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MOVIE INFO
Director:
Various
Cast:
Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Nicole de Boer, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor
Writing Credits:
Various

MPAA:
Not Rated.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
6-Disc set
Standard 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 908 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 2/25/2003

Bonus:
• “Deep Space Nine: A New Beginning” Featurette
• “Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys” Featurette
• “Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season One” Featurette
• “Secrets of Quark’s Bar” Featurette
• “Deep Space Nine Sketchbook” Featurette
• “Alien Artifacts: Season One” Featurette
• Production Photo Gallery
• Easter Eggs


PURCHASE
DVD

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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete First Season (1993)

Disc Five

We get another Next Generation crossover in The Forsaken. A delegation of high-maintenance Federation ambassadors arrives on a fact-finding mission to the wormhole, and Bashir gets stuck shepherding them. When Lwaxana Troi’s (Majel Barrett) brooch is stolen, Odo solves the crime. This impresses Ambassador Troi, who inevitably develops a romantic interest in our local shape-shifter, something he doesn’t know how to handle. In the meantime, an unidentified ship emerges from the wormhole, and the crew need to figure out where it’s from and what it intends to do. It seems less than coincidental that station operations start to fail not long after the craft arrives.

It seems odd to see Lwaxana without her daughter Deanna as well, but the combination of her horniness and Odo’s general androgyny makes the show amusing. It helps develop both characters, and the mystery of the alien craft keeps the program from becoming too reliant on the wackiness of their pairing. Actually, the latter story provides some intriguing elements of its own that comes across as substantially more clever than anything we encountered in the first half of this season. Perhaps it’s a sign of the series’ growing maturity that this Next Generation crossover seems substantially more compelling than “Q-Less”.

In prior episodes, we saw some indications of the tensions caused by the intersection of Bajoran and Federation interests about DS9. Those come to a head during Dramatis Personae. The Valerians used to run a powerful substance called dolamide to the Cardassians when they fought the Bajorans, and they’re about to dock at DS9. Kira opposes this and believes they’re running dolamide again, but Sisko indicates that they can’t base current decisions solely on past patterns. The two butt heads because Sisko won’t follow her suspicions.

In addition, a Klingon vessel explodes after it comes through the wormhole. One crewmember beams over but dies immediately upon arrival. Although the Klingons purported to be on a simple survey of the wormhole, the crew suspect otherwise and conduct an investigation. Odo collapses for no apparent reason, and DS9 personnel start to act in unusual ways, with aggression and snippiness becoming dominant. Odo seems unaffected, so he needs to deal with the issues.

Though the episode telegraphs the cause of the nasty attitudes, “Personae” still offers an intriguing little mystery. As long as a Trek series doesn’t take this “alternate personalities” path too often, the programs usually work well, and this one makes the insubordination and moodiness interesting to see. At times “Personae” feels a little too much like an episode of Next Generation, mainly because Odo takes the Data role, but it provides a solid experience in its own right.

For more about the past battles between the Bajorans and the Cardassians, we move to Duet. An incoming freighter beams aboard a passenger who needs medical assistance. This turns out to be Aamin Marritza (Harris Yulin), a Cardassian who suffers from Kalla-Nohra Syndrome. Only those who were at the Gallitep labor camp contracted this disease, so Kira immediately wants to punish him for his prior crimes. Marritza initially denies any culpability, but his deeds start to emerge and the plot thickens as Kira deals with the issues.

Though it keeps its allusions to Nazi Germany a little too close to the surface, “Duet” provides one of the best episodes from this season. It provides a deft performance from Yulin and doesn’t depend on any easy answers. The layer of emotional complexity helps make it a winner, especially as it expands on Kira’s character.

The first season of DS9 comes to a close with In the Hands of the Prophets. A controversy arises on the ship when a Bajoran spiritual leader named Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher) complains that Keiko O’Brien doesn’t teach their society’s beliefs in her classroom. Keiko indicates that she just goes with the basic science of the matter, but Winn regards this as blasphemy and tells Sisko that matters may degenerate as long as this instruction continues. The O’Briens start to encounter hostility from Bajorans on DS9. In the meantime, Miles discovers the suspicious death of one of his crewmembers, and he needs to investigate the mystery.

After “Duet”, it seems a little soon to get an episode that relies so much on controversies from 20th century Earth. The battle between spirituality and science clearly evokes the evolution vs. creationism debate, and it doesn’t come across as too subtle. However, at least “Prophets” allows for the show to examine different viewpoints in a fairly non-judgmental manner, and it’s fun to see Fletcher in a role that elicits memories of Nurse Ratched, another character who forced her opinions on others in a calm and cool manner.

Like I stated at the beginning of this review, I went into season one of Deep Space Nine as a nearly-total newbie. Beyond some familiarity with names and the show’s basic scenario, I knew nothing about it. Because of that, I think the season’s first few shows came across as more awkward and clumsy than did similarly early offerings in the first year of Next Generation. Perhaps that series’ characters seemed as ill defined and one-dimensional as did this one’s, but since I felt a little familiarity with them, I could fill in some blanks.

Whatever the case may be, the first half of DS9’s opening season could be rough-going at times. None of the episodes seemed atrocious, but they felt tentative and uncertain. I got the impression that those behind the show mostly just wanted to make sure it came across as something different than Next Generation and the original series, but they weren’t quite sure what else they wanted DS9 to be.

Interestingly, DS9 improved substantially over the second half of the season, and this occurred as it more heavily embraced its Trek roots. Many of the last 10 shows from season one reminded me of episodes from the other series, but I regarded that as a good thing. They didn’t appear derivative, and their acceptance of Trek patterns actually helped DS9 develop a personality of its own.

I’ll have to wait a month of so to find out how well that trend continues in the second season of Deep Space Nine, but right now, I feel intrigued. As I watched the first half of Season One, I started to regret my decision to review all seven years of the series. I didn’t much like the characters and nothing about the show seemed very compelling, and I worried that this was as good as it would get. It wasn’t, and the season’s second half helped redeem the year as a whole. It also made me look forward to Season Two.


The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B / Bonus B

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation started in an ugly manner, as the series progressed, the picture quality improved. Whereas I gave Season One of that series only a “C-“, my grades steadily improved until we got to the “B-“s of Seasons Six and Season Seven.

Since DS9 debuted during the sixth season of Next Generation, I expected the image quality to look virtually the same for both series. However, to my pleasant surprise, DS9 provided moderately superior visuals when compared to its sister series.

One minor improvement came in the area of sharpness. Next Generation tended to seem somewhat soft at times, and I occasionally noticed some issues in that regard during DS9; occasional images came across as just a little fuzzy or tentative. However, these occurred less frequently than I expected, and most of the episodes looked nicely distinct and well defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects popped up periodically but they didn’t present much of a distraction. I also failed to notice the light edge enhancement I sometimes saw during Next Generation, and other than a smidgen of grain in some low-light shots, the episodes seemed to be free of source flaws.

Colors provided a relative strength of DS9. While neither Next Generation or DS9 ever attempted the broad palette of the original series, the mix of aliens allowed for a variety of tones, and these came across fairly well here. Actually, DS9 looked like the darkest of the three series, and the hues seemed a bit more subdued due to that factor. Still, they worked fine for the most part, as the majority of the colors were clear and distinctive.

Black levels showed some variation. Sometimes they looked deep and dense, but other times they were a bit murky and inky. Shadow detail usually offered good definition to low-light shots, though some were a bit too opaque. Although Deep Space Nine didn’t offer stunning visuals, I thought the programs looked quite good, and their visual quality boasted a noticeable improvement over what I saw on Next Generation.

Picture footnote: if you simply sample the series’ pilot, you might wonder what I’ve been smoking. That episode looked substantially fuzzier and gauzier than those that followed. I don’t know why “The Emissary” presented such different visuals, but I thought I’d mention than it didn’t provide a representative example of the remainder of the year.

Although image quality varied and improved as the seven seasons of Next Generation progressed, the audio remained very consistent. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Deep Space Nine pretty strongly followed the blueprint of its sister series, though I thought it didn’t display quite as much sonic ambition. Soundfields remained fairly heavily oriented toward the forward channels, and they tended to favor general ambience. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the station setting demonstrated some good environmental activity. Elements seemed well placed and they integrated well.

Where DS9 suffered slightly in comparison with Next Generation related to its use of the surrounds. The older series made noticeable more active use of the rear speakers. During the first season of DS9, the surrounds mainly just supported the music and forward action, as I rarely heard anything terribly distinctive from the rear. In defense of the more restricted soundfields, however, I should note that DS9 enjoyed many fewer natural opportunities for dynamic use of the back channels. Most of the action took place on the station, which meant fewer instances of ships and battle. Those elements added many of Next Generation’s more involving scenes, so their absence meant that DS9 simply couldn’t replicate the broader environments of its sister series. The soundfields still worked fine for this material.

Audio quality remained solid. Speech seemed distinct and natural, and I discerned no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. The score sounded vibrant and bold, as the music appeared bright and dynamic. Effects presented solid detail and clarity, and they also offered nice low-end material at times. Bass response actually seemed slightly better than during Next Generation, though those elements sounded good during both series. Because Deep Space Nine presented a less involving soundscape when compared to Next Generation, I knocked down my grade to a “B”, but DS9 nonetheless presented positive audio.

Fans of the Next Generation DVDs will find similar supplements for the Deep Space Nine set. The majority of these come from six separate featurettes. We start with Deep Space Nine: A Bold Beginning, and 18-minute and seven-second introduction to the series’ origins. It mixes show clips, behind the scenes footage and images, and interviews with executive producers Michael Piller and Rick Berman, actor Avery Brooks, production designer Herman Zimmerman, scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda, senior illustrator Rick Sternbach, and concept artist Ricardo Delgado. Most of the interviews come from 2002, but some were taped in 1992.

After a quick look at how DS9 came to be and how the participants wanted it to differ from prior Trek series, most of “Beginning” follows the production design needed at the start. This relates how they came up with the design for the station itself and offers lots of good notes about those issues. It’s especially fun to hear about alternate concepts. “Beginning” starts this set’s series of featurettes on a strong note, as it packs a lot of useful information with only a little filler.

Someone needed to slap a “spoiler alert” on Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys. The 14-minute and 21-second piece offers the same mix of production footage, show snippets and interviews we find on the other featurettes. Though we hear a little from executive producer Ira Steven Behr, actor Nana Visitor dominates “Dossier”. Seen in snippets from 1992 and two separate occasions in 1999, she discusses her character and her arc.

Unfortunately, that means we hear a lot about episodes that some of us – that’d be me – haven’t actually seen. This reveals twists in future seasons. Not only does this mean that much of the information lacks relevance for the neophyte viewer – that’d be me again – but also it takes away some of the surprise that should later occur. The damage doesn’t seem harmful, and for those who already know DS9’s subsequent seasons, “Dossier” offers a moderately superficial but still decent look at the character. Nonetheless, since it emphasizes future programs, its placement here seems inappropriate and annoying.

Happily, the same concerns don’t affect Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season One. In this 10-minute and nine-second featurette, we get remarks from make-up designer Westmore as he discusses his work. He covers these species: Bajorans, Cardassians, Tosk, Wadi, Miradorn, Tailheads, Kobliad, and Boliad. The combination of Westmore’s insightful comments and compelling footage from the set helps make “Aliens” a very interesting program.

Although it doesn’t offer as much depth as its title implies, Secrets of Quark’s Bar still gives us a fun look behind the scenes. The four-minute and 47-second featurette presents Star Trek archivist Penny Juday as she gives us a quick tour of some props located in Quark’s Bar. She also reveals some notes about the origins of the items, such as the candleholders she turned into glasses. The program seems light but engaging.

Similar material appears in Alien Artifacts: Season One, a two-minute and 51-second visit with property master Joe Longo. Like Juday, he shows us some of the series’ physical tools. Unlike Juday, he doesn’t tell us much about them beyond their names; a smidgen of additional information appears, but not much. That makes “Artifacts” fairly pointless.

The final obvious featurette, Deep Space Nine Sketchbook runs five minutes and 23 seconds. It includes statements from senior illustrator Rick Sternbach as we see images of concept drawings created for DS9 props. Sternbach provides some good notes about design issues and his work, and “Sketchbook” provides a reasonably useful piece.

On the surface, the DS9 set ends with a Production Photo Gallery. This package of 40 pictures offers a mix of shots from the set, publicity and behind the scenes snaps. These seem moderately interesting but nothing terribly stimulating appears.

In the last paragraph, I used the qualifier “on the surface” because DS9 includes many Easter eggs. Referred to as “Hidden Files”, we get ten of these strewn throughout the two screens of the DVD’s extras menu. These clips last between 91 seconds and 194 seconds for a total of 24 minutes and five seconds of footage.

Each of the “Hidden Files” concentrates on various DS9 characters, and we find interviews with actors Rene Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, Colm Meaney, Avery Brooks, Siddig El Fadil, Nana Visitor, Cirroc Lofton and Jennifer Hetrick. The latter was taped in 2002, but all the others come from 1992. Most of these pieces act as quick introductions to the characters, but some add anecdotes and additional notes. They don’t provide much that seems scintillating, but they still add a nice little bonus to the package.

Speaking of the package, Deep Space Nine came in materials that differed from the boxes used for Next Generation. Instead of that series’ cardboard-housed sequence of foldout sleeves, this one went plastic fantastic. A plastic slipcase contains a plastic frame with six plastic discholders, each of which opens like the pages of a book.

I don’t know why Paramount switched the packaging, but I definitely preferred the old system. The DS9 set seems cheap and flimsy. The glue that holds the sequence of cases to the plastic container detaches easily, and one of the discholders already shows a big crack. I treat my DVDs really gently, so I know these didn’t occur due to personal abuse. I suppose we’re stuck with this packaging for the whole run of DS9, but I don’t care for it at all. Hopefully Paramount will do something to improve the durability of these materials.

Positive interface note: as usual with Paramount DVDs, all the extras include English subtitles. Paramount remain the only studio that does this as a given. Negative interface note: if you use chapter skip to bypass the opening credits after the end of each episode’s starting sequence, you’ll often wind up farther into the show than you’d like. Chapter two should always begin immediately after the conclusion of the opening credits, and this inconsistency seems annoying.

Season One of Deep Space Nine also seemed inconsistent and periodically annoying, but the series came across as generally interesting and enjoyable. I expect that the show will improve during future years, as it definitely progressed significantly as this season continued. Despite the erratic quality of the episodes, none appeared genuinely bad, and the elevated levels of quality witnessed during the year’s second half made season one much more acceptable.

As for picture and sound quality, both seemed good for the most part. Nothing about either element came across as stellar, but I also detected little than presented a deficit. The set’s smattering of extras also gave us a modicum of useful and interesting information about the series. Fans of Deep Space Nine should feel pleased with the quality of this release – other than the flimsy packaging – and folks new to the series should give it a look. It’s not classic Trek, but it seems entertaining and intriguing, and I look forward to future seasons of DS9.

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