'Enterprise' is the series that killed the venerable and lucrative 'Star Trek' franchise
-- so goes the conventional wisdom. This seven-disk package demonstrates that it's a bum rap.
All the first-season episodes are here, from 'Broken Bow,' the stand-out pilot that launched the series, to 'Shock Wave,' the cliffhanger that ended season one, as well as a plethora of bonus features, including outtakes and deleted scenes, cast
commentary, a featurette on time travel 'Star Trek' style and a profile of Scott Bakula, the strong and seasoned TV actor ('Quantum Leap') who held the 'Enterprise' cast and crew together. It's solid stuff that will please the fans and may convert a few doubters, too.
Better to blame 'Star Trek: Nemesis,' the last of the big screen 'Trek' flicks, for the so-called 'death' of the franchise: after all, it was a second-rate space opera that badly malfunctioned at the box office.
And better yet to blame UPN, the tiny so-called sixth broadcast network that owes its very existence to this show that was its biggest draw when it launched. UPN did relatively little to support the series, draining its fan base with weak lead-ins and lead-outs.
But best of all, if you're in the business of apportioning blame, is to blame the medium of broadcast television itself, that voracious sci-fi monster that demands to be fed constantly with new 'product' churned out at warp speed, leaving little room for thought and innovation, much less for consistent quality.
Truth be told, 'Enterprise' should long ago have beamed over from over-the-air, so-called 'free' broadcast television to premium cable; in fact, Viacom, the same mega-media company that owns UPN and Paramount, the producing studio that turns out the
'Trek' flicks and TV shows, also owns Showtime, the number-two premium cable network (after HBO). Hey up there, Viacom executives, don't you think there are plenty of Trekkers who'd make the leap to bill-paying Showtime subs if there was a new 'Star Trek' to watch on cable?
Yes, 'Enterprise' took some short cuts and easy ways out in the plot department, and too often it seemed to forget the most interesting aspect of its original premise; namely that it was a prequel, set at the dawn of human interstellar travel, when earthlings (and one conflicted but very hot Vulcan) ventured out into the galaxy.
But then again, which 'Trek' series, from the original on, didn't sooner or later resort to evil twins and alternate histories? Remember the cowardly Captain Kirk episode? But all those sad expediencies of series TV were yet to come; this first season, episode after episode, is just as engrossing as anything that the beloved 'Next Generation' crew wrought. Plus, and this is something that the carping critics rarely mention, the 'Enterprise' crew was made up of uncommonly interesting actors, from Scott Bakula (Capt. Jonathan Archer) to Jolene Blalock (the sexy Vulcan super-babe T-Pol) to Connor Trinneer ('Trip' Tucker, another Enterprise engineer with an accent). In fact, it would be a shame if Bakula, a strong, versatile actor, took the fall for the end of the 'Enterprise' enterprise. In short, collectors and hardcore 'Trekkers,' even those who gave up on the series in its later years, will probably love this first-season DVD set; it may even change some minds among the doubters.
As for the death of 'Star Trek,' better by far to blame the corporate suits, who overloaded the franchise replicator with their contradictory demands (Be popular! Be cheap! Be fast! Be worthy!), and whose focus is forever on the numbers and not on the stars.
In any event, take heart ardent Trekkers, whether you're an 'Enterprise' fan or not: despite what the critics may say 'Star Trek' is not dead. Give it a few years in cryogenic suspension and demand and interest for it will build again. The franchise will be back in some other form, with some other crew. In Hollywood, as long as a 'product' is deemed capable of making money, it remains immortal.
Technical quality of the first-season 'Enterprise' DVD set is solid, with picture and sound that will stand up to your high-end TV. Retail for the set is around $129.99, but you don't have to be a Ferengi to find it for less.