Featured TV on DVD Review: Star Trek: Enterprise: Season Two
August 19th, 2013
The second season of Star Trek: Enterprise comes out on Blu-ray this week. I previously reviewed the first season and for the most part I was not impressed. Did the show improve during season two? Did it improve by enough to matter?
The second season begins with Shockwave: Part 2, which deals with the Temporal Cold War. Shockwave: Part 1 was one of the better episodes of the first season and the second part maintains the quality level, for the most part. Time travel presents a lot of contradictions and it is something that is impossible to avoid. But we do have a lot of good sci-fi / thriller elements that does help the episode. On the other hand, Captain Archer's Gazelle Speech was cringe-worthy. Learning from one's mistakes is a laudable goal, but if the mistakes Captain Archer makes cause wars, then it is still a wise decision to end the mission. Carbon Creek deals with the first contact between Humans and Vulcans, which took place a century before the first recorded contact took place. We then see what happened, with Jolene Blalock playing T'Pol's great-grandmother, T'Mir, who was part of a four-Vulcan mission to study the humans from space. There was a malfunction and the four crashed landed on Earth, where they had to blend in to avoid detection till they could be rescued. It's an "Aliens Among Us" story, from the perspective of the aliens. In Minefield, the Enterprise accidentally wanders into a minefield. The mines are cloaked; they are not that dumb. They try to leave, but another mine attaches itself to the ship and Malcolm Reed has to make an EVA to try and detach it. Even worse, a cloaked ship appears and fires at the Enterprise to try and chase them away. The episode also introduces the Romulans, in another attempt to get Trekkies to watch the show. Dead Stop follows the events of the last episode with the Enterprise practically dead in space. They can't fix their ship without outside help, but a passing Tellarite ship gives them directions to a repair facility. It's an automated facility, complete with a recreational area. It is almost too good to be true. It's a good episode with a solid sci-fi mystery. Four episodes in and we haven't seen a really bad one yet.
That streak ends with A Night in Sickbay. I don't want to talk about it, because this episode annoys me. However... The Enterprise needs a plasma injector, badly. But while trying to trade with an alien species, Captain Archer offends them and Archer whines about it over and over again. Additionally, his dog, Porthos, gets sick. One of the worst episodes of the series. Ironically, it is also one of the best rated episodes. Moving on. Marauders is a better episode, but not a whole lot better. The Enterprise visits a mining colony that is struggling. They try to help them out, but later learn the Klingons are exploiting the miners. It is weak, even compared to the average Enterprise episode. The Seventh focuses on T'Pol, who is given a mission to capture a Vulcan by High Command. She asks Archer to go with her, because he is the lead character on the show. The mission is complicated by flashbacks she begins having. In The Communicator Malcolm Reed accidentally loses his communicator when he, Archer, and Hoshi are on a pre-nuclear planet. It is important they get it back so they don't contaminate the planet with advance technology. Worse still, the planet's inhabitants are about to go to war, so this technology could tip the scale. The recovery mission goes poorly. The episode also goes poorly. Singularity starts with T'Pol creating a Science Officer's Log to explain what happened to the crew. (We see that they are all unconscious.) We then flashback two days to where it began. T'Pol asks Archer to survey a black hole in a trinary system, but as they got closer, the crew started to act very strangely. It's the best episode on the disc, but merely average for the series.
Vanishing Point starts out really strong with Hoshi and Trip Tucker on an away mission. A storm comes up and they need to get back to the ship quickly. When the storm comes quicker than anticipated, they need to use the transporter to get back. This is the first time Hoshi has used the transporter and she begins to think she wasn't put back together in the right way. This is a great episode, right up till the big reveal. At this point, it sucks. The ending is so bad that it makes me retroactively hate the rest of the episode. Precious Cargo has Tucker going over to an alien craft to help with repairs. He needs to repair a stasis pod being used to transport a female alien to her homeworld, but partway through the repair, the stasis pod begins to fail and Trip has no choice but revive the woman within or she will die. It turns out she is not a passenger, but was kidnapped. The captain of the ship then tries to escape the Enterprise with Trip still aboard and he and the alien need to escape. It's just bad. Its worse than the ending to Vanishing Point. The Catwalk is much better, as it deals with a subject that should have been key to Star Trek: Enterprise: the dangers of being trailblazers in space and being unprepared for the dangers. A trio of aliens come to the Enterprise asking for help. A massive subspace storm is coming and they need the speed of the Enterprise to outrun it. Unfortunately, the Enterprise won't be fast enough. The ship should be able to withstand the impact, with a little preparation, but the radiation would kill the crew within minutes. The only place shielded enough from radiation is the crawlspaces in the engine nacelles, so that's where they will have to be to ride out the storm. It is one of the better episodes this season. Dawn is not quite as good, but still above average for the season. Trip is testing out a new auto pilot in a shuttle craft when he is shot down. He survives the crash, but so did his attacker. The Enterprise moves in to search, but they are confronted by an Arkonian ship, who demands they leave right away. Stigma is an AIDS allegory with T'Pol having a fatal disease that can only be transmitted by mind-melds. Since only a few Vulcans can mind-meld, it is looked down upon by Vulcan society and those who have the disease are stigmatized, so she can't get treatment.
Cease Fire is one of the better episodes, even though it involves Captain Archer trying to negotiate a peace between the Vulcans and the Andorians. Future Tense continues the Temporal Cold War story with the Enterprise finding a pod out in space. Inside they find a corpse, a human corpse. Since no human had been out this far before, it is a bit of a shock. They can't figure out what happened before the Suliban, and later Tholian, arrive and demand the pod. It's better than most episodes from this season, but the Temporal Cold War never really clicked. Canamar has Archer and Tucker arrested as smugglers and sent to a prison planet, Canamar. The crew of the Enterprise convince the aliens who arrested them, the Enolians, that they pair are not smugglers, but before they can release Archer and Tucker, there is a prison break aboard the prison ship and Archer and Tucker are forced to go along to survive. It is a big drop in quality from the previous episode. The Crossing starts with the Enterprise being followed and swallowed by a massive star ship. When Archer, Tucker, and Reed explore the inside the ship. While there, one of the "life forms" appears to possess Tucker, at least momentarily. Tucker seems fine after that, but soon he is possessed again, as is more of the crew. It is also one of the weaker episodes from the show. Judgment has Archer on trial by the Klingons for supporting a rebellion within the Klingon Empire. He tries to defend himself, but the Klingon justice system isn't exactly set up for justice. It's a better episode than the previous two, but not great.
Horizon is a Travis Mayweather episode, so you know it will be bad. That character was so underwritten it is embarrassing. On a side note, T'Pol's interpretation of Frankenstein is actually a lot closer to the original book than to the movies. The Breach is no better. It focuses on Phlox. His species, the Denobulans, requested the aid of the Enterprise to rescue some Denobulans who were exploring a cave system on Xantoras, but since they began their scientific expedition, the planetary government has failed and the new regime is forcing all off-worlders to leave, or face harsh criminal charges. Meanwhile, an Antaran is brought aboard the ship after an accident and needs medical help. However, the Antarans and Denobulans hate each other, so much so that he would rather die than be in the same room as Phlox. Cogenitor is a better episode. It deals with the Vissians, an unusual species with three genders. One of them, called cogenitors, is needed for reproduction, but is otherwise treated as less "human" for lack of a better term. They are not given names and have no opportunities within society, despite being just as smart as the others of their species. Tucker decides to help the cogenitor, but that's interfering in another species' internal affairs. On the one hand, it is an interesting sci-fi story. On the other hand, it is another episode where the "prime directive" (I know it hasn't been created yet) is used as an excuse not to do the right thing. Regeneration is both really good and really bad. On the one hand, it features the Borg and looks at what would happen if some Borg drones were frozen in the Arctic. This is a good story to tell. On the other hand, it does mess with continuity. ... Also, everyone in this episode is a moron. It could have been a great episode, but too often the writers made the characters morons and made them do something stupid to advance the plot. Like with the first contact with the Ferengi, they don't bother archiving the information about the Borg for future generations so they will know what to do when they attack again. It is still a good episode for the series, but done right, it could have been a great episode. First Flight is one of the better episodes and looks back of some of the earlier warp flights, in which Archer played an important part.
Bounty starts with the crew of the Enterprise running into a Tellarite, Skalaar, of the Tellarite Mining Consortium. At first, Skalaar is quite upset that the Enterprise is near a planet he considers his own, until he realizes they are there for scientific and recreational reasons, and not fellow miners. After that, he tells Captain Archer where the best places are to go and even offers to give him a tour. However, this is a clever ruse and he kidnaps Archer. It turns out the Klingons have put a price on Archer's head. The season finale is The Expanse, which introduces the Xindi. This species becomes the main villains in season three, but here they make what is seemingly a random attack on Earth when a probe cuts a 4,000 path from Florida to Venezuela resulting in the death of 7 million people. It is a good way to end the season. That said...
When I describe an episode as good in this review, I mean it is good when compared to the episodes that came before it. Overall Star Trek: Enterprise is the worst series in the Star Trek franchise, so a good episode of Enterprise is mediocre when compared to the average episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you are a fan of the series, season two is a step up from season one. This includes the writing and the technical presentation. If you dislike the Star Trek franchise, then this season won't change your mind.
Extras begin with audio commentary tracks on Shockwave, Part II and Dead Space, the former is newly recorded for the Blu-ray. Also new is In Conversation: The First Crew , a 94-minute long conversation / roundtable discussion with the main cast and some of the crew. There are also two old featurettes ported over from the DVD. The first is an overview of season two and the second is a look at T'Pol / Jolene Blalock. There is also a deleted scene from Minefield.
Disc two has a behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted scene from A Night in Sickbay. Disc three contains deleted scenes for Dawn and Stigma, while Stigmaalso has a text commentary track and archival interviews. There is also a photo gallery. Disc four has a deleted scene for Cease Fire, a seventeen-minute behind-the-scenes featurette for Future Tense, and a five-minute featurette on Enterprise Secrets. There are two audio commentary tracks for Regeneration and an audio commentary track and text commentary track for First Flight. There is also a featurette on LeVar Burton, who directed First Flight, and some outtakes.
The final disc has Uncharted Territory, a three-part, 90-minute look at second season. There are also three archival extras, but combined they are less than ten minutes long. Finally, there are also two deleted scenes for The Expanse.
The technical presentation is better. The special effects were better in season two, so the show looks better in high definition. It's still not as good as the Star Trek: The Next Generation's Blu-ray are, but it is much closer. The audio is equally as good as the video with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers.
Finally we get to the price. The list price is $130, which is even more than for season one. With the Amazon.com's discount, it's $80, which is way more than most TV on DVD releases.
Season Two of Star Trek: Enterprise is better than season one was, but still much weaker than the average Star Trek: The Next Generation season was, for instance. Since that show is currently being released on Blu-ray as well, I would save my money for those releases. On the other hand, if you bought the first season and liked it, there's no reason to not buy this one as well.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review