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PARAMOUNT HOME VIDEO

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
See review for episodes

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

MPAA:
Not Rated.

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

Runtime: 1181 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 6/3/2003

Bonus:
• “The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond” Featurette
• “Crew Dossier: Odo” Featurette
• “Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season Three” Featurette
• “Time Travel Files: ‘Past Tense’” Featurette
• “Sailing Through the Stars: A Special Look at ‘Explorers’” Featurette


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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 Third Season (1995)

Disc Five

Visionary finds many adversarial visitors on DS9. Some Klingons arrive to repair their ship, while a group of Romulans comes aboard for a briefing on the Dominion. After a minor accident that leaves Chief O’Brien with some radiation poisoning, he starts to experience funky temporal displacements and sees future versions of himself. Eventually he views his own death and other calamites, which obviously cause some consternation. Eventually the crew needs to manipulate these events to try to prevent disaster.

A moderately clever take on the time-shifting theme, its intricacies occasionally weigh down “Visionary”. However, the show usually works pretty well and it seems consistently inventive and provocative. One of the season’s more interesting episodes, “Visionary” seems like a solid program.

At the start of Distant Voices a Lethean named Altovar (Victor Rivers) tries to bribe Bashir to sell him some bio-mimetic gel. When the doctor declines, Altovar attacks him. After Bashir awakes from the assault, he finds a severely damaged DS9 with no working computer and few apparent inhabitants. As he tries to solve the mystery, Bashir ages rapidly. When he finds much of the crew, they bicker uncharacteristically. Bashir needs to piece together the mystery.

Right after “Visionary”, it seems a little soon to have another funky and complicated tale like “Voices”. This one tries to develop psychological insight, but it doesn’t really go much of anywhere. Too much of it seems obvious and the story lacks much real depth. The program doesn’t flop but it feels like a pretty average episode at best.

O’Brien takes Sisko prisoner at the beginning of Through the Looking Glass. However, this doesn’t last long, as the Commander wrests control from the Chief after they transport to a parallel universe experienced in Season Two’s “Crossover”. Their Sisko’s dead, so they need a replacement to finish a mission. This plays on his emotions, as in this universe, his deceased wife Jennifer (Felicia Bell) is still alive. He agrees to the assignment to make sure she doesn’t die again.

”Crossover” seemed clever and lively, but “Glass” lacks the same spirit. Part of that stems occurs because “Glass” goes to the well too soon; only one season later is too quickly to return to the same alternate universe. The moments between Sisko and Jennifer also lack the emotional heft they require. While I usually prefer action to sentiment, this should have been an exception, but the show instead opts for brawn over heart.

An explosion destroys the shop of Garak (Andrew Robinson) the Cardassian tailor in Improbable Cause. Odo takes the lead in the investigation, a study that becomes more complex when the ship flown by the main suspect explodes. Odo continues his quest and gets involved in the shady details of Garak’s past as well as other complications.

Of all DS9’s main characters, Garak remains the slipperiest, as we literally never know how he’ll react to any situation. That adds spice to this mystery and makes it more entertaining than it might have been if someone had tried to kill, say, Dax. It gets into a little too much psychobabble at times, but overall “Cause” offers a provocative and intriguing tale that nicely helps flesh out Garak’s character.

Disc Six

Though not billed as such, “Cause” actually provided the first part of a two-part episode, and The Die Is Cast completes it. Because of that, anything I say about the plot might include spoilers for “Cause”, so I’ll omit a synopsis. “Die” finishes the tale well, though “finishes” might be too strong a word. It develops the Dominion narrative and sets up elements that will likely become important in the future. It’s exciting and dramatic and when joined with “Cause”, it offers one of the most cinematic pieces yet seen in the world of Trek TV. “Cause”/”Die” are terrific shows.

After all that drama, things mellow for Explorers. When Sisko returns from a ceremony to reopen a Bajoran library, he comes back with blueprints for an 800-year-old spacecraft that no one is sure will work. Sisko gleefully decides to build one and take it for a whirl, and after some guilty feelings, Jake agrees to go along for the ride. They do some father/son bonding as Jake reveals his desires for the future, and they confront some minor but inevitable space obstacles. In the meantime, Bashir frets due to the impending arrival of the Lexington and its medical officer, his old rival Elizabeth Lense (Bari Hochwald). His first encounter with her goes poorly, as she totally ignores him. That sends Bashir into a spiral of semi-comic questioning, self-doubt and drunkenness.

Trek doesn’t always do humor very well, so some of this episode’s attempts at levity fall flat. Still, it seems like one of the better low action programs. It was inevitable that they’d slow the pace after the prior two-part piece, and “Explorers” does so fairly well. It’s not a memorable episode but it seems reasonably entertaining.

Historical footnote: “Explorers” marks the first appearance of Sisko’s goatee.

We learn a little more about Ferengi customs in Family Business. Ferengi officials audit Quark’s bar and charge him because his mother Ishka (Andrea Martin) acquired profit, something forbidden of women. Quark needs to return to his home to set matters straight. Jake follows up on his attempt to play matchmaker seen in “Explorers”, as he sets up his dad with freighter captain Kasidy Yates (Peggy Johnson).

”Business” explores Ferengi attitudes toward women but doesn’t really elaborate on them, since they’re so simple from the start. The feminist moralizing makes the show somewhat ponderous as well. Still, it’s interesting to see Ferengi principles in action, even if the show becomes something of a soap opera at times, and any episode with an SCTV regular like Martin is a-okay by me.

In Shakaar, the First Minister of the Bajoran provisional government dies, and Kai Winn gets the appointment to replace him pending an election. This troubles Kira, as she clearly doesn’t trust the woman. Winn comes to Kira to ask her help with a problematic situation on Bajor that involves Shaakar (Duncan Regehr), a former resistance leader who worked with Nerys in the past. She finds herself torn between past loyalties and current responsibilities when she meets up with her old friends.

While generally entertaining, “Shaakar” loses some points because it doesn’t tell us anything new. We already know Winn is slimy and deceitful, and we already know that Kira maintains rebellious roots and a disdain for Winn. The show works well for what it is, but it seems like old news – it’s one of those episodes that you watch for the first time but feel like you’ve already seen it.

Disc Seven

Dax needs to complete the zhian’tara in Facets. This Trill rite of closure allows her to meet previous hosts, and she asks her best friends on DS9 to supply the necessary bodies. In addition, Nog goes through his tests to see if he’ll qualify for Starfleet Academy.

Probably the silliest episode of Season Three, “Facets” feels like nothing more than a superficial chance for the series’ main actors to play different parts. There’s no arc to the show or anything interesting that happens; it’s just a bunch of kids play-acting for no real purpose. Granted, I do admit it’s fun to see Auberjonois perform Curzon/Odo as a cross between Patton and Jimmy Durante, but otherwise this is a pretty crummy program.

Sisko finally gets his promotion to captain at the start of The Adversary. He soon learns of a coup on the Tzenkethi homeworld, and he needs to take the Defiant out to make sure the Federation’s interests are protected. Unfortunately for them, some funky wormlike parasites infest the ship’s system and render many operations unusable. This puts them on a search for a saboteur that ends up with a surprising culprit.

A welcome return to some action after a few lighter episodes, “Adversary” suffers from one flaw: it steals way too liberally from The Thing. I don’t mean that it borrows themes or anything minor; it literally heists full scenes from the John Carpenter flick. It tosses in liberal doses of Alien as well. Still, even though it’s a rip-off, it’s entertaining and tight. It loses points due to thievery but makes up for them with some nice action, and it ends with a tantalizingly ominous note for the future.

When I reviewed The Next Generation, I often felt the series emphasized particular characters during various seasons. For example, Season Four felt like Worf’s year to develop most strongly, as his storylines moderately dominated those episodes.

Through the first three seasons of DS9, I’ve not seen similar developments, but I nonetheless will think of it as Odo’s year. Stories that emphasize the constable don’t monopolize Season Three, but he clearly goes through the most substantial character arc. After all, he finds his origins at the start of the season, he declares his love for another crewmember, and he goes through other growing pains. The others develop somewhat, but not as much as Odo.

Season Three also helps develop the threat of the Dominion. Slowly but surely, they’re coming into focus, and this year, we learn who they are and what they want. We don’t see a major confrontation with Starfleet just yet, but we know it’s coming. DS9 expands this theme nicely and leaves me eager to see what will happen. Although I’ve not watched any episodes of the show beyond Season Three, I know the Dominion play an important role in the future, and I look forward to those battles.

Probably the other major event of Season Three comes from the arrival of the Defiant. I regard that vessel as a mixed blessing. On the positive side, it gives the crew the ability to conduct more missions away from the station. They’re not just stuck there waiting for the action to visit them, so we get more variety.

On the negative side, however, the Defiant feels like something of a crutch. It’s as though the writers started to run out of station-based ideas, so they fell back on the old tried and true: give them a starship and send them into the heat. DS9 was supposed to differentiate itself from the prior two Trek series because it wasn’t about space exploration, but the Defiant blends together the situations more than I’d like.

Still, the folks behind the show don’t overuse the ship, at least not during Season Three; since I’ve not seen any episodes beyond this year, I don’t know what will develop with it. Hopefully it’ll continue to be a device to occasionally spice up the action and it won’t take over the show completely.


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. If nothing else, I must give these DVDs credit for consistency. What we saw with Seasons One and Two was pretty much what I observed with Season Three.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. Occasionally the image took on a moderately soft or fuzzy appearance, but that occurred infrequently. Instead, most of the shows were nicely detailed and distinctive. DS9 seemed to lack the mild edge enhancement that marred many Next Generation episodes, but sporadic – though slight – examples of jagged edges and shimmering did pop up at times. Source flaws also caused virtually no concerns.

Though it was a fairly dark series most of the time, DS9 still featured a pretty varied palette, and the DVDs usually replicated those tones nicely. At times the colors looked slightly smeared, but mostly they were appropriately saturated and could become quite vivid when necessary. 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. At worst, DS9 still looked decent, and at best, it came across as quite lively and concise. Overall, the shows continued the trend from prior seasons and earned a solid “B” for picture quality.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Deep Space Nine also seemed very consistent when compared with the prior seasons of the show. For the most part, the soundfield remained pretty strongly stuck in the front, which was my main complaint about the audio. Both the remixed original series and Next Generation DVDs featured a lot of well-integrated surround material, but DS9 used the rears simply for ambience almost all of the time. Only a few exceptions occurred, as even most battles and other active sequences largely left the rear speakers out of the loop.

Nonetheless, the track generally worked fine. The forward spectrum showed good delineation of sounds, as it placed them appropriately and melded them smoothly. The track created a nice feeling of atmosphere that didn’t seem quite as involving as I’d like, but it functioned more than adequately in general.

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 wasn’t extraordinary, but it added some good kick to the show when necessary. While the audio of Deep Space Nine never excelled, it seemed solid overall and earned a “B”.

Viewers of the first two DS9 DVD releases will feel familiar with the supplements for Season Three. The majority of these extras revolve around five separate featurettes. We start with The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond, an 11-minute and 19-second examination of the series’ big villains. It mixes show clips, stills, and interviews with executive producers Michael Piller and Ira Steven Behr plus writer/story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

This informative piece gives us a good recap about how the show’s creative forces first came up with the Dominion, how they introduced that group, and how the different elements developed over the first three seasons. The three participants nicely elaborate on what they wanted to do with the Dominion and how they explored that entity over this time. It’s a nice discussion of the plotting.

As with prior featurettes in the same line, someone also needed to slap a “spoiler alert” on Crew Dossier: Odo. The 11-minute and 46-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 Rene Auberjonois dominates “Dossier”. We learn of the way the producers originally wanted the character to be player and hear about Auberjonois’ audition. He then discusses various aspects of the role and his feelings about revealing Odo’s origins. He also chats about his move into the director’s chair. A lot of insightful material appears here and this program contains some solid information.

Because it comes after three full seasons of the series, the Odo “Dossier” lacks as many spoilers as the prior featurettes in the same line included, but a couple pop up here. If you don’t want to know Odo’s ultimate fate, don’t watch this program!

Another recurring feature appears next with Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season Two. In this 12-minute and 43-second show, we get show clips, behind the scenes video and pictures, and remarks from make-up designer Westmore as he discusses his work. He covers these characters: Kira as Cardassian; old Bashir; the development of Ferengis; and Odo. As with the prior to programs in this series, Westmore gives us a lot of insight into his creations, and we learn some fun facts.

Time Travel Files: “Past Tense” focuses on that particular episode and runs seven minutes. It includes statements from writer/story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe, executive producer Ira Steven Behr, and actors Avery Brooks and Colm Meaney. They cover the origins of the story and a little about its development and real world correspondence. It’s good to learn more about what inspired the tale, but this quick piece doesn’t offer much more than some brief notes.

The final obvious featurette, Sailing Through the Stars runs five minutes and 42 seconds. It focuses on the small spacecraft from “Explorers” and includes statements from production designer Herman Zimmerman and illustrator Jim Martin. They give us a basic look at the creation of the solar sailor from the show. The weakest of the various featurettes, this one really doesn’t tell us very much.

In the last paragraph, I used the qualifier “obvious” because DS9 includes many Easter eggs. Referred to as “Hidden Files”, we get seven of these strewn throughout the two screens of the DVD’s extras menu. These clips last between 106 seconds and 179 seconds for a total of 15 minutes and 33 seconds of footage. Comments from actor Nana Visitor, writer/story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe, illustrator Jim Martin, director David Livingston, and visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel show up here.

The “Hidden Files” cover a mix of topics. We hear Visitor talk about the difficulties of her Cardassian makeup for “Second Skin” makeup and hear Wolfe talk about that episode’s story origins and original ending plus its guest cast. We also find notes about Ferengi comedy and racial characteristics, the creation of the psychedelic posters for “Past Tense”, the makeup for Odo’s disintegration, and some visual effects. These comments add a little depth to the package and provide some interesting information.

Superficially, Season Three seems to include the same amount of supplements as the first two years did. Unfortunately, it actually cuts back on content somewhat. Season One provided almost 80 minutes of featurettes plus a photo gallery, while Season Two tossed in almost 88 minutes of material. Season Three cuts back to barely 64 minutes of footage. The quality remains pretty good, but I feel disappointed to see this drop in quantity.

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, though I think DreamWorks very rarely omit text. 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.

With Season Three of Deep Space Nine, the series continues to slowly grow. It makes some motions to developing its own real heart and provides a pretty consistent level of quality. Only a couple of real duds pop up, and we get some genuinely excellent episodes during this mostly positive season. Picture and audio remained generally solid, and though the extras fell a little short of those found on earlier seasons, they continued to offer some interesting information. I won’t say that Deep Space Nine comes into its own with Season Three, but the year seems like the series’ best to date, and it leaves me eager to see what happens in the future.

Return to Disc 1-4 and technical ratings...