“Star Trek Enterprise” has the distinction of being the final installment of the epic space saga that began forty years ago. For the first time in eighteen seasons, the fall television schedule did not include a series that had “Star Trek” in the title. The last show in the Star Trek family completed a four year run in May and “Star Trek Enterprise – Season Four” has just been released by Paramount home entertainment on DVD.
From the beginning, “Star Trek Enterprise” was a show unlike any that came before in the history of the series. First, it held the distinction of being named after the classic ship that was the focus of the first two Star Trek television shows. Second, it was set in the middle half of the twenty second century, long before James T. Kirk was born. The federation of planets did not exist, warp speed was still a new concept, and the uniforms had the look of something a mechanic would wear.
Scott Bakula stars as Captain Jonathan Archer, commander of the starship Enterprise, NX-01. Jolene Blalock plays the Vulcan Sub-Commander, T’Pol, who is the object of affection for Commander Charles “Trip” Tucker, played by Connor Trinneer. Also on board are Linda Park and Anthony Montgomery, as Ensigns Hoshi Sato and Travis Mayweather. John Billingsley plays the role of Dr. Phlox and the main cast is rounded out by Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed.
Season four plays out like something that either a long time Star Trek fan would love or passionately dislike. There is not much room in between. The series seems to be trying extremely hard to appeal to the fan base, and there are plenty of winks and nods to past episodes, characters, and storylines. It seems to be a combination of creating new with injecting the old.
The opening episodes “Storm Front I and II” concludes the cliffhanger that was left at the end of season three. The crew finds itself trapped in 1940’s New York City under Nazi control. Maybe after forty years, this is what boldly going where no man has gone before has become. The show reaches a higher point later in the season, with the third and second to last episodes “Demons” and Terra Prime.” Peter Weller guest stars in as John Frederick Paxton, a man who believes control of earth belongs to humans. It’s a role Weller seems born to play and injects some life into the series. The two part episode “In a Mirror, Darkly” plays with a concept explored in the original series. A mirror planet, with mirror images of each of the lead characters gives the cast to chance to play it up a bit, and no one seems to have more fun doing so than ensign Sato. While fine to watch, the episodes seem more concerned with covering all the bases explored in the Star Trek universe rather than creating original ones.
The final episode of the season, which is also the final episode of the series, is one of those concepts that sounds great on paper, but simply does not execute. With the ship getting ready to return home, a problem arises, leaving Archer to make a difficult choice, a choice that will cost more than he thought possible. Without giving away the ending, something very dramatic happens. This should have been the focus of the episode, not using the episode as a device to bring back two cast members from a former series. The current cast never gets the chance to show any true emotion or reaction to what takes place. When the character of Spock died, an entire film was dedicated to finding him. On “Star Trek Enterprise,” it remains business as usual.
“Star Trek Enterprise - Season Four” comes with a fine set of bonus features. “Enterprise Moments – Season Four” opens with a discussion regarding the cliffhanger from the previous season. With the crew of the Enterprise back in time under Nazi rule, the cast and crew admit they were not completely sure how the cliffhanger would conclude. Other high points of the season are discussed, including the time spent on the planet Vulcan, the casting of Brent Spiner (who played Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation) for a three episode storyline, and the final episode of the series, which features a storyline/history lesson involving Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, reprising their roles of William Riker and Deanna Troi from The Next Generation.
“Visual Effects Magic” is a feature that focuses on some of the more elaborate effects in the fourth season, including the task of recreating New York in 1940 with a dogfight taking place above. The feature also goes into detail regarding the creation of the Xindi and Tholian characters. “Inside The Mirror Episodes” truly gives a sense of how difficult it can be when working on a show with a forty year history that have storylines played out and produced. With episodes that tie into the original Star Trek series, challenges from recreating costumes to original sets are discussed and debated. “Links to the Legacy” features the crew and their desire to make this final season one that explores as many avenues of the Star Trek universe as humanly possible.
“Enterprise Secrets” takes a look at the show’s final day of shooting and “That’s A Wrap” features interviews and footage from the wrap party. There is a great deal of emotion present while the cast and crew voice their opinions about the end of the show. Other extras include a blooper reel titled “Enterprise Outtakes,” a photo gallery, and a commercial for the “Borg Invasion,” an exhibit/ride housed at the Star Trek Experience, located at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Perhaps the best way to sum up the fourth and final season of “Star Trek Enterprise” is by saying it tried the best it could. The season seemed more concerned with gimmick episodes, trying to appeal to the fans of each Star Trek series that came before it. The only problem is, when you try to recreate and recapture episodes and entire shows that are gone, you are never able to develop an identity of your own. Season four of “Star Trek Enterprise” is a history lesson in all things Star Trek. I just wish the show would have given us the chance to show their true colors, and not wear the paint of starships that were long ago put into dry dock.