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January 21, 2013

Star Trek: DS9 - Season 1 Boxed Set

Here's an episode by episode review of Season 1, along with a review of the boxed set of DVDs (the regular DVDs, not any Blu-Ray possibilities, though seeing them come out on Blu-Ray would be really cool).

The first season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a very interesting beginning. We discovered in the first episode that we would be staying in one place, exploring a little but dealing much more with the Bajoran people and how they are recovering from years of occupation, along with their grooming to be new members of the United Federation of Planets. Past Trek shows have been on a ship, but this show would take place on a space station.

One thing this means is that they can't run away from their problems. If something comes up, they have to deal with it, and the consequences of the problem could very well come back and haunt the crew later on. Recurring characters (Garak and Dukat are introduced in the first season, along with Keiko O'Brien coming over from Next Generation) abound, and relationships are allowed to grow and change.

These characters are not static like the Next Generation characters generally were. I can't see much of a difference between William Riker in season 1 and William Riker in season 7 of Next Generation. Kira Nerys, on the other hand, has changed greatly just within season 1 of Deep Space Nine

I was really glad when all seven seasons came out in DVD boxed sets. The presentation is wonderful, with four episodes per disc (except the first one, which includes the 2-hour premiere). The menus are great, with the Deep Space Nine theme projecting majestically from the speakers. It's always been my favourite of all the themes anyway.

After you choose an episode, you then can either play it, press "set up" (where you set up your audio and subtitle options), "chapter log" (where you can go to any scene), or return to the main menu.

There are six discs in the set, with the first five containing the episodes and then the sixth being a bunch of specials. There is a documentary on the first season, called "A Bold Beginning." There's a crew dossier on Kira Nerys, the secrets of Quark's bar, a sketchbook of production sketches and a little bit about alien props.

There are also a bunch of easter eggs on this disc, with other crew dossiers and little interesting tidbits about the actors and their roles. We hear about how they got their part and what their feelings are about their characters. Some of the interviews are from the first season, when the actors didn't know where their characters were going.

Others are from after the show, or during the last season. They're par for the course for actors' interviews, so if you're naturally bored by them, you won't find much of interest here. If you like the show, though, they're intriguing.

All in all, this is a wonderful collection of episodes. The picture quality is wonderful, with the exception of one episode, but I’m sure that's just on my edition. "The Storyteller" made my DVD player have conniptions, and I had already had so much hassle with Columbia House that I wasn't going to try and deal with them to get a better copy. It's just one episode, though.

The packaging is interesting and sturdy, with two fold-out covers revealing the plastic disc trays. The overall quality of these discs is quite high. Only the quality of some of the episodes themselves brings the rating of the boxed set down to 4 stars. They had a rough patch in the middle of the season.

Season 1 Episode Recap

Here are the episodes contained on each disc, along with my ratings and links to my individual reviews. Ratings are out of a possible 10 (just to give you something different from the original star ratings)

Disc 1
Emissary - an excellent start to the series. We get introduced to all of the characters, but we don't get massive infodumps. Only boring aliens and a little scenery-chewing bring down a great beginning (8.0)

Past Prologue - DS9 hits the ground running with a great follow-up episode that gives us a close examination of Major Kira. Some logic problems hinder it, but the characterization (especially Kira, but the others as well) more than makes up for it. Also a plus for introducing Garak (though he's not seen again in the first season). (8.0)

A Man Alone - The first bump in the road. Some questionable acting and a horrible ending (horribly abrupt, anyway) make this episode tedious in the extreme. (5.0)

Disc 2
Babel - It only took three episodes (not counting the premiere) for them to do a "disease of the week" episode, but the producers do it with style, bringing the actors along with them. Auberjonois and Shimmerman save this one. (7.5)

Captive Pursuit - An episode I've always loved, it lost a little bit in the re-watching. Still, the acting of Meaney and Macdonald (the guest star) more than make up for the really pedestrian plot and major logic holes in the episode. The best of the season so far. (8.5)

Q-Less - The first real bomb. For so long, this show has been depending on the acting to save the plot. This time, the plot is so bad that the actors take a vacation. DeLancie is always good and Q has some good quips, but the vapid Vash and the "I'll be in my trailer if you need me" acting of the regulars sinks this one. Big time. (3.5)

Dax - Much better than I remembered, but still not the greatest. It brings up some interesting issues about Trills and especially the slug inside them. Unfortunately, it doesn't deal with them very much. It's always delightful to see Anne Haney, but the rest of the guest cast needs some work. (6.0)

Disc 3
The Passenger - Another one that's better than I remembered, but only marginally so. Siddig El Fadil does a horrible job playing "evil" and the ending is a joke. Except for Caitlin Brown, the guest acting is painful too. This episode has the added "bonus" of having sent us Lt. Primmin as the new Starfleet head of security. Thankfully, he was sent packing very quickly. (4.5)

Move Along Home - What a worthless episode. Nothing really happens and Auberjonois is the only one who looks like he even cares. The plot is a cliché and we don't learn anything new. At the end, you're left saying "What's the point?" (4.0)

The Nagus - Now this is more like it! The Ferengi haven't become annoying yet, and Wallace Shawn turns in a virtuoso guest performance. Shimmerman does a wonderful job too. When the only bad thing you can say about an episode is the Ferengi laugh, you know you're in good straits. Why can't it always be this good? (9.5)

Vortex - The first episode to address the mysteries of Odo, it's more of a tease then an offering of concrete information. Still, it's interesting and it's too bad the guest cast is pretty laughable. Auberjonois and DeYoung shine, though. (7.5)

Disc 4
Battle Lines - Some standout work by Nana Visitor along with Camile Saviola as the Kai make this episode much better than it should be. There's a bit too much technobabble for my taste, and O'Brien and Dax are wasted uttering it. If we just saw the bit down on the planet, this would easily be a 10. (9.0)

The Storyteller – unfortunately, this episode crapped out on me when I tried to watch it (maybe there's a spot on the disc), so this summary is by memory of the many other times I've watched it. This is a great O'Brien and Bashir story, cementing their friendship that will carry through the rest of the series. A fluffy B-story involving Jake and Nog is good but detracts from the main storyline. Perhaps it's too light to carry an entire episode on its own, but I kept wanting to get back to Meaney and El Fadil when the others were on the screen. (7.5)

Progress - stellar guest acting by Brian Keith and Nana Visitor holding her own with him makes this another wonderful examination of Kira's character. Her character arc in this first season has been really interesting. We've seen her realize that she's not a rebel anymore. Then she has to deal with the violence that permeates her soul. Now she's has to come to terms with being part of the establishment and realizing that you can't always fight everything. A fun B-plot softens the intense drama. (10.0)

If Wishes Were Horses - DS9 stumbles into its first season stretch run with a horrible episode about fantasies coming to life. Everybody looked bored (well, it *was* late in the season) and the episode just isn't interesting. (2.5)

Disc 5
The Forsaken - the producers inflict Lwaxana Troi on our station crew (and the viewers), and none of them survive. Colm Meaney is the only one who looks like he cares, and the episode is just painful to watch. Just slight improvement on the last one. Things are not boding well. (3.0)

Dramatis Personae - A funner episode then it should be, this one doesn't really bear re-watching. The acting is good, but some major plot holes hinder the plot. Completely ignoring the problem that they've been arguing about the whole episode doesn't help, either. (7.0)

Duet - the best episode of the season, and perhaps the series (though there are certainly other contenders). The scenes between Yulin and Visitor spark with intensity and everything else about this episode stands out as well. A great story that parallels the Holocaust and its aftermath. (10.0)

In the Hands of the Prophets – An excellent ending to the season, showing us how far all of the characters have come since they came to this rattletrap of a station. It's also an interesting examination of the religion/science debate. It doesn't give us any answers, but for once that's a good thing. There are no easy answers, and it would be a disservice for a television show to even pretend to have them. A fitting coda to the season. (10.0)


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