Series created by: Rick Berman and Michael Piller, based on original concepts by Gene Roddenberry
Starring: Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Michael Dorn, Terry Farrell, Colm Meaney, Siddig El Fadil, and Nana Visitor
- All fifth season episodes
- “Inside Deep Space Nine with Michael Okuda”
- Crew Dossier: Miles O’Brien
- “Michael Westmore’s Aliens”: Klingons, the Jem’Hadar, and other races
- “Trials and Tribble-ations: Uniting Two Legends” concept featurette
- “Trials and Tribble-ations: A Historic Endeavor” technical featurette
- Section 31 hidden files
Released by: Paramount
Rating: NR, suitable for audiences 12+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in original 1.33:1 aspect
My Advice: If you prefer the serial format to episodic, this one’s a keeper.
[ad#longpost]Deep Space 9‘s fifth season wastes no time wrapping up the Klingon story arc that dominated the fourth season with “Apocalypse Rising,” but in so doing planted the seeds for the return of The Dominion by suggesting that the “Klingon problems” might have shapeshifting instigators posing in key diplomatic positions in the Klingon Empire. This paranoia-inducing revelation set the tone for the entire season, as focus shifts clearly back to the troublesome Dominion and their allies as the major players to be reckoned with in the quadrant.
One’s reaction to this shift serves as a pretty solid indicator of whether or not this season is for you (and really whether or not the remaining couple of seasons will be to your tastes). For those that enjoyed the change of style to a more serial format in this Trek franchise, Season 5 marks the total shift of the show over to large, series-spanning plotlines from the more familiar episodic format. Those that didn’t like the “big plot” aspect of previous seasons of DS9 are well advised to steer clear of this and subsequent sets, though there are still a few stand-alone episodes that make the set worth checking out.
There are a number of episodes focused on developing characters over moving the story forward, but these all serve to make the characters in question much more sympathetic, which will be key when the phasers start flying over the next couple of seasons. Jake Sisko gets the spotlight in “Nor Battle to the Strong,” in part as a birthday gift for actor Cirroc Lofton, who turned eighteen during the season’s shooting and no longer required an adult tutor on set. We also get the return of Odo’s shapeshifting capabilities in “The Begotten,” which serves to push the problem of self-identity for a shapeshifter to center stage. “Ties of Blood and Water” follows up on the character-driven third season episode revolving around Kira.
There was also in this season the very special 100th episode of the series, guaranteeing near-perpetual existence in syndication. It was also the 30th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, so the creative team decided to pay homage to the original series in what had to be one of the most technically challenging episodes of Star Trek ever. “Trials and Tribble-ations” uses digital compositing to place the station’s crew on the original Enterprise as Kirk and Co. attempt to deal with the rapidly reproducing fuzzy menaces. Sisko and his gang are hunting for a disguised Klingon assassin bent on killing Kirk and throwing the timestream into disarray, and have to pull all this off while surrounded by furballs that chitter and spawn endlessly. The compositing here is damn near seamless, and interaction between Sisko and the original show’s Kirk and Spock is a wonder to behold. So beloved by the fans and so demanding was this single episode, it receives a pair of featurettes on the bonus disc discussing separately the idea stage and the technical stage of making the episode a reality.
As with any and all Star Trek shows to date pressed to DVD, the set is phenomenal. Utilizing the same “book”-style tray layout for the seven-disc set, it’s easy to flip through and get the disc you want. The episodes all look and sound fantastic, and the bonus material is extensive and informative. As always, I yearn for some commentary tracks on select episodes (several stand out as obvious choices in this set, including the aforementioned “retro” episode), but at this stage, I suspect my pleas are falling on incredibly deaf ears at Paramount. One can’t really otherwise fault their treatment of this property, though. Kudos for knowing how to keep your audience happy with the DVD product.
If the shift to a pure serial format throws you off your game, then yank the handles and get out of the Deep Space 9 scene. There are only scattered episodes that will please you from here on out (though do everything you can to see the tribble episode, regardless of whether or not you get the set). If you actually enjoy the move to a more drawn-out storytelling mode that requires a bit more patience from the viewer, then this set should belong right next to the previous four seasons on your shelf.