STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE
Perhaps I’ve dwelled a bit too much on what a mistake it was for UPN to prematurely cancel STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE in my reviews of seasons one and two, but in season three the series really found its place and stated to kick some major league butt in the entertainment department. Season two of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE ends with a devastating attack on Earth that has left millions dead. It turns out, that the Temporal Cold War has gotten hot; thanks to a new faction that has alerted an alien race known as the Xindi, that in four hundred years, humanity will be responsible for their destruction. This leads to a preemptive strike by the Xindi, with the attack on Earth being only be a first step towards the ultimate destruction of the entire planet.
The attack on Earth sets in motion the major story arc for the third season, in which the crew of Enterprise enters a hostile region of the Alpha Quadrant known as the Delphic Expanse, which is plagued with special anomalies that seem to rewrite the laws of physics, where they search for the Xindi and the weapon they are constructing to destroy Earth. STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE takes a somewhat darker tone in its third year, in regards to the stories and character development, and for that reason, it is highly effective. I especially like how the show’s principal character has evolved from a somewhat wishy-washy explorer to a decisive leader, who isn’t afraid to bend or break the rules, and when necessary, throw the rulebook away to save his planet.
In the Trek timeline, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE is set 100 years after Earth has made first contact with the Vulcan’s and prior to the formation of the United Federation Of Planets. The series depicts Starfleet’s formative years of exploration, where mankind steps out on their own for the first time, after nearly a century of being the shadow of the Vulcans. The first Starfleet ship to explore strange new worlds is named Enterprise and is under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula). Amongst the crew of this early starship is Chief Engineer Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker (Connor Trinneer). Former Vulcan Subcommander T'Pol (Jolene Blalock), who serves as the Enterprise science officer, Armory Officer Lieutenant Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), Denobulan chief medical office Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley), Communications Officer Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) and Helmsman Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery).
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($130) comes to DVD in a seven-disc set that features all twenty-four episodes that were aired in year three. The twenty-four featured episodes are as follows: The Xindi, Anomaly, Extinction, Rajiin, Impulse, Exile, The Shipment, Twilight, North Star, Similitude, Carpenter Street, Chosen Realm, Proving Ground, Stratagem, Harbinger, Doctor's Orders, Hatchery, Azati Prime, Damage, The Forgotten, E², The Council, Countdown and Zero Hour.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four episodes from STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON in a 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The wide screen aspect ratio of the production makes the episode seem more cinematic and effective. Again, this set is very similar in appearance to its two predecessors, which is quite good. Generally, the image is fairly crisp, with pretty solid levels of detail. Sure, there are occasional shots where the image can appear slightly soft, but it is never bothersome. Colors are nicely saturated and the human flesh tones come across as rather appealing. Blacks appear accurately rendered, as do the whites. Contrast is just fine for a television level production, plus the picture doesn’t display the flatness that one generally associates with television series lighting. There is a bit of grain in the episodes, but blemishes were generally non-existent. Digital compression artifacts usually kept a very low profile.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON come with Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The sound mixes remain front heavy, but the surround channels seem somewhat better utilized in season three than they did in the previous two. As expected, the entire soundstage is more effective during the action sequences than during the talky sections of the episodes. Ambient sounds and musical fill are always nicely implemented. Fidelity is fairly strong, with the musical component being reproduced with a genuine sense of presence, while the sound effects come across in a fairly believable manner. English dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. English Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.
3-D animation, plus sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus one has access to the set up and episode selection features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread throughout the set. Running audio commentaries are provided for the episodes North Star (with assistant director Mike DeMeritt) and Similitude (with co-executive producer Manny Coto). Text Commentaries are provided by Star Trek Encyclopedia authors Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda on the following episodes: The Xindi, Impulse and Countdown. Deleted scenes have been included for Similitude, Chosen Realm and E².
Next come the featurettes. The Xindi Saga Begins is a thirteen-minute program that looks at the changes that where implemented during the third season and the major storyline that ran through year three. Enterprise Moments: Season Three runs thirteen minutes and looks back on the highlights of the show’s third year. Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer a seventeen-minute program that features the actor discussing his character and his development during the show’s run. A Day In The Life Of A Director: Roxann Dawson is a seventeen-minute program that provides a good understanding of what a production day is like in this type of series. A trailer for the Borg Invasion 4D at the Las Vegas Hilton, Outtakes, a Photo Gallery and some Easter Eggs close out the supplemental features.
Season three of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE is the strongest, which, of course, finds the series at its best. Paramount does their usual terrific job with the DVDs, providing solid presentations that outclass NTSC broadcasts. This was a great year for the series and STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE- THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON comes highly recommended.
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