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Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 2 Blu-ray review

Conventional Trekker wisdom says that Enterprise didn’t get good until Season 3, but as I looked over Season 2’s episodes I was a little bit surprised to see how many episodes I looked forward to revisiting. There are some very good episodes nestled throughout Season 2, though the less said about “Precious Cargo”, the better. As Scott Bakula says in the cast reunion feature on the set, about half-way through season 2 things changed for the better. I’m inclined to agree. Read on for the full review of Enterprise Season 2 on Blu-ray!

The Episodes

“Carbon Creek” is an enjoyable (if a bit dry) story about Vulcans who had to live on Earth in the year 1957 for some months while they await a rescue. This may or may not be a bit of a tall tale that T’Pol tells Trip and Archer to entertain them during dinner.

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“Minefield” shows off what could be done with a mix of well executed practical sets and props and CGI effects. We learn a bit more about the conservative Reed and get a not quite canon violating appearance of 22nd century Romulans.

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“The Catwalk” is a unique episode where the crew is stuck inside a warp nacelle for eight days riding out an unexpected and deadly cosmic storm with annoyingly perky alien visitors in tow. It’s interesting to see the crew really have to rough it due to the tribulations of space phenomena. There’s no fancy 24th century shield modulation technobabble to get them out of this one. The letdown is the “B plot” where Enterprise is yet again boarded and people try to steal it/destroy it/take valuable tech from it/etc.

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“Stigma” is a pretty good try at an HIV/AIDS metaphor with the effects of a seemingly botched mind meld as the stand-in. We also get a look into Dr. Phlox’s personal life when his wife visits. Denobulans are rather uninhibited people, and their mating and living arrangements tend to be communal (and polyamorous), causing some discomfort with the crew, for Trip especially as he is pursued by Dr. Phlox’s wife Feezal.

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In “Cease Fire” we see humans in the role of mediators between Vulcans and Andorians, a hint of what’s to come with the founding of the Coalition of Planets a few years later, and eventually, the UFP. We also get the return of alien guest actor Suzie Plakson (best known for the role of K’Ehleyr on TNG), this time as the Andorian warrior Tarah.

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“Future Tense” is one of the best episodes from the “temporal cold war” themed episodes, and one of the best of the second season in general. The Enterprise finds a small craft, that seems to be from the future, with a dead neo-human (he’s mostly human, but his DNA shows traces of past ancestry with Vulcans and Terrellians) pilot on board. The Suliban and the mysterious Tholians sure want to get their hands on it. There are some very interesting peculiarities with the future ship such as it being larger on the inside than out, and weird local time fluctuations occur around it, none of it explainable for our crew and their 22nd century knowledge, making it weirder and more anxiety producing given that two other alien powers want it for their own research and won’t take no for answer.

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“Cogenitor” is another try by Trek writers to address concepts of gender and sexual orientation and the rights of an individual. It generally succeeds in the context of the Trek-universe, but of course still falls short of any real open discussion of actual human gender issues. Kudos to the writing staff for avoiding another “humans know the correct/more ethical way of living, and so having seen the error of their ways the alien race of the week changes their culture overnight” plot that so many TNG and VOY episodes fell into.

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“Regeneration”, while flawed in many ways, it is still a lot of fun, it has some thrilling scenes, including a clear homage to The Thing, and answers the question about what, if anything, was left behind when the Borg interfered with first contact in 2063 (Star Trek: First Contact).

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In one of the better episodes of the season, “First Flight” flashes back to Archer as a hotshot test pilot in breaking the warp 2 barrier as part of the NX Project’s ultimate goal of a stable warp 5 engine. We get more insight into Archer’s past, the first substantial details since the pilot episode. The whole episode is an homage to The Right Stuff, as such, there are many Easter eggs to both real NASA history and Trek history in the 602 Club where the test pilots go to relax.

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Lastly, the season cliffhanger sets up the huge tonal shift for Season 3, with the 9/11 allegory of the Xindi weapon that cuts a swath of destruction across the Earth’s surface in “The Expanse.”

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Audio and Video Quality

The audio is once again generally excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes. It helps that Enterprise is the most modern of the TV series and so was produced with surround sound in mind.

On to the video, as with Season 1  this can end up a bit of a mixed bag, however Season 2 definitely looks better overall. The live action elements generally look great, pretty similar to Season 1 in that regard. The best part is that in most cases the CGI in Season 2 is much improved.

While it seems the VFX is generally not rendered at HD resolution (720p) yet, anything new for this season looks quite a bit better than Season 1. It does look like that perhaps some scenes were rendered at 720p (for example see the Narendra III vista from “Judgement” at the bottom of this article), but it’s not certain, the VFX house was under tremendous time and budgetary pressures so they rendered whatever they could as high resolution as feasible for 2002 but if they were facing an overly long rendering time and/or VFX budget crunch it might be dropped to 480p.

By the time we get to “The Expanse”, things look very good. Since “The Expanse” was the end of Season 2 and the lead-in for Season 3 (which as far as we know Season 3+ was fully rendered at 720p), it was also likely rendered at 720p. Either way the new stuff looks great and is far less obviously low resolution, the flipside to this is that when stock shots from Season 1 are reused it becomes pretty obvious (mostly stock shots of the Enterprise in flight).

 

Bonus Material

As with Season 1, all DVD bonus content is ported over, this includes deleted scenes, commentaries and featurettes.

New audio commentaries –  “Carbon Creek” with writer Chris Black and Mike & Denise Okuda.
“Regeneration” with John Billingsley and Bonita Friedericy (Dr. Rooney from the arctic expedition).
“First Flight” with writer Chris Black and Mike & Denise Okuda.

Documentaries

On disc 1 is the easily the best special feature on the set: “In Conversation: The First Crew.” Filmed in back in April, the cast reunion goes for an hour and half, lots of topics are covered. Brannon Braga hosts the piece. He realizes that he’s never sat down the whole cast before. He’s quite self deprecating about things, he apologizes again for “These Are the Voyages…” and tries to get feedback from his cast on what they liked and disliked like about Enterprise. He points out that he really wanted to make sure the entire cast would come to the filming of the reunion. Jolene Blalock is well known to be a rather shy person off camera, so it was important she came. John Billingsley is quite boisterous and it seems he knows quite a bit about Trek, there are lots of jokes about Connor Trinneer’s blue underwear. Brannon Braga brings up his comment about Netflix that he made in London and how the fans immediately jumped on the idea, that they want to see more, the cast all agree that they’d be interested in doing more Enterprise if it ever came to be. When things turn to more serious topics, it becomes very clear that Scott Bakula, being the industry veteran, really was looked up to by the, mostly younger, mostly new to Hollywood, cast. He set the tone on the stage and was a very gracious professional who made to sure to acknowledge and include everyone on the cast and crew all the way from his fellow actors on down the line to the craft services people. While “the boys” of the show tend to dominate the discussion, there are nice moments with all the cast members. Connor Trinneer it seems had a prior engagement so about half-way through the reunion Jeffery Combs (Shran) busts in on the reunion and sits in for the last portion.

Highly recommended!

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On disc 6 is another excellent three part documentary, which we’ve come to expect from the Blu-ray production team of Roger Lay Jr. and Robert Meyer Burnett.

The documentary covering Season 2 is called “Uncharted Territory” (broken into three 30-minute sections – Part 1: Destination Unknown, Part 2: First Crew, Part 3: Course Correction)

This covers the exhaustion of getting season 1 done and trying to get a handle on going right into a second season. Brannon Braga is again very candid about his exhaustion and how he felt that he was a show runner without the support he needed, he was missing the talented people he had come to trust and rely on while working on previous Trek shows, especially Ron D. Moore. We hear a bit more from Rick Berman about how the entire Paramount management was restructured during Season 2. In came brand new people who didn’t understand how the franchise worked, and so they started giving copious notes to the Star Trek production office. Star Trek was used to being left alone to do their work (something Gene Roddenberry was able to achieve by going the syndication route with TNG), however since they were now responsible to a network (UPN), they got notes from all levels of the TV production food chain (Paramount execs, UPN management, etc). We hear from writers/producers Chris Black, Mike Sussman, André Bormanis, and David A. Goodman. They talk about their love/hate relationship with the Internet and instant fan feedback. A “unique” piece of feed back is recounted, a fan mailed the contents of his trash can in a box to the production offices with a note that said “this is what you’re doing to Star Trek.” In a rarity, Roger Lay Jr. even got an executive in for an interview, John Wentworth, an executive who supported Trek throughout the TNG-ENT run, he is still with CBS Television as an executive vice president of communications, he held a similar title at UPN at the time of Enterprise.

More Season 2 Images

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ados
August 15, 2013 1:41 pm

That Borg episodes was good…

Rhett Coates
August 15, 2013 1:46 pm

They need ANOTHER SEASON or more! Sure, that’s been said time and again, however now Netflix has an on-going campaign on Facebook to see how many are interested in a series renewal of some sort. I won’t hold my breath, but it would be NICE to see more ST:Enterprise, even if it’s simply a movie-of-the-week (or month) kind of thing. (Some of the case, if not all of them by now, are aware of this Netflix idea … and are talking about it on FB.) ‘Any thoughts on that possibility, other than what has been said since the show’s initial cancellation in 2005?

Congratulations BLU-RAY on those amazing special features!

August 15, 2013 2:24 pm

A correction should be noted, Rhett: Netflix is NOT involved in any way with the campaign to make Season 5 a reality. That honor goes primarily to Doug Drexler, Jennifer De Salle and Robert Bolivar who created the Facebook Campaign. If you would like more information or to pledge your support by signing the petition, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/StarTrekEnterpriseSeason5NetflixCampaign

August 15, 2013 2:47 pm

Thanks Matt for the report. “Enterprise” was on UPN and here in Cincinnati, it was on low powered channel 25. If I recall there was a dispute with cable here so I had to watch it with an antenna for awhile before there was a settlement. Reception and availability was a problem so I stopped watching it. Lack of availability is one of the reasons, Star Trek: Enterprise got canceled. Link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UPN#Availability

I got a chance to catch up on Enterprise with Netflix. And i found an excellent science fiction show. It was what Gene Roddenberry would have wanted. There were ideas, scientific and philosophical. There was also a bold adventurous vibe to the show probably reflecting man’s foray into deep space. I agree with your assessment of the gems of the second season. “First Flight” sticks with me for some reason. Perhaps, it’s not just pushing the envelope but being reminded of people in our personal lives that we have lost. Nice conversations between Archer and T’Pol.

Platitude
August 15, 2013 3:11 pm

I liked Season 2, there were several really great episodes in the second half. But since I can watch them in pretty decent quality on my Netflix I’m not sure if I see a reason to pay the extra $$ for the Blu-ray.

Learned a Lesson
August 15, 2013 3:50 pm

Gawd, this series was awful.

Connor
August 15, 2013 3:55 pm

I believe the audio is just 5.1 DTS Master Audio, not 7.1 as the articles states.

PEB
August 15, 2013 4:39 pm

@5 Here in Wilmington NC, at the time where there is a nice group of Trek fans, we couldn’t get UPN and when we did, the show was preempted as you mentioned. I remember when Voyager was this frustration because we wanted Trek and couldn’t watch it and that’s what happened to Enterprise, or you could catch it on another channel like on a Saturday night LATE at night. We’re by no means a tiny country town, so you would think that would not have been the case, but that’s the way it happened. I always wondered how much of that really affected the demise of the show. It’s true, fans weren’t really watching but it was also an issue with UPN and some fans not being able to see the show.

PEB
August 15, 2013 4:39 pm

By the way, this review really makes me want to go back and watch Enterprise.

PEB
August 15, 2013 6:07 pm

I dont know if anyone has posted this here, but it’s worth a look if you need reminding why all of the Trek films are have a special place in your heart. Even the ones you ‘dont like.’
http://youtu.be/mgffCdhEQgQ

Commodore Adams
August 15, 2013 6:16 pm

I was upset Enterprise did not get the seven season treatment. It was a fantastic series and a wonderful departure from the status quo as is JJ’s Star Trek. Early starflower years are great.

Sid
August 15, 2013 10:49 pm

I’d love to see an Enterprise mini-series on Netflix. Maybe just a 5-episode Romulan War arc?

I wonder how much of the sets survive in private hands, and if those owners would be willing to lend them back for more ENT.

Gorn Captain
August 15, 2013 11:32 pm

@9 Friends of mine that lived in areas without a UPN station were resorting to downloading ENT episodes. I doubt anyone was factoring that into the ratings.

Yanks
August 16, 2013 5:29 am

Enterprise season 2 contains some real gems! Carbon Creek is at the top of my list. Dead Stop was amazing, Stigma, the Seventh, First Flight, etc… only a couple stinkers – a much stronger season 2 than previous Star Trek spin-offs.

I wish they weren’t on the crappy network. Enterprise could have been the first 10 year series, taking us right through the Romulan War and the founding of the Federation.

Dennis Bailey
August 16, 2013 5:36 am

I enjoyed the entire series.

Horatio
August 16, 2013 5:45 am

Despite its issues I still think the prequel concept of Enterprise was a good idea. It finally…FINALLY… found itself in season 4 but by that point it was too late.
It also can’t be said enough how UPN crippled this show in so many ways.

August 16, 2013 5:57 am

Carbon Creek should have won an Emmy.

Damian
August 16, 2013 7:19 am

Season 2 did show some improvement. The episodes noted above were some good highlights, but there were more. You started getting a better sense of where the series wanted to go.

At least for me, Enterprise felt like a much different show than TNG and Voyager. There were a few episodes where they were shaking off some of TNG a little (esp. during season 1) but this season 2 started charting a new course (of course by season 4, Enterprise seemed more influenced by the original series finally).

“Regeneration” was a good Borg episode. The writers managed to skirt arount the canon issue (esp. since the Borg are never actually named), and the Borg in this episode were more similar to how they were originally portrayed in Q Who and Best of Both Worlds, with a little bit of the First Contact creepiness.

Exverlobter
August 16, 2013 11:03 am

Carbon Creek was my favourite episode of the whole show.

Mike Williams
August 16, 2013 3:21 pm

It’s a real shame that of the three Star Trek series currently available on Blu-ray, the newest series looks the worst. They can completely reconstruct episodes on TNG, but they can’t redo effects in their proper HD for Enterprise. And even the live action footage is quite BLAH compared to the beautiful TOS and TNG Blu-rays.

T'Cal
August 16, 2013 5:41 pm

I never understood the animosity toward “Regeneration.” The writers did a great job with the story and making it fit in the new timeline. When Picard and crew helped Cochrane, they created a new timeline, which they returned to at the end of FC. The explanation of how the Borg arrived on Earth made sense and that no one called their race by name was handled well, too. It was one of the highlights of the second season for sure. Disappointingly, Archer was never written very well throughout the series but he was OK in this episode. I have season 1 & 2 on DVD so I won’t be shelling out the bucks for the BD.

I am not Herbert
August 16, 2013 9:43 pm

mmmmmmm…… T’Pol = Vulcan HOTNESS!! =P

Hat Rick
August 17, 2013 5:29 am

I sorta emotionally blame UPN, the world’s cheesiest broadcast network for quite a number of months in my opinion, for not standing by ST: Enterprise during its times of need. UPN became a much more serious network as Enterprise progressed, but by that time, it was too late: UPN had become identified as the also-ran of broadcast networks, far behind its rival upstart.

I was a very enthusiastic supporter of Enterprise during its first year both online and in real life. The show began to lose me after about a year and a half, however, and by the time it closed, I had become preoccupied with other things, although naturally I wanted the best for it. By the time of the Xindi arc, I had missed so many episodes that I feared losing track of the series and for that reason avoided it.

I remained in love with not so much the series, sorry to say, but the concept of it.

I still want to see those episodes I missed, including the ones with Brent Spiner as a guest star, and of course the Xindi arc.

Disinvited
August 17, 2013 5:57 am

#25. Hat Rick – August 17, 2013

And you know who was the person at the head of UPN who personally pulled the plug? Les Moonves.

ObsessiveStarTrekFan
August 17, 2013 6:16 am

@12. PEB – August 15, 2013

Thank you for that. Yes, I enjoyed it greatly. …and you are correct – even the ones we don’t like (and which ones those are is somewhat different for each of us) had some wonderful moments in them.

The Original Animated Next Generation Deep Space Voyager Enterprise I-XII
August 17, 2013 10:20 am

As far as a revival goes, I don’t think a 5th season of Enterprise is th way to go per se. Perhaps an all new series about the early years of the UFP leading up to at least the “divergence point” separating the prime universe & “Abramsverse”.

Bird of Prey
August 17, 2013 11:25 am

I think “Regeneration” may explain how the Hansens (7 of 9’s parents) became to be aware of the Borg way before Picard in “Q Who.” Perhaps they found the records of the “Regeneration” incident deeply buried within the Federation historical archives, and then decided to investigate further…

Also, now I am curious about the “copious notes” they got from the management. Does this for example explain all those gun fights shoehorned into the plot of every other episode?
(The most outrageous thing I have read somewhere though was that someone once has made the suggestion to feature another contemporary music band playing in the mess hall each week! Thank God that this never came to pass… *shudder*)

Craiger
August 17, 2013 11:36 am

I think Enterprise should have been about the Romulan War and that led to the founding of the Federation. Unless they could have been involved in the Romulan War helping out Earth as paying back the Humans for what they did?

Craiger
August 17, 2013 11:40 am

Matt – Maybe we have been all wrong about B&B and Enterprise sounds like CBS was telling them what to and not letting them do what they wanted to do. Geez a boy band? I wonder if CBS was putting in a bunch of adavanced weapons on the NX-01 to make it more TNG like? I read B&B wanted Season 1 to be Earth based and Archer overseeing the construction of the Enterprise. However I do wonder if they were afraid to write the Romulan War because of being afraid for a Human to see a Romulan and the backlash that would have.

Craiger
August 17, 2013 1:12 pm

I am surprised they let B&B says those things in the interviews and put them on the discs. LOL.

Craiger
August 17, 2013 1:43 pm

I also wonder what changed with the higher ups to bring in Manny Coto? I think it could have been Moonves that brought in Coto because he said he liked the way Enterprise was going in Season 4 but ultimately had to cancel Enterprise due to low ratings.

Omegaman
August 17, 2013 7:00 pm

Best damn Trek show they ever made after TOS and DS9. Always loved it when Shran and Archer were brought together. The sparring between them was great fun to watch.

Hat Rick
August 17, 2013 8:47 pm

I do miss Star Trek: Enterprise.

I’m sure once I view the Blu-ray discs of the series, I will wax even more nostalgic for TV Trek.

Nostalgia is a good thing, right? :-)

trekboi
August 18, 2013 11:33 pm

I saw most of the Start Trek series on Video, or cable/pay TV or syndication so I didn’t always watch it week in & week out but Enterprise was the first series I watched week in & week out & was excited for each episode
(even if Channel 9 Australia moved its timeslot later & later with no predictability)

I hate the Myth that Enterprise was not good or popular- its ratings suffered due to UPN they may have been less that the other Star Trek shows got in syndication but it was still one of UPN’s best rating show
& it was cancelled due to politics not it’s raitings

I was surprised they didn’t re-render the effects, they improved effects were the highlight from Star Trek Remastered & The Next Gen Remastered projects, especially on Bluray.
It is such a pity they didn’t re-render at least the special effects that were only originally rendered in 480 up to 720 for consistancy.
I haven’t watched My Enterprise DVD’s for ages because I was waiting for Blueray to enjoy them on my new big screen, which I will but it’s not as good as it could be.

trekboi
August 18, 2013 11:37 pm

For the longest time I didn’t understand why they didn’t wouldn’t release enterprise on Bluray as it was done for “HD”
I didn’t realise it was done at 720 for “HD TV” of that time & I didn’t realise there was an issue with re-rendering the effects to release it in true “HD”

I guess they didn’t want to spend any money on a release for Enterprise

dscott
August 20, 2013 8:57 am

@ 12. PEB, Awesome find – very nice! Thanks!

Oh, And I too would love to see Enetrprise return – I loved it from the beginning and still do after haveing rewatched every episode so many times I’ve lost count.

StevenPDX
August 20, 2013 9:43 am

@12 PEB Another thanks for an awesome link. TOTALLY enjoyed that trailer!

Commodore Adams
August 21, 2013 6:35 pm

My issue with season 1 is not just the CG but the live action film quality. TOS on blu-ray looks far crisper and sharper than Enterprise! Granted TOS has those random shots that last for 5-10 seconds where the image quality is grainy, but I find that most of Enterprise season 1 blu-ray is grainy. You can’t see the fine details of the uniforms and when looking at a large flat grey area like a bulkhead you the specs of grain. TNG looks beyond belief when it comes to the image quality in high def on bluray on my 50″ plasma, I never dreamed TNG could look so good! If TOS and TNG can go to the original negatives, why not utilize it for Enterprise (35mm season 1-3) …unless it would make the upresed CG look terrible. The visual quality of Enterprise will not be at its best until season 4 when they used the Sony HD digital cameras. That is what I am excited for. I am just so disappointed with the visual quality of Enterprise on blu-ray, by default it should have looked the best. They should have taken the time to do proper CG work but alas.. carbon based units are not true lifeforms.

For the record, I watched every Enterprise episode when it aired, I loved it, I supported it. A deserving series cut short.

Disinvited
August 23, 2013 10:02 pm

#45. Matt Wright – August 23, 2013

Thanks, Matt. Excellent explanation for my puzzlings.

Disinvited
August 23, 2013 10:52 pm

#45. Matt Wright – August 23, 2013

You are correct, I’m not into PC gaming but I think I get it.

Being an AV geek from way back, I think I’d prefer to watch these BDs in 720p based on the examples you’ve presented. I know how to get the player to go there, but if I understand my setup it’s going to take some doing to find the menu setting to get the actual display itself to stop upscaling the 720p received on its own. Besides, if I get what you said it would be better if I could get my set to downscale from the player’s 1080p output – if such a thing is possible with all these HDMI negotiations as in, if the set is in 720p mode it is just going to negotiate the player down to 720p?

Any tips or advice in those regards? Black borders are not an issue for me as it might be for some as long as the proper aspect ratio is maintained.

Disinvited
August 24, 2013 11:33 am

#48. Matt Wright – August 24, 2013

When you’re right. You’re right.

Not saying I still won’t try to do it but I will concentrate on doing so for the fun of it and not let me get all bent out of shape over it or be some sort of block from enjoying ENTERPRISE as is as you advise. Thank you.

Disinvited
August 24, 2013 12:00 pm

BTW, Bakula is in the running for an Emmy this Sept 22.

wpDiscuz