DVD Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Series

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Deep Space Nine, the first Star Trek spin-off series to emerge in the post-Gene Roddenberry era, originally arrived on DVD back in 2003. Star Trek: The Next Generation had rolled out on the then-cutting edge format the year before. In the years since, TNG has been beautifully restored from the original 35mm negatives (and in the case of the previously created-on-standard-def F/X, recreated in HD). The Blu-ray series was justly praised, but it led to a high demand among Trekkers for DS9 to receive the same superior treatment.

Now CBS Home Entertainment has reissued Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Series on DVD as a 47-disc set. All seven seasons. All 176 episodes. All the bonus materials that originally appeared on 2003 DVDs (the menus are the same, too). The packaging is new and somewhat problematic (more on that later). This is a straight-up reissue, which is great news for anyone who doesn't already own it—and irrelevant for anyone who already does. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it's really time to quell those dreams of a 1080p restoration for DS9. CBS has made it pretty clear that it is not in their financial interests to spend millions of dollars for a TNG-style Blu-ray presentation, regardless of how much this classic Trek series deserves it.

Such a project would entail the same process undertaken with TNG. DS9 was shot on film, finished on standard definition video. All the intensive work that went into rebuilding TNG would have to also be necessary bring DS9 into the HD era. That's not likely to happen seeing as the series has a far more limited cult audience than TNG. What does that mean in terms of the DVDs' A/V presentation? They look basically like the TV broadcasts, just like the Next Generation DVDs did (pre-restoration, of course). The image does not exhibit the crispness of a high def transfer and the colors are generally rather dull. It's fine. It's watchable. And it's what Trekkers simply have to accept for the foreseeable future (maybe forever, quite frankly). The audio is of course lossy Dolby Digital, with each episode boasting the same 5.1 surround mixes as the original '03 discs. 
rsz_deep_space_nine_complete_dvd.jpg Let's talk about the new packaging. The outer box is attractive and sturdy enough, housing three over-sized clamshell cases. The two big ones hold three seasons each (seasons 1-3 in the first, 4-6 in the second), with the smaller one containing just season seven. The clear plastic allows for the episode names/numbers to show through the inside covers. There are no booklets or packaging frills of any kind. The discs are held in place (theoretically, that is) on double-sided panels, two DVDs overlapping on each side.

With this many discs in one big box, the problem is that during shipping it is likely some will come loose. I had several rattling around in my cases, not to mention a few broken hubs that made it nearly impossible to put a couple of those loosies back in place. Yes, the loose discs had all sustained varying degrees of scratching and scuffing. Worse, due to the odd number of discs, one of the clamshells has a sticky hub affixed to to the inside cover to hold one disc. This had also popped off, not only resulting in a loose disc but one that was covered in glue residue.

Don't get me wrong, I really hate having to include packaging notes in a review of an otherwise solid release. Often this kind of carping can come across as petty. But in this case it is just impossible to avoid discussing it, especially because it seems to be CBS Home Entertainment's current preferred way to re-package complete TV series. It's a "buyer beware" type of situation, because if you do need to return the set for a replacement it's just as likely that the replacement set will have the same issues. Or you might get lucky (as I did with The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series recently, same style of packaging). Expecting that the discs arrive in playable, undamaged condition is a minimum expectation for a release of any size, but arguably even more vital for a $144.99 box set.

That caveat aside, if you don't already own Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Series, this is the ideal way for Trekkers to remedy that.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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