DVD
Star Trek: Enterprise
Season 2

Starring: Scott Bakula
Paramount
RRP: 84.99
PHE8622
Certificate: 12
Available 11 July 2005


Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the first warp-five starship,
Enterprise, continue their voyage of exploration, encountering alien species both familiar and strange, including Suliban, Klingons, Andorians, Romulans, Tholians, Tellarites and Borg. But events take a deadly turn when a race called the Xindi attack Earth...

Season 2 is, in my opinion, Enterprise's weakest. Though there aren't that many truly dire episodes (I count three: the tiresome A Night in Sickbay, which was inexplicably nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the uninspiring Vanishing Point and the similarly unoriginal Precious Cargo) too many of the rest are just bland.

Those merely OK episodes are Shockwave, Part II, Minefield, Marauders, The Seventh, The Communicator, Dawn, Canamar, The Crossing, Horizon, The Breach and Bounty.

Shockwave, Part II makes a satisfactory resolution to the previous season's cliffhanger, but Daniels (Matt Winston) - and thus the writers - avoid explaining the time paradoxes by simply telling Archer (Scott Bakula), "There's no way for you to understand." The episode also contains the cheap titillation of Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) losing her top, while Bounty plunges even greater depths by having T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) prematurely entering the Vulcan mating cycle and running around the ship scantily clad and "on heat".

Minefield is notable for its depiction of Starfleet's first encounter with the Romulans. In accordance with the Original Series episode Balance of Terror there is no visual communication between the humans and the Romulans. However, the story is let down by its predictable and tiresome Archer/Reed (Dominic Keating) bonding scenes.

Ideas from several previous Trek episodes are regurgitated during this season. Marauders reduces the Klingons to their Original Series role of bad guys of the week, while The Communicator recycles an idea from A Piece of the Action. Vanishing Point, with its invisible Hoshi, is a rehash of The Next Generation's The Next Phase, while the spoilt alien princess of Precious Cargo owes much to Elaan of Troyius. The Crossing sees Starfleet's first encounter with a non-corporeal species - but, by golly, not its last! We have already seen far too many 23rd- and 24th-century instances of such entities attempting to possess humanoids.

Other sources are also plundered. Canamar is a Star Trek version of Con Air, though it is well done. Less forgivably, Dawn is an out-and-out rip-off of Enemy Mine, even down to the look of the alien. It is telling that, in the audio commentary to Regeneration, writer and co-producer Mike Sussman admits that the production team grew short of ideas during this season.

Rather more impressive are the episodes Carbon Creek, Singularity, The Catwalk, Stigma, Cease Fire, Judgment and Cogenitor.

Carbon Creek is a charming flashback tale in which Jolene Blalock plays T'Pol's great-grandmother. Poignant and amusing scenes such as the City on the Edge of Forever-style stealing of accoutrements make this a refreshing change from Enterprise's usual "Vulcans are gits" approach.

Singularity boasts many humorous scenes of the crew becoming fixated on one thing or another after being affected by a stellar phenomenon, while The Catwalk is a good, solid story that turns in an interestingly unexpected direction.

Both Stigma and Cogenitor are powerful morality tales concerning metaphorical or actual sexual prejudice. Cogenitor in particular benefits from not reaching a comfortable resolution with a straightforward "right" answer.

Some fans have expressed displeasure at the way in which Vulcan "melders" are treated as deviants in Stigma, claiming that this contradicts the depiction of mind melds in the original and subsequent series. However, as Michael and Denise Okuda explain in their text commentary, what this actually shows is that Vulcan society evolved during the century or so that elapsed between Enterprise and The Original Series.

Cease Fire is another enjoyable Andorian instalment, in which the ever-reliable Suzie Plakson joins recurring guest actor Jeffrey Combs (Shran), while Judgment sees the impressive re-creation of the Klingon courtroom and prison colony from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

However, my favourite episodes of the season are Dead Stop, Future Tense, Regeneration, First Flight and The Expanse.

Dead Stop is a science-fiction "haunted house" story, with director Roxann Dawson providing the dispassionate voice of the mysterious automated space station. This instalment also boasts some very funny dialogue, in particular the banter between Reed and Phlox (John Billingsley). Reed complains: "It can't be ethical to cause a patient this much pain." To which Phlox replies: "It's unethical to harm a patient. I can inflict as much pain as I like."

Future Tense features such pleasing elements as a TARDIS-like craft from the future (like the ship in Doctor Who, it's bigger on the inside than the outside) and the titular aliens from the Original Series episode The Tholian Web, while Regeneration sees the return of the Borg.

Many fans objected to the appearance of the Borg in Enterprise, but in my opinion their presence is far better justified than that of the Ferengi the previous season, because this tale is essentially a sequel to the movie Star Trek: First Contact. Admittedly, any excuse for a Borg story is good enough for me! The fact that Phlox is able to counteract assimilation does pose a problem, but I theorise a solution that is perhaps simpler than the one suggested by Mike Sussman in his audio commentary: I reckon that few species other than Denobulans can survive the levels of radiation that Phlox exposes himself to.

First Flight is another flashback story, this time taking us back to the days when Archer and a rival pilot named AG Robinson (Keith Carradine) broke the Warp 2 barrier. Like Kirk, it transpires that the younger Archer was a rather serious "by the book" fellow.

The season concludes in spectacular style with The Expanse. With the Earth attacked and both the Klingons and the Suliban after him, it's a very bad day for Archer! This is, in effect, the first episode of a multi-part narrative that spans the whole of the subsequent season. The increasingly aggressive activities of the Klingons in this and the previous episodes Marauders, Judgment and Bounty may be viewed as paving the way towards the Klingon/human hostilities depicted in The Original Series.

In addition to the Klingons, Romulans, Andorians and Tholians, we also see two other popular alien species from the original show: Tribbles, in The Breach, and Tellarites, in Bounty.

We also witness the development of some well-loved elements of the older series. In The Expanse, the Enterprise is fitted with photon torpedoes for the first time, though at this stage they are called "photonic torpedoes". Singularity has Reed mulling over an alternative to the tactical alert, hinting at the development of the colour-coded alert statuses used on board subsequent starships.

The final disc contains more than 90 minutes of extra features, including profiles on actress Jolene Blalock, director Levar Burton and the production of A Night in Sickbay and Future Tense. There's also a photo gallery and some outtakes that show "Trip" Tucker (Connor Trinneer) living up to his nickname!

Among the episodes you will find 13 minutes of deleted scenes from six of them, including four minutes from A Night in Sickbay and almost five minutes from The Expanse. Stigma and First Flight can be viewing with informative on-screen text information by Denise and Michael Okuda, while Dead Stop and Regeneration are accompanied by audio commentaries by writers/co-producers Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong. Sussman and Strong demonstrate that they really know their Star Trek, particularly The Original Series.

This season may be the weakest of the bunch, but it ends well, providing a hint of the excitement to come in the much-improved Season 3...

Richard McGinlay

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