Star Trek: Enterprise - Season 4 [DVD]
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The final series of Enterprise finally gave its fans what they had been waiting for with wonderful homages to earlier series and a commendable attempt at finally rectifying some core Star Trek continuity errors. The introduction of multi-episode arcs also helped Enterprise to finally reach its full potential bringing to the audience such memorable storylines as The Eugenics Wars and the Vulcan Civil War. Whilst Enterprise may not have been the most immediately popular of the Star Trek franchises, in its final season it definitely proved itself a worthy addition to the series.
Despite the near-certainty of cancellation, ratings in the cellar and nothing left to lose, the fourth and final season of Star Trek: Enterprise was unanimously hailed as the best. After ending season 3 with a mind-boggling cliffhanger, series creators Rick Berman and Brannon Braga handed show-runner duties to executive producer Manny Coto, who rejuvenated the flagging franchise by bridging the gap between Enterprise and the future developments of Star Trek: The Original Series. By recruiting lifelong Trek experts Mike Sussman and the husband-and-wife team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens to his writing staff, Coto ensured that political events in the Enterprise timeline would lead to a "coalition of planets," thus forming the Federation cornerstone of Star Trek's future. But first, Coto had to find a way to extract Capt. Archer (Scott Bakula) and his battle-worn crew from an alternate timeline--the result of the continuing Temporal Cold War--in which the Nazis have invaded U.S. soil in 1944. In the normal Enterprise timeline, political upheavals have left relations between Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and Humans in a state of near-disastrous chaos.
Into this blazing cauldron of action-adventure, Coto and staff introduced story arcs that connected to Star Trek's future, including a three-episode arc ("Borderland," "Cold Station 12," and "The Augments") in which Dr. Arik Soong (played by Next Generation alumnus Brent Spiner) and his superhuman "Augments" chart a tragic course that would lead, in future generations, to the creation of Spiner's cybernetic NextGen character, Data. "The Forge," "Awakening," and "Kir'Shara" returned T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) to her native Vulcan, where encounters with the legendary philosopher Surak, and zealous sect called the Syrannites, lead to pivotal history with the Vulcan High Command. In subsequent episodes, Phlox (John Billingsley) would discover the reason why some Klingons lack "cranial ridges" (thus solving a vexing Star Trek mystery), and "In a Mirror, Darkly" marked and eventful return to the "Mirror Universe" from the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror," for what Coto aptly describes (in the bonus featurette) as a two-part "romp," complete with a "Mirror Universe" title sequence, the reappearance of the U.S.S. Defiant from the original series episode "The Tholian Web," and a glorious recreation of a "Constitution Class" starship bridge that gave long-time Trekkies a breathtaking rush of nostalgia.
In the closing episodes, the formation of the Federation is threatened by a radical xenophobe (Peter Weller) whose isolationist tactics lead Trip (Connor Trinneer) and T'Pol to a future of interspecies parenthood, and while the series-ending "These Are The Voyages..." is considered a disappointment by some, it provided a suitable Next Generation tribute to Star Trek's past, present, and future. Considering the daunting challenge of tying up loose ends while looking forward in a way that demanding fans could appreciate, it's fair to say that Enterprise reached a satisfying conclusion that its cast and crew can be proud of.See all Product description
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Once again, the quality of writing, direction and acting make this programme one of the very best pieces of television available. There are several multi part stories within this season, but even so the episodes stand out on their own very well. The end result was a series of episodes that addressed a lot of the back story for the "later" incarnations; and we see how the Klingons lost their forehead ridges, the beginnings of section 31, genetic manipulation and several other key items that would play a major part in the various series set further in the "future".
A particular favourite of mine were the two "Mirror" universe storylines; they even went to the trouble of re-creatinging the opening and closing sequence so that the stories were viewed as if from that mirror universe. It's clear that the actors found this a really intersting twist and in particular, Scott Bakula's impassioned speech to the crew about the preservation of the empire (part of which was cut from the programme, but shown in the extras) is a masterclass in acting.
The only epsiode in this set that was a disappointment was the final one; I'm not sure why they decided to bring in Jonathon Frakes, Marina Sirtis (both of whom I really like) and set the storyline as if it were on the holodeck of the Enterprise-D. But at the end of the programme, there is a piece showing the 3 main incarnations of the Enterprise with the relevant captains and the famous "split infinitive" speech; it still makes the hair stand up.
We need programmes like this to inspire us and the next generation; perhaps one day, Paramount will realise their mistake and introduce a new incarnation of this landmark concept and allow a new ship with a new captain and crew to explore strange new worlds, seek out new lifeforms and new civisations; and once again, go boldly where no-one has gone before.
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I now have the blu ray set.