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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season Three

review by Zach B.

 

 

 

Running Time: d Minutes

Starring: Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Siddig El Fadil, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman and Nana Visitor

 

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $139.95

Features: The Birth Of The Dominion And Beyond, Michael Westmore's Aliens, Time Travel Files - "Past Tense", Crew Dossier: Odo, Sailing Through The Stars, Hidden Files

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, Chapter Index (8 Chapters per episode), 7-Disc Set

Released: June 3rd, 2003

 

 

During the course of 2002, I was fortuante enough to review all seven seasons of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" on DVD. While I wasn't a major Trekkie then and I still am not now, I must say I do have more respect for its fans and the series itself, as well as more knowledge of what it's all about... and maybe even some more interest in the whole franchise. Still, "Star Trek" will always forever be part of popular culture and every different series that bears the "Star Trek" name will always have a loyal fanbase.

While I think "The Next Generation" remains one of the more popular series of the franchise (or even most popular), I'm hard pressed when it comes to what kind of following that "Deep Space Nine" has. You never really hear people talk about (of course, there's always the Internet though). Yes, it has its fans, but I believe that many are divided on the show itself. I don't think it's as popular because it is rather different in its nature. Whenever "Star Trek" is referenced in some other form of media, you really don't get any "Deep Space Nine" references. The show is memorable because it is "Star Trek," but just how memorable is it?

The concept of "Deep Space Nine" is that there is a lot of events and happenings... a board a space station. This is an interesting premise I think, but this very premise gives the show its greatest strength and its greatest flaw. So much talking and so little action does not exactly appeal to the masses. While I think it could build for some good background on various plot points and add to character development, as well as interaction, I found the first season of "Deep Space Nine" to be pretty slow moving. However, the third season is quite entertaining and much more intriguing.

So what happens in the third season? Odo learns about his past, there's a new ship called The U.S.S. Defiant, Sisko becomes captain at the end (finally) and there's a spiffy, very dramatic and well written two-parter involving time travel and identity entitled "Past Tense" (which many consider to be the best of this season and of the series in general). Though I'm sure most "Trek" fans were excited with the idea of Jonathan Frakes returning to the "Trek" franchise, reprising his role as Riker in "Defiant." Frakes also began branching into directing as he directed three episodes in this season. In short, the show's attitude and focus seemed to change in the third season. You felt like there was a lot going on and there was a lot at stake.

From the third seasons episodes I watched, I felt a lot more development in the characters and the overall tone and the storylines of the show weren't drab or as muddled, but mainly darker and more consistent. Darkness is something I find appealing, since it builds conflict and we can all resonate much more to it than we think. The humor also seemed to be a bit more dry and much more self-serving, which I really did enjoy. The show also didn't seem to be afraid to venture out into new territory as it built tension between characters and in many situations. It almost feels like the show's runners felt invincible and were willing to take quite a few risks, all of those which paid off. Everything here makes this season very enjoyable and quite intriguing. Oh, and bonus points for the Clint Howard appearance.

While I'm still not a Trekkie and haven't seen the future seasons of the show, from what I hear the third season was one of the best and from what I saw it seems the third season was quite integral to the show's storylines. The writing was certainly quite sharp (especially with its natural, strong dialogue), and there wasn't much of a build-up to be had with the characters and ideas of the show as explored in the first season and somewhat in the second. The stories here are pretty great and the characters are really starting to show full form here as they appear to be more stronger, realize their responsibilities and feel more developed and more real. The actors really tapped into that and played it out well as they all seem much more comfortable in their roles (as expected). Avery Brooks is much stronger in this season and doesn't act as stiff, while Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Nana Visitor, Rene Auberjonois (especially him) and Terry Farrell (among others) give noteworthy performances in the season and are even stronger in their acting chops an within character.

With that said, you get all 26 third season episodes in this set (spread across seven discs) and those include: "The Search (Part I)," "The Search (Part II)," "The House Of Quark," "Equilibrium," "Second Skin," "The Abanoned," "Civil Defense," "Meridian," "Defiant," "Fascination," "Past Tense (Part I)," "Past Tense (Part II)," "Life Support," "Heart Of Stone," "Destiny," "Prophet Motive," "Visionary," "Distant Voices," "Through The Looking Glass," "Improbable Cause," "The Die Is Cast," "The Explorers," "Family Business," "Shakaar," "Facets" and "The Adversary."

 

It seems like "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" is going to be following the same pattern as the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" boxed sets did. The transfers for the episodes are just going to get better and better. Here they're yet another improvement (is it because they're more recent?). The episodes are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame (just as they were on television). The episoes look quite attractive. Fleshtones are quite accurate and very impressive. Detail is really well done, while color saturation looks just right, is in check and doesn't go overboard. Artifacting isn't too bad, and there is some slight grain and noise to be had. The image still has depth and is more vibrant. No disappoints should be had here, and I think everyone will be amazed and quite pleased with what's given here.

 

You'll find more 5.1 Dolby Digital remixes (in English of course), and they're the best yet. This season had a bit more action going on, and the speakers benefit from that a great deal. There was also much more tension and thrilling moments in the show, and the sound builds that up nicely with the variety of sound effects and music cues through the speakers. The action sounds are pretty razor sharp and really don't sound that artifical, and do add an extra oomph to what's going an brings you in more. The sound is balanced quite well, while dialogue is still crisp and is not muffled. Subwoofer use is decent, fidelity is very good and the dynamics really do impress in this season. Everything sounds so bold, and lot gets across with the mixes. The ambiance is much more flavored in this season, which is truly a good thing. Included in the set, in case you need them, are English Dolby Surround tracks, English subtitles and English closed captions... so enjoy those if you need them.

 

All the extras are on the last disc of the set, that being disc seven. The Birth Of The Dominion And Beyond lasts eleven minutes and nineteen seconds. With episode clips, stills and interviews we get a whole "Trek" history on the Dominion, it's importance as a story arc and how it fits into the whole "Star Trek" universe. Executive producer Ira Steven Behr, writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe and executive producer Michael Pillar give their thoughts on the Dominion, what it led to, what happened and what it all served. Very thorough and well edited.

Michael Westmore's Aliens lasts a bit under thirteen minutes. Once again, we focus on designer Michael Westmore and how big of a job he had on the show. Here, Westmore talks about his work on the third season and how it challenged him creatively. This featurette shows his work on the season with episode clips, behind-the-scenes footage, stills and interviews. Once again, we get a good look at Westmore's work. This season dealt with a lot of make-up (such as making Quark's head bigger), but he did another fine job it seems. It's interesting, but it might not appeal to everyone.

Time Travel Files - "Past Tense" lasts exactly seven minutes. Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe talks about his inspirations for the the two-part episode, his thoughts and the challenges it faced (he's quite enthusiastic), executive producer Ira Steven Behr gives his own impressions and inspirations and then you have a interviews with Avery Brooks and Colm Meaney (some of the interviews are older) and talk about what the episode brought across in its themes. Complete with clips from the episodes, it's probably not as comprehensive as you'd expect and is more idealistic, but it gets the job done.

Crew Dossier: Odo gives the focus on the character Odo (who played a major part in this season). Rene Auberjonois and Ira Steven Behr are the only ones who speak here, but the focus is rightfully on Auberjonois. Giving stories and insight onto the creation of the character and the part Odo played in "Deep Space Nine" (more specificially in the third season), it's a nice discussion of the character and what important things that happened to him, not to mention Auberjonois' experiences of playing the character. Well done, and it lasts a bit under twelve minutes.

Sailing Through The Stars lasts five minutes and forty-two seconds. The focus of this featurette is on the episode "Explorers." With your usual episode clips (plus some from classic "Trek"), and stills, production designer Howard Zimmerman talks about his work on the episode as far as creating the sets and illustrator Jim Martin gives his input on what he designed and how it impacted the episode as far as the characters and story. It's not your typical look at the making of an episode, but rather, a deconstruction of one aspect of it. It stands out, and that's what makes it interesting. Still, the featurette's focus is pretty niche and probably won't appeal to casual fans of the series.

We also have a few Hidden Files (I suppose these are a "Deep Space Nine" DVD mainstay at this point). They're still easy to find (just click around the menus). These files are little segments that feature stills, clips and some interviews on a little particular something. They last up to a few minutes and are quite a few of them on this season, so have fun with those. They're really well done. You also get English subtitles on the extra features and you have your standard, sleek "Deep Space Nine" box that houses all seven discs and has the episode titles (with what discs they're on) with their original airdates (but no booklet). Oh well, I still prefer them over "The Next Generation" boxed sets.

 

Once again, Paramount is doing a great job with the release of these "Star Trek" boxed sets. You get very strong supplements that correspond well to this season, fantastic episode transfers and strong 5.1 mixes for the episodes. While I'm still not a die-hard "Trek" fan or anything, I have enjoyed this "Deep Space Nine" season the best so far and it seems the show is picking up its pace and getting even more intriguing. The set is worth getting if you love the show or anything "Trek," but did I really need to tell you that?