Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
star-trek-enterprise-complete-second-season-blu-ray-cover-65 (1)Star Trek: Enterprise recounts the adventures of the pioneers of space travel who ventured into the universe 100 years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series.  Set in the 22nd century, in a time when interstellar travel is still in its infancy, Enterprise follows Captain Archer and his crew of brave explorers as they set out to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft and experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.  A centerpiece to the Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Second Season Blu-ray collection is the newly produced cast reunion feature, “In Conversation: The First Crew,” which offers fans a look at an intimate and candid discussion with members of the main cast and recurring guest stars, who reveal their most memorable stories from the set and their favorite behind-the-scenes moments. The reunion is moderated by series co-creator/executive producer Brannon Braga.  Fans will also enjoy “Uncharted Territory,” a three-part retrospective providing an inside look at the challenges faced by the writing staff and creators during the creative development of the second season, which ultimately inspired the controversial Xindi story-arc that kicks off in the season finale, “The Expanse.”

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Show (4 out of 5 stars) 

There is no doubt in my mind that Star Trek is an American institution that’s become part of the fabric of our culture and our collective experience.  It wasn’t always that way though, since The Original Series was cancelled after three season before rising up once again like a phoenix to return on the big screens with six (or seven if you count the baton being passed to the Next Generation cast in Generations) that starred the original beloved cast.  During that period, a new Star Trek show called The Next Generation came on the air and proved to be even more successful to an audience that was ready for this kind of show.  After seven seasons, that cast would go on  to make their own movies while another Star Trek show took their place on the airwaves – Deep Space Nine.  Set a space station it was unlike the other shows buy despite that it too also remained on the air for seven years before its successor Voyager took over to for another seven. I can’t think of many other franchises that have that kind of longevity but that long of a run also comes with a price as franchise fatigue can set in.
When Enterprise was announced in May 2000, there wasn’t as much excitement as before because the audience had become blasé about the whole thing. There were already television shows and movies so the saturation point for Star Trekwas rapidly approaching.  One fact did set this show apart however and that was the fact that it would be set one hundred years before The Original Series which would dramatically open up a lot of story possibilities that had never been done before.  Show creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were determined to set the show apart from the others in every way possible – even to the point of not including the words Star Trek into the title of the show.  As Berman said, “Well, you know, if you think about it, since The Next Generation, we’ve had so many Star Trek entities that were called “Star Trek“-colon-something [...] Our feeling was, in trying to make this show dramatically different, which we are trying to do, that it might be fun not to have a divided main title like that.  And I think that if there’s any one word that says Star Trek without actually saying Star Trek, it’s the word “Enterprise”.
For the cast of Enterprise, they went with unknown actors but anchored the show by casting Scott Bakula a television veteran, as Captain Jonathan Archer who is the first Captain to venture out “where no one has gone before.”  With this new show, we would see the first attempts of the people of Earth to explore the galaxy with their newly created warp five ship.  This is a time where there is no Prime Directive, no Federation, no force fields, and the transporter technology has just been invented.  The Vulcans who have made first contact with Earth only one hundred years ago, still view us as immature and not ready for interstellar travel and they spend a good portion of the first two seasons doing all they can to keep Earthlings from space.
This passive aggressive conflict between the Vulcans and the Earthlings causes a lot of friction and causes a lot of problems for  T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) who serves as the Enterprise’s Science Officer who gets caught between her loyalty for the crew and her homeworld.  In “First Flight” we see the conflict firsthand as an accident almost derails the entire NX flight program that led to the Enterprise.  This concept of interpersonal conflict is rare in Star Trek, and one of the most likely people to get himself in trouble is the ship’s Chief Engineer Charles “Trip” Tucker (Connor Trinneer) who keeps getting himself in trouble by mouthing off to the Vulcans and others, which continues on through the early part of the series.
The rest of the crew of the Enterprise is an interesting selection of personalities that really bonded together quicker than any other Star Trek show.  There’s the alien ship doctor known as Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley), who is an eternal optimist who also has a love for collecting pets.  Then there’s Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), the ship’s tactical officer who is much better at shooting things than talking to people.  The helmsman Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery) was born in space and is more familiar to the various species they encounter but is new to Starfleet. Another raw recruit (who in my opinion had no business being on the ship initially) is Hoshi Sato (Linda Park), who happens to be the linguistic expert and ship’s communication officer.  The first couple of seasons, I couldn’t stand Hoshi because she seemed to be scared of everything and completely unfit to be serving on the flagship of the fleet, but she does eventually mature and become essential over time.
Over the course of the show, there were several recurring characters such as Admiral Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong), Ambassador Soval (Gary Graham), Shran (Jeffrey Combs), and Matt Winston as the temporal agent Daniels, whose character ushered in one of the big plot points of the this season with the Temporal Cold War.  This Cold War, was a conflict between opposing time-traveling factions from different points of time who each attempt to change history to favor themselves.  During this season, one of those factions from the 27 century uses a group of genetically modified Suliban known as the Cabal to do their bidding which pits them against the crew of the Enterprise.
Other enemies to be found include several that have appeared previously on other Star Trek shows such as the Tholians, Klingons, Coridans, and even the Borg make an appearance in “Regeneration” which is a semi-sequel to the film Star Trek: First Contact.   Some fans weren’t happy about that, but I liked seeing this show tie into the bigger Star Trek universe and in this case, I thought they made a decent attempt at explaining how some Borg may have survived getting shot down over the Arctic by Picard and his crew.  Another cool episode this season was “Carbon Creek” which gives us a look at the real first contact between the Vulcans and Humans which I thought was really well done. It was also cool to see Archer get sentenced to Rura Penthe just like Kirk and McCoy in “Judgment” as well as the appearance of Duras, an ancestor to the family that would cause much trouble in The Next Generation for Worf and the Klingon High Council.
This season was a lot better than the previous one and from this point forward, it got better with each passing year. After finally escaping from the standalone episode mandate, Enterprise began crafting story arcs that really improved the show.  The following season after this one was all about the Xindi who are mentioned at the end of this season and from there it only gets better and I really wish they had gotten their seven year run like the other shows did.  This show was unfairly maligned and I think if people give it a shot, (and it seems like more and more are doing just that), then they would see that this is a show worthy of the Star Trek name.  If they had been given the chance to work out some kinks like Next Generation did, they too could have been just as popular and maybe would have had their own movies too.
Here’s the episodes that can be found this season:
1. Shockwave Part II - Silik and his Suliban soldiers board Enterprise to search the ship for Captain Archer, who T’Pol insists disappeared when he left to give himself up. Meanwhile, Archer is stuck in the 31st century with Daniels, trying to determine why his removal from the 22nd century led to the devastation they are witnessing. Daniels is stunned to discover that a monument commemorating an organization called the “Federation” was never built. The two find a dilapidated old library and begin searching for answers there. On Enterprise, the Suliban re-take the data disks stolen from them earlier showing they were the ones responsible for the catastrophe on Paraagan II. They also detect a temporal signature on board which proves T’Pol was not lying after all about Archer, so rather than killing the crew, Silik confines them to quarters and commandeers the ship. Meanwhile on Earth, Ambassador Soval is incensed that Enterprise has failed to follow instructions ending its mission, and tells Admiral Forrest he has no choice but to send the Vulcan ship D’kyr in pursuit.
2. Carbon Creek - Celebrating T’Pol’s first full year with the Enterprise crew over dinner, Archer asks why her record states that she once took a five-day leave to visit an old Pennsylvania mining town called Carbon Creek. She claims Carbon Creek was the site of actual first contact between humans and Vulcans, long before the historical First Contact in 2063, and her second foremother (great-grandmother) was there. Trip Tucker scoffs at this, but then T’Pol offers to tell “the story.”  T’Pol’s ancestor, T’Mir, was on a survey ship with three other Vulcans investigating the launch of Sputnik, Earth’s first artificial satellite, in October of 1957, when their impulse manifold malfunctioned and forced them into an emergency landing in a North American forest. The captain is killed, leaving T’Mir in charge of the surviving crew, Mestral and Stron. Not knowing whether their distress call to the High Command was transmitted in time, they use up their food rations within a week, then face the question of how they will survive. Despite the risk of cultural contamination, Mestral insists on visiting the nearby “settlement.”  Hoping that a rescue vessel will eventually arrive, the three Vulcans take up residence in Carbon Creek and secure jobs — Stron as a plumber/handyman, Mestral as a coalminer, and T’Mir as hired help at the tavern. Despite their aim to stay to themselves as much as possible, Mestral becomes increasingly captivated by human culture, such as television and baseball, and by the townspeople themselves, particularly Maggie, the single mom who tends bar at the Pine Tree.
3. Dead Stop - After the incident in the Romulan minefield, Enterprise is in need of repairs. Archer sends out a general distress call, and receives a jumbled response from a Tellarite freighter, containing the coordinates of a repair station. When the crew arrives at the station, it appears to be abandoned … until one of the docking ports lights up and reconfigures itself to fit Enterprise. Still, there don’t seem to be any lifeforms onboard. Once inside the station, Archer, T’Pol and Trip locate a sort of diagnostic center that contains holographic schematics of the ships, with the damaged sections clearly highlighted. Somehow, the station has managed to scan the ship and anticipate the crew’s needs — the schematic even highlights Reed’s recent leg injury. A computer voice addresses the trio, asking them to select a method of compensation for the repairs. Archer offers some warp plasma, and the station accepts, saying the repairs can be completed in less than 35 hours. Though he is wary of the automated nature of the station, Archer accepts the terms, and the station begins the repairs.  Archer, however, can’t help but be suspicious — it all seems too good to be true.
4. A Night in Sickbay - Having managed to offend the Kreetassans yet again while negotiating for a much-needed plasma injector,Archer returns to Enterprise frustrated. Things get even worse when he learns that Porthos picked up some kind of pathogen on the Kreetassan homeworld, and must be confined to sickbay. Unfortunately, Porthos’ condition only worsens, and Dr. Phlox must prevent the beagle’s auto-immune system from collapsing entirely. As Archer worries about the fate of his pet, T’Pol informs him that she has discovered the reason for the Kreetassans’ anger. Apparently, Porthos urinated on one of the 300-year-old Alvera trees — which are considered cultural treasures — outside the Hall of Diplomacy. In order to receive the plasma injector for Enterprise, the captain will most likely have to perform several acts of contrition. This infuriates Archer even more — especially since he thinks the Kreetassans should have known there was a pathogen in their atmosphere that Porthos couldn’t handle.  Frustrated, Archer decides to spend the night in sickbay to be near his pet. While there, he observes Phlox working on a cure, as well as performing odd personal grooming task and feeding his menagerie of creatures.
5. The Seventh - When T’Pol is assigned a secret mission by the Vulcan High Command, she asks Archer to accompany her. The captain is surprised by her request, but agrees — especially when T’Pol reveals that there is a personal side to the mission. Many years ago, T’Pol was sent to retrieve several rogue Vulcan operatives. She was able to apprehend all but one of them, a man known as Menos. Now, the Vulcans believe they have located Menos, and they want T’Pol to bring him in.  Soon, T’Pol, Archer and Mayweather are on their way to the Pernaia system, where Menos was last spotted. As Mayweather pilots their craft, T’Pol briefs Archer on Menos: he was assigned to infiltrate a cell of smugglers, and apparently became one of them. Now, he reportedly makes a career of smuggling synthetic bio-toxins used to make transgenic weapons.
6. The Communicator - Upon returning from a research mission to a pre-warp alien planet, Reed discovers that his communicator is missing. After an extensive search, he realizes that he must have lost it somewhere on the planet. Hoshi manages to tap into the communicator’s power signature and pinpoints its location near a tavern that Reed and the rest of the team visited. Archer knows that the crew must retrieve their technology or risk contaminating the planet’s pre-warp society, so Archer and Reed return to the planet, hiding their shuttlepod in the woods. As they enter the tavern, a group of soldiers eyes them suspiciously. Using his scanner, Reed realizes that the communicator is located in another room of the tavern, but when he and Archer go to retrieve it, they are apprehended by the soldiers. The two men are taken to the tavern stockroom and questioned by Major Pell, who asks if the communicator is a weapon. Pell also seems to think Archer and Reed are connected to something called “the Alliance.” When the men refuse to respond, Pell orders that they be taken to the military complex.
7. Singularity - Enterprise has dropped to impulse in order to get a closer look at a black hole that’s part of a trinary star system. As it will take them two days to get there, the crew has time for personal endeavors. Archer concentrates on writing a one-page preface for a biography of his father. He also assigns Trip the task of making some adjustments to the captain’s chair, which is apparently rather uncomfortable. Reed hopes to work on a new security protocol, while Hoshi takes over cooking duties for an ailing Chef.
8. Vanishing Point - Hoshi and Trip are surveying some primitive alien ruins, taking pictures and discussing what might have happened to the people who used to inhabit the planet. Suddenly, Archer contacts them and asks them to return immediately to Enterprise — a storm is heading their way. As the duo prepares to board their shuttlepod, Archer contacts them again.  The storm situation is more urgent than he predicted, and he needs to bring Trip and Hoshi up via the transporter, one at a time. Hoshi is apprehensive, and insists that Trip go first. Once he is safely onboard, she beams up.  Back on Enterprise, Hoshi feels strange, but decides that she just needs some rest. Later on, she joins some of her crewmates for a meal — strangely, they seem to be ignoring her the whole time.
9. Precious Cargo - The Enterprise crew has visitors — two Retellian cargo pilots, Firek Goff and Firek Plinn, need help repairing their life support systems. The pair explains that they have been hired to return a young woman to her homeworld. Because of their limited resources and the length of the trip, they are transporting her in stasis. A few days ago, her stasis pod began to malfunction. The crew cannot support a passenger out of stasis, so they need Trip’s help repairing their systems. Firek Goff refuses Archer’s offer to help them transport their passenger more quickly, but he does accept the captain’s offer of a meal.  Trip, meanwhile, brings some equipment over from Enterprise and starts working. He finds himself intrigued by the woman in the stasis pod, and is surprised when she suddenly awakens. Goff and Plinn are signaled that the pod has malfunctioned, and Goff heads back to the ship. As Trip frees the woman from stasis, he notices that her wrists are bound — she is a prisoner, not a passenger.
10. The Catwalk - As Captain Archer prepares to lead a survey team to an uninhabited planet, Enterprise is suddenly hailed by a trio of aliens seeking refuge. The aliens warn Archer that a deadly neutronic wavefront is quickly approaching. After conferring with the crew, Archer surmises that everyone must take shelter somewhere protected in order to survive the storm’s deadly radiation. Trip suggests that the one heavily-shielded place onboard that might suffice for the eight-day ordeal is the cramped quarters of the catwalk, the maintenance shaft that runs the length of each nacelle. Only one problem — the temperature in the catwalk can reach 300 degrees when the warp coils are online, so Trip will have to shut down the main reactor and set up a makeshift bridge in one of the catwalk compartments.  The crew and their alien visitors evacuate to the catwalk, and as the days wear on, tensions run high among them.
11. Dawn - Trip is alone on a test mission aboard Shuttlepod One, trying out the latest autopilot upgrades. Suddenly, he is fired upon by an alien ship and must make an emergency landing on a nearby moon. It’s nighttime, and Trip attempts to repair the transceiver in order to contact Enterprise. While he’s working, he is suddenly attacked by a mysterious alien. Trip retreats into his shuttlepod, but quickly notices that the alien interloper has stolen his transceiver. Meanwhile, Archer has mounted a search for Trip. As Enterprise attempts to track him down, they are hailed by an Arkonian ship and ordered to leave the area immediately. T’Pol warns Archer that the Arkonians are a territorial species, and that Enterprise should proceed with extreme caution. Apparently, relations between the Vulcans and the Arkonians have been contentious for many years. Archer tells the Arkonian captain, Khata’n Zshaar, that he will not leave until his missing crewmember is back onboard. Khata’n Zshaar admits that one of his crew is also missing, and was most likely piloting the alien ship that fired on Trip. Archer proposes that the two crews work together in order to find both missing crewmembers. The Arkonians agree, but T’Pol advises that Archer remain cautious.
12. Stigma - As Enterprise enters the orbit of Dekendi III, Dr. Phlox prepares to attend the Interspecies Medical Exchange conference. He’s also looking forward to being reunited with one of his wives, Feezal, who will be helping Trip install a neutron microscope onboard. Phlox is pleased to see his wife, but the conference raises a troubling issue — Phlox is the only person onboard Enterprise who knows that T’Pol is suffering from Pa’nar Syndrome, an incurable Vulcan disease. He has been able keep the effects of the disease at bay, but he knows that T’Pol will soon need supplemental medications. Otherwise, she might die. The doctor sees the conference as the perfect opportunity to speak with Vulcan physicians, and learn if they have made any headway with the disease. However, he must keep T’Pol’s identity a secret, as the High Command cannot learn of her condition.
13. Cease Fire - The Andorians and the Vulcans are locked in battle over a small planet, situated on the frontier between their two systems. Both sides claim that it belongs to them — the Andorians refer to it as “Weytahm,” while the Vulcans call it “Paan Mokar.” Andorian Commander Shran has landed a force on the planet and occupied the settlement. Now, the Vulcans are calling for a cease fire and Shran wants Archer to help the two sides negotiate. Vulcan Ambassador Soval is reluctant to bring Archer in as mediator, but three Vulcans have been taken hostage, and Shran has made his position clear — he only trusts Archer.
14. Future Tense - When the Enterprise crew discovers a mysterious, futuristic vessel adrift in space, Captain Archer orders it brought onboard for further investigation. Inside the craft, the crew is shocked to find what is apparently a human body, charred beyond recognition. Trip and Reed take a closer look at the interior of the ship, and discover that it is much more spacious that it appears. They also discover a “black box” device within the depths of the ship and prepare to bring it up to Engineering for more research.  Before they can explore much further, however, Enterprise is hailed by a Suliban ship. The Suliban claim that the futuristic ship belongs to them and demand that Archer turn it over immediately.
15. Canamar - Upon leaving the Enolian homeworld, Archer and Trip are mistakenly identified as smugglers and arrested. The two men are placed on a prison transport headed for the penal colony known as Canamar. Among their fellow prisoners are the menacing Kuroda, a hulking Nausicaan and a young, talkative alien named Zoumas.  Back on Enterprise, T’Pol manages to convince an Enolian official that Archer and Trip are innocent and he arranges for their safe return. Just as Archer and Trip are about to be set free, however, Kuroda breaks free and, with the Nausicaan’s help, takes down the guard and pilot. With the pilot out of commission, there’s no one to fly the ship. Hoping to figure out an escape plan of his own, Archer volunteers to pilot the craft. He also pretends to be a smuggler, hoping that Kuroda will come to trust him.
16. The Crossing - Enterprise encounters a large, otherworldly vessel unlike any the crew has seen before. They try to make contact with it, but to no avail. Suddenly, a large portal opens and the ship “swallows” Enterprise, rendering its weapons and engines useless. Luckily, life support is still operational. Archer, Trip and Reed take a shuttlepod into the cavernous ship for further exploration. Although there doesn’t seem to be any immediate threat to Enterprise, Trip is suddenly attacked by a colorful wisp of smoke that seems to invade his body for a few seconds before releasing him. Back in Sickbay, Trip insists that he’s fine. He explains that during his brief encounter with the alien wisp, he had an out-of-body experience and believed he was in Florida and visiting an old girlfriend.  Archer is perplexed, to say the least. He orders Trip to get the engines back online, then discusses the situation with T’Pol. Though Archer believes that their captors have hostile intentions, T’Pol cautions that there’s no reason to believe these mysterious aliens mean Enterprise any harm.
17. Judgment - On Narendra III, Archer stands before a Klingon court magistrate and a crowd of blood-thirsty Klingons. The captain is charged with conspiring against the Klingon Empire, and will stand trial. He is banished to his cell, where Dr. Phlox pays him a visit. The doctor, who is tending to Archer under the ruse that the captain is suffering from a mysterious illness, quietly lets Archer know that T’Pol and the rest of the crew are working on a way to free their captain. As Phlox leaves, Archer meets his Klingon advocate Kolos, who warns him not to speak during the tribunal.  The trial gets underway, and Prosecutor Orak calls his first witness — Duras, the former captain of the battle cruiser Bortas. After a skirmish with Enterprise, Duras was demoted to second weapons officer. Duras explains that Enterprise was harboring Klingon fugitives, and he asked Archer to surrender them to theBortas. Duras insists that the captain was very aggressive, and ordered an attack on the Bortas. Archer is appalled by Duras’ account and wants a chance to explain himself, but Kolos tells him to keep silent. Orak notes that Archer was clearly the aggressor in the matter, and that the captain was obviously conspiring to disgrace Duras and incite a rebellion. In short, says Orak, Archer is an enemy of the Klingon Empire.
18. Horizon - Enterprise reverses course to investigate a geological phenomenon — a planet that’s about to be covered with erupting volcanoes. The course change will take the ship near the E.C.S. Horizon, the cargo ship whereMayweather grew up. Mayweather requests a few days off to make a family visit — he hasn’t been home in several years, and his father is ill. The ensign is somewhat nervous about seeing his family — his father didn’t seem to approve of his decision to leave Horizon to join Starfleet. Ultimately, Mayweather’s homecoming proves to be bittersweet — when he contacts his mother, Rianna, she reveals that his father died a few weeks ago.  Once aboard Horizon, Mayweather finds himself adapting to the rough-around-the-edges cargo ship. It’s sturdy, but doesn’t boast the high-tech perks of the warp-5 Enterprise. Most of the ship’s crew welcomes Mayweather warmly, expressing pride at the young ensign’s accomplishments. Still, Mayweather can’t help but feel a bit out of place.
19. Cogenitor - Archer is thrilled to be within ten light years of a hypergiant star. As the crew prepares to study the phenomenon, they make first contact with another species — the Vissians, who are also in the area to study the hypergiant. After the Vissian captain, Drennik, explains that meeting new species is one of their primary goals, Archer invites him and his crew onboard Enterprise for dinner. Once there, Drennik and Archer hit it off, and Drennik invites Archer to join him when he takes the Vissian stratopod deep into the hypergiant the following day. Archer enthusiastically accepts the invitation. Meanwhile, other crewmembers are mingling with the Vissians. Reed hits it off with a female Vissian tactical officer, while Trip meets the Vissian chief engineer and his wife. Trip is intrigued by a third individual the couple has with them, a member of the species’ third gender known as a “cogenitor.” The cogenitor is a nameless individual who somehow makes pregnancies among Vissians possible — the engineer and his wife are trying to have a baby.
20. Regeneration - An arctic research team on Earth discovers debris from an alien vessel, nearly a century old, buried in a glacier along with the bodies of two cybernetically enhanced humanoids. Once those beings are thawed for investigation, they come to life and abduct the scientists and their transport vessel.  After visiting the research site, Admiral Forrest calls in Enterprise to find the transport. On the way, the crew receives a distress call from a Tarkalean freighter, which is under attack from an unknown species. Once they track down the freighter, the crew notes that it is being attacked by a modified version of the arctic transport.  Enterprise fends off the transport and brings the two Tarkalean survivors onboard. Phlox notes that they should live, but that nanoprobes from this cybernetic species have infiltrated their systems. They are being transformed into a cybernetic hybrid, and the formerly human researchers are most likely going through a similar transformation. Phlox is attempting to come up with something that will slow the nanoprobes’ progress. Though Phlox doesn’t believes these beings are a danger to the crew, Archer orders Reed to post a guard in Sickbay.  As Enterprise continues to search for the transport, Archer realizes that there’s something familiar about this incident. He points to a speech Zefram Cochrane made years ago, wherein Cochrane referred to “cybernetic creatures from the future.” T’Pol is skeptical of Cochrane’s comments, but Archer remains troubled — Cochrane said that the creatures’ ultimate goal was to “enslave the human race.”
21. First Flight - Archer receives news that A.G. Robinson, his old rival in the early days of the NX test program, has died. During a shuttlepod mission, Archer reminisces to T’Pol about the time he and Robinson were pilots competing for the honor of being the first to break the Warp 2 barrier. Just as Enterprise is about to investigate what appears to be a dark matter nebula, Archer receives word that his old rival A.G. Robinson has died while climbing Mt. McKinley. Archer and T’Pol set off in a shuttlepod, and while the captain is uncharacteristically quiet, T’Pol finally gets him to open up about his complicated history with Robinson. Archer begins to remember the days when he and Robinson were part of the NX test program trying to break warp 2, while Admiral Forrest was a Commodore overseeing the program at Starfleet Command… Both Robinson and Archer want the first flight — the assignment is particularly important to Archer, as his father designed the engine. Ultimately, Forrest gives the mission to Robinson. Though Archer is disappointed, he promises to give Robinson all the support he needs — later, at the 602 Club, he even raises a toast to his rival. Robinson confides that Archer didn’t get the assignment because he’s too by-the-book. Archer is trying to be a great pilot, but Robinson knows that Starfleet would rather have a great captain.
22. Bounty - The crew of the Enterprise encounters Skalaar, a Tellarite who offers to give them a tour of a nearby planet. As it turns out, Skalaar is actually a bounty hunter who kidnaps Archer, planning to turn him over to the Klingons for a reward. The Klingons have apparently placed a substantial price on Archer’s head since his escape from Rura Penthe. Archer tries to plead his case with Skalaar, but the Tellarite doesn’t want to listen, and claims not to care if Archer is guilty of the crime he was imprisoned for. Archer soon learns that Skalaar plans on using the substantial reward money to buy back his cargo ship, the Tezra.
23. The Expanse - An alien probe unleashes an assault upon Earth. Enterprise is recalled, and along the way home Captain Archer acquires information that the perpetrators come from a mysterious region of space known as the Delphic Expanse.  A probe from an unknown alien source unleashes a devastating assault on Earth, cutting a swath from Florida to Venezuela. Millions are killed, including Trip’s younger sister, and Enterprise is called home. On the way back, the ship encounters a Suliban vessel that abducts Archer. Once again, Archer comes face to face with Silik and the mysterious humanoid figure. The figure informs him that the probe that attacked Earth was sent by the Xindi, a race that believes humans will destroy their homeworld in the future. They were given this information by individuals from the future who can communicate through time. The figure also tells Archer that the Xindi are working on a much more powerful weapon that they will use to destroy Earth.

Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

The show’s 1080p (1.78:1) transfer looks good but it’s not as good as the complete restoration that the Next Generation sets got.  The image itself is clean looking without any scratches or damage, but the detail isn’t as sharp as it should be.  The show frequently looks soft especially in low lit scenes but fares better during brightly lit periods. Since most of the show takes place in darkened areas, it’s pretty prevalent throughout the season.  Colors are decent but don’t really pop out unless the scenes are outside or in a bright environment like the Earth based “Carbon Creek” episode.  There’s also some light grain present throughout the show and the black levels are decent but not as solid and dark as they could have been.  Overall, this is a slightly above average transfer that could have used a little bit more love, but it still works and the show looks better than I remember.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

Enterprise: Season Two‘s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sounds much better here than it did when it was on the air. From the much criticized opening song’s nice presentation to the ambient noise of the bridge, it all sounds great. Each channel is used well to deliver clear and clean sounding effects and dialogue as well as some very accurate cross channel activity.  The front channels offer some crystal clear dialogue while the rear channels deliver an active soundfield that brings to life every phaser blast, explosion, and warp jump.  Some bits just stand out like the attack at the start of “The Expanse” or the Borg hive-mind chatter in “Regeneration” which sound really cool. I also like the constant ambience of the Enterprise itself which you really notice when it’s not there during the behind the scenes scenes in the extras.  Fans of the show should be fairly pleased with the show’s audio presentation.

Extras (5 out of 5 stars) 

Roger Lay Jr. and Robert Meyer Burnett have outdone themselves on these extras. As a fan of the show, I think these extras are worth the cost of the set alone.  This combination of old and new extras really captures how the show came about, what worked and didn’t, gives us a better picture of the actors and those behind the camera, and some long awaited answers that are given candidly and without any hesitation or waffling.  There’s four vintage commentaries and three new ones as well as text commentaries and two brand new documentaries that are so good that they’ve raised the bar for all others and how I judge them.  If I could give this set’s extras a higher rating than five I would gladly do so.
Here are all of the extras broken down disc by disc:
Disc One:
  • Audio Commentaries – Two episodes get commentaries with the first one being “Carbon Creek” with writer Chris Black and Mike & Denise Okuda and a second one for “Dead Stop” with writers Michael Sussman and Phyllis Strong.
  • Deleted Scene -One brief snippet from “Minefield.”
  • In Conversation: The First Crew - This is the kind of extra that I’m always looking for but hardly ever get. Roger Lay Jr. and Robert Meyer Burnett managed to get the entire cast to return for a brand new roundtable type of discussion, moderated by showrunner, writer, and executive producer/lightning rod Brannon Braga. I’ve seen Braga talk on Next Generation sets and he’s always come across as passive aggressive towards Star Trek fans and it’s not without cause.  A lot of fans believe that Rick Berman and him ruined the franchise and he would be the first to agree and disagree with that assessment.  On Next Gen, he was somewhat reserved but Enterprise was his baby since he was a co-creator. Because of that, we get a newly engaged and invested Braga who seems eager to tell his side of the story and to hear from the cast what they honestly though worked and didn’t work in the show.  Braga even admits that the final seasons of the show were much better because of the new showrunner Manny Coto taking over and moving the show in a better direction.  The resulting candor between the cast and creator provided quite a refreshing change and it also made me respect them all even more.  This is a discussion with actors Anthony Montgomery, Dominic Keating, Jolene Blalock, Scott Bakula, Linda Park, Connor Trinneer, and John Billingsley that alternates between being very serious to being very funny and lighthearted.  They talk about how the show was rushed to the air, how the entire concept of the show changed from the entire length of the first season leading up to the launch of the Enterprise to what actually happened, how the studio and the showrunners were caught in a loop because they were too scared to change the model or to go against creator Rodddenberry’s wishes, how the cast came together quickly, how it was received by fans then and now, what items the cast stole at the end of the show, and a lot more.  The cast all praised Scott Bakula for being a great leader and a friend which really embarrassed him.  This is a really relaxed filming session as some actors come and go during it, and Connor Trinneer even leaves it halfway through only to be replaced by frequent guest star Jeffrey Combs.  I loved this extra and it was very interesting to hear everyones thoughts about the show years after it was cancelled.  It’s obvious that they all loved doing the show and each other and it’s a shame that they didn’t get to do their seven years like the other shows.
  • Season 2 Promo - A vintage promo for season two in standard definition.
  • Archival Mission Logs: Enterprise Moments: Season Two  – Another vintage look at the following episodes: “Carbon Creek,” “Shockwave, Part II,” “Dead Stop,” “Vanishing Point,” “The Catwalk,” “Future Tense,” “Bounty,” “First Flight,” and “The Expanse.”  We hear their thoughts about the shows but all of these are fairly short.
  • Archival Mission Logs: Enterprise Profile: Jolene Blalock - Another carried over extra where we hear from actress Jolene Blalock talk about her character, T’Pol.
Disc Two:

  • Deleted Scenes  – More deleted scenes from: “A Night in Sickbay.”
  • Archival Mission Log: Inside “A Night in Sickbay”  -I don’t know why people hate this episode since it provided some good character moments and the focus on Archer’s cute Beagle.  Maybe I’m biased because Beagles are my favorite kind of dog, but I still like it. We hear from the actors and more about the episode and we see a little of the behind the scenes making of it.
Disc Three:
  • Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes  from “Dawn” and “Stigma” .
  • Text Commentary – The Okudas are back and this time it’s with a text commentary for ”Stigma” in this ported over extra.
  • Archival Interviews - A collection of vintage interviews with Brannon Braga, Rick Berman, Jolene Blalock, and Scott Bakula who all discuss the episode “Stigma.”
  • Archival Mission Log: Photo Gallery - A collection of still images from the show and some behind the scenes shots.
Disc Four:

  • Deleted Scene - A deleted scene from “Cease Fire.”
  • Archival Mission Logs: Shooting “Future Tense” - This was a fairly interesting extra where we get to see an entire day’s worth of behind the scenes footage from the making of the episode that’s been condensed down in this featurette.  I love these kind of looks at the process of filming so I enjoyed it.
  • Archival Mission Logs: Enterprise Secrets – We hear from First Assistant Director David Trotti who talks about how he started on earlier Star Trek films and worked his way up the chain.  In particular, he mentions how his experience working on Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country and how that film’s Rura Penthe scenes would later serve as the inspiration for the franchise’s return to that frozen location for this episode.
Disc Five:

  • Audio Commentaries - Here’s another set of commentaries that offers actors John Billingsley and Bonita Friedericy, as well as  writers Michael Sussman and Phyllis Strong to talk about “Regeneration,” while   for writer Chris Black and Mike & Denise Okuda cover “First Flight” and the Okuda’s also provide an extra text commentary for the episode.
  • Archival Mission Logs: LeVar Burton: Star Trek Director One of the coolest aspects of working on a Star Trek show had to be the option to be able to direct some episodes at some point.  The Next GenerationVoyager, andDeep Space Nine casts took advantage of that and a lot of them are now working as directors now.  One of them, LeVar Burton gets his own extra on here.  I’m not sure why he got one and not Roxanne Dawson or others, but he’s a good director and he talks about his approach and philosophy for directing.
  • Archival Mission Logs: Enterprise Outtakes - We see the cast messing up and fooling around in between takes.
Disc Six:

  • Deleted Scenes - Deleted scenes from the episode “The Expanse.”
  • Uncharted Territory Part One: Destination Unknown - This “Uncharted” series is my other favorite extra that really runs about an hour and a half but for some reason it’s been broken into three parts.  This is another brand new documentary created for this Blu-ray that stars most of the cast and key production people like Brannon Braga and Rick Berman who wasn’t part of the “In Conversation” extra.  Brannon Braga starts off talking about how he fired the entire writing staff from the first season except except for one writer. With the second season requiring a new writers’ room, Braga’s attention began to be divided.  It became an even bigger problem when the studio had a regime change which is detailed in part three.  With the concept of the show originally being The Right Stuff  set in the future, it changed over time although some episodes like “First Flight” did capture that spirit.  Braga also talks about the episodes he liked (“Carbon Creek” and “Regeneration”) and disliked (“Precious Cargo”) this season.  We also hear from John Billingsley and Jeffrey Combs as well.
  • Uncharted Territory Part Two: The First Crew - The discussion continues with a focus on the cast and the feel of the show which takes place a lot closer to our time than the other shows.  There’s more talk about the characters and the writing of the show, including a look into the character of Hoshi and how she changed over the course of the show.  There’s also much discussion of Scott Bakula’s behavior behind and in front of the camera which is universally praised.
  • Uncharted Territory Part Three: Course Correction – In part three, we hear of the conflict between the writers, the cast, and the studio over the direction of the show.  During the early seasons of the show, the network and studio were hands off, but with a regime change at Paramount and the desperation of the UPN television network, suddenly everyone had an opinion on what the show should be.  And of course, the fans had their own opinions as well and they weren’t afraid to say them nonstop on the internet.  Braga found himself fighting a multi-front war which further alienated him from the show and the fans and his ill-worded statements didn’t help any.  The cast wanted to make their show different from what had been done before and were unhappy with the first season and a half.  Some of them were also disappointed that they didn’t have more to do on the show, but at the same time appreciated their opportunity and resolved to make the best of it. After being directed to shake things up for season three, Braga and the cast and crew, found themselves excited for the first time.  By the end of the series, the show was firing on all cylinders and from every interview you can see how much each of them wish it could have continued.  All of these retrospective are fascinating for fans of the show because we are finally getting the answers of what happened and it’s rare to see such a straightforward truthful account that doesn’t feel like it’s been sanitized by a team of lawyers.  All of the cast come across well as does Braga whose appearance in these extras has changed my opinion of him for the better.  Some actors like John Billingsley don’t pull any punches and it’s very refreshing to see this much honesty from all involved.  Fans are going to love these extras!
  • NX-01 File 04  – Scott Bakula shares some anecdotes of the many people who came to visit the set including the cast of The Next Generation who also liked their craft services.
  • NX-01 File 05  – We hear about the relationship between Hoshi and T’Pol with comments from both actresses.
  • NX-01 File 06 - Anthony Montgomery talks about the time that Whoopi Goldberg came to visit the set and how things have changed since Star Trek.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars) 

Star Trek: Enterprise is a great show that only got better with each season.  You can see the improvement this season with several standout episodes that really raised the bar for the show. This Blu-ray is also excellent with above average video and audio quality and some of the best extras that I’ve ever seen.  The extras alone are worth the cost of this set and I highly recommend that you buy this set.  This release is just the latest in a long line of stellar Star Trek Blu-rays and I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one!
Order your copy today! 

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