Series created by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
Starring Scott Bakula, Jolene Blalock, John Billingsley, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, and Connor Trinneer
- Running audio commentary on the pilot episode by Braga and Berman
- Text commentary on select episodes by Michael and Denise Okuda
- Deleted scenes
- ‘Star Trek Time Travel’ featurette
- ‘Enterprise Secrets’ featurette
- ‘Creating Enterprise’ featurette
- ‘O Captain, My Captain!’: a profile of Scott Bakula
- ‘Admiral Forrest Takes Centre Stage’ featurette
- ‘Inside Shuttlepod One’ featurette
Released by: Paramount
My Advice: Watch TOS or TNG and just pretend nothing that came after ever actually happened.
[ad#longpost]At first glance, the concept behind Star Trek: Enterprise is a solid one. Take the series back to the beginning of the Star Trek mythology, and tell the stories of the early days of human expansion into the galaxy. First-contact stories have always been, at least in my opinion, some of the best of the various Star Trek series’ output, and moving to the start of the timeline means lots of opportunities on that front. Unfortunately, the series creators/writers/directors don’t trust the concept by itself to work, and resort to the same lame TV tactics that plagued Voyager. The writing on the series is incredibly uneven as well, resulting in a few gems but mostly clunkers over the course of the first season.
To the gems, then. Two eps stand out as the absolute best the set has to offer: “Shuttlepod One” and the season-end cliffhanger “Shockwave, Part I.” “Shuttlepod One” is a twist on the tried-and-true lifeboat story formula. Lt. Reed (Keating) and Commander Tucker (Trinneer) find themselves aboard a failing shuttle, believing the Enterprise and rest of the crew have been destroyed. It gives the two actors a great chance to develop their characters and shine. As far as acting performances, the two of them set the bar for the entire season here. While both characters get some decent utilization in other episodes, the particular confines of this story really seem to bring out the best in both actors.
“Shockwave, Part I” puts the overarching storyline of the “Temporal Cold War” back in the spotlight, as Archer (Bakula) must overcome his own feelings of guilt about a mining colony disaster to get to the facts that implicate the nefarious Suliban, who are attempting to discredit/destroy the Enterprise and its mission and therefore change history. I must confess I think the entire idea of the time war a little bit silly, and it provides too many easy hooks for bullshit crossover episodes from other series, but this episode actually did a cross-time warfare “skirmish” quite well. Some of the plot resolution is a little bit too pat, but it’s a difficult trap to avoid when you give a character (in this case the enigmatic Daniels) that sort of storyline foreknowledge. I was dubious of the whole story arc when Daniels revealed his origins to Archer in “Cold Front,” and for the most part still am wary about how it will play out, but this particular episode manages to handle the whole time-travel issue with some skill.
Even in the lesser episodes, the acting is solid from some of the cast. Bakula’s understated, frequently overwhelmed Captain Archer comes across as a totally believable character. Thinking that humanity has finally “pierced the veil” to see what the cosmos was all about, only to have it revealed every bloody week to be even more Byzantine and confusing, is heavy-duty wear and tear on a character, and Bakula sells it at every opportunity. If only the rest of the crew were similarly talented. Blalock is eye-candy in a bad haircut whose performance isn’t enough to qualify her to carry Leonard Nimoy’s coffee mug, and she’s pretty much only there to try and draw the 18-25 male demographic that couldn’t give a shit about the series. This is made abundantly clear in the infamous decontamination shower scene at the very outset of the season, and there’s little to counter this perception in the remainder of the episodes. John Billingsley does an admirable job as the alien Dr. Phlox, who spends most every episode trying to understand what makes his various human crewmates tick, but like the rest of the crew, rarely gets the kind of story focus to shine and develop the character.
The one thing the show has going for it, in spades, is appearance. The effects work is phenomenal, and eclipses pretty much any other series in the franchise to date. A shame it’s in support of sub-par storytelling, but what can you do? Also, whoever is responsible for the abomination that is the opening credits needs to be dragged out behind the building and bludgeoned to death. Ye gods, what a terrible song and terrible idea. Adding a lame pop song to the opening credits (instead of the more usual symphonic score) isn’t going to bring you new viewers…it’s just going to irritate what few you actually had.
The DVD set itself, as is the norm for Star Trek releases from Paramount, is stacked to the gills with features. There’s some great stuff here, including a rare commentary track on the feature-length pilot and the usual text commentary by the Okudas, but there are a few features that are real clunkers. The bit on Scott Bakula is basically just a bunch of hyperbolic cooing from his castmates, which gets tiresome fast. There’s also the lame “Enterprise Secrets” featurette which comes across more like a teaser trailer than anything else. I didn’t clock it or anything, but I’d be surprised to find out total running time was a full two minutes. Still, the features here outstrip most any other television series DVD release on the market, so it’s hard to be too nitpicky about one or two duds in the mix. The features list, however, is not enough to make this one a purchase for any but the most stubborn diehards that won’t take the feeding tube out of Roddenberry’s vision and let it die in peace.