STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
Complete Fourth Season DVD Gift Set
7 discs, 26 episodes, 4 extras + 10 easter eggs
Streets: August 4, 2003 (U.S.)
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Written by Steve Krutzler
DEEP SPACE NINE needed no help, but despite three seasons of some of the best storytelling in STAR TREK’s history, the show was still having trouble connecting with a broader audience. To alleviate this apparent deficiency, Rick Berman hatched the idea of tying in a burgeoning Klingon subplot into a reason to bring back a beloved character that might, in turn, bring back some wayward NEXT GENERATION fans to give the first spin-off a second chance. Michael Dorn’s ‘Worf’ began his four-year tour of duty on the series in “The Way of the Warrior,” a groundbreaking two hour event that, although initially questionable, eventually provided a compelling addition to the DS9 mythology.
After watching the first three seasons on DVD, it seems as though bringing Worf in was just unnecessary, at least from a creative standpoint. DS9 already had eight regulars and a slate of recurring characters–from Marc Alaimo’s ‘Dukat’ to Andrew Robinson ‘s ‘Garak’ and many more–making the immediate DS9 family much larger, and far more diverse, than on any previous TREK. Fortunately, Worf’s presence (and the Klingon diversion it sparks) ends up being quite an asset to the series, allowing for many more well-written Klingon episodes and more character development for Dorn’s alter ego than he ever got during his TNG stint. Who can forget the excellent twists in “Sons of Mogh,” a story not possible without Worf’s presence; or ‘Kor’s return in “The Sword of Kahless,” far less likely if not for the need to find stories for Worf. Switching the character to command from security also changed his dynamic a bit and the eventual romance with Terry Farrell’s sage ‘Dax’ added a lot more meat to the husky Klingon’s bones, not to mention finally giving Jadzia a credible suitor.
“The Way of the Warrior” is notable for several reasons. First, it introduces J. G. Hertzler as ‘Martok’, a character who would become integral in later seasons. The ongoing storyline with the Dominion becomes enriched with the notion of internal strife among the Alpha Quadrant powers; and it successfully followed up on season three’s “The Die is Cast” by ushering in a new era of visual effects for STAR TREK. Never before had huge fleets of ships been cast into battle and the conflagration witnessed here would only be the beginning of a feature that became one of DEEP SPACE NINE’s many unique trademarks among its TREK counterparts.
Sitting next door is a far more intimate entry, “The Visitor.” Coming right after “Warrior,” it’s probably one of the best STAR TREK episodes of all time, right up there with “The City on the Edge of Forever,” “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Best of Both Worlds.” Where the premiere makes your heart pound with excitement, “Visitor” is a quiet and emotional tale that makes your heart palpitate. Put succinctly, if this episode doesn’t make you cry, then you need a blood test–you might be a Changeling (or just a Klingon, with no tear ducts). The performances of Tony Todd, Cirroc Lofton, and Avery Brooks are enough to bring a deluge of tears to your eyes and the story’s twist makes it undeniably one of the most compelling science fiction stories of our time–and surprisingly enough, most of it just takes place in a house in Louisiana.
“Rejoined” is another episode of monumental significance, addressing the taboo of homosexuality in probably one of the most tasteful pieces to ever contain two beautiful women locking lips. “Little Green Men” is an unforgettable foray into self-reflexive indulgence while the James Bond homage “Our Man Bashir” indulges equally as much with an entirely different oeuvre of the popular imagination. “Homefront” and “Paradise Lost” continue DS9's love of what UPN would later dub the “telefilm” phenomenon, while “Shattered Mirror” continues the yearly parade of mirror universe stories. “The Quickening” offers a wonderful character piece for ‘Julian Bashir’ and it’s one medical drama that takes anything but the predictable route. Season four ends with a provocative metamorphosis for Odo in “Broken Link,” just when you thought the character had grown by leaps and bounds in the four previous years. The final hook proves yet again that it doesn’t take a cliffhanger to leave you breathless.
The Packaging and Menus
After blathering on about how ST:DS9 has set a new standard in packaging for STAR TREK DVDs, I was as disappointed as you will be to find that although my fourth season package is in wonderful shape, the right-side flap of my season three plastic case broke off the other day. The constant use that a series as good as DS9 inevitably faces in your DVD player means you’d better be careful with those flaps, which may not be as sturdy as we thought. Other than that, everything looks fine but I’m still annoyed by the lack of episode preview reels in the DVD menus, making it difficult to remember exactly what an episode is about without just going ahead and viewing it.
There’s very little to surprise you this fourth time up to the plate. There’s one less original documentary than on season three, but all are perfectly adequate and again the SECTION 31 HIDDEN FILES provide some of the best bonus material around. CHARTING NEW TERRITORY: DEEP SPACE NINE SEASON FOUR is largely devoted to Ira Steven Behr explaining the arrival of Worf. Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Ronald D. Moore join in as well, in addition to some archival footage of Michael Dorn. Avery Brooks talks in new interview footage about his attempt to direct “Rejoined” with utmost dignity for the subject material and the writers talk about the genesis of “Little Green Men” and a few of the season’s other gems.
CREW DOSSIER: WORF is surprisingly full of interviews with Michael Dorn, two archival from when he joined the show and when it ended in 1999, and some new from 2002. Dorn is particularly enjoyable in his commentary about adding Worf to the mix and comparing himself to being the “Heather Locklear of STAR TREK” (having two shows). WESTMORE’S ALIENS has probably seen its day and could’ve been lumped together with DEEP SPACE NINE SKETCHBOOK. There’s not much of interest here and John Eaves’ commentary in the latter feature contains a few interesting concept sketches for the station’s new armaments but little to really sink your teeth into.
Yet again the S31 hidden files are really the best featurettes of the set. Ten of them, devoted mainly to sizeable chunks about specific episodes with new interview footage, cover a range of topics, from Ron Moore on “Songs of Mogh” to Chase Masterson on the role of ‘Leeta’ to Gary Hutzel of creating the battle for “Warrior” to a new interview with Alexander Siddig about “The Quickening.” There is also a very nice segment with director David Livingston about “The Visitor” and some new footage with Susanna Thompson about playing Dax’s long-lost lover in “Rejoined.” This one also has a good amount of footage from the production of the episode, a definite treat.
The DEEP SPACE NINE sets continue to impress with interviews of the main writers behind the scenes like Behr, Moore, and Wolfe, and new cast remarks looking back on the series that has now been off the air for four years. The extras aren’t mind boggling but the show as a whole is just so superb, with excellent and intriguing characters and performers, and types of stories you just can’t get on any other STAR TREK, making season four another must-have for fans of the show and a definite recommend for newcomers who missed out on DS9 the first time around.