By Chaz Lipp
Just got the brand new Star Trek: Enterprise – Season One Blu-ray set, available March 26, and wanted to share a few early observations in advance of a full review. The big question for Trek fans is probably: what new features are included? Luckily is some very well produced new material on this six-disc set. Keeping in line with the Next Generation Blu-ray sets, the previous DVD features have all been ported over as well. All the episodes are presented with new 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes. I know the other big question is how do the episodes look and sound. Having just received the set, I haven’t had time to really delve and evaluate the look and sound of the season (more to come in a separate review).
Select episodes contain brand new audio commentaries, including the double-length pilot. That’s the only one I’ve listened to so far. It features producer Brannon Braga, director James L Conway, visual effects producer Dan Curry, and cast members Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating. This is an engaging, often funny, and occasionally bittersweet commentary. There’s a pervasive sadness, particularly from Braga, looking back on the generally underrated Enterprise series. Those familiar with the Braga and Rick Berman commentary from the ’05 DVD (present here) will hear some repetition, but the additional participants (and several more years of perspective) make this a worthwhile new track.
There are also three additional new audio commentaries throughout the set. They appear on the following episodes: “Silent Enemy” (disc three), “Shadows of P’Jem” (disc four), and “Shuttlepod One” (disc four).
The key new feature on disc one is the HD “In Conversation: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga,” recorded December 2012, which runs a generous 63 minutes. This lengthy discussion is great because these guys are very well aware of the black sheep status Enterprise holds in the Star Trek franchise. They don’t shy away from discussing controversial and heavily debated aspects of the series (the Diane Warren theme song gets some lively coverage). They’re honest about their disappointments involving the series and the obvious feeling that they didn’t achieve what they really wanted to with it.
A few new-to-disc standard definition features pop up on disc one, including a hilariously awkward “Cast Introduction” by Scott Bakula. There are also a couple brief vintage promo pieces, “Network Presentation” and “Syndication Presentation.”
On disc five is the vintage (but new to disc) featurette “On the Set” hosted by Barry Kibrick. This special runs 28 minutes and basically takes us behind the scenes for a fairly exhaustive look at the shooting of an episode. Though the standard definition presentation is, of course, a little rough this is a cool addition that we didn’t get on the older DVD set. It goes well beyond glossy EPK type stuff.
The centerpiece of the new features is found on the sixth disc, the three-part HD documentary “To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise.” The first part, “Countdown,” runs 30 minutes. This deals with the development of the show and the challenges of creating a prequel the original Star Trek series. Part two, “Boarding the NX-01,” runs 31 minutes. Here we get lots of details about the casting process. “First Flight” is part three, running just about 28 minutes. This one discusses the troubled launch of the show. Again, what works so well throughout “Launching Enterprise” is the candid honesty we hear from the creative minds behind the show. Co-creator/executive producer Brannon Brega, who does the majority of the talking throughout, does not pull his punches. You simply cannot miss his mixed feelings as he looks back on the show. Even if you’re a Trek fan who wasn’t enamored of Enterprise, this stuff is compelling and honest.
Just like the new Next Generation Blu-rays, the six discs are all housed in a standard-width case. I love the compactness of these season sets, replacing those needlessly bulky DVD sets. Also like the TNG sets, the plastic case is housed in a cardboard slipcase. More on this release to come.