STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE
Over the past three season reviews, I have been spouting the opinion that STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is the best of all the series that that bear the Trek moniker. However, it is with season four that even the uninitiated will begin to see why I refer to DS9 as the superior Trek. In season four, established storyline begin to deliver on the promises, plus it is during this year that rich character development allows the cast to come into their own. Also, season four marked another significant development for the series- with NEXT GENERATION cast member Michael Dorn transferring to DS9 along with his Klingon character, Lieutenant Command Worf. Having the brooding Worf on DS9 certainly enhanced the darker quality of this outpost of the Trek franchise. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON FOUR ($130) comes to DVD via Paramount Home Entertainment in a seven disc set, which offers all twenty six episodes that were broadcast during the forth year.
Disc one contains the episodes The Way of the Warrior, The Visitor and Hippocratic Oath. The Way of the Warrior marks the arrival of a Klingon armada at DS9, under the pretense of guarding the wormhole and the Alpha Quadrant from a Dominion invasion. However, newly promoted Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) requests that Worf, the only Klingon in Starfleet, be transferred to his command to get at the truth. What Worf eventually uncovers, doesn’t bode well for the Federation/Klingon alliance. The Visitor begins with an accident in which Captain Sisko vanishes and is presumed dead, but then briefly reappears again at regular intervals, which begins a lifelong obsession for Jake (Cirroc Loften) to get his father back permanently. In Hippocratic Oath Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) are captured by a rebel band of Jem'Hadar that want to be freed from the drug that keeps them subservient to Dominion.
Disc two contains the episodes Indiscretion, Rejoined, Starship Down and Little Green Men. In Indiscretion, Major Kira (Nana Visitor) is forced to join forces with Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) to rescue Bajoran prisoners from a Cardassian ship, only then to discover his true motives for his assisting her. Rejoined finds Jadzia (Terry Farrell) on the verge of breaking one of the most significant Trill laws, when she is reunited with the spouse of a former host to the Dax symbiont. In Starship Down, the Defiant is attacked by the Jem'Hadar, which causes it to become trapped in a volatile space body. Little Green Men tries to explain what happened in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, when Quark (Armin Shimerman), Rom (Max Grodenchik) and Nog (Aron Eisenberg) do a bit of unintentional time travel.
Disc three contains the episodes The Sword of Kahless, Our Man Bashir, Homefront and Paradise Lost. The Sword of Kahless takes Worf and Jadzia to the Gamma Quadrant where they go in search of a legendary Klingon artifact. Our Man Bashir places the good doctor in a holosuite adventure where he plays a secret agent; however, a mishap places him and members of the DS9 crew in actual peril, while inside the simulation. Homefront brings Sisko and Constable Odo (Rene Auberjonois) to Earth, where it is discovered that Changelings have been systematically replacing high-ranking members of Starfleet. Paradise Lost finds the situation on Earth dire, as the Changelings try to isolate Earth from the Federation in preparation for war.
Disc four contains the episodes Crossfire, Return to Grace, Sons of Mogh and Bar Association. In Crossfire, Odo’s hidden feelings for Kira start to bubble to the surface, when he has to provide security for a Bajoran Minister that has expressed a romantic interest in the Major. Return to Grace finds Gul Dukat suddenly demoted and in need of Kira’s aid in restoring his position with the Cardassian authorities. Sons of Mogh finds Worf’s brother an outcast in Klingon society, and request that Worf end his honor-less existence. In Bar Association, Rom finally has had enough of Quark’s mistreatment, so he forms a union with the other bar employees and goes on strike against his brother.
Disc five contains the episodes Accession, Rules of Engagement, Hard Time and Shattered Mirror. In Accession, Sisko finds his position with the Bajoran people challenged by a Bajoran who claims to be the true Emissary Of The Prophets. Rules of Engagement finds Worf accused of wantonly destroying a Klingon freighter that was carrying four hundred civilians. In Hard Time, Chief O’Brien has difficulty readjusting to life on DS9, after aliens implant false memories of a twenty-year prison term in his mind. Shattered Mirror transports Sisko to the mirror universe, after Jake is lured there by the alternate version of his dead mother.
Disc six contains the episodes The Muse, For the Cause, To the Death and The Quickening. The Muse marks another appearance of Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett-Roddenberry), who is very much pregnant and very much in need of Odo’s protection. In For the Cause, Sisko is alarmed to discover that his lady friend Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) may be a Maquis smuggler. To the Death creates an unexpected alliance with the Jem'Hadar, who seek Sisko’s help in preventing a renegade band from their ranks from seizing power. The Quickening marks a mission of mercy in the Gamma Quadrant for Bashir, who tries to find a cure for a disease inflicted on a race of people by the Jem'Hadar.
Disc seven contains the episodes Body Parts and Broken Link. Quark’s Body Parts become a point of contention, when the barkeep is diagnosed with a terminal disease and he sells them on the Ferengi market. However, when the diagnosis turns out to have been in error, Quark finds it near impossible to break the contracts for his bits and pieces. In Broken Link, Odo is forced to return to The Founders home world, where he is to face the judgment of his own people for being the first of his kind to kill a fellow Changeling.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all of the episodes from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON FOUR available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The quality of the presentation is very similar to that of the first three seasons, which has been generally quite good for this kind of material. STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is an effects intensive show that utilized film for principal photography, and then went to video for the postproduction work. While not up to theatrical standards, the image is always fairly sharp and displays reasonable definition, with the DVD easily besting a syndicated rebroadcast. Colors appear well saturated and are reproduced without noise or appreciable smearing. Blacks appear accurate and the whites are clean. Contrast is held at the television level, which tends to flatten the image a bit, but is not a significant concern. Even with four episodes allotted to a dual layer DVD, digital compression artifacts are never particularly noticeable.
All the episodes that constitute STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON FOUR have been upgraded to Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks, as they were for the preceding three seasons. For a television production, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE was a well-recorded and mixed show, which is evidenced in the fidelity of these 5.1 channel tracks. However, the television origins of the sound mix remain fairly evident in the implementation. The forward soundstage is dominant, with the rears lending ambient support and musical fill. Surround "action" is limited to an occasional effect- depending upon the nature of the particular episode in question. Still, the 5.1 channel upgrades do provide for a cleaner, better-defined sound that doesn’t demonstrate any of the fuzziness of a matrixed track. Dialogue is always crisp and completely intelligible. The bass channel provides solid support to the material; enhancing engine rumble, but is never ground shaking. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVDs, 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 format to those offered in the first three seasons. Charting New Territory is an eighteen minute program that looks at the significant episodes during the forth season, as well as the addition of a new cast member. Michael Westmore's Aliens Season Four runs eleven minutes and looks at the creatures, aliens and other makeup effects that were applied in the forth year. Crew Dossier: Worf is a fifteen-minute program featuring Michael Dorn that looks at the character’s development, coming off THE NEXT GENERATION and entering into the world of DS9. Again, Easter egg hunters will enjoy exploring the seventh disc to locate the Section 31 Hidden Files.
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE is the best of all the series that take place in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry, and season four is when show begins to shine like the brightest star in the Alpha Quadrant. Once again, Paramount has done their usual terrific job of transcribing the series to DVD, providing good looking and fine sounding presentations that outshine syndication. Long time fans and those discovering the show through the glories of DVD will want to add STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE- SEASON FOUR to their collections. Now, if season five would only hurry up and get here…
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