|Under intense scrutiny, the debut season of Enterprise earned a passing grade from critics and Star Trek fans alike. Voyager ended its seven-season run just four months earlier, and fans were skeptical when Enterprise premiered (on Sept. 26, 2001, on UPN) with a theme song ("Where My Heart Will Take Me," composed by Diane Warren and performed by Russell Watson) that defied Trek's revered theme-music tradition. This and other early reservations were dispelled when "Broken Bow" got the series off to a satisfying start, beginning in the year 2151 and establishing a pre-Federation focus on humanity's delicate relationship with the Vulcans, the controversial launch of the NX-01 Enterprise on an exploratory mission, and the potentially devastating consequences of the mysterious Temporal Cold War involving a time-traveling splinter group of the Suliban, a nomadic alien race. While establishing a testy relationship between Enterprise Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and his smart-and-sexy Vulcan Sub-Commander, T'Pol (Jolene Blalock, in a short-banged wig and form-fitting "catsuit" that were later redesigned), the series introduced engineer "Trip" Tucker (Connor Trineer), whose surprise development in "Unexpected" made him a fan favorite; communications officer Hoshi Sato (Linda Park); helmsman Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery); weapons expert Lt. Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating), and chief surgeon Dr. Phlox (John Billingsley), a well-mannered Denobulan recruit from Earth's Interspecies Medical Exchange. As a "prequel' series that predates the original Star Trek by 150 years, Enterprise built upon established Trek lore with episodes involving Vulcans ("Breaking the Ice"), Klingons ("Sleeping Dogs"), the blue-skinned Andorians ("The Andorian Incident," "Shadows of P'Jem"), and the Ferengi ("Acquisition") while offering stand-alone episodes (notably "Dear Doctor," "Fortunate Son," and "Shuttlepod One") that further acquainted fans with the Enterprise regulars. Early Trek technology is also introduced (including "phase pistols" and the rarely used, still-risky transporter), and the series drew strength from what many felt would be its primary weakness: unwritten history and the initial indecisiveness of Archer's bold foray into the unknown. Ending with a dazzling "Shock Wave" cliffhanger that leaves Archer stranded in a decimated Temporal Cold War future, Enterprise set a strong foundation for the events of season 2.
The bonus features included on the Enterprise: Season One DVDs are almost worth the price of the set, if only to see nearly nine minutes of hilarious outtakes, maintaining a beloved tradition of Star Trek bloopers. The sight (and sound) of Jolene Blalock laughing out of character is pure gold, and it shouldn't surprise anyone that Blalock is just as smart as she is sexy, as proven by her astute observations (along with the rest of the Enterprise cast) in the "Cast Impressions" featurette. It's the usual complimentary fluff included with all Trek sets, but it's obviously sincere, confirming fans' conviction that Enterprise should have lasted beyond four seasons with this close-knit ensemble. Series creators Brannon Braga and Rick Berman deliver a typically dry commentary on "Broken Bow," setting the record straight on debate over the show's "not retro enough" production design (as Braga notes, "you can never please everyone") while defining their concept of "The Right Stuff of Star Trek." As always, Mike Okuda's text commentaries offer a wealth of Trek trivia and detail from Trek's historical canon.
Fans will love the "Enterprise Secrets" revealing low-tech solutions to lighting the warp core and dispensing "replicator" beverages, along with an entertaining profile of Vaughan "Admiral Forrest" Armstrong, who holds the record for Trek guest appearances. The other featurettes are perfunctory, but "Creating Enterprise" provides valuable first-season perspective, and the "Time Travel" feature offers a handy reference for the many time-travel episodes from every Trek series. As usual, Easter eggs (three of them, titled "NX-01 Files") are hidden on the special-features menu, offering short interview clips culled from the primary featurettes. The deleted scenes demonstrate how non-essential material can be sacrificed, and because they don't include post-production sound or visual effects, fans can see and hear the actual soundstage atmosphere of Enterprise's principal photography. --Jeff Shannon