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PARAMOUNT HOME VIDEO

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
See review for episodes

Director:
Various
Cast:
Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Nicole de Boer, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Siddig El Fadil, Nana Visitor
Writing Credits:
Various

MPAA:
Not Rated.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
7-Disc set
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 1187 min.
Price: $129.99
Release Date: 8/5/2003

Bonus:
• “Charting New Territory: Deep Space Nine Season Four” Featurette
• “Crew Dossier: Worf” Featurette
• “Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season Four” Featurette
• “Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves” Featurette
• Photo Gallery


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season (1996)

Disc Five

O’Brien’s wife Keiko (Rosalind Chao) returns from a year’s assignment away in Accession. She comes with a surprise: Miles knocked her up during their last visit. A 300-year-old ship emerges from the wormhole with a Bajoran onboard. When he comes aboard DS9, Akorem Laan (Richard Libertini) claims to be the Emissary, the position since given to Sisko. The captain seems more than eager to cede his position to Akorem, a poet whose work has remained very famous over the last few centuries. As he takes over the job, Akorem supports a return to a class system in which heredity determined careers. Since she comes from a family of artists, Kira seems less than happy about this.

In some ways, “Accession” feels like little more than an excuse to finally get Sisko to accept his title as Emissary. The series saddled him with that burden in its first episode and it infrequently reminds us that he doesn’t much like it. “Accession” seems to settle that but it does little else. In a way, it almost feels like a fantasy program, since we know much of what it proposes won’t happen. It’s not a great show.

A mystery launches Rules of Engagement. We find Worf imprisoned and the Klingons claim he killed 441 of their civilians for no good reason. Sisko defends Worf during the trial. All agree on the facts – Worf indeed ordered the Defiant to blast the Klingon vessel – but the question of motive becomes the main focus.

I usually like a good courtroom story, but “Rules” feels a little toothless. As with “Accession”, it loses some points for predictability; the conclusion is never really in doubt. The structure makes it somewhat intriguing, though, as we see the witnesses testify from their original vantage points. However, like many trial stories, “Accession” depends on the cavalry to ride in at the end, and the semi-magical solution robs it of some impact.

At the open of Hard Time, we find an older and grizzled O’Brien at the end of 20 years of imprisonment. However, he quickly learns that this was a mirage. His Argrathi captors only kept him a few hours; a virtual reality program simply provided the impression he’d been gone for two decades. The show depicts his struggles to come to term with his experiences.

At least “Time” doesn’t suffer from the “happily ever after” syndrome that marred the last couple of programs. While it doesn’t keep O’Brien at his lowest ebb, it also doesn’t easily resolve his issues. It’ll be interesting to see if future episodes follow up on these topics or if the series sweeps them under the rug.

Sisko reconnects to the alternate universe occasionally seen in prior episodes during Shattered Mirror. Jake becomes shocked when his mom Jennifer (Felecia M. Bell) pops up in his dad’s quarters. Understandably, this connection with a reasonable facsimile of his dead mother messes with Jake’s mind. He and Jennifer apparently high-tail it back to her universe, and Sisko heads out with accomplices to find them. It turns out everything was a ruse to lure Sisko over to help the rebellion.

The alternate universe episodes are usually interesting, and “Mirror” has its moments. However, it doesn’t offer much to develop the prior stories, and it lacks much emotional impact. One might expect Jake’s apparent reunion with his long-lost mother to provoke more feelings than just banal cheerfulness.

Disc Six

Our old friend Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) greets Odo with a shock in The Muse: she’s pregnant! She ran away from her husband Jeyal (Michael Ansara) because he wants to take away her baby; Jeyal’s species believes in the separation of the sexes, so his father would raise the male child totally without contact from Lwaxana. She seeks assistance and protection from Odo. In the meantime, an alien named Onaya (Meg Foster) approaches Jake and seeks to help him bring out his writing talent to its fullest. Not surprisingly, she possesses an ulterior motive.

We spend too much of “Muse” in wait for that other shoe to drop. Onaya seems too good to be true, and the episode provides little more than a slow process to get to the inevitable. The subplot between Odo and Lwaxana also feels fairly contrived.

Matters complicate in Sisko’s relationship with Kasidy Yates during For the Cause. Station security suspects she’s working for the Maquis, a terrorist organization. Not surprisingly, Sisko resists this notion, and he needs to deal with conflicts between his feelings and his responsibilities. In the meantime, Garak gets to know Ziyal (Tracy Middendorf), Gul Dukat’s daughter and the only other Cardassian aboard DS9. Garak’s long-time rivalry with Dukat makes their interactions more interesting.

I always thought that Kasidy was up to no good, and “Cause” develops those suspicions. However, she doesn’t emerge as the show’s biggest double-dealer; another character presents with underhanded actions. Like a good mystery, “Cause” keeps us off-guard much of the time and doesn’t telegraph its points. It helps develop the series’ underlying plots and seems like an intriguing program.

At the start of To the Death, a Jem’Hadar attack team causes disaster on part of DS9. They destroy part of the station and kill a number of inhabitants. Sisko takes the Defiant to chase their foes. Eventually they locate a Jem’Hadar warship, but the attackers aren’t onboard. Instead, they discover that the Dominion also seeks the attackers, who are part of a renegade group. This means that for the time being, the Federation needs to work with the Dominion to stop the rebels.

Though the idea behind “Death” seems a little contrived, it manages to produce a pretty good episode. Yeah, the whole Dominion and Federation thing feels a little “high concept”, but the results are interesting and lively. We learn more about the Jem’Hadar in a painless way and get some good action as well.

Footnote: remember how I referred to Tony Todd as possibly the only Trek actor to play two roles on the same show in the same season? Jeffrey Combs equals that feat here, and he does so in a shorter amount of time. 13 episodes elapsed between Todd’s two appearances, while only six shows popped up between “Bar Association” and “Death”.

On a survey mission to Gamma Quadrant, the team of Kira, Bashir and Dax intercepts a distress signal in The Quickening. They meet a leader called Trevean (Michael Sarrazin) and find out that when they resisted the Dominion, the Jem’Hadar laid waste to their world and they were affected by “the blight” that kills them when they “quicken”. Trevean poisons folks who get quickened so they’ll avoid the slow death that otherwise would occur. Not surprisingly, Bashir doesn’t cotton to this assisted suicide concept, but most of the inhabitants don’t seem to want his help. When he meets some who do, he and Dax risk attack by a Jem’Hadar patrol to find a cure.

Time for another old Trek standby: the culture that accepts ritualistic death and resists attempts to change their longstanding ways. All we’re left to find is why they fight against progress and what will happen with the quest for a cure. “Quickening” doesn’t bring much fresh to the table.

Disc Seven

Quark believes that his death is near in Body Parts. According to a Ferengi doctor, he has Dorek Syndrome, and that leaves him with only about a week to live. Quark feels like a failure in life, so Rom attempts to reassure him by peddling Quark’s remains ala Ferengi custom. Complications ensue when he sells them but finds out he doesn’t have Dorek Syndrome; the winner still wants his merchandise. In the meantime, an expedition that includes Keiko O’Brien goes awry, so to save her baby, Bashir pops the fetus into Kira’s womb. Because of Kira’s internal structure, the baby needs to stay there until delivery.

Remember when I stated earlier that DS9 doesn’t overdo the Ferengi shows? I guess some exceptions occur. “Parts” doesn’t overdo things badly, but it seems a little soon for a show of this sort. The bits with Kira and Keiko also seem silly and unnatural. Too much of “Parts” comes across as gimmicky for it to be a very effective episode.

Season Four finishes with Broken Link. Odo collapses for no apparent reason. Bashir attempts to figure out what’s up, but his lack of knowledge of changeling physiology hampers his efforts. Odo’s condition continues to degenerate, and this necessitates a trip to his homeworld, which also happens to be the location of the Founders, the heads of the Dominion. In addition, the Klingons threaten war with the Federation over an alleged claim to a particular territory.

The latter component doesn’t feature too prominently in the overall plot, though it does constitute the episode’s cliffhanger elements. We’ll have to wait until Season Five to find out what happens there. As for the rest of “Link”, it feels largely expository. Not much happens other than at its end, when Odo’s life changes significantly. As a drama, “Link” seems dull, but it’s interesting due to its overall importance to the series.

Other than perhaps Odo’s experiences in “Link”, the biggest change seen during Season Four comes from the acquisition of Worf as a new crewmember. Of course, Sisko shaved his head as well, but that remained a cosmetic change. The arrival of Next Generation’s favorite Klingon impacted upon DS9 only in moderate ways. Frankly, at the end of Season Four, I can’t quite decide if this addition is good or bad.

On one hand, Worf remains an interesting character. I liked him on Next Generation and continue to find him intriguing here. On the other hand, however, his arrival feels somewhat desperate, as though the show’s producers thought they needed a popular character from another show to make DS9 more successful. I thought Worf’s character arc was done pretty well on Next Generation and there wasn’t much left to explore here. Future seasons will determine if I’m correct, but so far, the Worf-based episodes from this year feel like the same old thing we saw on the prior series.

While I can’t quite decide if I regard Worf’s arrival as good or bad, I do feel that Season Four is DS9’s best to date. Of course, it has its share of less than stellar programs, but the overall level of quality seems good. I’d like to see the plot that relates to the Dominion kick into higher gear, however. Every year I think that this will occur during the next season, but we’re not there just yet.

Will Season Five deliver the goods? I guess I’ll find out soon. I look forward to that, as Season Four added to my enjoyment of Deep Space Nine. It’s hard to point out exactly why it seems like the best year to date, but it just feels more coherent and richer. The characters are better defined and developed and everything coalesces more cleanly. Here’s hoping that matters continue to grow with Season Five.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For the most part, these shows looked a lot like those on prior sets, but I thought enough improvements occurred to slightly bump up my grade.

One small improvement occurred in the area of sharpness. The shows looked a little crisper this season. Some moderate examples of softness or fuzziness popped up at times, but those were slightly less problematic than in the past. Occasional issues connected to jagged edges and shimmering appeared on occasion, but edge enhancement and source flaws caused no problems.

Colors seemed marginally tighter than in the past. The palette remained somewhat restricted, though occasionally the shows brightened and became more vibrant. Some blandness still occurred, but in general the tones were nicely vivid and detailed. Black levels mostly seemed tight and dense, while shadows were a little less consistent. For the most part, low-light shots appeared well depicted, but they could still be a little flat at times. Overall, however, these concerns stayed small, and I mostly thought Season Four of Deep Space Nine looked quite good.

In the auditory realm, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio of Deep Space Nine remained strongly in line with what I heard during prior seasons. The focus stayed in the forward channels. Those channels showed nice localization of elements and it placed elements in their appropriate spots. The material blended well and created a good sense of environment. The rears still didn’t offer a whole lot of effects, but they supported the forward channels reasonably well and added to the feeling of atmosphere.

I thought sound quality continued to seem positive. Dialogue came across as crisp and detailed, and I heard no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was dynamic and lively, with good low-end response for the score. Effects seemed tight and accurate, and they lacked substantial issues connected to distortion. Low-end continued to seem good but unexceptional. The programs presented adequate punch when necessary. I still didn’t feel terribly impressed with the audio of Season Four, but it functioned in a more than adequate manner.

Season Four conjures a smattering of supplements that strongly resemble those seen in the first three DVD sets, though they improve over the somewhat sparse offerings of Season Three. The majority of these extras revolve around four separate featurettes. We start with Charting New Territory: Deep Space Nine Season Four, an 18-minute and 23-second examination of the year. It mixes show clips, stills, and interviews with executive producer Ira Steven Behr, writer/story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe, writer Ronald D. Moore, and actors Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks, Terry Farrell, and Susanna Thompson.

The main topic discussed here covers the reasons behind the arrival of Worf and his integration into the show. After that, we get some reflections on memorable moments like the semi-controversial girl-girl kiss in “Rejoined” and the thoughts behind the creation of “Little Green Men”. “Territory” gives us a decent look at Season Four in general and reveals a few nice insights into the production.

As with prior featurettes in the same line, someone also needed to slap a “spoiler alert” on Crew Dossier: Worf. The 14-minute and 19-second piece offers the same mix of production footage, show snippets and interviews we find on the other featurettes. Though we hear a little from executive producer Ira Steven Behr, actor Michael Dorn dominates “Dossier”. He discusses his decision to return to the role after Next Generation and some issues related to the role. He also gets into playing the part in two places at once, and he makes this a fun piece of material.

Because it comes after four full seasons of the series, the Worf “Dossier” lacks as many spoilers as the prior featurettes in the same line included, but a couple pop up here. If you don’t want to know Worf’s ultimate fate – and that of some others - don’t watch this program!

Another recurring feature appears next with Michael Westmore’s Aliens: Season Four. In this 11-minute and 10-second featurette, we get show clips, behind the scenes video and pictures, and remarks from make-up designer Westmore as he discusses his work. He covers these topics: Worf, the Teplan blight, the Lethean, Morn and the Nausicaans. He also discusses elements he uses for “nasty” aliens, how he makes sure make-up works for stuntmen, and creating new looks for returning actors. As usual, he adds some good details about his creations, and a lot of useful notes pop up throughout his chat.

Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves offers a look at some drawings created for the series. In this 10-minute and 12-second piece, we hear from illustrator Eaves as he chats about his designs. He talks about some unused Klingon battleships, the armored retrofit for DS9, Jake’s home from “The Visitor”, the Breen mine and the crashed ship from “Indiscretion”, the torpedo from “Starship Down”, the sword of Kahless, a Klingon ceremonial knife, the sand drawings from “Hard Time”, the planet design for “The Quickening”, and various looks for “Our Man Bashir”. We find some insight into the process and what led Eaves to certain designs. The final obvious extra, the Photo Gallery includes 40 stills. These offer behind the scenes shots from various episodes. Oddly, the set also includes a preview trailer for the Indiana Jones DVD set.

In the last paragraph, I used the qualifier “obvious” because DS9 includes many Easter eggs. Referred to as “Hidden Files”, we get 10 of these strewn throughout the two screens of the DVD’s extras menu. These clips last between 105 seconds and five minutes, nine seconds for a total of 35 minutes of footage. Comments from director David Livingston, writer Ronald D. Moore, visual effects coordinator Gary Hutzel, actors Alexander Siddig, Armin Shimerman, Susanna Thompson, Nana Visitor, Michael Dorn, Robert O’Reilly and Chase Masterson. A mix of banal and interesting material appears here. Probably the most enjoyable bit comes from Masterson, who offers fun stories about her casting and her first encounter with Avery Brooks.

Positive interface note: as usual with Paramount DVDs, all the extras include English subtitles. Paramount remain the only studio that does this as a given, though I think DreamWorks very rarely omit text. Negative interface note: if you use chapter skip to bypass the opening credits after the end of each episode’s starting sequence, you’ll often wind up farther into the show than you’d like. Chapter two should always begin immediately after the conclusion of the opening credits, and this inconsistency seems annoying.

Happily, Season Four of Deep Space Nine shows its continuing improvement. The series took awhile to find its feet, but every year seems better than the prior one, and Season Four presents their best material to date. The DVDs offer the strongest picture quality so far, while audio remains about the same as in prior sets. Extras rebound from the somewhat disappointing collection on Season Three and match up with those from the first couple of years. Chalk up Season Four of Deep Space Nine as a good one that leaves me very interested to see what happens during Season Five.

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