Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete First Season

Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete First Season (2001)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Scott Bakula
Extras: Commentary Track, Text commentary, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes, and much much more

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 other reasons, I found. With "Star Trek: Enterprise" Paramount has produced the fifth television series in the Star Trek universe that has sadly been the most short-lived of them all. Unjustly so, I would say, 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 "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 resulting sense of innocence and curiosity permeates the entire show and that alone makes it worth watching. These are not the veteran deep space mariners who’ve 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.

It also makes for some great dynamics among the cast of characters that is assembled on the Enterprise and those they meet on their journeys. 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 constantly rambling grumpy person who never has a friendly word for anyone and virtually anything coming out of her mouth is something negative or an attempt to argue with the captain’s orders. She is, without a doubt, the most unpopular character on the show 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 Hoshi (Linda Park) may appear overly timid at first, she grows into her character over time and becomes a reliable supporting character over the course of the show with a few shining moments. Phlox (John Billingsley), the ship’s 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 in 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 I have not seen on any of the other shows before in that form. Again, it is a result form the fact that this is an inexperienced crew doing something no one has done before them and as such, they make mistakes. 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.

The show has great production values, which of course create 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 watch. It may take a moment for you to get in to 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 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 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TV sets. 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. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression is also without artifacts.

The audio on the release is presented in <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital>, as well as an optional <$DS,Dolby Surround> 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 I’m not a huge fan of the show’s main theme song used over the opening and end credits, although that’s of no relevance.

As extras the DVD set contains a number of cool additions, including deleted scenes and outtakes. A <$commentary,commentary track> is included on "Broken Bow," the show’s pilot while selected other episodes feature text commentary. A number of informative featurettes can also be found on the DVD set’s last disc, covering various aspects, including the issues and problems that came with producing a show set before the original series using technologies of today’s era. But many other facets are covered here and Paramount pretty much followed the approach found on the other Star Trek Season DVD sets with high quality content and valuable insight.

Some people may disagree with me but I thoroughly enjoy "Star Trek: Enterprise." 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 DVD set that Paramount has prepared here is once again top notch adding to the appeal of this show on DVD. Great stuff, so make sure to check it out, and don’t let nay-sayers bog down your opinion. And of course, it comes also in a very cool packaging, once again.