Thursday, August 26, 2010

DVD Review: Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Second Season

Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Second Season

(Released: 2005 by Paramount Home Entertainment)
Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

Season One was an unexpected pleasure. Read that review HERE. Let’s move on to Season Two…

In the beginning, Zefram Cochrine invented Warp Drive technology. The rest was (TV, movie, and merchandising) history!

When something is great to begin with, and its follow-up is just as good, it’s a wonderful thing! And so it is with Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Second Season.

As with all previous “Modern TREK Series”, we resolve last season’s cliffhanger, move though another solid season of surprises and delights – and, in this case, go somewhere completely unexpected in setting up the season to come.

As a total aside, one thing I love about this series is that there are no Holodeck episodes. They are the biggest cheats!

All the background information on the ship and crew of Captain Jonathan Archer can be found in the previous review, so let’s go to warp!

As is our custom in these reviews, we’ll break it into CONS and PROS.


Packaging: The packaging remains unchanged from Season One – and is such for the duration of the series. If you like it, you like it. I do not. Nor do I truly dislike it, but more intelligence – and dare I say “LOGIC” – could have been applied to the design.

Attached to the package with TWO DABS OF GLUE is a cardboard piece that wraps AROUND THE TOP FRONT, BACK, AND BOTTOM FRONT of the package! You cannot open the package without removing the cardboard. BUT, on this cardboard, is the ONLY PLACE that it is identified as being the SECOND SEASON! So, if you remove it, nothing else on the package can distinguish it from other seasons. WHY?

No Skipping the End Credits: As with Season One, I found that the EPISODE END CREDITS – the SAME end credits that Paramount routinely shrunk, squashed, and did not allow to be read in its original UPN TV broadcasts – COULD NOT BE CHAPTER-SKIPPED on it’s DVDs. Of course, I can choose to fast forward through them, if need be. BUT… Just thought I’d share the irony, folks!


Widescreen: STAR TREK ENTERPRISE is the first TREK series to be filmed in widescreen. Even though it’s not Blu-ray, no TREK series has ever looked as good!

Content Booklet: Each season of Star Trek Enterprise comes with an enclosed BOOKLET of about 12 pages. Every episode of the set is described in sufficient detail to remind you of the particulars if you’ve seen it, or whet your appetite if you have not. But, where this item becomes especially valuable (…particularly for a season beyond Season One), is the recap of “The Story So Far”. Very nice to have for a quick review, before beginning the new voyages.

Also helpful are “Shaping the Future”, emphasis on a key episode of Season Two, and “Long Range Scan”, a preview of things to come in Season Three.

The Episodes – as if you didn’t know this was coming!:

“Shockwave Part II”: Ever since STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION floored us with “The Best of Both Worlds Parts I and II”, STAR TREK series have offered season-ending cliffhanger episodes! Last season’s Part One revealed more tantalizing details about the “Temporal Cold War” and the dire consequences for the Earth when Archer is removed from the time stream.

Part Two finds Archer marooned in the devastated 31st Century, with time-traveling “crewman” Daniels. Archer’s removal, in some way, leads to the United Federation of Planets never forming and the destruction of Earth’s civilization. Needless to say, the technology to return Archer to 2152 is also destroyed, leaving him and Daniels helpless and stranded. Meanwhile, an armada of Suliban (a conspirator race in the “Temporal Cold War”) led by Archer’s foe Silik, have captured the Enterprise, demanding that First Officer T’Pol and the crew produce Archer or face death.

Other highlights include:

“Carbon Creek”: Vulcans crash-land in 1950s rural Pennsylvania! This may be one of the single greatest TREK stories ever! (…And THAT is no small claim!) A “break” story that features the regular crew only in framing sequences.

“Minefield”: Introduces us to the Romulans – though they were mentioned in an historical context in “Shockwave Part II”.

“A Night in Sickbay”: Great character story for Archer and Doctor Phlox – and Porthos the Beagle’s illness makes us all sad.

“Marauders”: Klingon raiders terrorize and plunder a small mining colony. Archer doesn’t stand for this. Relive the days when Klingons were great villains! Ah, such memories!

“The Communicator”: A lesson in why you should never be careless with your equipment, when observing more primitive alien cultures.

“The Catwalk”: An amazing story of the Enterprise crew “in-exile” aboard their own ship! While navigating a deadly region of radiation, the crew must take refuge in a shielded maintenance shaft – for eight days. During this period, a race immune to the danger takes control of Enterprise.

“Dawn”: A superb “Trip and a Hostile Alien in Danger” story. Dawn, as in “sunrise”, brings killer (literally) heat to the planet where the pair is stranded.

“Cease Fire”: Expands on the bitter history of the Vulcans and the Andorians, originally explored in Season One’s “The Andorian Incident”. Both episodes are a great and unexpected spin on our impressions of the Vulcans.

“Canamar”: Archer and Trip are arrested as smugglers, and sentenced to a planetary penal colony. I suppose every series, from LOST IN SPACE on, ends up doing one of these.

“Judgment”: Archer’s life is in the hands of a worn-out Klingon defense advocate.

“Cogenetor”: Trip’s interference with an alien culture has surprisingly bad consequences. The ending will kick you in the gut, like an episode of LOST or ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS!

“Regeneration”: No Spoilers, but I actually said “Oh, F***!” out loud, when I saw WHO was discovered in the Antarctic! (Yes, sometimes it’s GREAT to approach a series completely “in the dark”! The surprises are all the more effective!) Hooks superbly into one of the TREK feature films. The episode commentary track reveals a great deal of TREK continuity-related controversy associated with this episode. Me? I had no problem, and really enjoyed it.

“First Flight”: The “Right Stuff” story of Star Trek’s Warp Program told in flashback. Jonathan Archer and his rival A.G. Robinson compete to be the first pilot to break the Warp 2 barrier! I’d like to think that naming the other pioneering pilot “Robinson” was a long overdue nod by STAR TREK to its own “pioneering” predecessor LOST IN SPACE!

“Bounty”: A Tellarite Bounty Hunter captures Archer, who is regarded as a fugitive – per the events of “Judgment”, for the Klingon Empire.

“The Expanse”: In its final episode of the season, ENTERPRISE takes a decidedly unexpected turn. An orbiting weapon appears from nowhere, and fires a destructive beam at Earth! The beam cuts a devastating swath of annihilation from Florida to Venezuela.

Enterprise is recalled from its mission, and is to return to Earth immediately. Along the way, it is encountered by the Suliban. Silik reveals his connection with the “Man From The Future”, who has been behind many of the machinations of the “Temporal Cold War”.

“Future Guy” (as he is called in commentary tracks) reveals that the attack came from 400 years in the future – by an as of yet unknown race called “The Xindi”. The Xindi have preemptively unleashed their attack because Earth will destroy THEIR planet in the future. (…Got that, so far?)

The Xindi home world exists in a “Bermuda Triangle-like” area of space called “The Delphic Expanse” where, according to our Vulcan “friends”, strange phenomena occur and ships never return.

Enterprise is fitted with a new command center and upgraded weaponry. It also takes on military personnel, to operate alongside its normal complement of Starfleet crewmembers. Its new mission is to locate and contact the Xindi in the PRESENT DAY, before the attack takes place. Recall that, in the context of this series, Enterprise is the only Earth ship in existence capable of reaching the Expanse.

Archer and company head toward the Delphic Expanse… with a number of Klingon warships in pursuit, as Archer is still wanted by the Klingon Empire. And so, we move into Season Three, and what seems to be an unprecedented season-long arc of adventure vs. the Xindi!

At this writing, I’ve seen the first fifteen episodes of that season – and, so far, it’s been spectacular! NO SPOILERS, PLEASE!!!

Extra Features:

Numerous features on the genesis and background of the series are included. “Enterprise Moments: Season Two” focuses on season highlights. Jolene Blalock (T’Pol) is profiled. There is a featurette on the episode “A Night in Sickbay”. Also included are outtakes, stills, audio and text commentaries.


In its Second Season, STAR TREK ENTERPRISE is a great show – that is getting greater still as it progresses into Season Three. In a way, I’m glad I missed the original run; in order to enjoy the great experiences I’m having now!

As I said previously, give it a look. You won’t be sorry!

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