malcolm thinks we are doing more than neural pressure.”
“We are both senior officers. If we were pursuing a romantic relationship, it wouldn't be Lieutenant Reed's concern, would it?”
“I suppose not.”
“Shall we continue?”

Shows ***1/2

Before I launch into my review, let me mention how grateful I am that these DVDs are each marked with the episodes they contain in an easily readable horizontal font.  Voyager DVDs are of high quality except that the episode lists on each disc are almost impossible to read since they are curved around the center of the disc.  Paramount did it better this time, and I forgot to mention this in my review of Season One.  Thank you to the Paramount employee who made this change. 

Sometimes science fiction seems superfluous in our modern age when things change so rapidly and technology is as much of a stressor as a time-saver.  With the everyday reports of violence, the conquest of space seems so irrelevant when we can’t even stop random violence and war on our own world.  This is especially dampening to the apocalyptic side of sci-fi since even when the story has a happy ending we have to bear the misery of getting there.  The Star Trek mythology included a third world war,  but violence only seemed to ebb after that cataclysm.  When Earth made first contact with the Vulcans, violence also seemed to abate. 

The true history of the modern world does not support that colonialism or discovering that we are not alone causes peace, wisdom, or understanding at all.  But in the Star Trek world, Earth is a calm and peaceful home where resources are used wisely and space exploration is the noblest of callings, not an insane, daring, and usually unsuccessful and unprofitable way to spend your time as most New World explorations were.  And that is largely the pull of the series.

For the first time in many years there are no new shows or movies planned in this series.  Together with the conclusion of the Star Wars pre-trilogy and the Lord of the Rings, this leaves a tremendous void in the future of futuristic tales.  

It is a shame that Enterprise never caught on as well as its predecessors, with its excellent cast and continuously developing and improving writing.  But it could be said that everyone is holding their breath, waiting for “the next big thing.”  Indeed, I refused to jump on the Next Generation bandwagon because I assumed it could not top the original.  But I am glad I relented and watched some of that excellent series and I hope more DVD viewers will take a chance on Enterprise. 

Season Two continues to provide the usual Star Trek storylines but with more romance and even beer-drinking!  And the captain actually….dare I say it….gets angry and throws punches now and then!   “Bounty” is a showcase for Jolene Blaylock.  She becomes infected with a microbe which prematurely triggers “Pon Far,” the Vulcan mating impulse, while she is in decontamination with the doctor, who professes to be more sexually inhibited than females of his species.  It is hilarious to watch him smear medicine on T’Pol while she is barely dressed and saying “you have no idea what you are refusing yourself.”  Whew! 

We also see the conclusion of the excellent season one cliffhanger “Shockwave” and its establishment of the temporal cold war.  Linda Park also joins the ranks of space babes and she literally lets her hair down, dons some gym clothes and runs around trying to find herself in “Vanishing Point.”  Yoshi is an interesting character because she was basically a linguist recruited by the captain without necessarily even volunteering for a starship, a very original kind of character.   “Dead Stop” forces the ship to allow itself to be fixed by an alien robot that may be haunted.   “The Expanse,” which is this season’s cliffhanger, includes thoughtful deleted scenes with Captain Archer that are well worth watching.  I wish somehow they could have been watched in sequence with the rest of the episode.  

There are several other excellent episodes in this season.  “Carbon Creek” features Jolene Blalock playing T’Pol’s great-grandmother, who with some other Vulcans crashes onto Earth while investigating Sputnik.  One of the Vulcans is interested in learning all about humans, and becomes interested in television and a human female.  He decides to go back to the wrecked ship since he can get better reception using its antennae.  When the others object, he insists on watching television because “I Love Lucy” is on! 

One of the interviews with the creators reveals that they felt if they could make the Vulcans interesting again, they will have done their job.  I think they succeeded.  So much screen time has been given to other aliens, especially the boorish Klingons, but we know very little of Vulcan culture.  At least half of the Enterprise episodes reveal something about the Vulcans and how they first interacted with humanity, and this alone makes the series worthwhile. 

Video ****

This is another excellent transfer from Paramount without any splotching or other problems even though most of the lighting is low.  I forgot to mention in my prior review that the episodes are in widescreen.

Audio ****

While the rear channels are used minimally, the mix of music and dialogue is clear and well engineered as we have come to expect from Star Trek releases.

Features ****

The retrospective on Season Two is excellent, and serves as a trailer for the whole series because it highlights the best plot lines just enough to whet the viewer’s appetite. 

One of the best features is a profile of the Jolene Blaylock, who discusses her background and training in preparing for the role.  While Blaylock is a talented and beautiful actress, she often speaks in a quiet, depressed, and cold tone of voice instead of the cool, intelligent voice Leonard Nimoy and Mark Lenard mastered.  She does a more than adequate job of portraying this complex character for the most part. 

Another good feature is about director LeVar Burton, who has the distinction of having directed at least one episode of each series other than the original and of course was Geordi LaForge in Next Generation.. 

Inside “A Night in Sickbay” goes behind the scenes of that excellent episode, which was what all in Trekdom call a “ship episode” which can be shot on a low budget.  These episodes present challenges for the writers since few special effects can be used, though in this episode we have a CGI bat which looks real right down to its hairs. 

“Enterprise Secrets” is a discussion of set designs and compares those of Klingon Penal colonies in the various Star Trek movies and episodes.

There is also an “outtakes” gallery which is fun, a photo gallery, and a “Borg Invasion” Vegas ride trailer.

Summary :

Enterprise continues to evolve and break new ground in its second season and is highly recommended for any serious TV watcher or Star Trek fan.

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