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Saturday, February 14, 2015

'Star Trek: Enterprise' S3 BD: The Year We Learn the Truth Out There

Product Details
These thoughts on the CBS Home Entertainment Blu-ray release of the 2003-04 third season of "Star Trek: Enterprise" is the latest post in the "Year of Trek" series that Unreal TV is running in 2015. A review of the BD release of "Enterprise" S2 is the most recent entry in this labor of love.

"Enterprise" is notable for being the last of the five (must remember the '70s animated entry) "Trek" television series yet being a prequel one set roughly 100 years before the original "voyages of the starship Enterprise."

Following the "Year of Trek" tradition that the New Year's Day review of "Enterprise" S1 BD established, the video clip (once again courtesy of CBS and YouTube) for this post is of the trailer for reviewed BD release. Once again, CBS provides an excellent spoiler-free glimpse of the season and the wonderful look of the show in BD.

S3 of "Enterprise" is notable for being a highly ambitious 24-episode long story arc resolution of the S2 cliffhanger. These episodes entirely abandon the original mission to boldly "seek out new life and new civilizations" to achieve the virtually impossible task of thwarting the plan of new enemy Xindi to blast earth (and its inhabitants) into trillions of tiny pieces. The ambitious scope of this storyline includes tying into the element of the temporal cold war in the "Enterprise" pilot (no pun intended.)

This search-and-destroy mission requiring that Captain Jonathan (a.k.a. Admiral Johnny) Archer, played by "Quantum Leap" veteran Scott Bakula, take the titular relatively unsophisticated starship into the uncharted region of space known as the Delphic Expanse is part of what makes their effort to save humanity very difficult. The intensely adverse effects of the spacial anomalies in this outer space equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle on any vessel that travels into it severely threatens the physical integrity of these crafts and their inhabitants with a corresponding toll on the mental states of the latter.

The efforts of the Enterprise crew to counteract the impact of the anomalies, to better understand the cause of those hazards, and ultimately to eradicate them add terrific drama to these episodes and interesting entries into "Trek" lore. The special effects in the scenes in which this aspect of the S3 episodes is resolved is both of feature-film quality and tailor-made for Blu-ray.

The related efforts to locate the Xindi and prevent them from carrying out Phase 2 of their campaign against earth thrust our heroes into a series of adventures that are bizarre even from the "Trek" perspective. One of these has Archer and other crew members transforming into members of an alien species, and another forces Archer to become the villain of the story a manner in which he reluctantly abandons virtually of his personal principles and the values of his governing entity Starfleet.

The same apparent acknowledgement of Trekkers and Trekkies alike enjoying time-travel stories that is behind the temporal cold war storyline is reflected in a handful of S3 episodes. The most notable of this sub-genre has Archer and his crew meeting another "Enterprise" crew to whom they are closely related on a few levels. Another episode sends Archer and Vulcan science officer T'Pol (think love child of "Trek" favorites  Spock and Seven of Nine)  to 21st century Detroit to thwart a Xindi  plot that is designed to thwart the Enterprise plot to thwart the plot of the Xindi in the present from the perspective of the Enterprise crew.

The time travel fun continues with Archer and T'Pol living 12 years in the future, and Archer repeatedly being flung about in time throughout the season in a manner that likely prompts Bakula to reminisce about his "Leap" days.  This theme continues right through the S3 cliffhanger that (the soon-to-be-reviewed) S4 takes two episodes to resolve.

"Enterprise" further continues borrowing from fellow sci-fi franchise "Doctor Who" in having communications officer Hoshi Sato become the companion of a quirky alien; one difference between this pairing and those in "Who" is that the level of willingness on the part of the sidekick is much lower in the former than in the latter.

The final batch of episodes that correspondingly ratchet up the tension and the urgency regarding the Xindi plan make an especially good mini-series style group that screams for an uninterrupted five-hour home-video BD release. The twists regarding the internal politics of the Xindi societies, the shifting fortunes of those integral to the latest developments, and the increasing desperation of the force behind the impending attack on our planet is some of the best ever "Trek" content. A surprising reappearance of an old frienemy during this period is even more awesome than said fellow space traveler showing up with mixed motives earlier in the season.

The batch of exceptional extras this time around include special features on the temporal cold war and the related Xindi saga. We also get a profile of dreamy Connor Trinneer, who plays chief engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker; this spotlight is highly apt in a season in which we learn a great deal about the Trip literally from his birth to his present, he struggles to cope with personal loss, and he begins a relationship that is so unlikely that it is predictable.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Enterprise" is encouraged to either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.