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Star Trek: Enterprise – Season Four (Blu-ray Review)

Star-Trek-Enterprise-Season 4Star Trek: Enterprise‘s fourth and final season not only was the end of the show itself’s run, but more importantly hailed the end of an era.  From 1987 until 2005, there was always going to be a new episode of some form of Star Trek on the horizon.  For 18 years, through The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, the extended world and characters of Gene Roddenberry’s creation became a television staple like a Law & Order or CSI in its own right.  From syndication to network Star Trek always had a spot on the airwaves.  Sometimes even two shows were running at the same time.  Enterprise ended up being the shortest of those ending on its fourth season while the others went on for seven each.  UPN canned it after four seasons, making it the shortest series since the Original back in the 60s, to which many thought were premature and that the show was finally realizing its potential.

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Season 

In its fourth season, Manny Coto (also of 24 and Dexter fame) took the helm of showrunner.  They also brought in some authors of Star Trek novels to come in and write for the show.  The season picks ups right where the third season’s big cliffhanger left off.  However, unlike where its coming from, it moved away from the heavily serialized format that the show’s third season ran with.  Season Four is comprised of much smaller arcs and a lot more standalone episodes than had been done before.  Enterprise was seemingly marinating even better with this format than it was before.  Stepping down from being heavily serialized is actually a pretty big risk, considering the third season was pretty popular, but surprisingly saw the show grow even stronger.

Season Four also began sort of realizing a lot more of its “potential” it was always said to have from the very outset.  While there is some repetitiveness, it does explore a lot more “old school Trek” kind of things.  The show came at a time where prequelizing things was a pretty popular trend to latch on to.  And with season four, the show started exploring some of those possibilities of seeking the origins of things and also having stories that would reflect similar instances in previous iterations of the series.  Heck, they even bring back Brent Spiner from Star Trek: The Next Generation to give some background to Data’s ancestry.  There is a lot of connections to the Original Series as well (which chronologically would follow this show’s end), like the Orion slavegirls and genetically engineered Khan Noonien Singh- like humans making an appearance.  This is the stuff people were sort of expecting from the show and were finally getting it, albeit it too little too late, in this fourth season.

When the show was cancelled, it brought on a mass protest from fans.  This also predates the Jericho “nuts” campaign and the Veronica Mars “Mars bars” campaign by a couple years.  Hundreds protested the Paramount lot.  The show aired on UPN and wasn’t really a ratings juggernaut, but did pretty solid for a network like that.  The problem being, UPN and WB at the time were always wanting and looking for their Fox or CBS style ratings out of one show.  The fans even went as far as to try and raise money to pay for the budget of a fifth season.  They didn’t come very close, but just over 3 million dollars in donations is pretty impressive.  Especially before Kickstarter and Indiego were a thing.  Just a short time later UPN and WB would meld and who knows if the show would have survived that transition.  I do know that CW would probably love a show with a built-in stable audience with ratings like that now-a-days.  Plus, they judge on DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming sales for renewals of their shows too, and that would EASILY win it over.  Star Trek: Enterprise, you just happened to be a few years from many avenues that could have saved you.

That was it, an 18 year run of Star Trek on television come to an end with Enterprise: Season Four.  It would be followed by a four year drought (in the sense of live-action Star Trek, I know with comics and books it “never ends!!!”) and a reboot of the original series, leaving Scott Bakula (love that man) as the last actor to play an original captain (for now).  I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Star Trek on the small screen, there’s even rumblings now of getting a new show off the ground, but it remains the end point of it and an era.  Any new incantation will definitely probably be “different” that the ones that filled our sets during 1987-2005.  That’s not a bad thing, I’m just saying that those four shows will hold together in a way that sort of makes them their own.

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Episode Listing

Storm Front: Part 1

Storm Front: Part 2

Home

Borderland

Cold Station

The Augments

The Forge

The Awakening

Kir’ Shara

Daedalus

Observer Effects

Babel One

United

The Aenar

Afflication

Divergence

Bound

In A Mirror, Darkly: Part 1

In A Mirror, Darkly: Part 2

Demons

Terra Prime

These Are The Voyages…

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Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detail on this is very high.  Textures, patterns and the like on fabric are well detailed.  The image has a high resolution allowing for things to appear clean and sharp.  This show looks really damn good on Blu-ray (which didn’t exist yet when the show aired).

Depth: For a TV show, this thing has a great sense of scale.  Inside of the bridge is a nice three dimensional presentation as well as exterior CGI shots of the ship and planets, be it whats in the foreground and background.

Black Levels: 

Color Reproduction: The colors are quite bold and incredibly striking.  The uniforms, outfits and colors of aliens all shine through a gorgeous palette.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are consistent and look great.  Fantastic detail with pores, wrinkles and stubble and all sorts of detail.  The alien flesh looks pretty incredible too.

Noise/Artifacts:  Very minimal instances during this viewing.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese, Dutch

Dynamics: This is a solid above average track that services the range and feel of starship travelling in the television medium.  There’s a lot of wonderful ambiance when inside the ship that gives a real feel for being present inside.  Its not as good as that of a science fiction feature film, but the track holds its own quite well.

Low Frequency Extension: There’s some solid use of the subwoofer when it comes to explosions, amping up a phaser’s shot or close-ups of ships slowly floating by.

Surround Sound Presentation: Most of the motion action is kept toward the front with things movie right to left or left to right.  The rear speakers are mainly used for some muted effect and ambient noise.

Dialogue Presentation: Dialogue is center heavy, clean and crisp.  The score and effects never drown the dialogue out.

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Extras 

In the words of Scott Bakula’s most famous television work, “Oh boy!”.  Like always with Star Trek sets, there’s a lot here.  Let’s break it down by disc.

DISC 1

Deleted Scene – “Storm Front: Part 1” (SD, 2:45)

Extended Scene – “Home” (HD, 1:17)

Script Gallery: Original Ending – Readable script of the original end scene from “Home”

Enterprise Moments: Season Four (SD, 16:26) – Cast and crew reflect on and discuss the production and stories throughout the fourth season.  A sort of retrospective featurette that glosses over the season as a whole.

DISC 2

Audio Commentary: “The Forge” – Featuring writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens as well as Mike and Denise Okuda (Trek Experts)

Text Commentary: “The Forge” – Features Mike and Denise Okuda.

DISC 3

Audio Commentary: “Observer Effect” – Featuring Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens as well as Mike and Denise Okuda

DISC 4

Audio Commentary: “United” – Features director David Livingston and Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens.

Deleted Scene: “The Aenar” (SD, :53)

DISC 5

Audio Commentary: “In A Mirror, Darkly Part 1” – Features director James L Conway, writer Mike Sussman and Mike and Denise Okuda

Audio Commentary: “In A Mirror, Darkly Part 1” – Features editorial director for StarTrek.com Tim Gaskill and Mike Sussman.

Audio Commentary: “In A Mirror, Darkly Part 2” – Features Tim Gaskill and Mike Sussman

Audio Commentary: “Demons” – Features actors Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating

Text Commentary: “In A Mirror, Darkly Part 2” – Features Mike and Denise Okuda

Deleted Scene – “In A Mirror, Darkly Part 2” (SD, 2:28)

Archival Mission Log: Inside The Mirror Episodes (SD, 15:42) – An inside look on designing these episodes and crafting an alternate mirror universe storyline.

DISC 6

Audio Commentary – “Terra Prime” – Featuring Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating

Audio Commentary – “Terra Prime” – Featuring Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Tim Gaskill

Text Commentary – “These Are The Voyages…” – Featuring Mike and Denise Okuda

Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise: Part 1: New Voices (HD, 26:49) – Focuses on this becoming more of a true prequel show and steering its direction to connecting to the original series.

Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise: Part 2: Memorable Voyages (HD, 29:42) – This one covers a lot of different aspects of the season during a flighty time of “make it or break it”.  They discuss Brent Spiner’s appearance and even an attempt to get Shatner on the show to entice a bigger ratings pull.

Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise: Part 3: Final Approach (HD, 30:05) – This piece focuses on the struggle with the network and how they didn’t understand how to handle the show or read into its actual ratings.  Some boneheaded scheduling moves are discussed, as where the future was headed for the show.  The fan attempt to save the show is also brushed upon here.

Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise: Part 4: End Of An Era (HD, 29:14) – Cast and Crew discuss the show’s end, Brannon Braga also shares his thoughts on on what he’d like for the future of the franchise.

In Conversation: Writing Star Trek: Enterprise (HD, 1:29:52) – A group of producers as well as Brannon Braga discuss shaping the series and taking it from its inception to what it actually became.  They also go over the writing process for the series as well as a lot of Star Trek history discussions.  If you have the time, its quite informative, fun and engaging.

Archival Mission Logs

  • Visual Effects Magic (SD, 13:27) – A behind the scenes of the special effects of “Storm Front Part 2”
  • Links To The Legacy (SD, 4:27) – Writers discuss the further examination of ideas introduced in the original series brought forth on Enterprise.
  • Enterprise Secrets (SD, 5:53) – A behind the scenes look at the final shot of the series.
  • That’s A Wrap! (HD, 9:01) – Interviews and video coverage of the final episode wrap party.
  • Enterprise Goes To The Dogs (SD, 12:44) – A look at Portho.
  • Westmore’s Aliens: Dr. Phlox And Beyond (SD, 5:18) – A behind the scenes of make-up work and alien design.
  • Outtakes (SD, 2:17)
  • Photo Gallery
  • NX-01 File 10 (SD, 4:43) – A piece on the fan protest that features the cast showing their appreciation for the fanbase.

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Summary 

Star Trek: Enterprise Season Four was many a fan favorite, which cuts even deeper to their heart as it was on the cusp of making a run on possible greatness in the realm of Trek, turning that important corner as it was canceled.  For what it was, the show was still rock solid and had some really damn good episodes too.  Its a shame.  As usual, Paramount pulls out all the stops with a Star Trek series on Blu-ray.  The show looks and sounds the absolute best it ever has on the format.  And to boot, you will be suffocated with bonus material.  And this stuff isn’t just excess either.  Every bit is rather informative and just as interesting as watching the series itself.  Its bonus materials are possible some of the most fascinating of the Trek‘s because this is the series that didn’t make it, had its struggles and never quite got to breathe easy like the rest of them.  This is definitely a must have release as its expertly put together and constructed and squeezes every ounce of greatness it can into the set.  Set your phasers to “pre-order” below!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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