STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE
As I stated in my review of season one, I think that STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is the best of all the television series created around the science fiction universe created by Gene Roddenberry. Immediately, the show charted new dramatic territory by mixing science fiction, political intrigue with the quasi-spiritual aspect of a race of aliens that inhabit the wormhole discovered near Deep Space Nine. Much of season one served to lay the groundwork for what would follow over the next six years, including several important story arcs that continued to evolve over the course of the series run. Beyond the first season, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE also began gravitating away from the "ship in a bottle" approach to episodic television, and instead, began playing out grander storylines over the course of multiple episodes. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON TWO ($130) has been released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment in a seven disc set, which offers all twenty six episodes that were broadcast during the second year.
Disc one contains the episodes The Homecoming, The Circle, The Siege and Invasive Procedures. The Homecoming begins a three-part storyline with the rescue of a Bajoran resistance leader from a Cardassian POW camp, as well as the uprising xenophobic terrorist group on Bajor. The Circle finds Major Kira (Nana Visitor) falling into the hands of the terrorist, after having been replaced on DS9 by the very man she rescued from the Cardassian POW camp. The Siege opens with the withdrawal of the Federation from DS9; however Commander Sisko (Avery Brooks) and a few of his people remain behind to prove who is really behind a political coup on Bajor. Invasive Procedures is set during an evacuation of DS9, in which Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) is forced by mercenaries to remove the Dax symbiont from Jadzia (Terry Farrell) and place it in another member of her race.
Disc two contains the episodes Cardassians, Melora, Rules of Acquisition and Necessary Evil. Cardassians involves the political ramifications of a young Cardassian boy left behind on Bajor, who was raised by a Bajoran family. Melora finds Dr. Bashir becoming romantically involved with a new arrival on DS9, while Quark (Armin Shimerman) has to deal with a vengeful old acquaintance. Rules of Acquisition sends Quark to the Gamma Quadrant to negotiate a deal for the Ferengi Grand Nagus. Necessary Evil is a standout episode in which Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) conducts a new probe that is tied directly to his first investigation on board the station, at a time when it was still under oppressive Cardassian control.
Disc three contains the episodes Second Sight, Sanctuary, Rivals, and The Alternate. Second Sight finds Sisko falling in love with a woman who may not be what she appears. Sanctuary involves a group of refugees from the Gamma Quadrant that believe that Bajor may be the mythical planet they have been searching for. In Rivals, Quark has to deal with a new entrepreneur that opens a competing gambling establishment. The Alternate finds Odo and the scientist that first discovered him, investigating another life form with similar shape-shifting abilities.
Disc four contains the episodes Armageddon Game, Whispers, Paradise and Shadowplay. Armageddon Game finds Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) on a mission to help two warring races destroy their biological weapons. In Whispers, Chief O’Brien returns to DS9 after a mission to discover the rest of the crew acting strangely and begins to suspect they are under the influence of an alien race. Paradise finds Sisko and O’Brien stranded on a colony world where the inhabitants have rejected all forms of technology. Shadowplay offers Odo and Dax a mystery on a planet in which the people of a small community have begun to disappear.
Disc five contains the episodes Playing God, Profit and Loss, Blood Oath and The Maquis Part I. In Playing God, Dax has to evaluate another Trill for a possible joining with a symbiont, at which time they discover a burgeoning proto-universe that poses a threat to DS9. Profit and Loss features the arrival of a Cardassian woman with whom Quark was once entangled; unfortunately authorities from her home planet follow quickly her heels to quell her calls for democratic reforms on Cardassia. Blood Oath is a nostalgic STAR TREK episode that features three Klingon characters from the original series that come to DS9 seeking Dax’s help in fulfilling an oath that they all took many year earlier. The Maquis Part I finds political turmoil within the federation; as federation citizens on colony worlds that now sit in treaty bartered Cardassian space, begin their own private war against Cardassia.
Disc six contains the episodes The Maquis Part II, The Wire, Crossover and The Collaborator. The Maquis Part II continues the story with Sisko joining forces with his Cardassian predecessor Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) to put down the current Maquis rebellion. The Wire has Dr. Bashir seeking a way to save Garak (Andrew Robinson) from the device planted in his head by Cardassian intelligence. Crossover is the first in a series of episodes that throw the inhabitants of DS9 into the mirror universe originally discovered by Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise decades earlier. In The Collaborator, Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher) arrives on DS9 with the announcement that Kira’s lover, and her chief rival for the religious leadership of Bajor, may have been a Cardassian collaborator during the occupation.
Disc seven contains the episodes Tribunal and The Jem'Hadar. In Tribunal, Chief O’Brien is captured by the Cardassians and taken back to their home world where he is to stand trial for smuggling weapons to the Maquis. The Jem'Hadar takes Sisko and Quark on a trip to the Gamma Quadrant were they are captured by the Jem'Hadar, who are the foot soldiers of the Dominion- an entity that controls vast portions of that section of the galaxy. This second season finale offers a glimpse of much bigger problems that the crew of DS9 and the Federation will face over the course of the remaining five seasons of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON TWO available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. I found the presentation of the season episodes to be similar to that of season one, certainly better than syndicated rebroadcasts, but not up to theatrical quality. There is some variability in the image due to the fact that the series was shot on film and had its special effects work completed on video. Some portions of each show appear crisp and nicely defined, while other sequences are somewhat soft looking. Colors tend to be vibrant and reproduced without chroma noise and hardly any signs of fuzziness. Blacks appear deep and whites are clean. Contrast is limited by the necessities of lighting for television broadcast. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern, even with four episodes encoded onto a DVD.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON TWO feature upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. While there is certainly better channel separations and clarity in the remix, there is no denying that the underlying sound elements were originally designed for television caliber stereo surround. The forward soundstage tends to dominate, with the rears providing ambient sounds, engine rumble and occasional active effects. As for the bass channel, while it isn’t ground shaking, it does enhance the sense of being on various spacecrafts. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, 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. Supplements are contained on disc seven and are fairly similar to those offered in the season one set. New Frontiers: The Story Of Deep Space Nine is a fifteen-minute behind-the-scenes program that focuses on the show’s characters. Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season Two is a twelve-minute look at the alien and creature designs for the series second season. New Station, New Ships runs approximately five minutes and covers the model and miniatures utilized in season two. The Deep Space Nine Sketchbook offers roughly ten minutes worth of conceptual drawings for the second season. Crew Dossier: Jadzia Dax is a seventeen-minute program that looks at the development of the character over the course of the show’s run, as well as offering new interview footage with actress Terry Farrell. Easter egg fans will have fun exploring disc seven to find the Section 31 Hidden Files.
Again, let me reiterate my opinion that STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE was indeed the finest television series set in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry. Paramount has truly done a fine job with their release of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON TWO, offering presentations that out stripes syndicated television broadcasts, as well as providing solid supplements and rather sleek packaging. If you are a fan or potential fan, you will want to add this second season set to your DVD collection. As for me, I can’t wait for the rest of the series to hit DVD in 2003.
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