Featured TV on DVD Review: Star Trek: Enterprise: Season Four
April 25th, 2014
Star Trek: Enterprise ends its home market run this weekend (unless they put out a Blu-ray Megaset or 4K releases in the future). The first two seasons were not well-received by critics, but season three started to show some promise. Can Season Four continue this forward progress? Or is there a good reason it was the last season of this show?
The final season begins with the two-part Storm Front: Part 1. At the end of season three, the crew of the Enterprise managed to destroy the Xindi superweapon, but Captain Archer was "killed" in the resulting explosion. What actually happened was a little more complicated with the crew being sent back in time to World War II. Archer winds up in Germany, were he sees an alien helping the Nazis. This isn't exactly a bad episode, but we've seen ideas like this explored better in other sci-fi works. In fact, we've seen it explored better in other Star Trek shows. In Home, the crew return to Earth, mostly, but all is not well. The attack on Earth has caused anti-alien sentiment. Meanwhile, T'Pol travels back to Vulcan with Trip. There she learns she must marry into an influential family to help her family regain honor. It's a good character piece. Borderland features Brent Spiner as Dr. Arik Soong and the includes elements from the Eugenics Wars as well as the Orion Syndicate, two things first introduced in Star Trek: The Original Series.
The story started in Borderland continues in Cold Station 12 and The Augments. The three-episode arc does a good job of touching previous installments of the franchise without just making the viewer want to turn off Enterprise and start watching whatever series it is borrowing from. Forge, Awakening, and Kir'Shara represent another three-episode arc. At the beginning, Admiral Forrest and Vulcan Ambassador Soval talk about Human and Vulcan future relationships. Soval admits the Vulcans are worried about human ingenuity and they don't want to help them further, because they are worried about what humans will be able to do in the future. The conversation comes to an end when a terrorist attack happens and Admiral Forrest sacrifices himself to save Soval. Because the attack happened in the Earth Embassy, Enterprise is brought in to help with the investigation. At first, the Vulcans want to blame the Andorians. However, evidence points to a splitter group of Vulcans, the Syrranites. So far, there hasn't been a truly bad episode in season four and this three-episode arc continues that streak.
Disc three starts with Kir'Shara, which I dealt with above. Up next is Daedalus, which involves the inventor of the transporter, Dr. Emory Erickson. He's there to perform some experiments that will help extend the range of the transporters; however, it's clear early on that something is up. The first bad episode of the season. It is predictable and slow. Observer Effect is one of the better episodes. It is also an "Oops" episode. In the first season, there is an episode called Dear Doctor in which a species is going to be wiped out by a disease, but Phlox comes up with a cure, and then refuses to give it to the aliens because that would be interfering. In this episode, it is the crew of the Enterprise that have the disease and two alien observers (who took over Mayweather and Reed's bodies) are observing the progress of the disease, but are not supposed to interfere. Here we see that the writers understood the previous mistake, that the Prime Directive only works if there is compassion involved. The disc ends with Babel One, which starts with an Andorian ship (captained by Shran, whom we met before) in ruins. It seems it was attacked by the Tellarites, which is not entirely surprising, because they have been in dispute. However, they are working on a new peace. In fact, the Enterprise is helping them mediate their concerns. When they receive Shran's distress call, they pick up the survivors, only to be attacked by an Andorian ship, but Shran thinks it was a Tellarite crew who stole an Andorian ship. This mystery continues with... United and The Aenar, which begins disc four. The three-part episode is very strong with a good mystery and it touches on the founding of the Federation of Planets, which is a good touch. Affliction and Divergent deals with the Klingons and why they look different in The Original Series. It's a fine episode on its own, but it is more interesting as being a part of the history of Star Trek tying it into the Eugenics wars and Augments. (Also, it includes a scene where Hoshi gets to kick some ass. I like her as an actress, but the character was underwritten, so any time she can shine is good in my book.)
Bound involves Orion Slave Girls. Like I've said in the past, any time Star Trek tries to be sexy, it tends to fail, miserably. The next episode has Captain Archer acting all stupid and insane... Oh my god! We are back in season one! Actually, we are in the Mirror Universe for the two-part In a Mirror, Darkly; however, it is amazing how similar Mirror Universe Archer is to Season One Archer. The only major difference is Mirror Universe Archer is angry and stupid, while Season One Archer is smug and stupid. That said, it is one of the more entertaining stories of the season and there are lots of little touches that are cool (and I like the ending). Demons and Terra Prime begins with a guest appearance by Peter Weller, who is worried about the health of a baby. We later learn the baby is the child of T'Pol / Trip Tucker.
The final disc starts with Terra Prime, while the only other episode is the series finale, These Are the Voyages..., which is not the worst episode in the series, but it is by far the worst series finale in the Star Trek franchise. The series finale should be an episode that is, in a way, a thank you to all of the fans who stuck through the series. You shouldn't change characters rapidly like what happened in the end of How I Met Your Mother. You don't throw your hands up in the air and admit you were winging it the whole time, like with Lost. You shouldn't crap on the current series and focus on characters from a previous series. That's what Star Trek: Enterprise did. The episode actually focuses on Jonathan Frakes, who watches a mission from Enterprise for inspiration. It is so pointless and takes away focus from the crew we've watched for the past four years. And the mission Captain Archer and the rest are on isn't even that exciting. If it were just another episode, it would be on par with seasons one and two. As a finale, it is a complete and total failure.
Disc one includes a 16-minute featurette, Enterprise Moments: Season Four. There are also a deleted scene for Stormfront and an extended scene for Home, as well as the script for the original ending for Home. Disc two has an audio commentary and a text commentary for The Forge. On Disc Three, there is an audio commentary track for Observer Effect. Disc four has an audio commentary track for United and a deleted scene for The Aenar. Disc five has plenty of extras, including two audio commentaries for each episode of In a Mirror, Darkly, as well as a featurette on that episode. There is also an audio commentary track for Demons. The final disc has two audio commentaries for Terra Prime and a text commentary for These are the Voyages... Up next is Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise, a four-part, two-hour long documentary that looks at the final season for Star Trek: Enterprise. There is also a 90-minute In Conversation. In addition, there are plenty of extras from the old DVD. In fact, the total running time of these extras is close to an hour.
The technical presentation is again better than the previous seasons. They switch from film to digital cinematography and you can tell. This is the best looking set of the four Blu-ray releases in nearly every regard. (Also, I think the special effects are better looking this time around, which is strange, because you would think they would have lower budgets, given the ratings issues.) The audio is strong, but not as active as a show made today would be.
The price remains the same as before with a list price of $130 and a discounted price of $75 on Amazon.com. On the one hand, the is much more expensive than most TV on DVD releases. On the other hand, this is in line with other Star Trek Blu-ray releases.
Like I said last time, Star Trek: Enterprise finally showed it had potential during its third season and it maintained that quality in the fourth season, for the most part. There were the odd weak episodes, include the season premiere and especially the series finale, but it was good enough that it could have continued, had so many fans not given up on the show after the first two seasons. The Blu-ray is loaded with extras and the technical presentation is the best in the series; however, it is still very expensive and only worth picking up for hardcore fans.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review