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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > TV > Star Trek Enterprise - The Complete First Season (CBS DVD)

Star Trek Enterprise – The Complete First Season


Picture: B-     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 *:


1)     Broken Bow *

2)     Fight Or Flight *

3)     Strange New World

4)     Unexpected

5)     Terra Nova

6)     The Andorian Incident

7)     Breaking The ice

8)     Civilization

9)     Fortunate Son

10)  Cold Front

11)  Silent Enemy

12)  Dear Doctor

13)  Sleeping Dogs *

14)  Shadows Of P’Jem

15)  Shuttlepod One*

16)  Fusion

17)  Rogue Planet

18)  Acquisition

19)  Oasis *

20)  Detained

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 off series.


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 anything.


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 the discs.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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