Sci-Fi Storm

Review: Star Trek: Enterprise Season 1

by on May.03, 2005, under General News

Star Trek: Enterprise Season 1 hits shelves tomorrow. My review copy arrived today and I had the chance to go through most of the features to provide this review which I wanted to get out before it hits the street. Update: bah – I don’t know why I never noticed I said Season 3…

Enterprise had its troubles from the start. With the first episode, purist panned it for its theme song (a lyrical ballad instead of a Goldsmith score), post-TOS Klingons, and a lack of continuity with established Star Trek canon history. But exactly how do you go back to before it all began and tell stories without breaking something somewhere?

I personally looked past all that, and saw a reasonably well-done series that had to contend with a rabid fan base, declining interest in the franchise, and an attempt to be low-tech compared to its previous brethren. And after all, The Next Generation was pretty poor in its first season, but it was given a chance. Overall, stories for the first season are average, owing more to the plot-driven attitude of the franchise. If they were doing stories like the last several of the series, perhaps it would have done better in the ratings.

Cast members eventually grew into their roles pretty quickly, and little weakness could be seen. Jolene Blalock (Subcommander T’Pol) shone more in later episodes and seasons after being able to drop the strictness of the Vulcan attitude, and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) fit right into the role from the start. Perhaps weakest at the start was Linda Park (Ensign Hoshi Sato), but it was only the third time she’d even been on a set, and she breaks in eventually. John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox) can be a hoot.

This DVD set is a compilation of the entire first season, 25 episodes on 7 discs plus over two hours of extra features.

Included in the added features are the following featurettes:

“Creating Enterprise” – typical featurette on creating a new Trek with the producers and designers.

“O Captain! My Captain! A Profile of Scott Bakula” – The man who would be Captain.

“Cast Impressions: Season One” – Cast talks about the early development of their characters.

“Inside Shuttlepod One” – What happens when you are a little over budget and need to save money on an episode? If you have enough material, you can do a flashback episode. If not, you do a “bottle” episode – a completely character driven story, set on a single stage. Thus is the episode “Shuttlepod One”.

“Star Trek Time Travel: Temporal Cold WarS and Beyond” – Why the Temporal Cold War made an appearance.

“Enterprise Secrets” – Short bit showing a bit behind the set – promises to be an ongoing series with future releases.

“Admiral Forrest Takes Center Stage” – Actor Vaughn Armstrong talks about his versatility – and sings about Star Trek women.

“Enterprise Outtakes” – often what I look forward to most on a DVD set. It should be required material. Plenty of Vulcan laughs.

“Borg Invasion Trailer” – Advertisement for the new “Star Trek: The Experience” feature at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Also, a number of episodes include deleted scenes – they aren’t integrated into the episode, but can be viewed separately.

Plus, in addition to the audio trailer on “Broken Bow” (by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga), several episodes (“Broken Bow”, “The Andorian Incident”, and “Vox Sola”) feature unique Text Commentaries from Michael and Denise Okuda. The commentaries are in the form of a popup translucent box you read. It allows the audio track to be fully heard, but does partially obscure the screen. If there was a way to dismiss the box it might be better, but I find it better is some respects to the audio commentaries which drown out the original track, often making it difficult to know what the commentators are referring to. I’d like to see something like this used more – kind of reminds me of the old Pop-Up Videos on VH1.

The packaging is cool as well – it comes in a plastic snap-together capsule like a flattened binocular case (sure to aggravate people with limited DVD storage systems). Inside the DVDs are contained in thin blue translucent single-disk plastic holders with a plastic tape binder to make it open like a book, and protected by a slip on clear plastic cover that bears the Enterprise logo which when on the DVD holders covers the top DVD. There is no outside identification of the season – you can see through holes in the side of the case to the plastic slipcover which is labelled with the season. Unopened, there is a cardboard wrapper with the description of the contents, but this must be removed to open the capsule.

The DVD menus start with a simplified CGI rendering of the Enterprise coming out of spacedock, then presents the menus amid various meters, indicators, and screens – which makes it a bit cluttered on screen, but I guess is meant to convey the clutter of the NX-01 itself.

Each episode has its own menu, where you can select commentaries (if available), audio modes, and chapters.

Plot/Story: Opinions vary greatly here. My opinion – not bad, although its been a while since I’ve seen a lot of the episodes. It certainly improved in later seasons. 2/5

Characters/Acting: Very well done here I think. These aren’t carbon copies, trying to recreate the success of Spock or Data. T’Pol is her own Vulcan, and Scott Bakula is as always excellent. Even Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather provides believability as the eager helmsman looking forward to piloting the fastest Earth ship ever, although he seems to be underused at times as a character. A good start off the bat. 4/5

Effects/Visuals: How do you look less advanced than the original series when you have a huge budget in comparison? No simple light up buttons and lack of video screens here, but make it dark, enclosed, cluttered, and now you’re thinking this isn’t such a big ship after all. And they make an effort to show precursors of the later (earlier) technologie, like hand phasers, hull plating instead of shields, etc. 3/5

DVD Extras: A good group of extras that fit well with the feature. The featurettes aren’t too long to get boring and have good material. Cool package a plus, although finding space for it is a minus. 4/5

Overall: Purists may not consider it canon, but I think it is reasonably well done, and like it or not, it is Trek. 3/5

Total: 3.2 out of 5, mainly for the DVD quality if not the stories. [Note: This score was corrected due to a math error owing to lack of sleep.]

As always, feel free to post your reviews here.

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