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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: 1176 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 11/4/2003

Bonus:
• “Mission Inquiry: ‘Far Beyond the Stars’” Featurette
• “24th Century Wedding” Featurette
• “Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir”
• “Crew Dossier: Quark”
• “Sketchbook:  John Eaves”
• Photo Gallery
Indiana Jones Trailer
• Easter Eggs


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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 Sixth Season (1998)

Disc Five:

For Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night, Kira observes what would have been the 60th birthday of her dead mother. She gets an unwelcome call from Gul Dukat, who tells her that Mrs. Kira had an affair with him. She then takes a mission back in time to find out the truth.

“Wrongs” marks the third episode in a row that exists mainly to give individual characters – and actors - a chance to shine. That’s fine in moderation, but so many of these in such short succession get tiresome. “Wrongs” offers some moderately interesting insights in Kira’s past but not much more than that, and it betrays too much of a soap opera bias for my liking.

During Inquisition, Deputy Director Sloan of Internal Affairs arrives because of rumors that a senior staff member of DS9 has been leaking information to the Dominion. These suspicions focus on Bashir.

While “Inquisition” again gives us a program that concentrates mainly on one character, it seems better than the prior episodes. It contributes a fairly taut little mystery as well. Although we feel sure Bashir will eventually be cleared of the charges, but it sets up the tale nicely and creates an intriguing program.

Played in flashback, In the Pale Moonlight shows a disturbed Sisko and then leaps back two weeks to follow the events that got him to that point. Because they continually allow the Dominion to traverse their space, Sisko decides he needs to draw the Romulans into the battle on Starfleet’s side. For this, he needs evidence that the Dominion will eventually turn on the Romulans, and we see the enterprise that attempts to gain this information.

“Pale” offers another show fixed mostly on one character, as now it’s Sisko’s time to shine. “Pale” follows some of the “do the means justify the ends” territory seen in the prior episode, though it goes at it from a different angle. It creates a darker journey that allows it to become a successful exploration of the shades of gray between good and evil.

We meet a special lounger singing hologram named Vic Fontaine in His Way. We learn that he’s particularly knowledgeable about women and relationships, so Odo decides to go to him for advice on how to approach Kira.

I guess we’re working our way through the main cast and it was Auberjonois’ turn. “His Way” suffers from an excessively cutesy side and it seems fairly bizarre. Why would anyone in the 24th century have any clue that cheesy Vegas lounge singers ever existed? It’s not a very good episode, even though it does help push along the Odo/Kira relationship.

Disc Six:

Bajorans unearth an ancient prophecy called The Reckoning. This apparently predicts the destruction of DS9, which unsurprisingly causes upset, especially when some natural disasters start to occur due to instability in the wormhole. When Sisko gets frustrated and smashes the tablet involved, some energy forces discharge from it, which brings about further intrigue.

Usually I don’t care for the episodes that deal with Bajoran religion and the Prophets, but “Reckoning” packs more of a punch. It includes material that seems meatier than the usual mysterious blather and takes their interactions to another level.

When the runaround piloted by Jake and Nog gets attacked by the Jem’Hadar, the USS Valiant saves them. Onboard, they discover the Valiant is run by the Red Squad from Starfleet Academy – the best of the best, but awfully young to run their own starship, and because of necessary radio silence, Starfleet is unaware the cadets had to take control after the demise of the senior crew. Nog gets recruited to be the chief of engineering, but Jake sense that something’s not quite right with the captain and the situation.

“Valiant” presents an intriguing concept and explores the idea well. Early on in the run of DS9, I feared that Jake would turn into another Wesley Crusher, but although some of the Jake-centric episodes have been clunkers, the character’s grown more appropriately. “Valiant” helps demonstrate that with a rich look at a clever possibility.

When Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek executes some sweeping reforms in Profit and Lace, he gets deposed. He and Quark’s Moogie come to DS9 to work to regain his office before his rival Brunt becomes officially confirmed as the new Grand Nagus. This involves a meeting at which Moogie will play an important role, but when she takes ill, an unlikely replacement emerges.

So it’s come to this: Quark in drag. “Lace” starts out promisingly, but once we get to this twist, it goes downhill rapidly. It features most of the same lame gags typical of the genre and does little to make it interesting.

During a family picnic, O’Brien’s eight-year-old daughter Molly falls into a time portal in Time’s Orphan. When they figure out how to recover her, they pull back an 18-year-old iteration of Molly. Stuck on a deserted planet for a decade, Molly’s now a wild child who finds it tough to reintegrate into society.

That means “Orphan” focuses on these attempts and never can rise above them. It comes across as a fairly silly episode that presents some emotional resonance, but it’s cheaply bought, especially since it tries to have its emotional cake and eat it too.

Disc Seven:

The Defiant intercepts a distress call from an isolated Starfleet officer. Sisko sends the crew to find her, and they get attached to The Sound of Her Voice. As they speed to her rescue, they chat with her to keep her active and engaged. This becomes a race against time.

“Voice” creates an interesting concept, though it doesn’t seem fully confident about it; a subplot that shows some interactions between Odo and Quark fills a lot of the program. It feels inevitable that “Voice” will provide some form of surprise ending, so when that form of conclusion occurs, it seems less than satisfying.

The Federation decides to go on the offensive in Tears of the Prophets. They plan an attack on Cardassia, with Sisko in the lead. Matters become urgent when they find that some substantial defensive bases will soon go active, but Sisko becomes somewhat reluctant when the Prophets warn him not to go on the mission.

“Tears” wraps up Season Six with the usual explosion of big events. In addition to the massive attack on Cardassia, we get the demise of one major character and the temporary (?) departure of another. The show ends the year on a reasonably provocative note, though it seems less than wholly satisfying. Season Five finished with an exciting episode that made me yearn to see what happened next, but “Tears” doesn’t possess quite as strong a “cliffhanger” impact.

The lukewarm response I felt toward “Tears” pretty much encapsulates my feelings about Season Six overall. When Season Five ended, I was excited because I thought the action would finally become more heated. The long-anticipated war with the Dominion began, and with it, we got the promise of much action and intrigue.

Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of those elements. Perhaps it’s too expensive to stage a lot of space battles on a TV budget, or maybe the show’s producers thought too many of those would become tedious.

And they might be right. However, Season Six didn’t seem to explore the issue very well. Too much of the time it didn’t feel like anything was different. Here these people are at war, but we still got the usual allotment of character-based episodes that had nothing to do with the conflict. The year would have been more interesting if the war more fully dominated it. That would have been more ambitious and grandiose.

As it stands, Season Six objectively seemed as good as any of the others. Most of its shows were reasonably interesting, without many duds. I still regard it as something of a disappointment, though, for the year didn’t appear to explore its topics terribly well.


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. Get ready for more of the same compared to prior seasons; Year Six looked a lot look its predecessors.

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. Sporadic – though slight – examples of jagged edges and shimmering did pop up at times, but I saw no signs of edge enhancement. 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. Mostly the colors were appropriately saturated and could become quite vivid when necessary. Black levels looked reasonably deep and dense, though they were slightly murky and inky at times. Shadow detail usually offered good definition to low-light shots, but some were a bit too opaque. 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”.

The majority of these extras revolve around five separate featurettes. We start with Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, an eight-minute and 48-second examination of the series’ big villains. It mixes show clips, stills, and interviews with executive producer Ira Steven Behr, production designer Herman Zimmerman, and actors Avery Brooks, Armin Shimerman, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Penny Johnson, and Jeffrey Combs. We see way too many snippets from the episode in this fairly uninformative program. The participants mostly just wax about what a great show it was, and we learn almost nothing about it otherwise. Since we already can see the program elsewhere in this set, I don’t know why we get so many pieces of it excerpted here. “Inquiry” is a dull and fairly useless featurette.

24th Century Wedding focuses on “You Are Cordially Invited” and runs 10 minutes, 54 seconds. It includes statements from writer Ronald D. Moore, director David Livingston, and actors Terry Farrell and Aron Eisenberg. They cover the origins of the story and a little about its development and various elements. It’s a much better show than its predecessor, as it gives us a fun look at “Invited”, largely due to Farrell’s amusing anecdotes. It still includes too many show clips, but at least some of these illustrate the various stories.

Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir runs 14-minute and 20-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 and actor Andrew Robinson, actor Alexander Siddig dominates “Dossier”. We learn Siddig’s audition and the character’s early conception. He then discusses various aspects of the role, Bashir’s development, and his interaction with other characters. He also chats about his crossover spot on Next Generation and other elements. A lot of insightful material appears here and this program contains some solid information. The featurette even uses show clips as a sly comment on Siddig’s comments; when he states that he only had two romantic affairs, we cut to shots of him with Leeta, who the actor forgot.

Another Crew Dossier focuses on Quark. His featurette fills 16 minutes and includes comments from executive producers Behr and Michael Piller, writer/story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and actors Max Grodenchik, Jeffrey Combs, Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor and – mostly - Armin Shimerman. This pursues elements similar to that in the Bashir “Dossier”, as we get notes on Quark’s origins, development, and relationship to others. It’s another useful piece, though it gets pretty gushy with positive testimonials toward the end.

Because they come after six full seasons of the series, the Bashir and Quark “Dossiers” lack as many spoilers as the prior featurettes in the same line included, but a couple pop up here. A few small hints for Season Seven pop up, so skip these featurettes if you want the end to come as a surprise.

Sketchbook: John Eaves offers a look at some drawings created for the series. In this nine-minute and 15-second piece, we hear from illustrator Eaves as he chats about his designs. He talks about the Ketracel facility, a raft from “Rocks and Shoals”, Klingon and other alien bits from the Worf/Dax wedding, the giant sets from “One Little Ship”, the Fifties sci-fi designs from “Far Beyond the Stars”, the Valiant and the new Dominion vessel from that program, Molly’s drawings in “Time’s Orphan”, and the Cardassian defense platforms. We find some insight into the process and what led Eaves to certain designs.

Two minor components round out the obvious parts of the set. In the Photo Gallery, we find 40 images. These offer a decent mix of production stills and behind the scenes pictures. It’s particularly amusing to see Michael Dorn direct while in Worf makeup and street clothers. Lastly, we get an Indiana Jones Preview Trailer. What Indy has to do with DS9, I don’t know. Oh wait – both come from Paramount. There’s your connection! (By the way, since the Indy set hit the shelves a few weeks prior to Season Six, how can this still be a “preview”?)

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 78 seconds and four minutes, two seconds for a total of 26 minutes and 42 seconds of footage, and we get comments from executive producer Behr, director David Livingston, and actors Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, Marc Alaimo, Mark Allen Shepherd and Rene Auberjonois.

The “Hidden Files” cover a mix of topics. We hear about Farrell’s work in the season’s final episode, the growth of Kira’s attitude toward Gul Dukat, Visitor’s performance as a lounge singer, the choice to use the Dominion War as a running story, Iggy Pop’s guest spot as a Vorta, the season’s most significant kiss, the Worf/Dax dynamic on their mission episode, Dukat’s insanity, some interactions between the writers and the cast, and the Morn character. These comments add a little depth to the package and provide some interesting information.

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. Well, maybe they’ll fix this with Voyager; obviously it won’t change for the final season of DS9.

I must admit that Season Six of Deep Space Nine came as a minor disappointment to me. I expected more action and a more continuous plot line in regard to the Dominion War than I got, and some of the material we did find seemed to rehash themes seen in the past. Nonetheless, the shows mostly seemed entertaining, and despite the relative lack of action, they moved along events nicely. The DVDs presented picture, sound and extras that matched up cleanly with prior sets; all are good, but don’t expect anything revelatory. Overall, Paramount produced another solid DS9 release with Season Six, and I look forward to the series’ concluding programs in Season Seven.

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