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STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE
Season One

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
Studio:  Paramount Home Video
Features:  See Review
Running time:  Seven Discs
Release date: May 3, 2005 

"How much longer?"

"Until you've proven you're ready."

"Ready to what?"

"To look beyond your provincial attitudes and your volatile nature."

"Volatile?  You have no idea how much I'm restraining myself from knocking you on your ass!"

Show ***1/2

Meet Captain John Archer, the first captain of the first Enterprise in this prequel series.  Scott Bakula of Quantum Leap fame is excellent and convincing as a cocky, ambitious and brave Greek hero much like James T. Kirk.  He has just looked on a Klingon for the first time and admonished his future science office, a Vulcan (played by the voluptuous Jolene Blalock), to lighten up. 

This series features another excellent pilot in which humanity meets its first Klingon when he crashes into a corn field in Oklahoma and Captain Archer uses this as an excuse to launch Enterprise.  He even brings his beagle on board for the journey!  The universal translator does not work half the time, so a linguist is on board.  Well, duh...why didn't we have one on every ship?

Somehow this whole series seems more American, more immediate, and since they are flying by the seat of their pants most of the time---just as most expeditions always have---it seems more believable.  The transporter scares everyone to death, never having been used on living things before, and supplies don't show up half the time.     The first season concludes with an excellent part one (much like Voyager often ended its seasons) of Shockwave, an incredible journey into an apocalyptic future which shows what can happen when bad time travel happens to good people. 

Interestingly, while the Vulcans helped humanity improve their technology in order to explore the stars, they also forced the humans to take things slowly, and this enormous tension shows in every episode.  The Vulcans seem to relish their intellectual superiority and their status as untouchable ambassadors, much like bishops in the middle ages.  Naturally humanity wants to move ahead and not be told what to do.

This is the first Star Trek series to have a pop song as its opening instead of an orchestral suite.  The opening sequence also features actual footage of our moon shots and other space journeys which segue nicely into Star Trek footage of Cochran's ship launching.  These images combined with the pop tune make us feel like this is only a few years away instead of pure futuristic fantasy.  The behind the scenes featurettes show how the set was intentionally built smaller than other starships, and video screens actually look like video screens.  The whole ship and their missions seem basic and primitive, which is largely the point. 

Set early in the 22nd century, 150 years before James T. Kirk helmed the famous starship.  There really is no Federation yet and Starfleet is in its infancy.  Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, longtime chieftains of the "Star Trek" franchise, are the executive producers and so we can expect a continuance of high quality but maybe not the magical daring we have hoped would return to the franchise. On the other hand, this first season contains plenty of Vulcans denying their own emotions, a crewman having an unexpected child with an alien, and even romance and---gasp!---sex!  Who thought Berman and Braga would allow that, since we hardly ever saw it in Voyager?

The packaging is excellent and superior to that provided for the Voyager collection.  The discs are in a sturdy one-piece plastic holder protected in a plastic sleeve, but this entire package is then encased in a thick gray plastic holder which resembles a futuristic carrying case. 

Episode list: Broken Bow; Fight or Flight; Strange New World; Unexpected; Terra Nova;  The Andorian Incident;  Breaking the Ice;  Civilization;  Fortunate Son;  Cold Front;  Silent Enemy;  Dear Doctor;  Sleeping Dogs; Shadows of P'Jem;  Shuttlepod One;  Fusion; Rogue Planet;  Acquisition;  Oasis;  Detained;  Vox Sola;  Fallen Hero;  Desert Crossing
Archer; Two Days and Two Nights;   Shockwave part I.  

Video ****

Another excellent transfer from Paramount without any splotching or other problems even though most of the lighting is low. 

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 ****

For once we don't get just a whole class on special effects but instead we learn about how the show came to be and how the cast and crew click.  The pilot has both an audio commentary and a text commentary.  Other features include Creating Enterprise; O Captain! My Captain! A profile of Scott Bakula (who by all accounts is a super-swell guy); Cast Impressions: Season One; Inside Shuttlepod One; Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold Wars and Beyond (some logic to the time line and time travel finally! It contains detailed lists of when the Enterprise and other vessels have traveled through time and shows the consistency of the consequences---or lack thereof---in Trek time travel); Enterprise Secrets (behind the scenes); Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage; Enterprise Outtakes.

Summary:

While it only lasted four seasons, Enterprise is a fitting exploration of some of the expeditions and conditions which eventually led to Captain James T. Kirk and company.  This may be the last Star Trek series ever, so savor Captain Archer's early steps into the unknown...

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