We have come to Season 3 in the Blu-ray release schedule, this is the season many feel Enterprise became a show worth watching. Season 3 contains the season long arc of the Xindi threat. It also contains some great one-shot stories outside of the main Xindi narrative such as “Twilight” and “Similitude”, and a couple of pretty lame ones too, such as “Extinction” which is called “one of the singularly most embarrassing episodes of Star Trek I’ve been involved with” by Brannon Braga in the documentary on the set. Read on for the full review of this generally excellent season.
Fresh off the injury to Earth in “The Expanse” at the end of Season 2, Season 3 starts off slowly with our crew angry and hurt, but with very little information about the Xindi. The crew is so desperate to find anything about the Xindi they make a bad deal with a shady mining boss to interview a member of the species. The region of space where the Xindi live is known as The Expanse, and it is filled with unstable areas that wreak havoc with Enterprise. Little-by-little pieces of who the Xindi are get filled in. The Xindi are actually a group of five different species, and not all of them are in total agreement with the idea of eradicating another species (humans).
Mid-season the sense of urgency gets heightened. The Andorians drop in and lend a hand (though they have ulterior motives) and help gather data on the next test weapon in a “proving ground” where the Xindi weapon designer Degra is overseeing a next generation test. Degra is nabbed by our heroes and tricked into revealing the location of the production facility for the final version of the weapon.
Time is of the essence, and at every turn Enterprise takes a beating, it’s stopped dead multiple times this season.
One of the “Enterprise is stuck dead” episodes creates the circumstances for one of Trek’s better ethical dilemma episodes: “Similitude”, where Trip is critically injured and needs a synaptic replacement, the only choice they have given their distance from home and their urgent mission is to clone Trip using a technique which makes a clone that lives 15-days. Of course as he “grows up” it becomes much harder for Archer to turn around and sacrifice this new version of Trip dubbed “Sim.”
Eventually Archer convinces Degra that humans are not the enemy, and the last few episodes are a nail biting race against time to get to the weapon and stop it before the Xindi-Reptilians and Xindi-Insectoids, intent on Earth’s destruction, activate it.
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. Season 3’s focus on action and adventure often puts the surround sound to better use than previous seasons.
As to the visual quality, Season 3 looks very much like Season 2, the live action elements generally look good, but there is also an inherent softness to many of the shots, especially when on the bridge. So those hoping for a sharper presentation than Season 1 or 2, you’re out of luck, we’ll have to wait until Season 4 for that it seems.
However, when the lighting is good, outdoor scenes are the best examples, things look pretty detailed. As usual Michael Westmore’s alien makeup designs are amazingly detailed and definitely stand up to the scrutiny of high-definition. The Xindi-Arboreal and Reptilian make-up is incredibly detailed.
Season 3’s CGI appears to be all rendered at 720p (or better), only the periodic reused stock shots of Enterprise at warp from Season 1 are obviously low quality.
That’s not to say that it’s all perfect, the increasing use of CGI for landscapes, factories, and now characters (i.e. Xindi-Aquatics and Xindi-Insectoids) means that the 10-year-old television budget computer graphics looks its age at times. It’s still generally just fine, and can look downright amazing at times.
As with Seasons 1 and 2, all DVD bonus content is ported over, this includes deleted scenes, commentaries and featurettes.
New audio commentaries – “Impulse” with David Livingston and David A. Goodman
“North Star” with David A. Goodman and Chris Black
“Similitude” with Manny Coto and Connor Trinneer
“The Forgotten” with David A. Goodman, Chris Black and Connor Trinneer
“Countdown” with Chris Black and André Bormanis
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 3 is called “In a Time of War” (broken into three 30-minute sections – Part 1: Call to Arms, Part 2: Front Line, Part 3: Final Conflict).
“Call to Arms”
Scott Bakula talks about how the Xindi season arc gave the show a purpose, season 1 and 2 had been floundering about.
Phylis Strong says that Season 3 wasn’t directly influenced by 9/11 (Season 1 was released only a couple of weeks after 9/11), but that the shift in the American psyche couldn’t be ignored. It took about two years until it didn’t feel so fresh as to be a sore spot, so the writing team could address it with a little bit of distance and perspective.
UPN wanted more action, TV shows and movies in general, were getting darker in tone, and they wanted to see Enterprise shift as well.
Mike Sussman wishes it had been the Romulan War for a season long arc, not the newly fabricated Xindi.
David Livingston discusses the franchise feeling stale and how great it was that they brought in huge Trek fan Manny Coto during Season 3 as a co-producer for shot in the arm.
Manny Coto talks about how frazzled Branon Braga was when he came in, he could tell Brannon felt stuck with writers that weren’t working. Brannon Braga says what he needed from the first day of Enterprise was Manny Coto. Manny says he’s a Trek nerd, while Brannon was just a fan of Trek. Braga says that he went through a bunch of writers who just didn’t get Trek – he says in Season 2 he had a writer that had no idea how communicators worked, yet claimed he knew Trek.
We hear from those on the front lines – the actors. This section is very candid.
Jolene Blalock opens this segment discussing how getting Enterprise was huge for her, she was cast as a relatively new actress (she had been a model until the age of 22), she says she grew with show as an actor and as a person.
We hear extensively from John Billingsley and Anthony Montgomery, the actors didn’t know what the length of the Xindi arc would be, but they knew it was going to be a big change for the show. Anthony Montgomery talks about how he would hear from fans about how the first two seasons felt much like Voyager and that they couldn’t really do much to change that as just actors, but they wanted to very much. The actors say that they started to hear rumblings about cancelation during Season 3’s production. Jolene talks about how Rick Berman and Brannon Braga weren’t very accessible.
Connor Trineer talks about being affected by 9/11 and wanting to do something more meaningful than being an actor in that time of need. He says through Tripp’s dealing with his loss of his sister, he as an actor got to work through some of his own feelings about 9/11. John Billingsley says he had a hard time with Archer throwing a captive in the airlock and using it to extract information, which he felt wasn’t fitting with Trek ethics. Season 3 for him walked a fine line veering close to saying that the end results justify the means.
Brannon Braga starts the segment saying that he takes full responsibility for Season 1 and Season 2, and was happy to see Season 3 move forward to where they wanted to go. John Billingsley talks about how making CGI characters was new and cool but of course couldn’t really hold up to the CGI of a big budget movie, which was a little bit of a catch-22 due to the inevitable comparisons between a limited budget TV show and blockbuster movie. Dan Curry and Ron B. Moore discuss how visual effects technology had evolved, using CGI for nearly all effects was new, and doing it on a budget wasn’t always perfect but it was trailblazing to do what they did with a TV budget.
Randy Oglesby (Degra) and Dan Curry talk about dealing with, and interacting with, stand-ins for CGI characters on the set.
Randy Oglesby talks about his character Degra and being happy to be a reoccurring guest actor with a rich backstory and arc from weapons maker to human sympathizer. Oglesby was good friends with Scott MacDonald (the actor who played the lead Xindi-Reptilian, Commander Dolim), and in their their first show together their character’s roles weren’t very defined, so they made an actors decision on the set that the Reptilians and Primates weren’t exactly friendly with each other, and the producers liked it and went with it.
UPN, ever youth focused, wanted to kill off Archer at the end of this season, and have a new younger captain come in for the next season. Rick Berman had to push back on the network to keep him for Season Four.
There is a second shorter documentary (~20 minutes) called “Temporal Cold War: Declassified”
Matt Winston (Daniels) would ask the producers if his character was being honest with Archer, but he also knew there were things being unveiled and as yet un-written, so he mostly left it alone. He’s also happy to be a reoccurring thread throughout the seasons. He also talks about being part of a bigger Trek universe, and fandom, and loving meeting fans.
Brannon Braga says the Temporal Cold War was put in because the studio insisted on a future element, they didn’t like the straight prequel idea.
David Livingston says he doesn’t think the Suliban threat really paid-off, they’re just sort of hanging around as agents of the cold war.
John Fleck (Silik) talks about being Silik, the challenges of his makeup (giant contact lenses!) and costuming, and how he was very happy to be a guest actor on TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT.
Matt Winston, corroborating what we heard from Jolene Blalock in part 2, talks about how he never had a writer available to him, whereas in most productions the head writer is a show runner, so he or she is on set. So any questions about a character or dialogue tweaks/changes it would have to be sent over to the production team and they would have to hold production and wait on set for a response.
Braga brings up that they kicked around the idea that “Future Guy” might have been Archer, manipulating himself from the future.
More Season 3 Images
I got bored — did we ever find out who future guy was?
I was never bored, because the show was never being boring.
I just finished watching Season 3 for the third time. It really was a huge improvement over Season 2.
Season 2, I think, is what sealed the fate of the series. Season 1, while not perfect, held viewer interest because it had introduced series, its prequel concept and the new characters. People stuck through Season 1 hoping that Season 2 would show substantial growth and improvement (as had been the case with TNG, for example). But it didn’t, and most unfortunately, many people gave up on the series and didn’t stick around for Seasons 3 and 4, during which the series improved by leaps and bounds. I noticed, watching Season 3 again, how much more voraciously I consumed it than I had Season 2. I blew through Season 3 in less than half the time it took me to get through Season 2.
Interesting about the concept of Future Guy being Archer having been bandied about, but glad they didn’t do it. Too hokey. I sure hope we get to see some more Manny Coto Trek.
Glad to see Sussman wanted the Romulan War. I wonder if the other writers were afraid to do the RW because if a Human seeing a Romulan during the War? I think having the Romulans attack Earth instead of the Xindi. Season 4 could have been spent finding out who attacked Earth then Sesaons 5 and 6 could have been the War. Then Season 7 could have been exploring and gathering members for the Federation and the final episode could have been about the signing of the Federation Charter.
4 agreed, most of your comments ARE boring.
I have to disagree a little with John Billingsley concerning Archer torturing the Xindi in the airlock. I remember that being a dramatic turning point for Archer as he wrestled with the decision and how it pained him afterwards. It was terrible that he did it but with Earth facing imminent destruction, what choice did he have?
It didn’t always feel like Star Trek per se, but Season Three of Enterprise is great television.
This is the season that killed Enterprise. “Protracted story arc” does not work in Trek. If season 4 had been season 3, that might have prevented the audience from walking away.
Felt as though the Xindi arc dragged on way too long. The longer villains whirl their mustaches, the less terrifying they are. In the end, only Dolim was a real villain, unless you count the Xindi-Insectoids. It could have been a great half-dozen eps spaced throughout the season, without the endless hunting for info stuff. Also, Jolene being reduced to a crack ho was a little much. I enjoyed the freshness and unpreparedness elements of Season One better. Season Four gave us some great writing. Yes, I think the series should have continued, but that’s not gonna happen.
Wow thanks for bringing something valuable to the conversation.
Its fine we get it you don’t like Enterprise but you dont have to troll the enterprise threads announcing that dislike
I am counting down until season 4 on blu-ray. The only Enterprise season I will buy and watch all 23 episodes (These Are The Voyages was a TNG holodeck episode plain and simple. Not an Enterprise episode) where Trip Lives for further adventures in the 6 year gap before TATV.
For me the Xindii never worked but the character and script improvements definitely lift this season quality.Harbinger was my favourite episode. Reed’s fight with Major Hayes and Trip’s love triangle were a great mix in the one episode.
On a negative note, why did they even put Daniels in Zero Hour? He is just annoying. The only way he could be more annoying would be if he was a talaxian!
You mean to tell me the Romulan War could have been a season-long arc?
The XIndi thing was OK, but no one was going to remember the Xindi like they do the Romulans.
#9 @Odkin- you are so right.
Still Similitude is great television no matter how you slice it.
i loved season 3 and 4,now if only the first two season was half as good.
as for the boring comment did you watch the episodes? i take person saying it lasted to long never did get into ds9 then!!!!!!
ENT wasn’t always great, but god I’d give my left hand to have Trek back on TV again. And I’m left-handed : )
Trip was a stand out character, big time.
There’s a lot of good stuff in season 3, but I think it needed one last element. At the end of the season the Xindi superweapon should have been the TOS Planet Killer. Have Archer and the gang wipe out it’s programming or kill the pilot, etc. and the thing wanders off on its own. Ot perhaps they think it’s just s dead husk and it fires up later, something to that effect. Would have been a nice payoff to what is actually a pretty interesting season that needed more of a hook. Personal opinion, and again there is some great stuff in this season.
the doomday machine,yeah that may have been well cool,i like your thinking on that,the only episode i dont like or dont understand it in the season arch is the western episode,nice job of sorting out the civil rights to the planet however was their a big weapon at some unknown time set destory earth
I agree with John Billingsley about the torture scene in the pressure chamber defying Trek ethics. I recall watching the episode with some close friends, and their dad sat with us during the episode. After his youngest son saw that scene, he pulled him aside and talked to him about why it was wrong and told us all he would not watch Star Trek anymore. He was a huge Trekkie and it kind of shocked me.
I hated that scene too because with all the news surrounding waterboarding and the Bush administration’s use of torture at the time, it took the side of the neo-cons and their justifications. Roddenberry would never have approved that scene, and Star Trek ultimately appeared on the wrong side of history when Abu Ghraib became public only a few months later. However, I suppose it did get people talking about the issue which is good.
13. AdmNaismith – January 11, 2014
—The XIndi thing was OK, but no one was going to remember the Xindi like they do the Romulans. Still Similitude is great television no matter how you slice it..—
I actually liked the Xinidi, once I got over the silliness of the Aquatics swimming around the underwater interior of their spaceship and so forth. The main Reptilian dude was a great villain. Degra was very good, too. The episode where Archer confronts the Arborial engineer and convinces him to sabotage the trellium-D was very good, classic Trek.
One nitpick I have is that, for such an important and prominent group of species in the history of Earth and Star Fleet—killing 7 million humans, nearly succeeding in blowing up the Earth—the Xindi were never mentioned (for obvious reasons) in the entire history of Trekdom prior to the series, Enterprise. Things like this are one of the obvious drawbacks of canon, and an advantage of the alt universe premise of BR’s Trek.
The reverse of that…I did appreciate how they developed the Andorians in Enterprise, that species having been introduced but never developed in TOS.
9. Odkin – January 11, 2014
—This is the season that killed Enterprise. “Protracted story arc” does not work in Trek. If season 4 had been season 3, that might have prevented the audience from walking away.—
What doesn’t it work in Trek? A lot of people seemed to think it worked in DS9.
I agree with #5. Craiger, It should have been the Romulans instead of the Xindi who no fan had heard of before the end of Season 2 of Enterprise. Either that or the Romulans could have ben behind the Xindi attacking Earth and just used the Xindi to do their dirty work.
1–One of Christopher Bennett’s Department of Temporal Investigations novels revealed who future guy was.
Season 3 pushed the envelope for Star Trek, which I thought was an improvement. It’s sort of amusing, some fans complain Star Trek was stale at this point and wasn’t doing anything different. Then they tried something different here and fans complain Star Trek never did that before. Do you want something different or not?
I thought it worked reasonable well. I do agree the Romulan War would have made a better storyline there, though historically we learned the War lasted 4 years, and they never knew if they were going to last to the next year.
There was a season long story arc, but there were plenty of individual episodes during season 3 that had little to do with the Xindi threat. I always thought “Impulse” made a great Halloween type episode, “Similitude” was obviously one of those episodes Star Trek has always been know for, the ethical dilemma, and “Twilight” was another great non-Xindi story. “Extinction” was obviously the weak point of the episode, but even the best TV series out there have clunkers.
I always thought Enterprise was an improvement over Voyager. Bringing Manny Coto on board was a good call, but too bad they didn’t find him in Season 1. He may have helped keep things on track from the very beginning.
It seems like simple transfers from a master copy or just upresed somehow. It does not seem like they went back to the negatives as they did for TNG. In my in my opinion 90-95% of TNG on blu-ray (except for the odd soft, fuzzy, pixelated shots) looks far better than Enterprise on blu-ray. Even TOS (a mix bag of visuals) has far better clarity in many of episodes, especially when you can see the stitching on the insignia on a close up! Enterprise looks slightly better to me as when I was watching it on DVD and my blu-ray player did the upscaling. When looking at the rank pips and other small details its noticeable. I know a lot of the stock CG Enterprise ship shots don’t look that great, but in Broken Bow when the Enterprise is pulling out of dock, it looks fantastic! Its sharp, its clear, the colour saturation and contrast looks great. That is what I expect.
That being said, I still love it. Seasons 1 and 2 had those exploratory qualities. Season 3 pushed the captain and crew to the limit. Season 4 was for the fans. There is nothing about Enterprise I would have changed…..except 3 more seasons.
I wonder how Enterprise would have been with Coto and Sussman incharge?
Matt can we get an updated Star Trek nemesis deluxe edition score thread?
Its a great release featuring not only at long last the complete nemesis score, but all the source music and the full 3 and half minute version of Brent Spiner singing Blue Skies.
@18. I agree with you about the torture scene. I mean, can you imagine Kirk or Picard acting that way?
I’ll always feel regret over Enterprise, because I loved Quantum Leap – and I have huge respect for Scott Bakula. But the wonderful sense of humanity that he imbued Sam Beckett with, is completely missing from his wooden and often stilted acting in Enterprise. The guy just never seemed to be able to relax into it.
@25 James – I hate to agree with you but you hit the nail on the head. I love Scott Bakula but he was all wrong for this part.
The idea of replacing Bakula is interesting and might have injected the show with something fresh. I would have promoted him after seasn 3 and had the actor on recurring status. Bring in a more Kirk-like young “cowboy” Captain…
And count me among those that HATED this stupid “arc”. It was like Braga or whomever decided to copy DS9 with no idea what made DS9 great.
@ The Fonze – Has it shipped yet? Last I saw the soundtrack wasn’t shipping yet. It was still a pre-order sort of thing.
personly i lopved the arch,it gave the program purpose,yeah the torture scene was,however they did kill millions of people and were going to kill even more,so it did ask the question is it ever right
I agree. Bakula was great in Quantum Leap. Odd he couldn’t settle into the Archer role. I can’t help but wonder if Connor Trinneer would’ve been a better choice. At least Trip had personality.
I think part of the problem is how they sold Archer to Bakula. He was told Archer was going to be John Wayne-like. But of course Trek isn’t actually a Western, especially in the B&B-era. So it became a sort of hodgepodge of ideas for the character.
I never liked Bakula as Archer while the series was on air, but I’ve grown to like him more upon repeat viewings. Keep in mind, Archer was a very different character from Bakula’s character on Quantum Leap. Archer wasn’t supposed to be a laid-back babe in the woods. His job was to be a strong leader and accomplish his missions. He was supposed to err on the side of being an uptight hard-ass. Especially when the stakes were high, like during all of Season 3. So, I’m not sure that “relaxing into the role” would have fit the part, though I do understand the complaints about him. Perhaps another actor would have achieved a more comfortable middle of being assertive and aggressive while also not seeming wooden.
…and, maybe, as Matt says, the qualities that people don’t like about Bakula’s Archer are partly attributable to poor direction and conceptualization of the character.
I found Bakula’s portrayal was very stilted, like he was clearly “acting” as opposed to being natural.
Enterprise as a concept was flawed from the beginning. The moment they called the ship Enterprise, they were doomed.
27 It has shipped
Got my copy in the mail on Saturday, its a great release.
Besides the Full Version of Blue Skies, there is also a great little track at the very end where Jerry, and director Stuart Baird (who had been Friends with Jerry since the days that they both worked on the Omen) thank the orchestra for their contributions to the film. a very touching final track for the set.
Yay . . . . season three, or as I like to say, “The massive plot hole that swallowed Enterprise.” Season 4 was just about the only watchable one of the series. Each other season had a few good shows, but that’s it.
Yeah, the torture thing was an unfortunate relic of the times, wasn’t it? Around 2002, everyone thought it was really provocative to ask, “Wait, isn’t torture worth it sometimes??” just like they were doing on TV. And of course they would come up with the same answer, which was “yes.” In retrospect, setting up pro-torture scenarios in our entertainment was a lot less provocative than we all thought, and even more dated than “A Private Little War.”
As a wonderful Slate magazine article pointed out, the correct Star Trek response to the issue was “there are four lights.”
I thought season 3 was great SF television. Debatable if it was great Trek but still a great season.
However the season was all blown away with space Nazi’s in the season finale. Good Gawd.
I thought bad future guy was Braga/90s Roddenbery trying to eliminate evidence of how exciting TOS was versus the bland TNG while Archer was aided by “Wagon Train to the Stars” Roddenbery from the 60s (“a phaser is a gun”). Ironically Braga’s intervention in the time line failed as Enterprise resulted in the JJ Verse bringing back the TOS characters and environment reminding everyone just how tragic Star Trek Generations was in taking the death of an American icon and making it as boring as possible could be.
Yep when in doubt “space Nazis” ugh! Such a terrible idea. No surprise, much of the same writing team did it with VOY first. I mean you can tell they were just trying to quickly wrap up the Temporal Cold War and get on with the prequel stuff they really wanted to do (I believe they have said as much in interviews). Big thanks to UPN management for insisting on future Trek stuff being thrown in…
The whole future/temporal-cold-war arc was pretty half-baked.
The alien dude from “one of the factions” fighting the temporal cold war just sort of popped in and out of the series for a quickie during those two Nazi episodes. We didn’t even learn the name of his species. He was pretty cool lookin’, though.
Brannon Braga takes full responsibility for Season 1 and Season 2, and he should. He should also take responsibility for the show’s failure. He was the show runner. It is remarkable for him to say now that Manno Coto should have been there since day one and that Braga was merely a ‘fan’ and not a Trek ‘nerd’. To create a prequel for a beloved franchise with a rich history is no easy task, and to think that you can do it successfully without having a staff that knows and understands this rich history means that you are full of hubris and ignorance. What was this guy thinking? How could you possibly weave a pre-history of Star Trek without having a comprehensive game plan? A plan that connected the dots and did so in a thrilling way. It still baffles me to this day.
So the studio wanted a ‘future’ element. Fine.Star Trek episodes have sent characters back in time to change history. If that’s the case, than whatever these time-travelers change must lead up to the Original Series world that we’re all familiar with. The best you could come up with was a ‘temporal cold war’? What does that even mean? How did this connect the dots? The answer is it didn’t. Berman and Braga should not have taken on this project because they were not adequately qualified or prepared for it.
Sounds to me that Paramount/CBS was incharge of Enterprise and they hired writers that knew nothing about Trek and would go with what they wanted and B&B wasn’t. Maybe that is one reason why we didn’t get the RW? Maybe we should cut B&B some slack. Braga said he needed Coto in the beginning.
Could it also be that Paramount/CBS really wanted Enterprise for younger viewers and not just a general audience? Epecially wanting a younger Captain.That could be why it looks like they ignored the experienced Trek writers and went with writers that knew nothing about Trek but they knew about the younger audience?
What is a Drazi doing in Star Trek?
What I really hate about Enterprise is that it killed the concept. A Prequel concept was so exciting and could have revitalizes Trek. But they left it in the hands of people that simply didnt “get” Trek.
Whomever was the person or persons responsible at Paramount/UPN who saw the set designs and concept art and didnt wonder how this was a prequel also failed miserably.
They got the uniforms right. Thats about it.
I still believe that the prequel concept – done correctly – would kick some major Trek arse.
Sadly, the window of opportunity for that has come and gone.
i honest loved scott in the role
After watching the Captain’s Panel on Utube, I realized something everyone else probably knows. Shatner and Bakula have some interesting things in common. Both of their Trek series were cancelled. Neither of them had to “READ” for the role(all other Captains had to audition), they were known actors who were actively sought for the roles. Both of their shows were moved to Friday night to kill them off.
Did Patrick Stewart actively pursue the role of Picard? I thought I read they kind of had to twist his arm to take it, but I can’t find anything like that online.