It is tragic that the fourth year of Enterprise would be its last. More tragic is the fact that in the fall of 2005 for the first time in almost 20 years there would be no new Star Trek on the air. By far the worst tragedy, however, was the fact that year four of Enterprise was the year it all came together. This is by far the best overall season of Star Trek since The Next Generation. The addition of writer Many Cuto was the spark this fledgling franchise needed. With the exception of the final episode, these 2-4 eposode arcs were for the most part quite fresh and inspired. Brent Spiner’s portrayal of an early Dr. Soong is perhaps his best Trek role to date. Finally, elements of several Trek incarnations come together in a way that doesn’t rip the continuity to shreds. The Mirror double episode was brilliant. I sat down to watch it for the first time with a friend recently and was struck by the creativity it brought to the series. This is the season to get even if you haven’t really followed Enterprise at all. You will be impressed.
Earth is finally ready to send its first starship to explore the vast galaxy. This first Starship Enterprise is smaller than the ships we’ve become used to. There are no shields or photon torpedoes. The transporter has only been cleared for inanimate objects. Not that this stands in the way of its occasional “emergency” use. The crew is composed of Captain Jonathan Archer (Bakula), First Officer and Vulcan High Command liaison, T’Pol (Blalock), Chief Engineer Charles (Trip) Tucker (Trinneer), Tactical Officer Malcolm Reed (Keating), Denobulan Dr. Phlox (Billingsly), Pilot Travis Mayweather (Montgomery) and Linguist/Communications Officer Hoshi Sato (Park).
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is pretty comparable to the previous Star Trek entries on DVD. Sadly, there is not a lot of separation. Ambient sounds tend to mix mostly in the mains, while dialogue flourishes well defined in the center. There seem to be more explosions on this show, and they do at times push your subs to make their presence heard. There are a couple of commentaries, but mostly support staff.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 – Perfect for 16×9 screens. I must say I was extremely pleased with the video. The original broadcasts were always too dark and grainy. These transfers eliminate most of those annoying broadcast defects to deliver a stunning image. Darkness still dominates the overall look and feel of the show, but now these darks contain detail and excellent levels of shadow. Colors are quite vivid. Explosions provide a veritable brilliance fest against the dark star fields. Contrast was never better.
The packaging is identical to the first year design. All of the features can be found on the 7th disc of the set with the exception being a handful of deleted scenes scattered throughout the set.
- “Links To The Legacy”: Fans will appreciate the nice touches that bind the 5 series together. This is a risky feature given how many times Enterprise has thumbed its nose at continuity.
- “That’s A Wrap” Enterprise is gone. Move along. Nothing else to see here. The series wrap party is covered in this feature.
- “Visual f/x Magic”: 15 minutes of production looks at the various f/x and designs for the series.
- “Enterprise Secrets”: OK, you won’t find anything resembling a secret here. It’s a game of Where’s Waldo. Many production and support staff find their way into scenes of the show.
- “Inside The Mirror Episode”: This really was one of the most imaginative things Trek’s done in many years. This is a fitting look at the creation of that great moment in Star Trek history. I’m not sure I like the CG Gorn, but it was a nice touch just the same, as “Arena” happens to be one of my favorite Original Series episodes.
- “Enterprise Moments Season 4”: Pretty much a continuation of the series started in season 1. The look and feel of the show changed in year 4, and you’ll see the process here.
- “Outtakes”: A short and somewhat humorous feature.
- Of course, there are production notes and galleries to round out a solid set of extras.
And so like all things good or bad, Trek has come to an untimely end. Will there be more Star Trek? The answer is undoubtedly there will be. It won’t be soon. If the powers that be at Paramount use that time to examine what makes Trek work, it will be a good thing. Likely the show will come back at a time Paramount needs a quick shot in the arm, and it will be a rushed affair. Hopefully Rick Berman will not be invited back. It’s time to see what the franchise would be like under new leadership. As was the case with the original films, it’s time to turn the helm over to a Trek alumnus. Patrick Stewart or Levar Burton, perhaps George Takei. Finally, I should say a word about how much the final episode was a slap in the face to all fans. Tie-ins are fun at times, but this was not a proper or respectful sendoff to the crew of this series. Most of the actors have spoken out about how hurt they were by the finale. I agree. This was a Next Generation episode, and not a very good one at that. A shame that a show with such potential, finally being realized, had to end, but to end on such a sour note after such a strong year? Still, “I’ve got faith of the heart.”