I do not consider myself a Trekkie or Trekker even though I do enjoy the Star Trek television shows and movies a great deal. Some more than others, obviously, and often for varying reasons, I found. With "Star Trek: Enterprise" Paramount has produced the fifth television series - and so far, the last - in the Star Trek universe that has sadly been the most short-lived of them all. Unjustly so, I strongly suggest, as it is easily outperforming "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager" in my book.
Set one hundred years before the original "Star Trek" series, "Enterprise" shows us mankind entering deep space for the very first time. The "U.S.S. Enterprise" is the first warp-driven space ship that man has built, and its crew members have no idea what to expect when they take the ship out into the skies to explore new worlds and make contact with new civilizations. The sense of innocence and curiosity that comes from this first exploration permeates the entire show, and that alone makes it well worth watching. These are not the veteran deep space mariners who have done it all, seen it all, been in touch with aliens for generations and to whom space travel is as natural as drinking their milk.
The setup also makes for some great dynamics among the cast of characters that is assembled on board the Enterprise, and those they meet on their journeys. It is a very multi-facetted mix, and I found it very interesting how the show portrays the Vulcans as utterly arrogant, conniving, elitist and rather untrustworthy people. That is not quite the way we got to know Spock the first time around, and T'Pol, the Vulcan Science Officer on the Enterprise, is in fact quite the opposite of the charming character that Spock was. Just as logical of course, she is, however, a continually rambling grumpy person who never has a friendly word for anyone. Virtually anything that comes out of her mouth is oozing with negativity or is a direct attempt to argue the captain's orders. She is, without a doubt, the most unpopular - but also the most interesting - character on the show as it starts out, and Jolene Blalock does a great job pulling off the character with her constantly pouted lips.
It also helps giving the adventurous side of Trip (Connor Trinneer) or Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) a nice counter balance. While communications officer Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) may appear overly timid at first, we watch her character grow with each episode until, by the end of the first season, she has become a reliable supporting crew member with a number of truly shining moments. Phlox (John Billingsley), the ships medical officer, is wonderfully charismatic and enigmatic, and woefully underused by the filmmakers, though again, he does have his moments to sparkle as well.
After so many years of Star Trek one really has to wonder what could the makers of the show possibly think of that hasn't been done on any of the other shows before. And this is where "Enterprise" surprised me the most. The show starts out with some great episodes that have some very unique content that I have not seen on any of the other shows before in that form. Again, it is a result from the fact that this is an inexperienced crew doing something no one has done before them, and as such pile on mistakes and blunders of all sorts. Blatant mistakes at times, and they pay the price, sometimes turning almost standard situations into 45-minute episodes filled with action and suspense and a sense of wonder.
"Star Trek: Enterprise" has great production values, which of course created a bit of an anachronism. Playing 100 years before the original "Star Trek" series, this "Enterprise" is incredibly high tech by comparison. While it is still has a bit of a retro feel, the look is, of course, more polished and clean, complete with computer generated special effects. While this will pose a problem for hardcore fans, of course, no regular viewer would expect the production to downgrade its values to the point beyond the original 1960s series. It would be a ridiculously hokey effort that no one would want to watch. It may take a moment for you to get into the groove that this show is actually supposed to be less high tech than "Star Trek," and some great plot devices make sure that this feeling is constantly reinforced - just observe how intimidated everyone is of the use of the transporter in this show as a perfect example, despite the fact that communicators and tricorders are much more advanced than they were in the old days.
Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting the show in a perfectly clean transfer in its 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio in this crisp 1080p high definition transfer. No defects or blemishes mar the transfer at all and only very infrequently will you see any grain in the picture. Colors are bold and vibrant at all times, making for a gorgeous viewing with rich hues and tones, field with subtle gradients and realistic skin tones. The black level is perfect, rendering shadows very deep but without losing detail or breaking up. Overall, the presentation is leaps and bounds above the DVD version that was released years ago, making this release a perfect candidate to upgrade to Blu-Ray.
The audio on the release is as a 5.1 channel DTS HD Master Audio track, making for an impressive presentation as the bass extension of the track is deep and solid. High ends are clear and undistorted at all times and the good dynamic response adds to the overall experience. Surround usages is surprisingly active and aggressive, making it clear that this show created with more than a simple cable broadcast in mind. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable. The music is generally good and well befitting the action on the screen, though Im not a huge fan of the shows main theme song used over the opening and end credits, although thats of no relevance.
As extras the Blu-Ray set consists of the many features found on the DVD release, including commentary tracks on "Broken Bow," the shows pilot, while selected other episodes feature text commentary. The featurettes have also be carried across form the DVD version, but there is also a brand new multi-part featurette called "To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise" that includes new Cast & Crew Interviews, Vintage Behind The Scenes Footage and other materials.
Overall the bonus materials are well-rounded, giving you a good look at the production of the show, as well as the issues and problems that came with producing a TV show that is set before the original series, making use of technologies of today's era.
Some people may disagree with me but I thoroughly enjoy "Star Trek: Enterprise" and I've re-watched the show numerous times since its original release in 2001. It has a good mix of varied content and plots, interesting characters recreating the strong character bond found in the best of the series, and it has great production values with intriguing visuals. The Blu-Ray set that Paramount has prepared here is once again top notch, adding to the appeal of this show on home video, making sure it looks better and more refined than you've ever seen it.