Star Trek
Deep Space Nine
Season 1-7 box set

Starring: Avery Brooks Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 449.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 September 2004

The producers of
Star Trek took a huge risk when in 1993 they decided to set their new Trek series on a Cardassian space station orbiting Bajor. This time around there would be no 'going where no one had gone before', no travelling through space in pursuit of 'strange new worlds.' Now the aliens would come to them. An ambitious, and somewhat risky gamble. But, one that paid off...

Season one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine starts with arguably the finest opening of any of the Star Trek series to date. Emissary begins with a flashback to the huge space battle between the Federation and the Borg. It is during this battle that Captain Sisko's wife is killed after his ship is destroyed by a Borg attack ship - one controlled by the assimilated Captain Picard. Two years later Sisko meets Picard again as Chief O'Brien transfers from the Enterprise to his new position aboard Sisko's space station at the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

The on screen relationships of all the principle characters gels from the start - much better than the beginnings of TNG, Voyager or Enterprise ever managed to achieve. There is something believable about Quark and Odo's constant bickering; about Julian's general dullness and his infatuation with anything with breasts (do you remember how in your face that was at the beginning?); O'Brien and Bashir's friendship that gradually grew; and Quark's desperate attempts to make easy money. Though over the course of the seven year run all of these characters changed dramatically.

Chief O'Brien and his wife were not the only member of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine who progressed from The Next Generation. Lwaxana Troi (played by Majel Barret) also makes the odd guest appearance, as does Picard's nemesis Q.

Memorable episodes from season one include Babel, in which O'Brien suddenly starts to talk gibberish and then everyone else starts to contract this disease; Q-Less in which Vash and Q appear; The Nagus which sees Grand Nagus Zek make his first appearance; The Storyteller - Bashir and O'Brien depart on an away mission - a not too appealing trip for O'Brien; If Wishes Were Horses which sees the inexplicable appearance of a number fictional and historical characters aboard DS9.

But by far the most memorable episode is Duet. This is a Kira episode which sees the Bajoran believing that a dying, elderly Cardassian was the mass butcher at a Bajoran forced-labour camp during the Cardassian occupation. This episode is incredibly moving and is still as strong today as it was when it was first broadcast. It was this episode that made me appreciate that this series was committed to focussing on relationships and solid story telling.

This season has fewer episodes than usual (20 instead of the usual 26) and so more extras have been slung on the final disc. The extras are impressive - with much more than was available with the Next Generation box sets. These include: Deep Space Nine: A Bold New Beginning; Crew Dossier: Kira Nerys: Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season One; Secrets of Quark's Bar; Alien Artefacts: Season One; Deep Space Nine Sketchbook; 10 hidden Easter Eggs of Section 31 Hidden Files; Photo gallery and Original Deep Space Nine preview. Although sadly a couple of future seasons storylines are given away in a number of the documentaries.

The second season sees the series start to settle down as the writers and actors begin to fine tune the main cast dynamics. O'Brien and Bashir's friendship starts to bloom, Kira's arrogant manner settles down somewhat, Bashir becomes less annoying and Quark and Odo's rivalry becomes more humorous.

Watching these episodes again made me recall some of the things we joked about when I originally reviewed the video releases for DreamWatch. For example: Is O'Brien the World's unluckiest man or what? There are three episode in season two (Armageddon Game, Whispers and Tribunal). Now I don't know about you, but if I'd been almost killed by a deadly disease, replaced by a robot and put on trial by Cardassians in just one year then I would certainly be thinking of early retirement. And things get worse for the chief of operations in later seasons.

This season builds on the character driven storylines that were at the forefront of the success of DS9. And, in addition, to spice things up a bit the writers introduced an alien threat from the Gamma Quadrant and the Dominion was born - a plot device that wasn't fully explored until the third season.

The story arc's, which are built on in subsequent seasons, started early for DS9. The start of season two has a three-part story which, incidentally, sees the start of the Kira/Bareil ongoing relationship. Garek also becomes more of a semi-regular character. The Wire is a particularly gripping episode.

Some of the best episodes include: Marquis, a two parter which sees Sisko discovering that an old friend is involved in things he shouldn't be; Crossover, the first alternate universe story; Blood Oath, which sees Dax team up with a group of Klingons from the original Trek (Kor, Koloth and Kang) and embark on a dangerous mission.

Extras for season two include: New Frontiers: The Story Of Deep Space Nine; Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Two; Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: Season Two; Crew Dossier: Jadzia Dax; New Station, New Ships; Quark's Story and Section 31 Hidden Files.

When season three of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began fans had already waved a tearful goodbye to The Next Generation and plans for Voyager were in full swing. This season, more than any in its seven year run, set Deep Space Nine apart from what had come before in the Star Trek Universe. Setting a darker tone, this season saw Sisko acting more as a human being rather than a sycophantic Starfleet Officer. In this season we see him struggling with his conscience on a number of occasions (Something first witnessed in season two's The Marquis two-parter.

While the previous two seasons had mainly been home to single episode storylines (with a few exceptions), season three gave fans a taste of the story arcs to come.

This season also sees the introduction of the Defiant, DS9's battleship which also housed a cloaking device (about time Starfleet got around to sorting that out). Other changes this season include Sisko being promoted to captain, Nog showing a serious interest in applying to Starfleet Academy and Odo discovering his origins. Jonathan Frakes also makes a guest appearance in the episode Defiant.

Two of my personal favourite episodes of DS9 are in season three: Life Support and Heart of Stone. Life Support is one of the very few really moving episodes (others being the season four episode The Visitor and season one's episode Duet), of DS9's seven year run. And Heart of Stone is memorable for the way Odo spills his guts and then (like we've all experienced after one too many Babychams) comes to regret it in the morning.

Other memorable episodes include Visionary (O'Brien witnesses events that happen in the near future and there seems to be no way to avoid them); Past Tense (a two-parter that sees the crew of DS9 stranded in the past) and Through the Looking Glass (the second alternate universe story).

But this season also has one of the worst episodes, Distant Voices, in which Bashir suddenly starts to age rapidly and... er that's it really. But worry not, because there are two great Ferengi episodes, Prophet Motive and Family Business, to set this season back on the right track.

Season three also sees the arrival of both Leeta (Chase Masterson) and Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson, who can now be seen in 24) as semi regular characters. And Garak fans will be glad to see that everyone's favourite Cardassian tailor gets a lot more to do this season.

Extras for season three include: The Birth Of The Dominion And Beyond; Michael Westmore's Aliens - Season Three; Time Travel Files - Past Tense; Crew Dossier: Odo; Sailing Through The Stars; and Future Shop.

From the start of season four it was obvious that the producers had decided to step up the story arc element considerably. The opening two-parter The Way of the Warrior brings in Klingon officer Worf in order to handle a growing potential problem with the Klingon/Federation joint force against the Dominion. And woven in and out of this season is the resulting relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

This season bring the Dominion into closer focus, as well as dragging the Klingons back into Star Trek - a move that pays dividends as the series progresses. There is no time for the viewer to get tired, as threaded between the ongoing story arc are some of DS9's finest comedy episodes - including the fantastic Bond spoof Our Man Bashir and the Roswell story Little Green Men.

It also features the incredibly moving The Visitor which sees Jake as an old man recounting the story of his life and how the quest to find his lost father (who was sucked into a time thingy or something and has remained trapped never ageing) stopped him from following his career as a writer to concentrate on discovering a way to free his father.

Also rather moving, in an old sentimental way, is The Sword of Kahless. While this episode is fairly hit and miss the ending is rather touching.

Rejoined, the shows famous "lesbian kiss" episode is also an incredibly well conceived and directed episode. Avery Brooks takes the director's chair for this story about love and the complications of the Trill way of life.

This season also sees one of the best O'Brien stories (poor bugger must be the unluckiest guy alive) this time he is tried and convicted of a crime while on an alien planet. The punishment - incarceration for many years in isolation. However, the sentence is fed directly into his mind so that while he never did the time his memories of it are very real. But why is his old cellmate still haunting him? A well directed and acted episode.

There are numerous other great episodes in this season including the very funny Ferengi episode, Body Parts, and another alternate universe story, Shattered Mirror.

Extras for season four include: Crew Dossier: Lt Worf; Michael Westmore's Aliens - Season Four. Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves; 10 Section 31 files; Bob Blackman's Designs Of The Future; Jim Martin Sketchbook; Deep Space Nine Chronicles; and a photo gallery. CD-ROM content include: Virtual Space Station; screensaver and real time messaging.

Season five shifted the focus away from the Federation and Klingon Empire disputes and back towards the threat of the Dominion. It was also the year that Star Trek celebrated its 30th Anniversary and what a treat the producers had in store for the original fans. The episode Trials and Tribble-ations is regarded by fans as one of the best episodes of DS9's seven year run.

This season also cemented the Worf/Jadzia love story in the episode Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places. Nog, Kassidy Yates, and Martok are all brought back into the show in various episodes and we discover that Julian is not what he seems.

Some classic episodes this season include the aforementioned Trials and Tribble-ations; Things Past, where we learn more of Odo's dark past when he served onboard Terok Nor' during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor; The Begotten sees Odo's mentor Dr. Mora arrive on DS9 again. This episode is as close as Trek comes to a misunderstood father/son relationship and it does it well; A Simple Investigation is a rather moving episode which sees Odo fall in love with a woman with a mysterious past; Likewise, Ties of Blood and Water is another moving episode with Legate Ghemor making a return appearance. He arrives at DS9 so that he can die with the only family he has left - Kira, who he sees as the closest thing he has to family; Children of Time, where the crew of DS9 come face to face with their descendants. But in order for these people to survive Sisko and his team must allow themselves to be hurled into the past and stranded on a remote planet.

There are far more hits than misses in season five of DS9, but there are a few below par episodes. The most noticeable being The Ascent which sees Odo and Quark trapped together on a frozen planet. Too clichéd, too long and too dull.

Steven Berkoff turns in a pretty good appearance (even if he is simply doing a "Michael Caine" and playing himself) in Business as Usual, a Ferengi episode. Light relief comes in the form of another Ferengi episode: Ferengi Love Songs. This episode sees the Grand Negus fall for Quark's mother. Not only that, but she is helping the Negus with his finances - an illegal activity on the Ferengi homeworld.

This season it is hard not to notice that Sisko is taking more and more of a back seat - almost as thought the writers have started to see him as a dull character who is there to push along the Dominion/Federation problem. When it comes to the more character driven episodes It seems that Odo is taking centre stage.

Extras for season five include the featurettes Trials and Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends and Trials and Tribble-ations: A Historic Endeavour; Crew Dossier: Miles O'Brien; Inside DS9; Michael Westmore's Aliens - Season Five; The Ferengi Culture; Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves; and the usual not very well hidden Easter eggs.

Season six kicks off with a six episode story arc - one that apparently was originally planned to run for an entire season until the producers decided that this may alienate viewers who only watched the show occasionally.

This season also saw a few changes in the dynamics between the main cast. There is a marriage, love blossoms for another couple, and two characters die - one a prominent crew member of DS9 and the other a recurring character. And we get another semi-regular member of the cast in holographic lounge singer Vic Fontaine.

We also get to see that, after last seasons revelation that Doctor Bashir is not all he seems, Starfleet acknowledge him for what he is. The episode Statistical Probabilities illustrates why genetically enhanced individuals had previously been banned from Starfleet. While they are all super intelligent, the majority are social misfits, prone to violent outbursts.

The main focus for this season is the escalating Dominion threat - a focus that ended up giving the majority of the episodes an almost militaristic feel to them. But while the majority of episodes progress this theme, there are plenty of light hearted stories. There are a number of Ferengi based episodes (always good for a laugh) including The Magnificent Ferengi and Profit and Lace. The later is more amusing, with Quark enduring a sex change operation to become one of Zek's female financial advisors (don't ask how or why, just sit back and enjoy it).

This season also sees the first, and only, episode devoted to Morn - who sadly doesn't appear in any great capacity. But it's great to get more of an insight into Quark's favourite barfly. One nitpick though! Why do the Ferengi at the end of the episode complain about "worthless gold"? According to Quark it is only valuable if it is gold pressed latinium. However, in countless episodes the Ferengi have traded with gold. In The Next Generation episode The Last Outpost the Ferengi take the Starfleet pins because they contain "precious gold". Or am I just being sad?

We also get another mirror universe story (Resurrection) and the start of what could have been a great ongoing theme in Far Beyond the Stars. This episode sees Sisko as a 20th Century writer living in Manhattan. And it appears that the events on DS9 are merely figments of his imagination. This episode is intriguing as it gives viewers a glimpse at what some of the actors look like who are usually covered in prosthetic makeup. Sadly, apart from brief references, this storyline was never really followed up again.

Other notable episodes include Waltz, which sees Sisko and Dukat stranded on a planet after Dukat saves Sisko; Honor Among Thieves, in which O'Brien infiltrates the Orion Syndicate and then has to choose between the mission and his new friend; Wrongs Darker than Death or Night, which sees Kira travelling back in time to discover the truth about her mother who died when Kira was three years old. Dukat claim that he was her lover - a ridiculous notion in Kira's eyes, but one that is eating away at her; Inquisition, which sees the introduction of Section 31; and His Way, which introduces regular guest character Vic Fontaine and shows the birth of the romantic relationship between Kira and Odo.

But, it is the season ending that is intriguing. No "Oh my Gawd!" cliff-hanger as in previous years, but it ends on such a downer. Sisko is dejected the prophets have vanished and one of the main cast is dead.

Extras for season six include: Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond The Stars; 24th Century Wedding (10 mins); Crew Dossier: Bashir (14 mins); Crew Dossier: Quark (15 mins); DS9 Sketchbook: John Eaves (9 mins); One Little Ship Gary Hutzel featurette (4 mins); Ferengi Rules Of Acquisition: The Beginning (4 mins); Ferengi Rules Of Acquisition: The Sequel (7 mins); Photo gallery; and Section 31 (Hidden files).

Season seven sees the Dominion war builds to a crescendo. Although, thankfully the writers don't over play this and there are still plenty of wonderful character based episodes. By the conclusion everything is wrapped up neatly - no storyline is left unfinished. And there are more than a few surprises in the closing episodes. The death count, when it comes to supporting characters, has to be one of the highest in a sci-fi series.

From the start of this season Benjamin Sisko is on a quest to determine his true purpose. Is he just a Starfleet captain? Or do the prophets have a far greater purpose mapped out for him?

There is also the matter of replacing one of the principal cast members with a new actress, due to the fact that the shows creators had to introduce a new Dax host in the form of Ezri. As this was to be the final season for DS9, her introduction could have been a disaster. The writers could have focussed on her too much in a bid to ensure that the fans warmed to her quickly, or they could have ignored her altogether and used her in the background to help move other storylines along. In the end, the balance the writers struck is spot on. She is given just the right amount of exposure to ensure that fans warm to her, but not at the expense of the other characters.

What would a season of DS9 be without a parallel universe story? Fear not, The Emperor's New Cloak keeps up the tradition of the annually thrilling alternative DS9 and all the horrors that come with it.

Another episode which returns to familiar characters is Chrysalis. This episode sees Bashir believe he has met the love of his life, Sarina, who was the catatonic fourth genetically enhanced misfit (along with Jack, Patrick and Lauren) that appeared in last seasons Statistical Probabilities.

Bill Mummy (Lost in Space and Babylon 5) makes a guest appearance in The Siege of AR-558. This episode examines the indiscriminate nature of war, it also sees Nog badly injured and his inability to adjust to his situation. The following episode, It's Only a Paper Moon, gives actor Aron Eisenberg (Nog) the chance to move into unfamiliar territory. Most Ferengi based episodes are used as light relief, but this episode sees Nog depressed and frightened of facing the real world.

This season also sees Dukat and Kai Winn jumping into bed together to seize power. This story arc is interesting, because it shows the true Winn in all her hypocrisy. These episodes are made even more powerful by the fact that Dukat appears as a Bajoran - so Winn has no idea that she is in league with the Devil. But fear not, as they get their comeuppance in the final episode, the 2-parter What You Leave Behind.

Extras for season seven include: Ending An Era; Crew Dossier: Benjamin Sisko; Crew Dossier: Jake Sisko; The Last Goodbye; Photo gallery; Special Crew Dossier: Ezri Dax; Morn Speaks; and DS9 Sketchbook: John Eaves. There are also a number of hidden (but not very well) files which take brief looks at a number of regular guest characters (including Nog, Rom, Dukat, Vic Fontaine, Kai Winn, Gowron and Martok. The extras on this collection seem to be a little more polished than in previous box sets, although for some reason in the Ezri Dax Crew Dossier there is a clip of Worf and Ezri kissing which is repeat for some unknown reason - maybe the Editor was asleep that day.

While not the best season of Deep Space Nine's seven year run, it is certainly the most moving. The conclusion, to my mind, is the best Trek has offered so far. The poor episodes, over the show's entire run, were few and far between. DS9 is by far the best written, acted and produced in the franchise so far.

The fact that you can now buy the entire seven seasons in one collection for just under £450 is even more of a reason to raid your piggy bank. Originally the total you would have paid, if you had bought each season individually, would have been just under £600. Not only that, but only 1000 of these box sets have been produced.

Now is the best opportunity to buy the finest Star Trek series that has ever been produced.

Darren Rea

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