STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE
When it comes DEEP SPACE NINE, STAR TREK fans are generally divided into two camps. There were those that looked upon DEEP SPACE NINE as a bastard child, and those that thought it was the best of all the STAR TREK television series. As for myself, I fall into the latter category, firm in my opinion that STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE was indeed the best of all the offshoots of the science fiction universe created by Gene Roddenberry. Those that didn’t care for DEEP SPACE NINE usually disliked the space station setting; complaining that there was no spaceship that took the characters to the far reaches of the galaxy. However, what I found refreshing about DEEP SPACE NINE was that it was the most character driven of the STAR TREK series, and that the show wasn’t afraid to go over to the dark side of storytelling, stepping back from Roddenberry’s utopian view of the future.
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON ONE ($130) has been released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment in a six disc set, which contains all nineteen episodes that aired in the first year. Disc one contains the episodes Emissary, Past Prologue and A Man Alone. Emissary is the two-hour series premiere that has been broken up into two episodes for subsequent syndicated broadcasts. The episode itself is one the series best, starting things off with a bang, with Emissary being the kind of television program that telegraphs that this show is going to be a radical departure from previous incarnations of STAR TREK.
Steeped in political intrigue, alien mysticism and a personal journey of discovery for its leading character, Emissary tells of the arrival of Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) at Starfleet’s newest outpost, which happens to be a former Cardassian space station in orbit around the planet Bajor. As the new commander of Deep Space Nine, it will be Sisko’s job to hasten Bajor's membership into the federation, after the planet and its people suffered through an oppressive Cardassian occupation. To achieve this objective, Sisko requires the cooperation of Bajor’s major religious leader, which leads the new station commander to the discovery of a stable wormhole in Bajoran space that connects to the Gamma Quadrant of the galaxy. Episode two, Past Prologue, tests the loyalty of Sisko’s Bajoran first officer, Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), after a Bajoran terrorist comes to DS9 seeking asylum from the Cardassian military. In A Man Alone, station security chief Odo (Rene Auberjonois) finds himself the prime suspect in a murder investigation, after a criminal that the Constable once sent to prison turns up dead on the station.
Disc two contains the episodes Babel, Captive Pursuit, Q-Less and Dax. Babel finds the crew of DS9 falling victim to engineered virus designed by the Bajoran resistance to eliminate the Cardassian threat to Bajor. In Captive Pursuit, Chief O'Brien (Colm Meaney) befriends a visitor from the Gamma Quadrant who turns out to be the "prey" in a hunt being carried out by his people. Q-Less features a visit from the omnipotent Q (John De Lancie), who brings his usual brand of havoc to DS9. The episode Dax delves into a past incarnation of the symbiont life form known as Dax, with Jadzia (Terry Farrell), the symbiont’s current host, finding herself on trial for a murder possibly committed by her immediate predecessor, Curzon.
Disc three contains the episodes The Passenger, Move Along Home, The Nagus and Vortex. In The Passenger, a criminal is killed on his way to DS9, but when the theft of a valuable shipment continues according to the criminal's plan, everyone begins to question if he is really dead. Move Along Home finds the DS9 crew playing an alien game, in which they don’t know the rules, after Quark (Armin Shimerman), the Ferengi proprietor of the station’s bar is caught cheating visitors from the Gamma Quadrant. The Nagus marks the arrival of the Ferengi leader on DS9, who selects Quark as his successor. In Vortex, a prisoner in Odo’s charge informs the shape shifting Constable that he has encounter other members of his race in the Gamma Quadrant.
Disc four contains the episodes Battle Lines, The Storyteller, Progress and If Wishes Were Horses. Battle Lines marks a surprise visit of Bajor’s spiritual leader to DS9, who requests a tour of the wormhole, then finds herself caught in a battle between two warring factions in the Gamma Quadrant. The Storyteller finds O’Brien and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) tending to an ailing Bajoran community leader, who has the ability to chase away a "mythical creature" that poses a very real threat to his village. Progress finds Major Kira leading the evacuation of a Bajoran moon and forced to deal with a crusty old colonist, who refuses to leave. In If Wishes Were Horses, the imaginations of the station’s inhabitants come to life, posing a very serious threat to DS9.
Disc five contains the episodes The Forsaken, Dramatis Personae, Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets. In The Forsaken, the crew of DS9 has to deal with a probe from the Gamma Quadrant, while Odo fends off the romantic attentions of the visiting Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry). Dramatis Personae finds a Klingon ship exploding after returning from the Gamma Quadrant, with the survivors having a very strange effect on everyone aboard DS9, all except Odo. In Duet, a Cardassian, who may or may not be a war criminal, arrives on DS9 in need of medical aid. In the Hands of the Prophets marks a visit from a self promoting religious leader named Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher), whose issues with the curriculum being taught at the DS9’s newly established school threatens the alliance between the Federation and Bajor.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON ONE available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The presentation of the episodes is on par with that of the best of the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION DVD box sets. Shot on film, with the special effects completed on analog video, the episodes have their strengths and weaknesses. Film sequences without special effects work provide the cleanest and sharpest aspects of each episode. The special effects segments can appear a bit softer and occasionally display analog video anomalies. Colors usually appear robust, with the flesh tones coming across in a convincing manner. All of the episodes look better on DVD than they do in syndicated broadcasts, but they are clearly television productions, with flat lighting and contrast. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed, even with four episodes encoded onto the dual layered DVDs.
All of the episodes have had their matrixed surround soundtracks upgraded to full Dolby Digital 5.1 channel status. Owing to the fact that the show wasn’t particularly action oriented during the first season, the sound mix doesn’t have much by way of that "wiz bang" quality. The forward soundstage tends to dominate, with the surrounds providing a bit of ambient and musical fill. However, the sound is well recorded, and reproduced with good fidelity. Dialogue is always crisp and completely understandable. The bass channel is solid, enhancing the overall sound, but never becoming thunderous. . English Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVDs, as are English subtitles.
Full motion video, 3-D animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s cool looking interactive menus, which utilize an interface reminiscent of DS9’s Cardassian designed computer system. Through the menus, one has access to individual episodes and scene selection within the episodes, as well as each disc’s set up features. The menu system on disc six also provides access to season one’s supplemental content. Deep Space Nine: A Bold New Beginning is an eighteen minute program that looks at the inception of DS9 and why the show went in an entirely new direction. Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys is a fourteen-minute program that looks at DS9’s Bajoran first officer and Nana Visitor, the actress that brought the character to vivid life. Michael Westmore's Aliens offers a ten-minute look at the show’s makeup designs.
Secrets of Quark's Bar is a five-minute look at the interesting props used in the show’s drinking/gambling establishment. Alien Artifacts is a three-minute program concerned with even more of the show’s props. Deep Space Nine: Sketchbook offers five minutes worth of conceptual drawings for the series. Also included amongst the supplements is a Photo Gallery, as well a number of slightly hidden extras for those who enjoy DVD Easter egg hunts. One last thing I should mention, I really like the all-plastic packaging that the collection comes in. It takes up less space and seems sturdier than the cardboard solution designed for the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION sets.
Since DEEP SPACE NINE is my favorite STAR TREK television series, I am totally revved up now that Paramount has begun releasing all of the episodes on DVD in season by season sets. Not only do the episodes look and sound better than they do in syndicated broadcasts, the supplements are cool. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON ONE is a must have DVD collection for any DS9 fan, as well as being a perfect introduction for anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to see the show before now. I know I will be anxiously awaiting the DVD release of the rest of the show’s of seven-season run, all of which has been scheduled for 2003.
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