On Tuesday the first season of Star Trek: Enterprise finally arrives on Blu-ray. Enterprise was the only Trek show to be broadcast in HD but is the third to get the Blu-ray home video treatment. Find out how it turned out in the TrekMovie review below.
REVIEW: Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Blu-ray
Star Trek: Enterprise was developed for HD (and widescreen) and so it wasn’t remastered for Blu-ray like the original Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Even still, the Blu-ray version looks better than the original broadcast, and obviously much better for the those who hadn’t yet upgraded to HD TVs back in 2001. And the transfer is certainly superior to the 2005 DVD release, and even superior to the HD streaming available on Hulu, Amazon and Netflix.
However, being that they are using the masters from 2001, the HD transfer from the original film doesn’t seem to have the richness or vibrancy of the recent TNG Blu-rays. This is due to the technology improving over the last decade. And in the case of the CGI special effects there is a noticeable granularity and some artifacts. This is due to the FX being originally done in 720p which was good enough for broadcast in 2001, but noticeably upscaled for the 1080p Blu-rays.
There are no issues with the sound. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 and gives you a better cinematic experience then the original DVDs and broadcast and is equal to what was delivered for the TOS and TNG Blu-ray releases.
A highlight of this new release is the collection of special features. The set starts off with all the features from the previous DVD release. On top of that there are four new audio commentaries: Brannon Braga, James L. Conway, Dan Curry and cast members Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating for "Broken Bow," André Bormanis and Dan Curry for "Silent Enemy," Mike Sussman and PhyllisStrong for "Shadows of P’Jem," and finally Brannon Braga, director David Livingston and cast members Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker) and Dominic Keating for "Shuttlepod One"). Each case these mixes humor with interesting insight into the making of the episodes and a lot of talk about the series in general.
There is also a standalone chat with series co-creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga which is the frankest discussion seen on any Star Trek home video release. The pair really open up and cover a lot of issues about Enterprise and about both of their long histories in the franchise. They discuss issues ranging from fan criticisms for "killing Kirk" in Generations to fighting stupid ideas from UPN execs like putting "hot" music bands on Enterprise (playing in the mess hall each week). They even discuss their meetings with William Shatner and explain why he never guest-starred on Enterprise (surprise…Shatner wanted way too much money).
And if that wasn’t enough there is an excellent three-part documentary (“To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise”) about the making of the show which includes more with Berman and Braga, along with new interview clips with production designer Herman Zimmerman, technical consultants Michael and Denise Okuda, writers Andre Bormanis, Phyllis Strong , James L. Conway and series leads Scott Bakula ("Jonathan Archer"), Connor Trinneer ("Trip Tucker"), and Dominic Keating ("Malcolm Reed").
Special Feature preview
The first part of this doc again includes more frank discussions of the show. For example, fans who have derided the theme song will be surprised to see Braga and others join in the critiques. The first part of the doc also has fascinating insights into the development of the show. I would say that at times Braga and Berman seeming too defensive about the Enterprise. They talk about Star Trek ‘burn out’ and how they actually were against the idea of launching a new show so soon after Voyager ended. They also describe interesting early ideas about how they wanted the show to be more Earth-based but they studio demanded a more traditional Trek show and that the only way to convince the studio to let them change the setting to a prequel was the idea of weaving the "Temporal Cold War" plot into the series.
In addition, the set includes an in-depth look at the making of the episode "Vox Solo" which was actually shot for a never-broadcast PBS show called "On the Set." While that show never made it on the air, the feature was very interesting, especially for those who are interested in how TV shows are made. There are also some presentation videos used for the Network and Syndication which are nice to have but not that interesting. And of course all the previously mentioned DVD special features including HD version of the outtakes.
Preview of Enterprise S1 Blooper Reel
Star Trek: Enterprise (or just Enterprise as it was called in its first season) was the fifth live-action Star Trek series. After each progressive show had moved the story of Trek further into the future, co-creators Braga and Berman decided it was time for a change so they decided to go back before original Star Trek with a setting in the never-seen before 22nd century. I always thought that the prequel idea was a good one. Not only had we seen enough of the 24th century (21 seasons and 3 feature films with another on the way), but it also brought the show closer to our reality and could make it more grounded than what was seeming more and more like a sterile future with little conflict (within the setting of the Federation).
More important than the setting, were the characters. The variety of different personalities built in to the show was well thought out and (as usual with a Trek show) the producers brought in a very strong cast, led by Scott Bakula as Captain Archer, Jolene Blalock as the Vulcan science officer T’Pol and Connor Trinneer as Chief Engineer Charles "Trip: Tucker. While not ever meshing to the level of the original series of ‘troika’ of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, the three were well-defined and had great chemistry. The first season also made a few attempts to develop character arcs for other main castmembers, with John Billingsley standing out with the limited amount he was given. Enterprise was also gifted with some very strong guest actors and characters, such as regular Trek guest star Jeffrey Combs essentially re-inventing everything we knew about Andorians with his Shran.
The prequel allowed them to introduce more conflict and more grittiness. In those early years of space exploration, the characters were more likely to make mistakes as they made it up as they went along without the rules, regulation and history of a huge Starfleet backing them up. And while some fans were taken aback by the tensions between Humans and Vulcans, this again was part of the point of doing a prequel. The idea is to show the struggle of creating the United Federation of Planets. So the relationship with Humans and Vulcans had to go through and arc towards that peaceful future (not that humans and Vulcans always got along so well in the original Star Trek either by the way).
The show didn’t always live up to its promise. But I would argue it wasn’t the prequel setting. In fact, problems happened when they didn’t change things up enough. Sometimes the show would feel too much like Voyager with grey paint – just replacing hull-plating for shields and phase-cannons for phasers, etc. While, like all the other post TOS series, the first season is hit and miss there is a lot of entertaining, fun and exciting stuff in the first season of Enterprise.
Sure at times the showed played it a little loose with Star Trek canon, like in the Ferengi episode "Acquisition." But there was always at least the patina of an explanation, and in the end even that episode was kind of fun.
I believe that Enterprise is worth a second look or even a first look for some Star Trek fans that have eschewed this show. If you haven’t seen Enterprise I envy you, in that you have an opportunity to see brand new Star Trek episodes for the first time, and now in beautiful HD. The pilot "Broken Bow" is arguably the strongest of the entire franchise. And there are a number of episodes in Season 1 that live up to goals of making a new and different type of Star Trek show. From the action and political itrigue of "Shadows of P’Jem," to the creepy and very alien aliens of "Silent Enemy," to the small character drama of "Shuttlepod One" to name just a few of the very worthy entries in season one.
For myself reviewing the show again, I feel that it is a better series than Star Trek: Voyager and I would go so far as to say that the first season is better than the first seasons of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (although I admit I would still rank both of those shows higher). But Enterprise is a worth Star Trek series and I’m happy to have it as part of my collection and look forward to Season Two on Blu-ray
Packaging & Navigation
Season 1 of Star Trek Enterprise comes in similar packaging to the recent Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-rays with a nice sleeve (with the title logo and characters in raised relief). Inside is a standard blue wallet containing the six discs. The content details are printed on the back of the removable disc wallet cover (which is the same design as the sleeve cover).
The navigation animation is actually the best seen so far in for the Blu-ray sets, with a kind of immersive 3D world and Enterprise style controls. Navigating is very simple and straightforward.
If you have always been a fan of the series then this set is highly recommended. The series looks better than ever and the new special features will give you great insights into the show. For other Star Trek fans who want to review the show it is certainly worth at least renting (if you can find it available). Star Trek Enterprise is a worthy member of the Star Trek family and if you skipped it the first time you should give it another chance. Just think of it, there are dozens of brand new Star Trek episodes (in HD) for you to enjoy.
Trailer for Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Blu-ray
TNG on Blu-ray
Running parallel with releasing Star Trek Enterprise on Blu-ray, CBS is also remastering releasing Blu-rays for the Star Trek: The Next Generation. The first two seasons were released in 2012. You can pre-order TNG S3 at Amazon – discounted to $91 (due April 30th).