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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/13/03



Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One
1993 (2003) - Paramount

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One Program Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/B-

Specs and Features

Approx. 900 mins (1 episode at 90 mins, plus 18 episodes at 45 mins each), NR, full frame (1.33:1), 6 single-sided, dual-layered discs (containing 3-4 episodes each - bonus content on Disc Six), custom 6-disc plastic packaging with slipcase, 6 "behind-the-scenes" featurettes (Deep Space Nine: A Bold New Beginning, Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season One, Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys, Secrets of Quark's Bar, Alien Artifacts: Season One and Deep Space Nine Sketchbook), photo gallery, Section 31 Hidden File featurettes (10 Easter eggs), animated program-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (18 chapters for Emissary, 8 chapters for each other episode), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine follows the story of Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), a Starfleet officer who lost his wife in action against the Borg in the infamous Battle of Wolf 359 (from Star Trek: The Next Generation). It's three years after the tragedy, and Sisko has been given the task of supervising the entrance of the planet Bajor into the Federation. The Bajorans are a highly spiritual people, whose planet has been under the iron-fisted subjugation of the Cardassians for many years. But the Cardassians have withdrawn, leaving their space station in orbit of the planet behind, and now Starfleet is moving in to help restore order.

Sisko arrives with his son Jake in tow, to take command of the station, newly re-named Deep Space Nine. A number of Starfleet officers are along to assist him, including Dr. Julian Bashir, Science Officer Jadzia Dax and Chief Operations Officer Miles O'Brien (played by Colm Meaney - a character newly reassigned from the Starship Enterprise). And a number of local officials are on hand as well, including a former Bajoran freedom fighter, Major Kira Nerys, and the station's security officer, a shape-shifting alien named Odo (played by Rene Auberjonois).

Deep Space Nine took many Trek fans by surprise when it first appeared in early 1993. Gone was the "Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before" mentality of previous Star Trek shows. Instead, the galaxy came to Deep Space Nine. The series features a much larger cast of characters than previous Trek shows did, and most of the action took place on the space station. This meant less action and fewer striking visuals, but much greater character conflict and exploration. For its first few seasons, Deep Space Nine was primarily a character-driven show. And a lot of Trek fans didn't know how to connect to it.

The first season started off with a literal bang... another look at the Battle of Wolf 359. And then, the pace slowed down significantly. As tough as it was for fans to latch on to the show, the writers also seemed to have trouble making the shift. During its first season, Deep Space Nine fell back on several tried-and-true Trek plot staples that had long since been done to death on The Next Generation. Not only did we briefly see the Borg in Season One, Q, Vash and Lwaxana Troi all made appearances as well. The result was a very uneven, and mostly uninteresting, first year for the series. The season opener, Emissary, was at least slightly better than average, as were the finale, In the Hands of the Prophets, and The Nagus, infamous for its deeper look at Ferengi culture. The sole stand-out episode of the season, the one that really hinted at the dramatic potential of the series, was Duet, in which Kira is forced to confront her hatred for the Cardassians.

The 20 episodes included on this 6-disc set are: Emissary (note that both Parts I & II are presented as a single 90-minute episode, per the original broadcast), Past Prologue, A Man Alone, Babel, Captive Pursuit, Q-Less, Dax, The Passenger, Move Along Home, The Nagus, Vortex, Battle Lines, The Storyteller, Progress, If Wishes Were Horses, The Forsaken, Dramatis Personae, Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets.

The episodes are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio, and the quality is very much on par with the Star Trek: The Next Generation DVDs. The video has a slight analog softness (the original masters were analog video), but the color and contrast are quite good. There's a slight hint of edge-enhancement of the kind you often get with analog-mastered video, and there's moderate digital artifacting. But overall, fans will be pleased. This is certainly as good as the series has ever looked.

The audio is also very good, re-mixed in full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. However, the sound maybe isn't quite as dynamic and immersive as you'd expect. Much of the reason for this lies in the fact that there's less on-screen action on Deep Space Nine of the kind that really takes advantage of 5.1 sound - at least in Season One. I can't wait to see (and hear) some of the space battles of later seasons on DVD! But make no mistake, this audio is much improved over the original broadcasts.

The supplemental features on this set - all found on Disc Six - are also on part with those found on The Next Generation DVDs. There are basically 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes available here. Deep Space Nine: A Bold New Beginning runs about 18 minutes and looks at the genesis of the series and the effort to get it up and running. It features interviews with the producers, writers, cast - you name it. Michael Westmore's Aliens is a 10-minute piece that examines the alien make-up work on the show. Secrets of Quark's Bar gives you a look at some of the interesting prop items from the bar set (5 minutes). And Alien Artifacts is a 3-minute piece featuring some of the other alien props featured on the show. The best of these featurettes, in my opinion, is Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys. It runs about 15 minutes and examines the character of Kira in depth, featuring interviews with the actress and scenes from the entire series to illustrate the development. That brings up a point, however, which is that there's spoiler material here for later seasons. Avoid it if you'd like to go into feature DVD sets unaware.

In addition to these, there is a 5-minute Deep Space Nine: Sketchbook, which is a video short featuring many of the production design sketches done for the series. There's a photo gallery with about 40 behind-the-scenes images. And at long last, there are finally Easter eggs on a Star Trek DVD. Disc Six features some 10 Section 31 Hidden File featurettes, which are mostly video interviews with the cast. These are very easy to find and together run about 24 minutes in length.

One quick note on the packaging. The discs are contained in a set of clear plastic trays, that you access like the pages of a book. This is wrapped in a thin, flexible plastic "binder" (similar to some of Universal's Ultimate Edition packages) that features artwork and a listing of the episodes. When closed, this assembly in turn slides into a thin plastic slipcase. I wasn't quite sure what to think of it at first, and the plastic picks up dust and lint like crazy. But the package is quite attractive when it's all put together and it's definitely growing on me. It's at least better than the Region 1 packaging for The Next Generation DVDs and makes it a lot easier to get at the discs.

Deep Space Nine was a show with a great deal of potential, and with a fascinating cast of characters, but it would take several years for the show to find its stride dramatically. If the best early episodes were all character driven... there weren't enough of them. It wasn't until later seasons that the Dominion War plot really kicked DS9 in to high gear. But when it did finally heat up, Deep Space Nine was very good indeed.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




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