Season Three

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:  September 27, 2005

"I was instructing him in the practice of Vulcan neuropressure. How Commander Tucker was hoping to modify them. They were helping him sleep.”
"What do you mean? Was there ever anything between you and Trip?”
"If you are referring to a romantic relationship... no.”
"The reason I ask is... well... you're all I think about, if you know what I mean. And, I'm not talking about an adolescent crush. That was... well, that was two days ago. This is much more serious, the way I feel about you. Anyway, what's driving me crazy is, I don't know if these feelings are mine... or his.”
"I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”
"I'm not uncomfortable.”
"I just thought I should tell you this, while I still had the chance.”

Show ***1/2

The third season of Star Trek Enterprise is unique because most of the season revolves around the threat posed by the five-species Xindi culture.  Their mission is to destroy Earth, and our brave crew has to be the first starship ever to deal with such a large-scale threat.  Paramount had asked the producers to crank the show up a notch or two this time around.  This was a normal request for this team, who created and wrote many memorable chapters of Stark Trek lore but often forgot that what the original series so memorable was that the Earth (or in some cases the galaxy) were in danger and that sometimes Star Fleet officers had to get dirty when fighting enemies and trample on regulations to get the job done..  

Season Three succeeds in upping the stakes by putting Captain Archer and his crew in harm’s way and forcing him to torture aliens and even steal from them to further his mission, which revives the age-old moral dilemma of the end justifying the means and (of course) whether the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.  A culture of terrorism also permeates the season’s stories, which were written in the years soon after 9/11 and while the writers deny a link, events in the world often influence writers and artists more than they realize. 

Highlights of the season include “Harbinger” which features complex fight and dialogue scenes as well as perhaps the first butt shot in the whole series (and a Vulcan one at that!)  It also features Steven Culp (well known as Bobby Kennedy in Thirteen Days and the doomed Rex in Desperate Housewives).  “Similitude,” from which the above quote is taken, shows Trip being injured so seriously that he has to be cloned, and his clone struggles with identity and his feelings for a Vulcan.  “Carpenter Street” introduces a visit from the distant future warning Captain Archer of timeline problems due to the Xindi.  “Damage” features Archer stealing from another vessel when he feels he has no chance, but strands them in space.  “The Forgotten” shows T’Pol experimenting with a drug which unleashes her emotions, to which she eventually becomes addicted.   And of course the season ends with another excellent cliffhanger, “Zero Hour,” which supposedly the producers had no idea how to end…or so they said at the time….

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 usual highlight reel of Season Three moves along briskly and is an excellent introduction to the season as a whole.  Prior to that, though, is the excellent Xindi Saga Begins which explains the unique arc of this season.  This set’s profile is on Connor Trinneer, who plays the tough southern man Tripp, who combines Captain Kirk’s macho side with Dr. McCoy’s snide attitude and impatience with stupidity.  This character is especially interesting, and it was wise to put his profile in this third set, because he lost his sister in an alien attack on Earth.  In season two he spends several episodes trying to deal with his emotions and coping with his duties on the ship.  This reminds me of the grief any military, police or fire and rescue person must deal with when a comrade is lost.  This is also consistently with the “peaceful military” approach of the whole Star Trek milieu.  In this series, this grief led to insomnia, which T’Pol treated with special massages, and…well, things happen when attractive Vulcans who are not used to dealing with emotions massage macho southern men who enjoy playing with knobs!  Trinneer also discusses the challenge of playing a clone of Tripp in “Similarities,” being buried alive in sand, and the mechanics of shower love scenes with T’Pol.   

A Day in the Life of A Director: Roxann Dawson features the actress who played the passionate and obstinate half-Klingon engineer B’Lanna Torres on the Voyager episode and makes us appreciate the work that directors have to do. 

Summary :

It takes talent to make a season-long story arc work, and Stark Trek Enterprise continues to break new ground in its third season.  Enterprise excelled this season but unfortunately unfavorable time slots and apathy from anyone other than serious Trek fans doomed it to low ratings.   But thanks to DVD magic we can now enjoy the season uninterrupted anytime we wish.  Enjoy!

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