STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE
The fact that I think that STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is the finest of all the television series that take place in the science fiction universe created by Gene Roddenberry is a point that I’ve driven home in my reviews of season one and season two. My preference for STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE may have something to do with the series being the darkest and most introspective of all the shows that bore the "Trek" moniker. Additionally, I was intrigued by the fact that this particular "Trek" was and is the only one that demonstrated a creative "grand vision" that carried out story arcs over multiple episodes and multiple seasons. As for season three itself, it is filled with rich, character driven episodes, in addition to planting the dramatic seeds that would germinate and bear delicious and sometimes bittersweet fruit over the course of the remaining four seasons. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON THREE ($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 third year.
Disc one contains the episodes The Search, Part I, The Search, Part II, The House of Quark and Equilibrium. The Search, Part I follows on the season two ending encounter with warlike Jem'Hadar in the Gamma Quadrant- with Starfleet placing The Defiant under Sisko’s command. Using the prototype battleship to fend off any unprovoked Jem'Hadar attacks, Sisko (Avery Brooks) returns to the Gamma Quadrant to locate The Founders of the Dominion in an effort to reach an accord. In The Search, Part II, Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) is finally reunited with his people, while the peace talks with The Founders on DS9 are not what they seem. The House of Quark finds the Ferengi barkeep forced into marriage with the widow of the Klingon warrior he claimed to have killed. In Equilibrium, Jadzia (Terry Farrell) makes a startling discovery about one of the previous hosts to the Dax symbiont.
Disc two contains the episodes Second Skin, The Abandoned, Civil Defense and Meridian. Second Skin finds Major Kira (Nana Visitor) kidnapped and surgically altered to look like a Cardassian, as part of a larger political ploy. In The Abandoned, it is nature versus nurture, when the DS9 crew tries to circumvent the genetic programming of a Jem'Hadar youth. Civil Defense opens with Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) accidentally tripping and old Cardassian security protocol in the DS9 computer system, which locks down the station and activates the self-destruct mechanism. In Meridian, the DS9 crew encounters a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, which makes an appearance in our universe once every sixty years.
Disc three contains the episodes Defiant, Fascination, Past Tense, Part I and Past Tense, Part II. Defiant features a guest appearance by Jonathan Frakes as Tom Riker, who steals the Defiant as part of a Maquis plot. Fascination includes an appearance by Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry), in this story of the station falling victim to a virus with romantic side effects. Past Tense, Part I opens with a transporter mishap that lands Sisko, Jadzia and Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) on Earth in the year 2024 and in a position to change history. Past Tense, Part II forces Sisko to become active in a social upheaval of 2024 to maintain the future timeline.
Disc four contains the episodes Life Support, Heart of Stone, Destiny and Prophet Motive. Life Support finds Kira’s lover, Vedek Bareil, critically injured and in need of a treatment that will sustain him for the short term, but will eventually destroy his mind. In Heart of Stone, Odo and Kira are stranded on a hostile moon, with Odo being forced to watch as Kira is slowly enveloped by a crystal that has begun growing around her body. Destiny finds Sisko having to come to terms with being haled as the Bajoran Emissary Of The Prophets, when an ancient prophecy comes to pass. In Prophet Motive, the Ferengi Grand Nagus pay a visit to DS9, and then begins behaving in a shocking manner, which threatens to undermine all of Ferengi society.
Disc five contains the episodes Visionary, Distant Voices, Through The Looking Glass and Improbable Cause. In Visionary, accidental exposure to radioactive isotopes causes Chief O’Brien shift in and out of the near future, which gives him the insight into a potentially disastrous situation. Distant Voices is a ship in a bottle episode, or at least one that takes place inside the head of an unconscious Dr. Bashir, who is fighting to stay alive against a lethal adversary. Through The Looking Glass pulls Sisko into the mirror universe, where he is forced to don the identity of his doppelganger in the rebellion against the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. Improbable Cause finds Garak (Andrew Robinson) having to deal with his dubious past in Cardassian intelligence, when someone blows up his tailor shop.
Disc six contains the episodes The Die Is Cast, Explorers, Family Business and Shakaar. In The Die Is Cast, the Romulans and the Cardassians mount a preemptive strike against The Dominion by attacking The Founders home world in the Gamma Quadrant. In Explorers, Sisko and his son Jake (Cirroc Loften) embark on an adventure to prove a legend that the Bajorans had explored their solar system eight centuries earlier. Family Business finds Quark (Armin Shimerman) having to deal with his mother’s illegal business ventures, while Sisko is introduced to an attractive freighter captain named Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson). In Shakaar, Major Kira finds herself between the political ambitions of Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) and the leader of her resistance cell, from the days of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.
Disc seven contains the episodes Facets and The Adversary. Facets brings Jadzia face to face with the former hosts of the Dax symbiont, who inhabit other members of the DS9 crew; however, things become complicated when former host Curzon takes a liking to his new home in Odo’s body. The Adversary finds that a changeling has infiltrated the DS9 crew as a means of starting a war with The Dominion. As the crew tries to capture the shape shifter, there are inevitabilities that foretell dire consequences for the inhabitants of the Alpha Quadrant, including Constable Odo.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON THREE available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The presentations here are very much similar to those offered in the first two seasons. Image quality is very good when one considers that the show was produced in a mixed environment that employed film for principal photography, but utilized video for postproduction and visual effects work. Film segments usually appear reasonably sharp and well defined, perhaps not to the level of a TV series that remained completely in the photographic realm, but the DVDs to outshine syndicated broadcasts by a respectable margin. There is a mild softness that creeps into many effects shots, but this is related to the show’s production history and not a deficiency in the DVDs. Colors are pretty well saturated and are rendered without any chroma noise or significant fuzziness. Blacks appear accurate, whites are stable and contrast is scaled back for the necessities of broadcast television. Even with four episodes on a dual layer DVD, there are no noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.
All the episodes that comprise STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON THREE feature upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks, as did the first two seasons. While the sound is definitely better in 5.1, with cleaner channel separation and better fidelity than broadcast surround, the television origins of these soundtracks clearly remain. The forward soundstage remains dominant, with the majority of directionality contained in the front three channels. As expected, the surrounds provide ambient sounds, engine rumble and musical fill, with occasional active effects. The bass channel is solid, but never shakes the deck as it does in the newest theatrical "Trek" adventures. Dialogue is always cleanly rendered and completely understandable. 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 nicely designed interactive menus, which utilize an interface reminiscent of DS9’s Cardassian designed computer systems. Supplemental materials are contained on disc seven and are fairly similar in scope to those offered in the first two seasons. The Birth Of The Dominion And Beyond is an eleven-minute program that examines DS9’s greatest adversaries and the direction that the show would take once they made their presence known. Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three offers a twelve-minute look at the creatures, aliens and makeup effects that made their appearances in the third year of the show. Time Travel Files: Past Tense focuses on the two-part episode that transported DS9 characters into the past. Sailing Through the Stars: A Special Look At Explorers showcases the design elements of this particular episode. Crew Dossier: Odo is a twelve-minute program that looks at the development of one of DS9’s most multifaceted characters, over the course of the show’s seven season run. The program is highlighted by new interview footage with actor Rene Auberjonois. Again, Easter egg hunters will have fun exploring disc seven to locate the Section 31 Hidden Files.
For my money, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE represents Trek at its best. Paramount has once again done a truly fine job with their release of another season set of the show. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON THREE looks and sounds better than broadcast and provides fans with some very neat supplemental features. Long time fans and new initiates will want to make this box set a new addition to their collections- pronto! Since I know things get better and better with each subsequent season, I am already looking forward to the arrival of the next slickly packaged boxed set.
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