DVD Review HTF Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Scott Kimball, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Complete Fourth Season


    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1995-1996

    Rated: NR

    Length: Over 1200 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Fullscreen

    Subtitles: English



    Release Date: August 5, 2003

    "Let's just say DS9 has more shades of gray..."

    Spoken by Captain Sisko in "Hippocratic Oath," these words not only serve, in the story, to contrast life on a space station vs. life on a starship - they also define Deep Space Nine, the series. It has more shades of gray than its predecessors. Gone is the sterile atmosphere of a starship. Gone are the simple good vs. bad relationships. In DS9, events unfold in an unclean universe where allegiances shift, and the lines between good and bad are no longer clear.

    Seasons one and two were like the first act of a seven-season-long play. We were introduced to the people, and to the world which they inhabit. By the end of season two, we were given hints at the conflicts which would define the series. Season three was the turning point. The Defiant made its first appearance, and we started to see threads emerge. At the end of season three, one of those threads was pulled, unravelling a story that took four seasons to unfold.

    Season four opens with a bang in "The Way of the Warrior," as the Klingons enter into conflict with the Cardassians, an act which will allow the Dominion to exploit the turbulence in the Alpha Quadrant and start on their path to domination. Commander Worf has joined Deep Space Nine as Strategic Operations Officer, in response to the new Klingon threat. The stage for the four season Dominion arc is set in this exciting double length episode.

    Not every episode is dedicated to the Dominion arc, and the producers expertly set the balance needed for a threaded series. In fact, episode two, "The Visitor," is one of the most personal stories ever told on DS9 - and it's one of my favorites. Jake is separated from his father in an accident and spends a lifetime trying to get him back. Avery Brooks and Cirroc Lofton turn in excellent character-building performances here... and guest star Tony Todd steals the show as the elder Jake Sisko, with a stirring performance of his own.

    Other favorite standalone episodes include "Little Green Men," an homage to great scifi of the past, as well as to Area 51 lore. "Our Man Bashir" has Julian playing a James Bond-like character... decidedly uncharacteristic of him. It's episodes like these that continue the character-building we saw in the first seasons, while other episodes, such as the fantastic two-part Homefront and Paradise Lost, are left to advance the Dominion War plot. As the season progresses we begin to truly realize the peril that the Alpha Quadrant faces, as we see hints of just how far the Dominion has infiltrated the quadrant... setting the stage for season five and beyond.

    The cinematography of this series is as different from the others as its themes. The expansive promenade and large OPS center allow for long tracking shots and deep focus photography. The lighting is mostly sourced lighting... scenes are kept dark, seemingly lit by visible lamps, accent lighting and control panels. This gives a dark overall impression, and allows the set to be selectively, boldly, and beautifully painted with light and color, rather than bathed in unsourced light. This series is beautifully shot from start to finish.


    Episode List:
    Disc 1:
    The Way of the Warrior
    The Visitor
    Hippocratic Oath

    Disc 2:
    Indiscretion
    Rejoined
    Starship Down
    Little Green Men

    Disc 3:
    The Sword of Kahless
    Our Man Bashir
    Homefront
    Paradise Lost

    Disc 4:
    Crossfire
    Return to Grace
    Sons of Mogh
    Bar Association

    Disc 5:
    Accession
    Rules of Engagement
    Hard Time
    Shattered Mirror

    Disc 6:
    The Muse
    For the Cause
    To the Death
    The Quickening

    Disc 7:
    Body Parts
    Broken Link
    SPECIAL FEATURES

    The Video:
    I've been pleased that the quality of the video in the DS9 sets has been better and more consistent than we saw with "Star Trek: The Next Generation." This holds true for season four as well. The discerning viewer will notice some occasional mild pixellation or pixel drift, especially in darker action scenes... but it's usually momentary and rarely distracting. Casual viewers most likely will not even notice. Colors are vibrant and saturated. The picture is not exactly razor sharp, but it is adequate and does not exhibit any noticeable edge enhancement. The program is presented in its original fullscreen aspect ratio.

    The audio:
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. As expected with a television production, the mix is non-agressive. The forward soundfield is expansive, with dialog anchored to the center channel. Music and sound effects shine in the left and right front channels. Rear channel effects are noticed in space battles and action scenes, and for general ambience, but they lack punch. The LFE is noticeable in the action scenes, as well as the ever-present rumble heard on the station or on a ship. Again, though, the low frequency effects are slightly underutilized. There's nothing remarkable about the surround mix, but it is at least above average for a television series of this genre, age, and production budget. One of the best demo episodes for audio is "Our Man Bashir." The score is excellent - reminiscent of James Bond films, and the sound effects in the opening sequence are well done.

    Both audio and video are comparable to the prior Deep Space Nine releases.

    Special Features:
    Charting New Territory (approximately 18 minutes).
    Executive producer Ira Steven Behr and writer / producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe talk about how they took the series in a new direction, and the difficulties they faced integrating the character Worf into the series. They and other cast and crew members also discuss the outstanding stand-alone episodes of the season, including the controversial "Rejoined," the sci-fi homage "Little Green Men," "Our Man Bashir," and the fan favorite "The Visitor." Also talked about was the season finale, "Broken Link." There are serious season four spoilers in this featurette. You will want to avoid watching this until after you have finished viewing season four.

    Crew Dossier: Worf (approximately 14:30 minutes).
    Michael Dorn discusses his character Worf in interviews from 1995, 1999 and 2002. Discussions of Worf's character development and relationships with crew are included. There are serious spoilers for seasons 4, 5, 6 and 7 in this featurette. If you are viewing this series for the first time, consider yourself warned.

    Michael Westmore's Aliens (approximately 11 minutes)
    Michael Westmore discusses creating alien makeup effects for Star Trek, and reveals how many of these props are recycled among the Star Trek series. Of particular interest is the discussion of the origins of the character Morn. No spoilers.

    Deep Space Nine Sketchbook (approximately 10 minutes)
    Illustrator John Eaves discusses the process of designing show elements through illustration in this 2002 interview.

    Photo Gallery
    Dozens of still images from the episodes of season four, and from behind the scenes.

    Indiana Jones Preview Trailer
    You'll be seeing this on several upcoming Paramount titles.

    "Section 31 Files"
    Those who are unfamiliar with the term "Section 31" will need to wait until the season 6 episode "Inquisition" to find out more. The "Section 31 Hidden Files" on the DS9 DVDs are simply little, easy to find "easter eggs." These short (2 - 5 minutes) featurettes bring us behind the scenes and inside the characters of DS9.

    There are ten "Hidden Files" on disc 7.
    Hidden File 01: Alexander Siddig discusses "The Quickening" in this 2002 interview
    Hidden File 02: Armin Shimerman talks about the making of "Little Green Men."
    Hidden File 03: Nana Visitor talks about playing out of character in "Our Man Bashir."
    Hidden File 04: Guest Susanna Thompson speaks of her role in "Rejoined."
    Hidden File 05: Director David Livingston talks about the landmark episode "The Visitor."
    Hidden File 06: Visual Effects Coordinator Gary Hutzel talks about raising the bar on TV visual effects.
    Hidden File 07: Writer Ronald D. Moore talks about pushing the envelope in "Sons of Mogh."
    Hidden File 08: Chase Masterson discusses her first day on the set as "Leeta" in this entertaining clip.
    Hidden File 09: Michael Dorn discusses the Klingon episodes, like "The Sword of Kahless."
    Hidden File 10: Robert O'Reilly (Gowron) talks about his experiences playing a Klingon

    ---

    Final Thoughts...

    My one complaint about this set is minor, but it bears mentioning. Once again, the authors of this DVD set have not consistently placed a chapter stop after the opening credits. Don't hit the chapter skip button, or you may find yourself missing several minutes of the program.

    Season 4 of Deep Space Nine is when the series really begins to soar, turning the screw on the Dominion plot, as well as turning in some of the best stand-alone episodes of the series. This boxed set is highly recommended for fans of the series. Those unfamiliar with this series, but who are familiar with other Star Trek series will want to take note: this is not Star Trek: Recycled. This is a bold, different Trek. Of course, if you've made it through season three, you knew that already.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Michael, they'd have to mix it again for season 4, as that's when the theme music changed to the more upbeat "thrum" version
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    I usually watch it for the first few eps and then stop personally
     
  6. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the great review, Scott! Nice to see another DS9 review since Ron's season one! As usual, I can't wait to get my hands on this one!

    Ric
     
  7. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    What kind of huge glitch are we talking about? I honestly never heard it before... and I just went and spot-checked some S3 episodes and still didn't hear anything. Is it a dropout? Distortion? I don't have S1 ready at hand to compare.

    Season four has been completely re-mixed - including that section of the title sequence. The french horns wait an extra few beats before playing... so maybe whatever it was has been fixed.

    Can anyone else chime in on this? Is it perhaps a player or decoder dependent problem?


    -Scott
     
  8. Doug Pyle

    Doug Pyle Second Unit

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  9. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    I can't wait for this set.

    To me, this series became Star Trek with this Season, and even began to surpass TNG in many aspects.

    Since this series left the air, sadly, Star Trek has never seemed to be able to completely capture the "magic" that was established by TOS and refined by TNG.

    So ... Let's revel and wallow in Seasons 4,5,6, and 7 of DS9! It may be the best Trek we'll get for quite some time to come!
     
  10. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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  11. Daniel Kikin

    Daniel Kikin Screenwriter

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  12. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    Two thumbs up from this DS9 fan here! Looking forward to the set! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  14. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    Man ... there are some GREAT eps in this season! Rejoined, Little Green Men, Visitor, Sword of Kahless...wow! Can hardly wait to add it to the collection!!! [​IMG]
     
  15. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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  16. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

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    I've said it before and I'll say it again....IMO, DS9 is some of the best television I've ever seen.

    That goes for writing, acting and production.

    I, for one, do not in any way think the first 3 seasons were at all weak.

    That said, I'm really looking forward to the remaining seasons. Thanks for whetting my appetite with this excellent review.

    Cheers
     
  17. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Well, they were weak compared to the last 4 [​IMG]
     
  18. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    After three seasons of DS9, I've discovered that my favorite character isn't one of the regulars, but our charming Cardassian friend GARAK. ("Join me, Doctor, enHANCE my evening.") [​IMG] I find THE WIRE totally fascinating. How is it we can learn so little about his history, yet so much about his character? I was thrilled when I saw Andrew Robinson on The X-Files as a cryptozoologist (specialist in extinct species).

    If the season containing THE SEARCH 1 & 2, SECOND SKIN, THE DEFIANT, IMPROBABLE CAUSE, THE DIE IS CAST, THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, and THE ADVERSARY is "weak", I can't wait to see what the show is like when it gets in high gear!!!
     
  19. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    I think most people would name their favorite character in the supporting cast. Given that there are, by the end 20-30 regular supporting characters is one of the massive strengths of the show, and Garak is definately the curry powder in the spice rack of DS9 [​IMG]
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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