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Sunday, February 22, 2015

'Enterprise' S4 BD: Series (and Franchise) Ending Episodes On Federation Beginnings

Product Details
These musing regarding the CBS Home Entertainment six-disc Blu-ray release of the 2004-05 fourth and final season of the series "Star Trek: Enterprise" wrap up the "Enterprise" portion of the Year of Trek reviews that Unreal TV is posting. A New Year's Day 2015 post on "Enterprise" S1 is the initial one in this series, and a March 2015 post on the BD release of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" S2 will transition these reviews to that series.

An initially interesting note regarding "Enterprise" is that the 2005-06 television season that follows the one after this show ended is the first season since TNG premiered in 1987 that lacks a new primetime broadcast "Trek" series.

An interesting note regarding the BD set is that feature-film quality sets, effects, and audio in "Enterprise" makes buying these sets in that format a no-brainer. The clarity of the images is astonishing to the extent that you can clearly see every blemish on every actor.

As is the case with the other "Trek" series, the CBS trailer for the BD set of "Enterprise" S4 provides an excellent sense of that season and the truly special bonus features in the set. The following clip of that trailer is courtesy of YouTube.

A highly abbreviated recap of the lore of "Enterprise" is that it depicts the early days of the earth-based (and U.S.-dominated) exploration of the universe in the "Trek" franchise. Series lead Captain Jonathan "Admiral Johnny" Archer, played by "Quantum Leap" veteran Scott Bakula, arguably is the most affable of the five (not counting Pike) captains in the "Trek" TV franchise history.

The S4 season premiere picks up immediately after the events that provide the cliffhanger at the end of S3. (An Unreal TV review of S3 BD recaps that season.) That two-parter pits Archer and his intrepid crew against a formidable human army and the alien allies of that force in a story line that involves the series-long Temporal Cold War plot.

"Enterprise" then shifts gears by  presenting numerous two-part episodes. An early season one has our crew teaming up with Dr. Arik Soong, who will later go onto create android officer Data of TNG, to thwart the evil scheme of the genetically enhanced "augments" (a.k.a. super soldiers) who are an early Soong creation.

The awesome lore (no pun intended Trekkers and Trekkies) that this storyline contributes includes details regarding the massive war that leads to the world unity that is central to "Trek" and the events that ultimately result in the aforementioned creation of Data.

Data portrayor Brent Spiner once again plays Soong. He also states hands-down the funniest line in any "Trek" series. On being called a son of a bitch, Soong calmly states the true nature of his maternal parent.

Several of the other multi-episode arcs revolve around tensions between the humans of Starfleet and their (mostly) allies the Vulcans. These range from efforts of the Vulcan powers-that-be to thwart a rebellious faction of their population to Archer et al getting involved in the long-standing conflict between the Vulcans and the Andorians. One such effort literally puts the titular starship directly in the line of fire.

The impending formation of the EU-style United Federation of Planets that is a core part of the aforementioned other five live-action "Trek" series is an underlying theme in the Vulcan-oriented episodes.

The two-part "In a Mirror, Darkly" episode very cooly brings the world of the original "Trek" series from the '60s to the "Enterprise" world. This homage extends well beyond evil doppelgangers from a parallel universe.

Two stand-alone episodes are notable both for being of especially good quality and for having a strong TNG vibe. One trek that brings the inventor of the "beam me up" transporter technology on board Enterprise involves both deception and a mystery involving a (not necessarily malevolent) being that is wreaking havoc.

The second of this group has an alien race figuratively putting the Enterprise crew under a microscope after affirmatively not warning our heroes about a life-threatening situation.

A story arc that nicely relates to both the OS and the TNG (as well as an earlier story line from "Enterprise" S4) has the warrior Klingon race "soliciting" the help of often affable Enterprise physician Dr. Phlox regarding a serious virus.

The less good news is that the last regular story arc before the uber-terrific series finale is one of the weakest in any "Trek" series. This one has a comical villain with a lair on the moon taking action that directly involves the Enterprise crew in his campaign to isolate earth from any involvement with aliens. This one very sadly is incredibly reminiscent of a low-budget Saturday kiddie matinee flick from the '50s.

The series finale fortunately makes up for all this starting with two very special guest stars (and a voice cameo by a third) from the "Trek" universe. These visitors get wrapped up in events that occur in the days before the planned formal commencement of the Federation.

This finale does a good job with the aforementioned fanboy gift in the form of the guests and in including the humor and addition to lore that mark a good "Enterprise" episode. This offering further is a nice reminder of the good old days in which cancelled shows had a chance to wrap up things, rather than leave more loose ends than a frayed bed sheet.

Similarly, CBS does not drop the ball regarding maintaining the high quality of the special features in the "Trek" BD sets. These include a series of extras on the end of "Enterprise" and the aforementioned demise of the "Trek" TV franchise and a documentary on "Mirror."

Anyone with any questions or comments regarding anything "Trek" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.