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HTF REVIEW: Star Trek Deep Space Nine - Season 7 (Highly Recommended)

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#1 of 78 Scott Kimball

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Posted November 25 2003 - 03:15 PM

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Star Trek Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season



Studio: Paramount

Year: 1998-99

Rated: NR

Length: 19 Hrs 55 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: DD 5.1 English

English Subtitles

Release Date: December 2, 2003





Warning: I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers for season 7 in this review. However, there are major spoilers for season 6 which may be inferred from this text. If you have not finished watching season 6, continue reading at your own risk.

It is with sadness that I completed viewing season 7 of Deep Space Nine. The characters in this show were painted with such detail that they feel like friends. I will miss them.

Each character has truly evolved over the years. I’ve never seen a show where that happened to this extent. Season 7 manages to continue the evolution of every character (and there are so many in DS9), sometimes to surprising degrees, while continuing to advance the war between the Dominion and the Federation Alliance - not to mention the war between the Prophets and the Pah-wraiths. Much planning went into the resolution of all of these threads, leading to a somewhat somber, yet satisfying conclusion to an exceptional television series.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in Deep Space Nine, Season 7:

The season opens with a multipart thread (Images in the Sand, Shadows and Symbols, Afterimage) that introduces us to Ezri Dax, and delivers a surprising revelation about Benjamin Sisko and his role as Emissary - it’s a real shocker for those who haven’t seen the series before.

The fourth episode, Take Me Out to the Holosuite, is an enjoyable romp in the holosuite for a game of baseball. This is one of a few episodes that provide some lighthearted entertainment in season 7. Sisko is challenged to a game of baseball by a rival (a Vulcan), and so he enlists his entire, inexperienced senior staff for the contest.

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Treachery, Faith and the Great River begins to turn our attentions back to the Dominion War, when Weyoun offers to surrender to Odo. But not all is as it seems. There is a great subplot where Nog’s Ferengi trading skills come into play to help O’Brien out of a jam.

Weyoun: Let’s just say I left Cardassia because my life was in danger.
Odo: From whom?
Weyoun: Everyone.
Odo: Aren’t you being a little paranoid?
Weyoun: Of course I’m paranoid -- everyone’s trying to kill me.


Once More Unto the Breach is one of the best Klingon episodes of the series. Worf attempts to restore honor to Kor by helping him get assigned to battle duty, where he can die with honor in battle. Martok resists the plan.

The Siege of AR-558 finds Sisko, Bashir, Quark, Ezri and Nog stuck in a ferocious battle - one with serious consequences for Nog, who sustains a serious injury.

Covenant turns up the heat on the Prophet vs Pah-wraith plot, as Kira is kidnapped by the Covenant and confronts an old adversary.

Field of Fire finds Ezri summoning former host Joran for help in solving a series of murders on DS9.

In Chimera, Odo finds another lost Changeling.

Badda-Bing Badda-Bang is an uproarious story set at Vic’s, in the holosuite. It seems that the Vic holo-program was written in such a way as to “shake things up” on occasion. Vic has been ousted from his casino by mobsters, and it’s up to the DS9 crew, in Ocean’s Eleven fashion, to set things straight by robbing the casino and framing the mobster. I usually don’t care a lot for holodeck / holosuite stories, but the Vic Fontaine stories (particularly this one) are a joy.

Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges: Section 31 returns in this intriguing episode about political assassination. It isn’t the last we’ll hear from Section 31.

Another thread begins with Penumbra and runs through several episodes: Worf is missing in action, and Ezri takes it upon herself to find him. This thread resolves issues between Ezri and Worf, while making Ezri aware of her affections for another crew member. Penumbra is also the start of the rally toward the end of the series, in what is essentially a ten part wrap-up of the war, and the conflict between the Prophets and the Pah-wraiths.

There is so much that goes on in season 7, it is difficult to digest it all. The show takes daring strides that we’ve never seen in Star Trek before - and it doesn’t wait long before introducing these concepts, either(see Sisko’s life-changing revelation early in the season).

It all boils down to a near perfect season... almost every episode is packed with information relevant to a character’s evolution, the resolution of the series, or both. There really isn’t a bad episode in the bunch, and several episodes could go up against the best from previous seasons.

Some have been critical of the finale, but I found it fitting. Each character’s hanging threads are dealt with. It’s a somewhat somber end, and not everything is tied up in a nice little bow... but since when, in life, is everything tied in a nice little bow?

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The Video
If I had to temper my enthusiasm at all for the Star Trek series on DVD, it would be because of the video quality. In my reviews of previous sets, I’ve compared each set against prior incarnations of Trek on DVD. Since most people interested in buying season “X” of a series on DVD have already seen the season prior to it on DVD, it seems logical. While Season 7 fares well in comparison to prior seasons, the franchise on DVD is somewhat of a disappointment, overall. All seasons have shown some softness, possibly due to some high frequency filtration to aid in compression. Grain and shadow detail have also been concerns on every release. The Next Generation sets also suffered from inconsistent color fidelity, but that hasn’t really been a problem with DS9.

So... how is THIS season of Deep Space Nine? Pretty much like the rest. For every bright, sharp image, there is another scene in the same episode that is soft or otherwise lacking detail. For all its faults, the show looks better than I’ve ever seen in a broadcast. DVD is capable of, and demands better, however. That’s what it boils down to... it doesn’t look bad (in fact, it’s pretty good), but we all know it could look better.

The Audio
The audio, too, is comparable to earlier seasons. Mixed in Dolby Digital 5.1, the program delivers a decent surround experience for a show of its age. The dialog is consistently clear. Music (especially in the Vic Fontaine sequences) sounds quite nice, filling the front soundstage with excellent frequency response. The rears are used subtly, as is the LFE.

Special Features

Ending an Era (15:22)
Rick Berman, Ira Steven Behr, Ronald D. Moore, Peter Lauritson, Gary Hutzel, Denise Okuda, Michael Okuda, Dan Curry, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor, and Colm Meaney discuss the ending of the “seven year canvas” that was Deep Space Nine. The process of unwinding the intricate tapestries that formed since the beginning of the series took two years, with great care that all the threads would be addressed, even if some ambiguities would remain. Interviews are from 1999 to 2002.

Crew Dossier: Benjamin Sisko (13:03)
Avery Brooks talks about his reasons for pursuing and accepting the role of Benjamin Sisko. The multifaceted role of military authority, spiritual leader and single father was a first for Star Trek. Brooks reveals that he thought seriously of leaving fairly early on in the series, but stayed to prove the point of commitment to his children. Ultimately, Brooks is proud of the work and association with the series, and happily took out of it a personal relationship with Cirroc Lofton. Ira Steven Behr and Penny Johnson contribute comments.

Crew Dossier: Jake Sisko (10:09)
Cirroc Lofton, interviewed early in the series and again in 1996 and 1999, talks about his character and his experiences “growing up” on DS9, both on the set and off. With comments from Ira Steven Behr, Terry Farrell, Aron Eisenberg, and Avery Brooks.

The Last Goodbyes (14:13)
Alexander Siddig, René Auberjonois, Nana Visitor, Ronald D. Moore, Chase Masterson and Ira Steven Behr talk about the last scene shot for the series, at Vic’s place (with behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot). Footage and interviews from other cast and crew at the wrap party follows.

Photo Gallery
Stills from some of the scenes in season seven, along with candid shots on the set make up this click-through gallery.

Indiana Jones Trailer

Section 31 Files
01: Marc Alaimo on his character “Gul Dukat”
02: Jeffery Combs on the six(!) characters he played on DS9 (not including clones)
03: Robert O’Reilly on his character “Gowron”
04: Louise Fletcher on her character “Kai Winn”
05: Penny Johnson on her character “Kasidy Yates”
06: Max Grodenchik on the role of “Rom”
07: J.G. Hertzler on “Martok,” Shakespeare, playing a Vulcan and being blown up.
08: Aron Eisenberg on “Nog”
09: Ira Steven Behr talks about bringing James Darren into the show as “Vic.”


Final Thoughts

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is one of my favorite television series - ever. The seventh and final season really holds your interest with compelling plot and character developments throughout. My enthusiasm for this (and other Trek on DVD) is only slightly tempered by video quality that, while acceptable, really doesn’t stand out as a shining example of what TV shows can look like on DVD.

Even though Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a somewhat narrow appeal (its fan base is small but very vocal), I heartily recommend this show to the uninitiated. Try out season 1. Have patience through season 2. By the time the show finds its legs in season three, you’ll be hooked for sure. Season 7 is a commendable end to an outstanding series.

Highly Recommended.

#2 of 78 Bill>Moore

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Posted November 25 2003 - 04:00 PM

Thanks for the review. I'm one of the small, but vocal fans. Posted Image

I've only seen some of the last season eps when they were originally aired. Syndication of DS9 has always been lousy where I've lived. It will be great to finish this series with the set. I'm still watching season 5 right now, but I should be caught up in time for Voyager.

#3 of 78 ZackR

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Posted November 25 2003 - 05:28 PM

Can't wait for this. Picking up Season 6 tomorrow and eagerly anticipating Season 7. I was able to watch the first 2 years when it aired, but missed it after that when the local affiliate changed the airtime. I am about to start a DS9 marathon and watch the whole show.

Awesome Review!! Thanks!!
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#4 of 78 Bill Williams

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Posted November 26 2003 - 12:09 AM

Excellent review, Scott! I always thought that once Worf came on board the station at the start of Season 4, things just kicked into high gear. Everything from that point kept accelerating higher and faster than before, and DS9 just got more and more intense. If they were going to go out on a high note, this is certainly it.

Now if I could just get my hands on Seasons 4-7 at an affordable price, or if someone could pleeeeeeeease be gracious to get them for me for Christmas or for wedding gifts Posted Image

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#5 of 78 JonZ

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Posted November 26 2003 - 12:29 AM

I always loved DS9.I watched it when it first started and followed it through all 7 seasons - but season 7 was a real disappointment to me.

Ill probally pick this up for the sake of completeness.

#6 of 78 Gary Seven

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Posted November 26 2003 - 02:30 AM

Quote:
Try out season 1. Have patience through season 2. By the time the show finds its legs in season three, you’ll be hooked for sure.


Unfortunately, a rather expensive trial to recommend. I tried season one when it was originally on and could not get into it, as much as I wanted to. I watched it from time to time and some episodes were good but I guess I could never accept Avery Brooks as a captain, much less the lead of a show. I find his acting wooden and range limited (which is why you've probably seen the last of him on TV). He was better as Hawk.

When the sets hit the bargain bin, I'll probably check it out again.

#7 of 78 Michael Reuben

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Posted November 26 2003 - 02:47 AM

Quote:
I could never accept Avery Brooks as a captain

That's appropriate, since he wasn't a captain during the first season. The whole point of the character was to start the show with someone at the center who was not the traditional strong leader. Of course, that very quickly changed, and Brooks' performance evolved with the character.

Quote:
I find his acting wooden and range limited

If you ever get the chance, see him on stage. Your view may change. The cast of DS9 had a lot of theater veterans; Terry Farrell talks about this on the season 1 DVD supplements. They brought a kind of heightened theatricality to the performances that, IMO, was the perfect complement to the rubber masks and stylized sets. It's one of the things that I found most effective about DS9.

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#8 of 78 Kevin Crays

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Posted November 26 2003 - 04:04 AM

FYI, Bestbuy currently has all kinds of things on sale this week for 20% off.

In the case of DS9, here are their prices:

Season 1 79.99
Season 2 79.99
Season 3 (unknown/not listed on website)
Season 4 87.99
Season 5 87.99
Season 6 87.99
Season 7 99.99 (*)


(*) Best buy was(is?) distributing a dvd called "Coming Attractions." Inside that set was a bunch of coupons. There is a 10% coupon valid next week (11/30-12/6) for 10% off.

That drops season 7 down to 89.99....not the cheapest after tax, but you will get an extra dvd with 1 or 2 features.

Kevin

#9 of 78 Joseph Bolus

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Posted November 26 2003 - 06:02 AM

Thanks for the review!

ST: DS9 ended up being my favorite "post-TOS" Star Trek series.

It was really strange, too, since I never really "got into" the series originally until Worf came aboard in Season 4.

Looking back on it now, it's evident that the show was really a great anomaly: On the one hand, many of the individual episodes and story arcs were just too good for TV; but on the other hand, on what other kind of medium could you possibly have presented what is essentially a 7 year linear story line?

The answer, of course, is DVD!! This series was built for DVD. As much I enjoyed the series in its initial run and in syndication on TV, I have enjoyed it immensely more on the shiny disc.

I'm really looking forward to next Tuesday when I obtain my Season 7 box. But it'll be a bittersweet moment for me, knowing that it's the last.
Joseph
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#10 of 78 Matt Pasant

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Posted November 26 2003 - 07:24 AM

When is season 8 coming!!! I am not ready for DS9 to end!

I am 100% new to DS9 through DVD... and it has become my favorite Trek series easily. It will be hard not to sit down at night before bed and not have a new DS9 episode to watch when season 7 is completed.

This series was built for DVD. As much I enjoyed the series in its initial run and in syndication on TV, I have enjoyed it immensely more on the shiny disc.

I'm really looking forward to next Tuesday when I obtain my Season 7 box. But it'll be a bittersweet moment for me, knowing that it's the last.


I agree with these statements 100%. In fact, I am somewhat glad I did not watch the series during its initial run because waiting a week, and between seasons, months would have been very difficult.

#11 of 78 Joseph J.D

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Posted November 26 2003 - 12:32 PM

I look forward to Season 7....it's a shame that it is the final one though. However, it's nice to know that like TNG, DS9 left the air on a high. Can't wait for this set.Posted Image
Recently watched- Maverick(1994), After Earth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo(2009), The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug 3D, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey EE 3D, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

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#12 of 78 John_Berger

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Posted November 26 2003 - 02:00 PM

Quote:
When is season 8 coming!!!
Uh, okay. Posted Image

This series is the best Star Trek series in my opinion. The 6th and 7th seasons were so unbelievably solid that it puts all of the other series to shame. I, too, can't wait for this to arrive!

#13 of 78 Ric Easton

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Posted November 26 2003 - 02:25 PM

And so it ends... The last of great Trek to come to DVD. Bittersweet indeed! Great review, Scott

Ric

#14 of 78 Travis Hedger

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Posted November 26 2003 - 02:48 PM

Geez, and I only have ST:TNG Season 1, I am sooo far behind!
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#15 of 78 MarkBourne

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Posted November 27 2003 - 02:43 AM

This series is the best Star Trek series in my opinion. The 6th and 7th seasons were so unbelievably solid that it puts all of the other series to shame.

Absolutely. The best Trek and some of the best TV, period, you can find.

Thanks for the review, Scott -- and double thanks for reliably listing all of the "Section 31 files" by number and topic. The fact that those extras come with no conventional menu is my only complaint with the DS9 sets. In the write-ups for DVD Journal I've made something of a running gag out of complaining about the otherwise good extras being Easter Egg'd (for the TNG sets my onrunning gripe pointed to the gatefold packaging that keeps unfolding like winter in Buffalo), and by the time I get to the "Section 31 files" I'm so frustrated I could (as Scotty would say) chew neutronium.

Over the holidays I'm going to print little menu sheets devoted solely to the Section 31 Files, and I'll store them within each boxed set. Your lists will make that much easier, so thankya.



#16 of 78 Michael Alex

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Posted November 27 2003 - 04:18 AM

I'd like to echo some of the sentiments expressed above regarding DS9 on DVD. These discs were (are) my first encounter with the series and the experience has been absolutely wonderful. I'm currently finishing the excellent season 5. I just viewed "Blaze of Glory" yesterday and will likely watch it a second time; in fact there have been so many intriguing stories that I'm constantly inclined to repeat watching many of these, hence season 7 is about to ship and I haven't even managed to start 6 yet.

Question for DS9 veterans:
I've read on more than one occasion that the final 2 years of the series, while generally decent, failed to live up to the standards set up by the previous series. Is there any truth to it? I hope not, though I remain confident I'll enjoy them just as well.
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#17 of 78 MarkBourne

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Posted November 27 2003 - 05:29 AM

I've read on more than one occasion that the final 2 years of the series, while generally decent, failed to live up to the standards set up by the previous series. Is there any truth to it? I hope not, though I remain confident I'll enjoy them just as well.

For my money, there is no truth to that notion, and it's one that has puzzled me. Seasons 6 and 7 are every bit as strong, overall, as the build-up to them. The space battle scenes alone are Trekfan porn. Posted Image

That said, off the cuff I can list three things that might cause some fans to undervalue the final two seasons (only minor spoilers ahead, though I'll spoiler-tag them anyway):


1. Vic Fontaine -- Season 6 introduces this holographic lounge singer who inhabits a perpetually-running holosuite 1962 Las Vagas hotel bar. He is producer Ira Behr's affectionate nod to the Rat Pack. Some fans were/are put off by Vic's inherent anachronistic aspects, which support the evidence that in the Star Trek universe there's been no popular culture created since the days of Shakespeare, Mozart, and mid-20th century America. However, (IMO) as a character Vic is more likable and engaging than VOYAGER's Doctor and a better counselor than TNG's Troi. Plus, the actor, James Darren, is the real deal, with an uncanny Sinatra-like voice and presence. For those of us who dig Sinatra, Vic is a bonus treat in an already excellent series (the fact that the series' finale sports a musical score peppered with Sinatra riffs tickles me no end). He wasn't overused, he proved to be a fun catalyst for furthering the Odo/Kira romance, and he led to one of the very best Tales From The Holodeck eps, Season 7's "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang." In other words, for Trek fans, Vic is the very definition of "YMMV".


2. We lose a major character in the last ep of Season 6 (the actor wanted out), and that character's replacement in Season 7 can't quite fill the void. The new actor does a fine job in an unenviable situation, but the new character is an awkward shake-up that many fans might consider, with some reason, a pebble in Season 7's shoe.


3. The two-hour series finale, "What You Leave Behind," doesn't pack the sci-fi/oh-wow punch of TNG's "All Good Things." Given the huge dramatic crescendo to it, some may feel that it's a bit anticlimactic. Now, as a send-off I like it much more than "All Good Things" -- it's more poignant and less "skiffy" -- and I believe that it closes out the series on all the right notes. Still, some fans aren't crazy about what becomes of Sisko at the very end -- a turn that (IMO) is a perfect extension of that character's arc especially after some big revelations early in Season 7. In the Season 7 boxed set extras, writer Ronald Moore says that if they'd had five more episodes they could have tied up more loose ends more thoroughly, but "What You Leave Behind" works just fine. It's again a YMMV issue, and some fans' "mileage" comes up short on it.

Off the cuff.





#18 of 78 PhilipG

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Posted November 27 2003 - 06:53 PM

Quote:
I've read on more than one occasion that the final 2 years of the series, while generally decent, failed to live up to the standards set up by the previous series. Is there any truth to it? I hope not, though I remain confident I'll enjoy them just as well.

I agree with that regarding season 6, and possibly the first half of season 7. The latter half of season 7 is DS9 at its best, and the finale is easily one of the best episodes of Trek. However, TNG had a much more pronounced drop in quality from its season 4-5 glory days IMHO.

#19 of 78 Sven Lorenz

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Posted November 27 2003 - 08:24 PM

I agree - TNG would have been a much better show had it ended after season five.
And started with season three.
And left out some episodes in between.
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I don't get the criticism leveled against "What you leave behind" - to me that's the best final episode of any show ever.

Anyone who hadn't figured out what would happen to Sisko in the end wasn't paying enough attention to the show - I said that this was the way the show was going to end after "Sacrifice of Angels".

The fact that the show didn't tie up all loose ends in the end was one of the things that made DS9 so unique.

#20 of 78 Joseph Bolus

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Posted November 27 2003 - 08:51 PM

*** Tagged Spoilers in this Post ***

For me, Seasons 6 and 7 seemed just as strong as the earlier Seasons.

And I thought "What you leave Behind" (the final episode) was close to being perfect.

Although, it would be nice to know if Sisko ever returned.


It should be pointed out here that I originally viewed this series from Season 4 on, and then went back and caught Seasons 1-3 in syndication; so perhaps my viewpoint is a little skewed.

And the way the Dax character was setup, I actually thought that they had always intended from day one to change hosts at some point during the run of the show.


There's one thing that I don't think any Trek fan could argue: ST: DS9 maintained a very high level of quality, overall, from Seasons 1 through 7; and no other Star Trek series to date has come close to being able to equal this accomplishment.
Joseph
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