Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Third Season

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Sep 12, 2005
  • Format: DVD
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Director

Various

Release Date(s)

2003-2004 (September 27, 2005)

Studio(s)

Paramount

Technical Specifications

1,008 mins (24 episodes at 42 mins each), NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, 7 single-sided, dual-layered discs (no layer switch), custom plastic shell packaging with inner disc holder, audio commentary with assistant director Mike DeMeritt (on North Star), audio commentary with writer/executive producer Manny Coto (on Similitude), text commentary by Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda (on The Xindi, Impulse and Countdown), 6 deleted scenes (from Similitude, Chosen Realm and - 16x9, DD 2.0), outtakes reel (6 mins - 4x3, DD 2.0), 4 behind-the-scenes featurettes (all 4x3, DD 2.0) including The Xindi Saga Begins (13 mins), Enterprise Moments: Season Three (13 mins), Enterprise Profile: Connor Trinneer (17 mins) and A Day in the Life of a Director: Roxann Dawson (17 mins), production photo gallery, Borg Invasion promo trailer, 3 NX-01 File Easter egg featurettes, booklet insert, animated program-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, episode/scene access (8 chapters per episode), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Close Captioned

Editor’s Note: U.K. release (and U.S. Best Buy/Musicland Group-exclusive bonus disc) includes 2 featurettes: Shooting Behind the Camera: Marvin Rush and Enterprise Secrets.

Review

It’s been six weeks since Captain Archer and the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise began searching the Delphic Expanse, and still they’re no closer to finding the mysterious Xindi who are bent on destroying the Earth.  None of the other strange species they meet seem interested in helping them, and some that they’ve encountered are downright hostile.  To make matters worse, they’ve has been struggling to navigate through regions of space wracked by extreme spatial distortions – anomalies capable of causing significant damage to both the ship and its crew.  But clues to the Xindi’s whereabouts slowly begin to emerge.  They soon learn that the Xindi aren’t simply one race... but several different races that evolved together on the same homeworld.  Some are evolved from primates, some from insects and amphibians... some even from reptiles.  All are extremely dangerous and, for some unknown reason, they’ve decided that Humans must be destroyed at all costs.

Meanwhile, the stress of the mission is beginning to take a severe toll on the crew.  Archer is growing ever more hawkish.  T’Pol is having greater difficulty suppressing her emotions.  And Trip’s allowing his grief over the death of his sister to slowly turn to rage.  Tension is high and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches a boiling point.  Despite it all, the crew of the Enterprise soldiers on, knowing that the fate of their planet hangs in the balance.  They mean to find and destroy the Xindi’s super-weapon before it can be launched against the Earth... or die in the attempt.

The season’s opening episode, The Xindi, establishes good dramatic tension and begins laying the groundwork for the puzzles that Archer and his crew will have to solve.  The next few episodes are a bit uninspiring, but move the larger story along adequately.  However, things begin to get interesting with Impulse, in which the Enterprise encounters a badly damaged Vulcan ship that was reported lost in the Expanse.  Upon attempting a rescue, Archer learns that its crew has gone insane for some unknown reason... and the insanity begins to affect T’Pol as well.  A throwback to classic zombie films, the episode is a surprisingly edgy piece of work.  In Twilight, we learn what might happen if the Enterprise crew fails in their mission, as we watch an alternate future reality unfold.  It’s an entertaining and disturbing “what if” scenario that pushes them past the brink of disaster (even if, like the previous year’s The Expanse, it’s way too ambitious to be truly effective dramatically – this would have been a much better 2-parter).  In one of my favorites of the season, Similitude, Trip is nearly killed in an accident in Engineering.  Knowing that he can’t complete his mission without his Chief Engineer, Archer orders Phlox to create a clone from which brain tissue can be harvested to save Trip’s life.  Unfortunately, this clone doesn’t just look like Trip... it shares all his memories too.  Similitude’s central moral dilemma is a nice touchstone to classic Trek at its finest, and the episode manages to be both powerful and emotionally moving as well.  Proving Ground features the return of a fan favorite character... the blue-skinned Andorian Shran (played by Jeffrey Combs), seemingly come to help Archer fight the Xindi in payment of an old debt.  In the controversial but moody Harbinger, those tensions among the crew that I mentioned earlier finally do boil over (and yes, for those wondering, the infamous “backside” shot in this episode is presented here in all its original glory).

There are a few clunkers during the season, most notably Extinction, Exile and Carpenter Street.  But the action and drama ramps up significantly starting with Hatchery, and the three episodes that follow are arguably the best of the series to this point.  In Azati Prime, the crew finally arrives at the secret location where the Xindi’s super-weapon is nearing completion, and Archer launches a suicide mission to destroy it.  But the Enterprise is discovered and suffers a devastating attack that leaves the ship a helpless, burning wreck.  This cliff-hanger ending left fans reeling for several weeks until the season resumed its broadcast run on UPN with Damage, in which the surviving crew struggles to recover from the attack, and Archer is forced to make his most morally questionable choice yet.  But the crew may have gained a potential ally among the Xindi in The Forgotten, even as the emotional toll of their situation weighs heavy.   presents another fascinating “what if” scenario, as the crew encounters a duplicate Enterprise manned by their own descendents.  And the season’s final three episodes The Council, Countdown and Zero Hour bring the Xindi arc to a thrilling climax... and throw in yet another cliff-hanger ending (with a twist that you’ll never see coming).

In addition to the fact that the season-long arc gave Enterprise the badly-needed momentum and direction it had been lacking, one of the most fascinating aspects of the year was a handful of rather striking character developments.  Gone was the hesitant, naive Captain we’d been saddled with for most of the two previous seasons.  In his place, the Jonathan Archer of year three became a hard-assed, resolute and determined warrior, who was willing to bend or break the rules whenever necessary and make significant moral and ethical compromises to save his planet.  T’Pol, who it had been hinted in previous seasons had a taste for exploring Human emotions, made a pair of choices that shocked fans.  First, she impulsively initiated a sexual encounter with Trip, after weeks of intimate Vulcan “neuropressure” sessions intended to help him deal more effectively with his pent up grief and anger.  Then it was revealed that she’d been deliberately self-injecting a dangerous substance (Trellium-D) that allowed her to unchain her emotions – a substance which left her with permanent damage to her emotional control.  The romantic connection of T’Pol and Trip was interesting, but surprising, given the sometimes troubling tendency in prior seasons – and even once more this season – to suggest that the Captain might have a thing for her (predictably, Jolene Blalock’s femininity was all too often used by the producers to “sex up the show” in the first three years).  On top of all this, the darker, edgier tone of the Xindi arc was a decided contrast from previous seasons.  And finally, there were at last real consequences to be paid by Enterprise’s crew for their actions.  Some would not survive the mission, and none would be left unscathed.  Call it what you will, Enterprise: Season Three was always interesting... and it was a helluva fun ride.

Paramount’s included all 24 episodes of the third season in anamorphic widescreen video on disc, and each and every one of them looks great.  With its intensified focus on drama and action, the experience of seeing this season in widescreen in particular is really a thrill.  The show’s cinematic photography and effects really grab your attention on the big wide, if you know what I mean (and the bigger and wider the screen the better).  There’s still a bit of softness and very light film grain occasionally, but that’s certainly appropriate.  Color, contrast and image detail are nearly always outstanding, with only the occasional hint of artifacting or edginess.  The audio is again presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.  The surround track is much more atmospheric than immersive – this is not a highly directional sound field.  But dialogue, music and effects are clear and generally well layered in the mix.  All in all, it’s a nice presentation.  Note that Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio is also included, as are English subtitles (and Closed Captioning). (MORE...)


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