Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season
- Street Date:
- April 29th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Shannon T. Nutt
- Review Date: 1
- April 21st, 2014
- Movie Release Year:
- 939 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The general consensus among most fans of 'Star Trek: Enterprise' is that Season Three (which featured a season-long arc focusing on the Xindi) is the best of the lot, but for my money, Season 4 represents the finest this series has to offer. Ironically, what makes Season Four work has to do with both the fact that the budget for the series was cut as well as the fact that almost everyone involved knew that this was almost certainly the last season for the show.
Because of budget cutbacks, 'Enterprise' could no longer spend money on elaborate new sets unless they could be used in more than one of Season Four's 22 episodes. Therefore, the season consists of a number of 'mini-arc' shows that last two or three episodes each. This resulted in not only 'Enterprise' maintaining the quality of prior seasons, but also allowed for more interesting stories, as tales could be told over a number of episodes instead of just one.
Showrunning duties were turned over to Manny Coto in Season Four, as prior showrunners Brannon Braga and Rick Berman had less of a day-to-day association with the series (although they returned to write the controversial series finale). Coto provided a much-needed new perspective for 'Enterprise', which included bringing 'Star Trek' novelists Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens onto the writing team and making much of the final season's focus on tying 'Enterprise' to the original Star Trek series.
Before the fun part of Season Four begins, Season Three's cliffhanger needed to be resolved, so things don't get off to a great start in the two-parter 'Storm Front'. It was a pretty crazy idea to send the crew back in time to an alternate Earth where aliens have teamed up with the Nazis, and – sure enough – there doesn't seem to be much of a point to the first two episodes of Season Four, other than using them to resolve the silly premise and get the crew reset and ready to go exploring again in the 22nd century.
After a higher quality episode entitled 'Home', during which much of the crew deals with the aftermath of both the Xindi conflict and the temporal cold war (which, thankfully, is finally put to rest), things really start to get good when special guest star Brent Spiner shows up in a three-part storyline playing Dr. Arik Soong, who is the great-grandfather of Dr. Noonien Soong, the scientist who would create Star Trek: The Next Generation's Data.
Season Four also gives fans episodes dealing with the Vulcans, the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Orions (and their scantily clad slave girls). Even Peter Weller shows up for a two-parter late in the season (actually the last story arc before the finale) playing the leader of a terrorist group who is not-all-that-dissimilar in evilness to the character he would go on to play in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Then, of course, there's the series finale, which has angered most die-hard fans due to the fact that it's actually more of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode than it is an episode of 'Enterprise'. Personally, I kind of enjoy the way the final episode – which guest stars TNG alumni Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis – ties all of the different 'Star Trek' television series into a nice little bow. I think in retrospect (with the knowledge that this finale really was the last 'Star Trek' fans would see on television…at least up to the time of this review) the finale works a little better now than it did back in 2005.
It's pretty obvious that 'Star Trek: Enterprise' was growing in quality by leaps and bounds in its final two seasons, and while it was a shame to see the show get cancelled, it's also nice that it got to end it when all involved were doing their best work and the series was at a creative high. Additionally, so many casual 'Trek' fans had tuned out by this point in 'Enterprise's run that many will be seeing these episodes for the first time now on Blu-ray. I can't think of a better way to watch these shows for the first time.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 4' warps onto Blu-ray in packaging that is designed the same way as the prior three seasons. The six 50GB dual-layer discs are housed inside a keepcase, with discs placed on each side of the inside cover, plus two plastic hubs which hold a disc on each side. The keepcase contains no inserts. The reverse side of the slick (seen from inside the keepcase) contains a list of the episodes and special features of each of the discs. A slightly embossed slipcover matching the artwork of the slick slides overtop the set.
Upon loading each disc, viewers will be asked to choose a language – as is the case with all 'Star Trek' Blu-ray releases. Disc one of this release is front-loaded with trailers for Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season 5, Star Trek: Unification, Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 3, and Star Trek: Enterprise – Season 2. There are no front-loaded trailers on the other five discs. The Blu-ray menu matches the design that has been used for the prior three seasons.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Although Brannon Braga has stated (and does again on new extras on this set) that he hated the fact that 'Enterprise' made the switch from shooting on film to shooting in HD, it turns out that this was the best thing for Blu-ray, as Season Four is by far the best looking of the bunch. What the episodes lose in terms of their film-like appearance, they gain in terms of sharpness and detail. While this does result in some sets looking a little cheesier than they might on film, as well as some effects shots appearing less 'seamless', the 'pop' that this presentation has over the other three seasons is worth the trade-off.
There's a whole new level of enjoyment to these HD-shot episodes that just wasn't evident on the prior sets. Fans can pick up on little details and images on the various computers and monitors, the fabric of the uniforms actually show up on-screen, and the facial features of both human and alien alike are much more defined. Even black levels, which were a moderate problem on prior sets are much better rendered in these HD episodes. Granted, had Paramount totally remastered each show, those three prior seasons would have looked a lot better on Blu-ray, but since that didn't happen, this season is far and away the best in terms of video quality.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
While the audio quality doesn't take the huge leap in improvement that the video quality does, it's on par with the prior three season sets – which is to say, it's pretty solid throughout. Once again, the primary tracks here are English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and while they're not quite as immersive as many tracks you'll find on today's television series, they do a nice job of providing crisp, clear dialogue, distinct sounds when needed, and occasional low-end use as well as some directionality during action or special effects sequences. Balance is solid throughout, and there are no noticeable problems with dropout, glitches, or the like.
In addition to the lossless English track, other audio options consist of German 5.1 Dolby Digital, and both French and Japanese 2.0 Surround. Subtitles are once again provided in English SDH, French, German, Japanese, and Dutch.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Deleted Scene (SD, 3 min.) – Some deleted moments between Scott Bakula and guest star Joe Maruzzo from the season premiere, 'Storm Front, Part 1'.
- Enterprise Moments: Season Four (SD, 16 ½ min.) – An archival featurette discussing the final season, with comments from Scott Bakula, Connor Trinneer, Manny Cotto, Dominic Keating, Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, John Billingsley, Linda Park, and Anthony Montgomery.
- Text Commentary – An archival text commentary for the episode 'The Forge' provided by Mike and Denise Okuda.
- Deleted Scene (SD, 1 min.) – A deleted scene from the episode 'The Aenar' featuring guest stars Brian Thompson and Geno Silva.
- Audio Commentaries – A pair of archival commentary tracks for both Part I and Part II of 'In a Mirror, Darkly' by Writer Mike Sussman and the former Editor and Senior Content Producer of StarTrek.com, Tim Gaskill.
- Text Commentary – An archival text commentary provided by Mike and Denise Okuda.
- Deleted Scene (SD, 2 ½ min.) – A deleted scene from 'In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II', featuring Scott Bakula as the Mirror Universe Jonathan Archer addressing his crew.
- Inside the Mirror Episodes (SD, 16 min.) – A featurette on Season Four's popular two-part episode, with comments from Manny Coto, Mike Sussman, Illustrator Doug Drexler, Make-Up Designer Michael Westmore, Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry, and Digital Effects Supervisor John Teska.
- Audio Commentary – An archival commentary track for the episode 'Terra Prime' from Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Tim Gaskill.
- Text Commentary – An archival text commentary track provided by Mike and Denise Okuda for the series finale, 'These are the Voyages…".
- Visual Effects Magic (SD, 13 ½ min.) – Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry, 3D Artist Fred Pienkos, Digital Effects Supervisor John Teska, Visual Effects Supervisor Ronald B. Moore, Digital Effects Supervisor Robert Bonchune, and Lead 3D Modeler Pierre Drolet discuss some of the special effects used in Season 4, as well as some effects used for episodes of prior seasons.
- Links to the Legacy (SD, 4 ½ min.) – Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens discuss how Season 4 was designed to link 'Enterprise' with the other 'Star Trek' series – particularly attempting to tie it in with the original series, which would fall next on the 'Star Trek' timeline.
- 'Enterprise' Secrets (SD, 6 min.) – 2nd Assistant Director David Trotti gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the last day of shooting on the series finale.
- That's a Wrap! (SD, 9 min.) – A behind-the-scenes look at the cast and crew wrap part for Season 4, including comments from Linda Park, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, John Billingsley, Mike and Denise Okuda, Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Peter Weller, Jeffrey Combs, Levar Burton, and Scott Bakula.
- 'Enterprise' Goes to the Dogs (SD, 13 min.) – Finally, Porthos gets a featurette devoted to him, with comments from Rick Berman, Brannon Braga, Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry, Trainer from the Performing Animal Troupe Scott Rowe, Scott Bakula, John Billingsley, Mike Okuda, Illustrator John Eaves, Dominic Keating, Executive Story Editor/Writer André Bormanis, Connor Trinneer, and Producer/Writer Mike Sussman.
- Westmore's Aliens: Creating Dr. Phlox and Beyond (SD, 5 min.) – A look at the various creature designs from Make-Up Designer Michael Westmore over 'Enterprise's four seasons.
- Outtakes (SD, 2 min.) – No season set of 'Enterprise' is complete without the traditional blooper reel. This one is pretty good, albeit all too short.
- Photo Gallery – A collection of 60 production and behind-the-scenes photos from Season Four.
- NX-01 File 10 (SD, 5 min.) – A look at the fans who showed up on the Paramount lot to protest the cancellation of 'Enterprise'. Sadly, the protest looks to consist of maybe 50 people (although a lot more than the 'dozen' that Brannon Braga claims there were elsewhere on the extras).
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
- Extended Scene (HD, 1 min.) – An extended scene from the episode 'Home' featuring Joanna Cassidy, Connor Trinneer, and Michael Reilly Burke.
- Script Gallery: Original Ending – A photo gallery of exactly two script pages that detail the original ending for the episode 'Home', written by Michael Sussman.
- Audio Commentary – A brand-new commentary track for the episode 'The Forge' featuring Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Supervisors/Consultants Mike and Denise Okuda.
- Audio Commentary – A brand-new commentary track for the episode 'Observer Effect' featuring Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and Supervisors/Consultants Mike and Denise Okuda.
- Audio Commentary – A brand-new commentary track for the episode 'United' featuring Director David Livingston and Screenplay Writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (from a story by showrunner Manny Coto).
- Audio Commentaries – Two brand new commentary tracks: one for the episode 'In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I', with Director James L. Conway, Writer Mike Sussman, and Mike and Denise Okuda; and one for the episode 'Demons', featuring Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating.
- Audio Commentary – A brand-new commentary track for the episode 'Terra Prime' featuring Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating.
- Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise (HD, 116 min.) – This new feature-length documentary on the fourth and final season of 'Enterprise' is divided up into four segments (each of which can only be watched individually): 'New Voices' (27 min.); 'Memorable Voyages' (30 min.); 'Final Approach' (30 min.); and 'End of an Era' (29 min.). This is another great documentary about 'Enterprise' (each one of the season sets have included one of these), with comments from most of the cast and crew. Fans will get to learn some interesting behind-the-scenes info here, including the fact that it was probably the Season 3 cliffhanger that saved 'Enterprise' from being cancelled a year earlier than it was (the studio made the mistake of not viewing the Season 3 ender until it was too late to change the ending), and the revelation that they were very close to getting William Shatner to doing a two-parter where he would play the James T. Kirk from the Mirror Universe.
- In Conversation: Writing 'Star Trek: Enterprise' (HD, 90 min.) – Much like the Season 2 bonus feature where the cast joined Brannon Braga for a roundtable discussion, this time it's the writers of Season 4 that join Braga (although he's late to the proceedings). Included here are Consulting Producer David A. Goodman, Co-Producer André Bormanis, Producer Michael Sussman, Co-Producer Phyllis Strong, Co-Producers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and Co-Executive Producer Chris Black. As with previous season-set conversations, there are very few punches held back here, and while everyone seems to be good friends now it's hard not to come away with the impression that the writing staff had a very hard time dealing with Braga during production. There's also only a glancing mention or two of the much-maligned series finale, although it has been discussed in detail on other sets. All in all, another wonderfully entertaining bonus feature about 'Enterprise' (and kudos to CBS/Paramount for letting the cast and crew be honest about their feelings – including being highly critical of Paramount itself - over the four season sets).
Of the four seasons released to date, it's my opinion that Season Four of 'Star Trek: Enterprise' is the best of the lot. This season contains some of the most interesting storylines of any of the four years the show was on the air, and if one adds to that the increased video quality of the presentation (thanks to all the episodes being shot in HD), you have a set of discs that should belong in any sci-fi fan's collection. I've enjoyed watching all the seasons of 'Enterprise' on Blu-ray, but this one in particular gets my highest recommendation.
- 6-Disc Set
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- German Dolby Digital 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 2.0
- Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
- English SDH, French, Japanese, German, Dutch
- Archival Commentaries and Text Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Archival Featurettes
Exclusive HD Content
- Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise
- In Conversation: Writing Star Trek Enterprise
- Extended Scene for 'Home"
- Script Gallery: Original Ending for 'Home'
- New Audio Commentaries for 'The Forge', 'Observer Effect', 'United', 'In a Mirror, Darkly, Part I', 'Demons', and 'Terra Prime'
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