Our reviews of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season One (published April 8th, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Two (published May 23rd, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Three (published September 6th, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Four (published November 3rd, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Six (published December 8th, 2003), and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Seven (published January 13th, 2004) are also available.
"It's a long story."
Think of it. Five years ago, no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space 9 and now, all our hopes rest here.
And coming into its fifth season, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 is at full stride. With its arc solidly defined and with its impressive ensemble of characters, DS9 boldly did go where no Trek show had gone before. It's unlike any other series in the franchise, and it broke the Trek mold and successfully blazed a new vision. Though not as widely successful as its predecessor nor as disliked as its successor, DS9 has never received the credit it has rightly deserved. With the Next Generation movies most likely finished, quiet murmurings leak out of possible ideas of the Voyager cast helming the next movie. There's even occasional talk about an Enterprise movie being next. But never, ever does a hopeful fan hear that DS9 may be next in line for that privilege.
And that is a shame, for of all the shows, DS9 is the most richly textured, offering far more possibilities than any of the others. And, though we'll "not know" for two more seasons, the series finale didn't answer all of the questions.
As mentioned in my review of the fourth season of the show, I have joyously watched every episode in order as they've been released on DVD. Though it was the weakest, watching that first season was so completely refreshing. I had forgotten how different this show was—different and better. DS9 is the last of the great Trek shows. Everything since has yet to meet our expectations.
Facts of the Case
Do they still sing songs of the Great Tribble Hunt?
This seven-disc collection contains all 26 episodes from the fifth season of Deep Space 9.
"Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
…".Nor the Battle to the Strong"
"Trials and Tribble-ations"
"Let He Who Is Without Sin…"
"The Darkness and the Light"
"For the Uniform"
"In Purgatory's Shadow"
"By Inferno's Light"
"Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"
"A Simple Investigation"
"Business as Usual"
"Ties of Blood and Water"
"Ferengi Love Songs"
"Soldiers of the Empire"
"Children of Time"
"Blaze of Glory"
"In the Cards"
"Call to Arms"
You've come a long way from the naïve young man I met five years ago. You've become distrustful and suspicious. It suits you.
One of the things that stood out for me while viewing DS9 this time around has been watching the growth and development of our characters—and this is another facet where DS9 is different from all other incarnations of Trek. DS9 really did make an attempt to have the characters grow and mature over the course of the seven seasons. The obvious example of this is Doctor Bashir. In the first episode, he's almost kicked in his butt by Major Kira for insulting her home planet. Bashir is introduced to us as a very green, extremely naïve, and overly enthusiastic young man fresh from Starfleet Academy. Over the ensuing years, Bashir slowly matures into a capable, rational, confident man. Everything about him matures: he no longer chases after Dax, his best friend is O'Brien, and he's thoroughly respected and trusted by his peers. This type of progress is obvious in Bashir, but it's also evident in the rest of the characters as well, and it adds depth and richness to the Trek universe. I've been known to comment on character development in my TNG DVD reviews, but this is so much more than that. This is an honest and authentic attempt to make the characters as realistic and "human" as possible.
As an offshoot of this, there's something else that really struck me the second time around: the strong father-son bond between Benjamin and Jake Sisko. I have been very moved and impressed with the wonderful and touching relationship developed here. There seems to be genuine emotion when the two interact; there's an almost natural chemistry between the two, which probably isn't too far from the truth, considering Cirroc Lofton's age in the first season. The beauty of their relationship was magnificently showcased in the season four episode "The Visitor." But it didn't end there, and it continues to grow through this season as well.
And all of these wonderful characters are enmeshed in an intriguing story arc that has slowly expanded over the years. Taking a(nother) cue from Babylon 5, the Dominion is always lurking in the background. Slowly, the tension has mounted and it seems inevitable that a full-scale war will break out. But the clues as to how it will all happen and who will be involved are still a mystery. With such ambiguity in the story arc, DS9 compelled viewers to tune in on a weekly basis—not just to revisit their favorite "universe," not just to revisit old friends, but to see how it would all play out. Viewers were captivated and drawn into the series.
In yet another batch of DVDs from Paramount, there are no surprises left. After seven seasons of TNG and five seasons of DS9, you can recite the specs and features with your eyes closed because you know exactly what to expect. The full frame video is a carbon copy of years past, with adequate and average colors, definition, and detail. I have noticed a spot more shimmering in this batch than other years, but I attribute that more to pressing errors than any significant transfer errors. But lo and behold, contrary to what I just asserted, there are some surprises in this latest release. Much to my immense joy, two things are immensely better. The first are the special effects. On this release, I found the SFX shots to be sharper, more vibrant, and "realistic." While it would be nice to attribute this to the transfers, it's certainly more a result of a shift to CGI technology. The second surprise is the audio. From the first seconds of "Apocalypse Rising," I could hear a difference. It was unlike any of the past eleven releases, for the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix was closer to the definition of the technology: all five speakers were being utilized more effectively. You could hear more from around you, immersing you in the environment. I'm finally able to say that this is the mix I've been waiting two years for. Thank you.
The extras return to the formula and do not have any delightful surprises. In fact, aside from the saving grace of two featurettes on the fantastic episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," this group of bonus materials is practically dreadful. The full menu of extras are: "Trials and Tribble-ations"—Uniting Two Legends (16.5 minutes); "Trial and Tribble-ations"—An Historic Endeavour (16 minutes); Crew Dossier—Miles O'Brien (11 minutes); Inside DS9 with Michael Okuda (7 minutes); Michael Westmore's Aliens (7 minutes); a photo gallery; a preview of the Indiana Jones DVD set, and the usual "hidden" Section 31 Files. As I mentioned, the two "Tribble" featurettes are the best, with the "Historic" one being more technically focused and thus more enjoyable for me. The segment with Okuda is also interesting, but it's over far too soon.
Par for the course, the bonus materials really lack what the fans want. We continue to clamor and dream of just one commentary track, a text track, deleted scenes, gag reels, or a meaty feature on the series. Maybe next series we'll be so lucky.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
I have two minor-major quibbles I need to let loose. The first is the lack of consistency in the placement of the beginning of chapter two for each episode. Roughly seven times out of ten, when you hit the chapter skip to skip the opening titles, it works. You are placed at the correct spot. However, for some inconceivable reason, the other thirty percent of the time the beginning of chapter two is not at the end of the credits. It's just annoying to skip ahead then have to rewind. Couldn't they have just been consistent with chapter two? And this is not an isolated season five problem; it's been going on all along.
Next, I've always been extremely annoyed by the fact that no DS9 episode addresses the fact that Worf took the Defiant to battle the Borg, as shown in Star Trek First Contact. We know there had to be some conference, some discussion, and some decision to do this. Further, there had to be ramifications arising from the ship being pummeled during the conflict. But, to have only one fleeting reference (…".and recent Borg attacks…") during "In Purgatory's Shadow"? That's not good enough. What would have been so hard to expand the conversation? Why not bring some continuity between the two? An obvious and silly "oversight."
Tell our friends out there to stand down. Armageddon will have to wait for another day.
Though disc five of this set is a bit slow, it's a ton of fun to plow your way through every episode of this overlooked series. Great stories, great characters, great action, great drama…DS9 has it all. If you happen to have twenty free hours, or even 140 free hours, then sit down, cook up a whole lot of popcorn, and prepare to be entertained. Deep Space 9 is a show that absolutely deserves to be watched: it is immensely enjoyable, it demands your attention, and it will make you realize how dull the Trek universe has become since this show left the airwaves. I've just finished watching "A Call to Arms," and I simply cannot wait for the sixth season discs to arrive in the mail. That's how good this show is—you simply cannot wait for the next episode. You crave what's next; you want more.
If you have the money, go out and buy this series. It will not disappoint you at all. If you're lacking funds, then find a friend who's lucky enough to own the collection. Sit back, relax, and become involved with these people and their universe. You'll be richly rewarded for your time.
Though the extras are routine and border on dull, the series itself far outweighs any negatives one might find. I hereby find Star Trek: Deep Space 9 innocent of all charges.
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Scales of Justice
• "Trials and Tribble-ations" -- Uniting Two Legends
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