Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

LaserDisc - US Release
At the start of Deep Space Nine's fourth season, Paramount began to issue the episodes of Star Trek's third series on LaserDisc. All episodes feature Closed Captions and Digital Audio and CX encoding. No additional features were offered. Paramount continued to issue discs in groups of two, providing four episodes at a time. Release if these discs was inconsistent and Paramount only released a total of 30 volumes (60 episodes) before production if Star Trek LaserDiscs was terminated by Pioneer in October 1999.

Episode grouping continued with "Production Order", however this did not create any serious continuity issues with Deep Space Nine as it had with The Next Generation. The jacket style changed from season one to season two and the season two jacket style continued into for the seven discs issued in Season three. Neither style was very good in my opinion.

LaserDisc - Japanese Release
CIC Video (the Japanese releasing studio for Paramount titles) continued the release formula started with The Next Generation and issued episodes of Deep Space Nine in ½ season box sets - containing either six or seven discs per box. The packaging style remained consistent throughout, a deluxe slip case with each disc in a custom printed sleeve. For this series, they did make an artwork change and each disc artwork is completely unique to the two episodes issued on that particular disc, with a common template on the back cover. Prices for each set were consistent with those from previous sets, between ¥38,000 and ¥60,000 per set.

Deep Space Nine in Japan also fell victim to the decline of LaserDisc. While clearly the least popular of the four series, CIC Video and Pioneer terminated production of DS9 sets in October 1999 (oddly the same month as the US versions). In that time however, CIC was able to issue a full five seasons (ten box sets) of the series, up through episode 124 "A Call to Arms".

Each episode is complete and unedited in this series, offering Bilingual languages - English Stereo on the Digital Audio tracks and dubbed Japanese Stereo on the Analog tracks. The episodes are also Closed Captioned and offer LaserDisc-Graphics encoding. There are no trailers included on any discs and the only bonus offered in the ten sets was found in Box one, which offered a 50 minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of Deep Space Nine.

DVD
In February 2003, Paramount began issuing Deep Space Nine on DVD. Keeping in the tradition of what was done with The Next Generation, each season is released in a box set, with 7 DVDs in each box. (Season 1 has only 6 DVDs.) The episodes have been digitally remastered and includes a new 5.1 channel audio soundtrack. There are new supplemental features included on the last disc in each set, including documentaries and interviews.

Paramount maintained the release pattern with the first four seasons spread out over 6 months and then releasing the remaining three seasons in October, November and December. In keeping with the pattern also set by The Next Generation, Paramount continued to issue episodes in "broadcast order".

These same box set collections are being released in other markets as well, including Region 2 Europe (PAL) Region 2 Japan (NTSC). Packaging is relatively the same for these import sets, with some minor variations.

Season One
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine made its debut in January 1993, in the middle of Star Trek: The Next Generation's sixth season, two questions were being asked: Firstly, could two Star Trek series actually co-exist, and secondly, would the third venture have anything to offer? The challenge to co-creators Rick Berman and Michael Piller was to remain true to Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of the future while introducing a degree of tension and conflict to make DS9 a grittier show. From the outset, DS9 sought to distinguish itself from its older sibling - whereas Capt. Jean-Luc Picard assumed command of the impressive U.S.S. Enterprise-D, the pristine flagship of the Federation, Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko would inherit a dark and sinister-looking station, in utter shambles, where nothing worked properly. Where Picard assembled an elite crew of unquestionable loyalty, Sisko would be saddled with a collection of Federation and non-Federation personnel - more than one of them with a hidden agenda - set in an atmosphere of animosity. The Bajoran-Cardassian conflict would be a main component of the series, and ongoing tension between characters would be the key element for that, from the very start, would set DS9 apart from its illustrious predecessor.

Season Two
With Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's second season barely under way, the news that Star Trek fans had been fearing for more than a year finally broke: Star Trek: The Next Generation's seventh season would be its last. Despite the attention that immediately shifted back to its older sibling, Deep Space Nine managed to be one of the top-rated shows in syndication, with a production budget reported to be $1.5 million per episode. Story lines rife with political intrigue and turmoil would place its evolving characters in increasingly well-written and complex plots, and hone the defining characteristics of its sophomore season. On Bajor, where church and state are one and the same, a conspiracy unfolds as spiritual leaders maneuver to become the next Kai. Meanwhile, the Federation also suffers from a discord as the Maquis, a terrorist group of Federation civilians and renegade Starfleet officers, threaten the uneasy peace with the Cardassian Union by launching attacks against the former oppressor of Bajor. In what has become the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine trademark style, life is not black and white, but shades of gray. The lines between hero and villain become increasingly blurred, compromises are made and unscrupulous foes live to fight another day.

Season Three
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's third season brought significant changes to Avery Brook's character. Sisko would be made over with an authoritative beard and mustache toward the end of the season (a look which would prevail throughout the show's fourth season), and he'd develop a new hobby, Bajoran antiquities (reminiscent of Patrick Stewart's interest in archeology in Star Trek: The Next Generation). It would also be a season of closure. Sisko would have a chance to lay to rest his lingering grief over the death of his wife, Jennifer. Major Kira would purge herself of the despair left after the death of her beloved Bajoran, Vedek Bareil, and Jadzia Dax would finally understand why Curzon had thrown her out of the Trill Initiate program. The bonds of family would strengthen in many heart-warming episodes, and it would be a year of discovery, with Odo finally getting in touch with his own race. Yet, danger would rear before them as well. Furnished with a new Valiant-class starship, the U.S.S. Defiant, the station crew - with the DS9 actors carrying the Star Trek mantle alone for the first time since ST:TNG signed off in May 1994 - would prevent Romulan aggression against the Dominion, only to fall prey to the Dominion itself.

Season Four
Season four had an explosive start as the Klingons ended their alliance with the Federation and resume their warrior conduct in an effort to establish a hold on the Alpha Quadrant. Boarding the station to investigate the Klingon aggression is Lt.-Cmdr. Worf (Michael Dorn), who joins the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine crew to bolster the shaky Klingon-Federation truce. (Producers hoped that some of the Star Trek: The Next Generation's stardust might rub off to expand Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's audience.) There's also a change in the credits this season: Siddig El Fadil, who plays Dr. Julian Bashir, changed his name to Alexander Siddig.

Season Five
As season five got underway, the Dominion figured in a significant number of storylines. Of greatest importance is the alliance with Cardassia which gives the Founders a foothold in the Alpha quadrant. This new threat has rekindled the alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire as well as a possible peace with the Romulans. Major Kira gave birth to the O'Brien's baby, which was written into the plot to account for the real-life pregnancy of Nana Visitor with Siddig El Fadil's child. Off-screen major cast members continued to flex their directorial muscles as eight episodes are helmed by current and previous cast members (2 episodes helmed by LeVar Burton).

Season five also saw significant enhancement in the story department. Of particular note was the episode to honor the Star Trek 30th Anniversary "Trials and Tribble-ations" which showcased the DS9 crew traveling back in time (one of several time-travel episodes this season) and arriving at Deep Space Station K-7, which has just welcomed the arrival of Captain James T. Kirk. Personal development also featured strongly this season as Odo regains his shape-shifting abilities, Sisko discovers the Bajoran list city of B'Hala and we find that Dr. Bashir was genetically enhanced as a child. We also close the book (for now) on the Maquis as their leader, Michael Eddington is killed near the end of the season.

Season Six
Season six spent must of its time dealing with the invasion of the Dominion into the alpha quadrant and the continuing war with the Federation. The Federation is forced to abandon Deep Space Nine and it takes the first quarter of the season for the Federation to regain control of the station and secure the status of the wormhole. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig), having had his genetic alteration exposed, uses his advanced mental capacity to help provide statistical information on the war to the Federation. Kira (Nana Visitor) discovers how she managed to stay alive during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor - as it is revealed her mother was captured and became the companion to the prefect of Terok Nor, Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo).

Amidst all the war, there was time for building interpersonal relationships. Sisko (Avery Brooks) is reunited with his revolving love interest Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson). Odo (René Auberjonois), after being tempted by a shape shifter early in the season, finally after five years of silent admiration, confesses his feelings for Kira and thus begins their relationship. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Jadzia (Terry Farrell) are finally wed (You are Cordially Invited...). Completely vacant from all storylines are the troubles Terry Farrell is having with Paramount in negotiating her salary for the shows seventh season. Failure to come to any agreement, Farrell states she is leaving the show, and in the season finale, Jadzia is killed by a possessed Gul Dukat.

Several series regulars continue to flex their directorial muscles; Siddig El Fadil (Julian Bashir), Michael Dorn (Worf), René Auberjonois (Odo) and Avery Brooks (Sisko) direct an episode each. Star Trek's band of regular directors now includes Anson Williams as he directs one episode from DS9 and two from Voyager. LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge from ST: TNG) picks up two directors credits.

Season Seven
At the onset of season seven, it was very clear that this would be the last for Deep Space Nine. As a result, much work was done on all facets of the show to be able to bring closure to all story lines in just 26 episodes. As was done on The Next Generation when it shut down, story threads would tidy up with many of the re-occurring characters like Grand Negus Zek (Wallace Shaw), Rom (Aron Eisenberg) and Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson). As the season opened, everyone is struggling with the loss of Jadzia Dax and the collapse of the wormhole. Sisko (Avery Brooks) has left the station and travels back to Earth to try and discover the will of the prophets and how to reopen the wormhole. While there, he meets the new Trill host for the Dax symbiont, Ezri (Nicole deBoer), who will be joining him upon his return to DS9. By four episodes into the season, all those who are supposed to be on the station are present, including the newly promoted Commander Kira (Nana Visitor).

Much of the season is focused on the continuing war with the Dominion. It is discovered that Odo (René Auberjonois) is suffering from the same deadly disease which is affecting all of the founders - which finds its origins back on Earth and the secret division of Starfleet Section Thirty-One. But the war with the Dominion is not the only problem brewing however, the Pah-wraiths -- the corporeal enemies of the prophets -- have taken over Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) who begins to worm his way into Kai Winn's (Louise Fletcher) thoughts with intent on destroying the prophets and Sisko in particular. Struggles within the Klingon power structure also threaten the outcome of the war as Gowron (Robert O'Reilly) decides to take a more active role in the Klingon front, which leads to a deadly confrontation with Worf (Michael Dorn) that ultimately leads to Martok (J.G. Hertzler) becoming chancellor. The war is all but over for the Dominion however. Even an alliance with the Breen, they continue to suffer from the disease, having their forces spread too thin, and other setbacks as their grasp on the Alpha quadrant crumbles.

But the last season of Deep Space Nine is not all war games. We are treated to some light hearted fair such as a baseball game with the Vulcans and numerous trips to Vic Fontain's (James Darren) 1960s Vegas lounge. Vic, while only a hologram, is easily one of the most likable re-occurring characters in Star Trek and was introduced much to late in the series.

Intermixed with all the war, relationships between characters seem to be settling in. Odo and Kira continue their relationship. Worf and Ezri struggle with their feelings since part of Jadzia is still present. The passion between the two builds mid-way through the season, but ultimately ends up with Julian (Alexander Siddig). Sisko and Kasidy Yates, against the warnings of the prophets, finally wed. But as with Worf and Jadzia last year, the marriage is not long as Sisko is transported into the realm of the prophets at the end of the season. As the series draws to a close, the crew is fractured and split up. Worf becomes ambassador to Kronos and Chief O'Brien and family move back to Earth. Odo, now cured of the changeling disease, travels back to the planet of the founders with hopes of curing his people.

On the directorial front, an oddly small number of episodes were directed by actors this season; one each from Avery Brooks (Sisko), Michael Dorn (Worf) and René Auberjonois (Odo). We received one episode each from returning directors Anson Williams and LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge from ST: TNG). We were also treated to an episode by Tony Dow (Leave it to Beaver), which turned out to be one of the most unique offerings this year.

Summaries of seasons one through four are from
Star Trek: Thirty Years - Special Collectors Edition ©1996 Paramount Pictures Corporation.

Updated: November 22, 2003
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