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Review: "Brag all you want! But don't get between me and DS9 Season 5!" - Plus, DVD Giveaway!

Posted: 12:01:57 on September 28 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: TrekWeb Features
Complete Fifth Season DVD Gift Set
7 discs, 26 episodes, 5 extras + 10 easter eggs
Retail: $99
Streets: October 9, 2003 (U.S.)

TrekWeb's Rating:

Purchase the set from any of the following merchants to help support TrekWeb:While it’s impossible to find a bad year of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE it’s probably possible to pick a best and, despite some spectacular storytelling in seasons six and seven, the title arguably belongs to season five. Unlike ST: TNG, which clearly showed signs of age by its fifth year, DS9 took off in startling new directions and by its end galvanized a hardcore group of NINE fans who would never look back. Plots became deeply involved as wars were fought, ended, and begun; characters transformed as unlikely romance flourished, genetic secrets were revealed, and powers were restored. Kirk and Spock guest starred, Robert Picardo stopped by, the crew got new uniforms, and even the Maquis got some comeuppance.

The year starts off well with “Apocalypse Rising,” wrapping up the ominous warning of season four’s “Broken Link” and giving us Sisko’s bellowing “brag all you want” line—probably one of the character’s best moments. Gritty war drama is the heart of “Nor the Battle to the Strong…” and even the infamous “Let He Who Is Without Sin…” tries to be about something.

The tribute episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” comes early in the season and it’s definitely one for the history books. They even got the original actor from the episode to appear 30 years later--Charlie Brill (‘Darvin’)--and Dax with a beehive and a miniskirt beats a catsuit any day. The effects shots of the Enterprise are just astounding and catching a glimpse of the original series with modern technology is breathtaking. The matching of classic footage is extremely well done, entirely convincing us that Sisko et al are occupying the same space as the classic actors. Celebrating “The Trouble With Tribbles” in such a fond manner with sets and costumes and visual effects that are completely top-notch, the self-congratulatory nostalgia is just the kind of thing to get you in a good mood and probably a great episode to show a friend who hasn’t been turned onto DS9 yet.

Season five also holds that singular hole in my own DS9 experience, that one episode I missed in 1996 and have since waited seven years to see for the first time. The fact that it centers on one of the show’s dynamic duos—Odo and Quark—makes it no surprise that “The Ascent” was worth the wait. This episode encapsulates all the great interplay between Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimerman that we only rarely glimpsed (like in season four’s “Crossfire,” for instance), the camaraderie between thief and constable making “Ascent” a perfect example of what set DS9 apart from other TREK series and why it inspired so much loyalty in its fans.

Things pick up plot-wise as Odo gets his powers back in “The Begotten,” the Maquis and ‘Mister Eddington’ get a reprise in “For the Uniform” and “Blaze of Glory,” Doctor Bashir turns out to be a test-tube baby, and the Dominion arc heats up in “In Purgatory’s Shadow”/”By Inferno’s Light” and the explosive final “Call to Arms.” The finale is probably one of the best TREK episodes of all time and also one of the most different. Character is central here and Marc Alaimo and Jeffrey Combs solidify themselves as some of the greatest villains in TREK’s history in this episode. The notion that the heroes would actually lose at the end of this one just blew our minds and the closing shot was unlike anything we’d ever seen before. It’s probably safe to say “Call to Arms” made for the longest summer since TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds.” Thank goodness we only have to wait a couple months for season six this time.

The Extras
The fifth season set’s five bonus featurettes follow the same pattern we’ve come to expect from these releases, blending some excellent presentations with a couple forgetful pieces. First off, two of the programs are devoted to “Tribble-ations,” providing an excellent behind-the-scenes record of the classic homage. Both UNITING TWO LEGENDS and AN HISTORIC ENDEAVOR are full of archival interview footage of the cast—Auberjonois, Farrell, Dorn, Brill—as well as plenty of old and new remarks from Behr, Moore, Echevarria, and even Berman. The episode is no doubt one of the STAR TREK’s very best and both documentaries do a superb job getting that point across. The only problem is they should’ve been joined together.

UNITING TWO LEGENDS mostly includes remarks on the writing process from the staff, as well as general statements from the actors. Behr relays his tale of coincidentally running into Charlie Brill in a pizza joint while the episode was being developed and segments with Moore and Echevarria retell their fan-like exuberance at writing it. HISTORIC ENDEAVOR takes a more technical approach, offering discussion from Herman Zimmerman on recreating the Enterprise sets with a faulty blueprint and visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel on building new NCC-1701 and Station K-7 models. The tributes to the tribute are fun and insightful but there’s no reason they couldn’t have been merged, freeing up space for a documentary on the overall development of the season, which is surprisingly absent in this package.

The remaining three programs follow the DS9 DVD mold, with the season five installment of the by now far less interesting MICHAEL WESTMORE’S ALIENS, a profile of Mike Okuda’s graphics for the show in INSIDE DS9, and the CREW DOSSIER on ‘Miles O’Brien’. The first briefly mentions transforming the regulars into Klingons for the premiere, but no behind-the-scenes footage is offered and no discussion of crafting the Klingon looks for each individual actor is present either. Westmore talks then in general terms about the look of the Jem’Hadar and extending Terry Farrell’s spots down her legs to round out this 7-minute affair.

INSIDE DS9 is a pretty standard mix of old and new interview footage with artist Mike Okuda about the graphics around the station, but this feels particularly worn and generic. There is no specific focus on the work in season five and by now we’ve heard and seen enough of the “set graphic in-jokes” that have gone on over the various series that this just seems like something we’ve seen on previous DVDs. The dossier on Colm Meaney’s character is impressive, but unfortunately lacks any new footage with the actor. Wolfe, Farrell, and Moore talk about the Chief’s “every man” qualities and Meaney cites “Hard Time” as a particularly challenging performance in his footage from the spring of 1999, when the series has just about wrapped.

Disappointingly, the set doesn’t include any focused presentation on the development of season five, probably one of the most creatively fruitful and certainly important of the series. Numerous story arcs began or took major turns here (Worf and Dax, the Klingon war, the Dominion War, Odo’s powers, etc.) and yet we don’t hear anything about it from Ira Behr, Ron Moore, Robert Wolfe or anybody else. Some reflection on the daring move to kick off a major war with the season finale and maroon the crew off the station was certainly in order—did the staff have a plan for season six, or did they just throw caution to the wind, craft a stupendous final episode, and then head off to hiatus with no idea how it was going to resolve itself? What were the challenges on taking the show’s level of serialization to the point of no return? While the season two, three, and four sets provided plenty of discussion on the creative development in those years, we’ll have to hope that season six’s set will delve more deeply into the numerous developments of season five.

That said, again the SECTION 31 HIDDEN FILES steal the show. Easily the best bonus material aside from the “Tribble-ations” programs, all ten files offer very different material and some of the only glimpses at other episodes in the year. Numbers 1 and 2 offer new footage of Rene Auberjonois on “The Begotten” and “The Ascent;” The third tackles writer Robert Wolfe’s decision to leave after “Call to Arms;” Number four presents new footage of Nana Visitor reflecting on giving birth during the season, and she offers some interesting remarks on “Ties of Blood and Water” in the fifth hidden file.

File 06 features Ron Moore talking about “Soldiers of the Empire” and 07 offers a special look at “Doctor Bashir, I Presume?” with remarks from Chase Masterson. Eight features new footage of Armin Shimerman talking about the new actress for ‘Moogie’ (Cecily Adams); Nine contains actor J. G. Hertzler’s thoughts on “Soldiers,” and the final tenth file provides a brand new interview with Jeffrey Combs about eventually landing the role of the villainous ‘Weyoun’.

Rounding it all up is a nice photo gallery and the usual sturdy packaging that makes browsing the seven discs both pleasant and quick.

Final Thoughts
How can anyone not like STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE? Really, season five begs the question. Even though the extra features aren’t five star quality (mainly owing to poor selection and organization of material), the 26-episodes filling these discs outweighs any shortcomings of a few documentaries you’ll probably only watch once or twice anyway. If you’re a DS9 fan, this is absolutely one set you must own. If you’ve never seen most of these episodes, you’d be a fool to miss out now. And if you can only own one season of DS9, you’d have a hard time finding any reason why season five shouldn’t be it—the first eight episodes of season six notwithstanding.

Season Five DVD Giveaway
TrekWeb is teaming up with Paramount Home Entertainment to give away the best of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE through the end of the year and beyond! We'll give away a FREE copy of the season five DVD set to one lucky winner every month for the next several months! All you have to do to qualify is be a subscriber to TrekWeb's News Nexus e-mail newsletter. In each month's issue we'll announce one lucky subscriber who will receive a FREE ST: DS9 season five DVD set (Region 1, but all visitors eligible).

Next month, we'll also be giving away five FREE copies of the upcoming STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER Collector's Edition DVD, so if you aren't a News Nexus subscriber yet, join now for free!
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They probably had secret forces.
By Hbasm ( ) at 13:15:57 on September 28 2003
URL: http://home3.inet.tele.dk/huas/st_enterprise/ENT-page1.htm | User Info
It has always been a mystery to me, how the show could change that much. The quality of season 5-7 was unbelieveably high, although few (if any?) important people behind the scenes were changed. How did they DO this!?

I can't help but to think, they got help from the prophets. From angels, as was symbolised in DS9 by the wormhole aliens. Normally, things don't work out THAT well for us humans. The rest of Star Trek, shows what to expect from mortals.

Possibly, something like the story in season 4 "The Muse" where Jake gets help writing his stories, occured in real life. I don't say it's a fact but I'm wondering when nobody tells me HOW THEY DID THIS.

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"Dax with a beehive and a miniskirt beats a catsuit any day."
By tomba1701 ( ) at 12:35:51 on September 28 2003
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Amen to that Brother Steve! Best episode of what was arguably the best season of DS9! Classic episodes that built up to the incredible Dominion War arc of Season 6 and Season 7.

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