Star Trek Enterprise – The Complete First Season
Sound: B- Extras: B Episodes: B
Though it was definitely one spin-off too many, Star
Trek Enterprise debuted in 2001, the only prequel series in the entire
franchise. The show would be about the
days of Kirk’s idol Jonathan Archer one hundred years prior to the time the
series takes place. The budget was
there, the producers tried their best to create a look that could be a hundred
years before the original series, and they needed to cast someone as Archer who
would be appealing. They wanted Quantum
Leap star Scott Bakula, and unfortunately, got him.
On a production design level, being inspired by the
original Ridley Scott Alien (1983) and Peter Hyams’ grossly
underappreciated Outland (1981) has opened up the look of the show like
nothing since the original theatrical films.
It is too bad it took several series before getting away from the
defeatist claustrophobic look of later shows.
It looks like more money is up on the screen, and until they switched to
digital HD in the final season, recalled the better-looking Trek films. By not having the overdeveloped world to
rely (and some would say feed and gorge) on, the scripts had to come up with
some new ideas, something the franchise has been sadly lacking. Getting back to character development helped
big time as well.
The episodes over the seven DVDs are as follows, with
shows offering deleted scenes marked by an *:
2) Fight Or
10) Cold Front
11) Silent Enemy
12) Dear Doctor
13) Sleeping Dogs *
14) Shadows Of P’Jem
15) Shuttlepod One*
17) Rogue Planet
19) Oasis *
21) Vox Sola
22) Fallen Hero *
23) Desert Crossing
24) Two Days & Two Nights *
25) Shockwave, Part 1 *
Another problem is trying to look like the show on two
visual levels: color and technology.
The color on the original series and even animated series of the
mid-1970s is one of the reasons the originals are so memorable. The first feature went for monochromatic
colors, something the four sequel films nixed for the look of the
originals. Though the color seems more
natural here than on the later sequel shows, it is still part of the tired,
clichéd cycle of “drained-of-color” productions that become boring quickly and
show a bankruptcy of ideas on the part of production designer sand
cinematographers, particularly in this genre.
Then there is technology, which has come a long way since
the original show and the genre itself, not to mention the real world. The producers talk about splitting the
difference between the original series and the most advanced items from the
furthest-future Trek. The real
problem is that the “new-old” gadgets are not very creative, fun, memorable, or
in the spirit of innovation the original series offered. That is a big mistake, something “splitting
the difference” just sabotages. They
fare better with the early days of Klingons, Romulans and specter of The Cold
War the original cast saw all the way though.
As for the performance of the shows on disc, the
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 image on all the shows is consistent
and clean, being some of the best we have seen from any of the series
boxes. The color is no match for the
better episodes of the original 1960s series, reviewed elsewhere on this
site. However, for 16 X 9 TV series we
have seen on DVD to date, if fares very well.
The digital is also better than the usually bad and sloppy work we are
seeing all over the place. The Dolby
Digital sound is available in 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surround and a somewhat
better 5.1 mix, which may not be the epitome of 5.1 mixes, but is not bad and
the preferred tracks here.
Extras include the deleted scenes noted above, Brannon
Braga/Rick Berman audio commentary on the first episode, subtitled “Text
Commentary” by Michael Okuda & Denise Okada on shows # 1, 6 and 21. DVD 7 also offers outtakes, “secrets” of the
first season, cast featurette, Bakula featurette, Admiral Forrest featurette,
time travel featurette, a segment on creating the show and a segment on
Shuttlepod One. These are good pieces
that show where the series went right and wrong, but because of its look and
ambition, getting back to basics helped out.
Otherwise, it would have been just about impossible to do another spin
The question now, with Enterprise coming to an end,
is where does the mega-franchise go now?
Is it a bit tired? Is it seeing
the limits of its evergreen journey? In
some ways, yes, unless they go further into the look, feel and cleverness of
the original shows. As for Bakula, I am
not a big fan of his work, even if he turned out to be the nicest person in TV
history to meet. His acting seems
anachronistic on the show, not of the time period it is supposedly set in. It may have stopped the show from being even
more successful, but the casting was as much for commercial purposes as
But then again, think about it. If Archer is Kirk’s idol, and we know Bakula is not as good an
actor as William Shatner, then the influence would add up.
These shows play better here than they ever played in
their initial TV broadcast debut, so if you are unsure about Star Trek
Enterprise as compared to other shows, than undecided fans and the curious
alone should definitely catch The Complete First Season. Point to Paramount for terrific packaging of
- Nicholas Sheffo