Star Trek Enterprise: Season 3
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Set in the 22nd century, a hundred years before James T. Kirk helmed the famous starship of the same name, ENTERPRISE takes place in an era when interstellar travel is still in its infancy. Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) has assembled a crew of brave explorers to chart the galaxy on a revolutionary spacecraft: Enterprise NX-01. As the first human beings to venture into deep space, these pioneers will experience the wonder and mystery of the final frontier as they seek out new life and new civilizations.
Described by series cocreator Brannon Braga as "a single episode that lasts 24 hours," the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise is arguably the best in the show's four-season run. With the epic "Xindi saga" as the season's primary story arc, the series found its tonal focus in the unpredictable space of the Delphic Expanse, where alien encounters and matter-warping spatial anomalies forced Capt. Archer (Scott Bakula) to make extreme decisions that tested his ethical boundaries. Realizing the need for a fresh viewpoint, Braga and cocreator Rick Berman hired Manny Coto, a TV veteran who conceived or wrote several of the season's finest episodes (not forgetting Mike Sussman and other members of the series' first-rate writing staff). Coto's involvement was instrumental in shaping the Xindi saga, which began (with season 2's cliffhanger) when Earth was attacked by a Xindi probe--a massive weapon which Archer must now destroy. This vital mission dominates season 3, deriving its potent drama from an impressive variety of characters and subplots focused on the five-species Xindi council, which finds its voice of reason in Primate member Degra (season regular Randy Oglesby) and rancor in the Reptilian Commander (Scott MacDonald), pivotal characters whose fates will be tragically intertwined.
Despite lower ratings and budgetary cutbacks (as evident in several ship-bound episodes with minimal casting), season 3 was equally strong as a showcase for the Enterprise regulars, with plenty of fan speculation rising from the sexy and soothing Vulcan "neuro-pressure" sessions between the insomniac Tucker (Connor Trinneer, better than ever) and T'Pol, whose hidden addiction to a toxic compound allows Jolene Blalock to mine the volatile depths of her character (who now sports a more appealing hairstyle and wardrobe). Meanwhile, security chief Reed (Dominick Keating) engages in heated competition with Major Hayes (reliable guest Steven Culp, from the first season of Desperate Housewives), the leader of NX-01's Military Assault Command Operation (or MACO), which Reed views with territorial suspicion. And while Enterprise still fumbled to develop the characters of Hoshi (Linda Park) and Travis (Anthony Montgomery), John Billingsley continued to bring clutch-player excellence to his role as Dr. Phlox in several highlight episodes including "Doctor's Orders" and "Similitude," the latter featuring equally strong work by Trinneer in an ethically complex (and fan-favorite) examination of the cloning--a typical example of Star Trek at its best.
The alternate timeline of "Twilight" also honors the classic Trek tradition, while "Harbinger" reveals the existence of the trans-dimensional Sphere Builders, whose moon-sized creations affect Enterprise throughout its season-long mission. Finally, the crucial appearances of blue-skinned Andorian Shran (Jeffrey Combs) bring both suspense and comic relief to the season's grim proceedings, adding depth and tentative alliance to Enterprise's pre-Federation politics--a crucial element that assumes greater importance with the jaw-dropping cliffhanger of "Zero Hour" and the surprises in store for season 4, which will bring Enterprise ever closer to the original Star Trek timeline.
Gathered on disc 7, the season 3 bonus features for Enterprise are consistent with features on seasons 1 and 2: Identical in presentation but different in content. The "Xindi Saga" featurette summarizes the creative and practical decisions that resulted in the season-long story arc; "Enterprise Profile" acknowledges the popularity of "Trip" Tucker and Connor Trinneer's successful effort to transcend the character's "hayseed" image; and "A Day in the Life of a Director" finds Roxann Dawson (aka B'Elanna Torres from Voyager) well in control as she helms the episode "Exile." As with previous DVD sets, three more "NX-01" files are hidden as "Easter eggs" on the Special Features menus, and they include further appreciations of the Enterprise writers, the work of costume designer Robert Blackman, and John Billingsley's hilarious anecdote about Phlox's prodigious sexual endowment(s). The outtakes are amusing but all too brief, perhaps owing to the higher stakes (and lower ratings) of a dramatically serious season. --Jeff Shannon
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The additional features are also great, remember Roxann Dawson (aka B'Elanna Torres from Voyager), she directs the episode "Exile which is one of my favorites.
The third season is by far the best so far. That said, you must have the entire collection of seasons. It,s like asking me which of your children is your favorite. The first two years had its up and downs but bottom line it was still Star Trek and its a pity that a 5th season was not a possinility. Hopefully the new campaign on line to revive a 5th season on Netflix will come full circle and provide us with some much needed Stra trek on television again.
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Taking it's cue from the second season finale The Expanse,the entire season deals with Captain Jonathan Archer's mission to stop the Xindi from destroying Earth with a superweapon after a devastating attack.Albiet,there were some weak semi stand alone episodes (Extinction,North Star,Carpenter St.,and E2),among classic episodes which ranks with some of the franchises best(Impulse,Twilight,Azati Prime/Damage,The Counsel/Countdown/Zero Time).Staff member Manny Coto was responsible for new direction which made for the most exciting season of the entire four year run.
Unfortunatly the exciting new direction couldn't produce ratings and was barely renewed after a fan based letter writing campaign,echoing the classic series fan fueled renewal.As a result,Coto became the official show runner which he produced one last season to correct the many continuety errors that has littered the series from the beginning.
Furthermore, each episode follows on the previous episode, sort of like Kiefer Sutherland's 24. This is unique in this series of Star Treks. Usually, each episode of the previous Star Trek sagas was independent of each other. One used to be able to watch any of the previous Star Trek episodes without being lost as to what is going on. With Season 3 of Enterprise, however, you'd have to pretty much start with episode one to really understand what is going on and enjoy the series (again, like 24 or Lost).
The whole season revolves around one story: how to stop the Xindi from destroying planet Earth! The Xindi, a race made up of 5 surviving species (Primates, Arboreals, Reptilians, Aquatics and Insectoids), aided by a species from a trans-dimensional space, have attacked Earth and killed seven million people. The attack came from the Delphic Expanse, an unstable region of space where our laws of physics are non-existent. The Enterprise's mission: enter the Expanse, find the Xindi, and prevent them from deploying the weapon that is being designed to destroy Earth. This storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you hunger for more.
Finally the producers figured it out (much to Manny Coto's credit)! They are starting to copy series like 24 and Lost!
Season 3 is really exciting and action packed; more so than any of the previous series from Kirk onwards. Note though that this intense action and having each episode follow on the previous one, starts only with Season 3. Season 1 and 2 were bland and much like their predecessors.
I highly recommend Season 3, and can't wait to watch Season 4.
Impulse-I love me some zombies, and I loved me some Vulcan zombies even more! Trillium infected vulcans are downright frightening, and even worse was T'pol getting infected by it, although I loved seeing her flip out.
Exile- This was the most "Buffy-like" episode of star trek I have ever seen for some reason. Maybe it was the demon like telepath who got a hankering for Hoshi to become his consort till death, or maybe it was the whole crystal thing he used to magnify his powers, I still liked it though.
Twilight- Captain archer gets a spacial parasite thingee in his brain and his short term memory doesn't work, so we see the future where earth is gone and the xindi are hunting down leftover humans, and more importantly we see how loyal and loving T'pol really is towards Archer. I cried my eyes out in this one.
NorthStar- I have always always always hated "Trek Westerns" where on star trek they find some alien planet that has some random western motif going on, its always cheesy with its pink skyline and tumbleweeds. BUT this episode cured that hatred, it actually made sense! Aliens kidnapped humans for slaves, brought them to a planet, and the humans revolted, but never evolved technically or socially. Archer looked darn fine in that hat.
Similitude- Tripp gets hurt, and Phlox makes a clone of him called "sim" to transplant brain matter to tripp and save his life, Archer makes the decision to go ahead with the clone, and realizes that its not so easy to create a life that is sentient and than later have to kill it to save another life. We get to see, via "sims" memories from tripp, that he likes T'pol in a romantic way, and she is so sweet to give him that kiss, I seriously cried again.
Proving Ground- I am in love with the Andorians, Commander Shran is freaking brilliant, adorable, and one of the best aliens ever on star trek. He is both enemy and friend, and this is the episode that shows that dichotomy I love the "we have come here to get some....archerite from this planet"
Doctors Orders- God, I love Phlox and a whole entire episode devoted to him? Heaven. The crew is in a stasis state and he must take care of them while they travel 4 days, he starts to hallucinate, get paranoid, and eventually has to save enterprise by himself!
There are too many to list, too many good ones. The spheres, the 5 xindi species, Degra, the constant interference from Daniels, the cliffhangers, its all just such amazing TV I cant understand any Trek fan, or sci fi nut who wouldn't love this, totally worth the bucks.
The Xindi storyline was bold. Having five distinct species on the same planet all develop intelligence simultaneously provided the writers with a lot of different material to work with. A year-long mission to save Earth and humanity from extinction, forcing the characters into pressure-cooker situations ... really gave the show the raw edge I think it was supposed to have from the very beginning. We were able to experience the darker facets of the characters' emotions as they pretty much unraveled. Many folks did not like the inclusion of the Temporal Cold War (at all) into the Xindi Arc. Personally I loved the Temporal Cold War story, and it made perfect sense in this season. Considering the NX-01 hadn't traveled very far it had to be explained how and why this crew could counter enter the Delphic Expanse, yet have the expanse not exist in the 24th century. It explained the existence of the Suliban, the Sphere Builders, why the Expanse no longer existed in the time of TNG, DS9, and VOY.
Like the previous Blu-ray Trek releases, this season contains the Season Three DVD special features. It also contains four newly-produced documentaries. Three parts are sectioned off into a doc called "In A Time Of War," which features the actors, the writing staff, some members of the production staff, Brannon Braga and Rick Berman all discussing the creation, implementation, and consequence of the direction Season Three took. I always enjoy these documentaries, whether on the ENT or TNG sets (and I look forward to them on the future DS9 and VOY sets), because I enjoy hearing the points-of-view of everyone involved in the creation process. The recollections are always fascinating. The final documentary is called "Temporal Cold War Declassified." This doc explores the concepts behind the temporal cold war storyline, possible reasons it wasn't as well received as it could have/should have been, and like the other docs features interviews with cast and creators.
As always the remastering quality of these sets is fantastic; Season Three of 'Enterprise' is no exception.
This Season, alone, without the support of any of the other seasons, or any of the other series, for that matter. Is in my estimation the crowning achievment of the entire Star Trek Franchise. There are elements within the tale that draw from other episodes but thier impact on the story as a whole is minimal.
I won't encapsulate the season, it's been done. I will elucidate and provide a few observations on individual aspects of the season.
First I want to discuss the Xindi, a more realistic group of antagonists will be very difficult to find. They are well concieved, interesting and entirely believable. You'll find yourself liking most of them and understanding thier motives, however disagreeable they may be.
Second is the Enterprise crew, specifically Archer. How do people react to stress, the loss of loved ones, the weight of an entire planet resting on your shoulders. These are the questions answered by the actions of the crew of Enterprise, and it is all handled brilliantly from the writing to the acting. You can feel and empathize with every emotion that the crew experiences. The amazing part is you can do the same with most of the Xindi you meet along the way.
Third is Enterprise, I never thought I would feel so much affection for an imaginary ship other than the original NCC-1701. It reminds me of how I felt about the boats that I served aboard. I watched Voyager and the "Year in Hell" but the ship was a collection of pretty sets and nifty special effects. The original ship was a trusted companion, a guardian and a home. The NX-01 is all of these things and more and in season three her endurance is stretched to the limit, she is battered, beaten and injured along the way.
Finally, the ride. This season is an entire story arc and it is fantastic. I mentioned Babylon 5 in my previous review and I'll bring it up again here. Because, although B5 didn't invent the serial style of story, with a grand arc that spanned more than a couple of episodes, it did revolutionaize bring it to Sci-Fi with it. Enterprise distilled that into a single season, and you feel yourself racing along with it. As if your on a roller coaster, racing from one weightless drop to the next, grinding your teeth through the loops and catching your breath, for that brief instant in between. If you have ever watched 24 you have an inkling of what it's like, electrifying, intense, unnerving and inspiring all at the same time. And they have carried this effect over into the fourth season although on a smaller scale.
If you only want to try one season of Enterprise make it this one, it will not disappoint and besides, if you watch this one you'll want to see them all.
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