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What We Left Behind – Looking Back At Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Blu-ray Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, caught in between the mega popular Star Trek: The Next Generation and the more traditionally plotted Star Trek: Voyager, was typically overlooked during its time on the air or unappreciated. However, it was a show that was a gamechanger for the television landscape and today’s highly normal serialized storytelling. With no fully remastered and restored Blu-ray sets like The Next Generation likely ever coming fruition, we are instead treated to What We Left Behind; a documentary chronicling the series and its legacy with all the important people brought back to tell the story (Well, except Avery Brooks). Shout! Factory will be releasing this exciting event on Blu-ray on August 6th. This briefly had an event night in theaters, so if you missed out on it, this new Blu-ray is your chance. Plus it is truly loaded with more material beyond the documentary, so you’ll really want to check it out.

Film 

From directors Ira Steven Behr (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine showrunner) and David Zappone (producer of For the Love of Spock, The Captains) comes the critically acclaimed documentary feature What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  A fascinating in-depth look at the past, present and future of a series whose dark, edgy take on Gene Roddenberry’s vision was often misunderstood when it premiered but has grown into a beloved mainstay in the Star Trek franchise.

Featuring extensive new interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well as newly remastered HD footage from the television series,What We Left Behind also focuses on the original writers of the series as they craft a brand-new episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, developing what would be the eighth-season premiere if the show were to return to the air today.

Deep Space Nine’s story is a fascinating and emotional journey through one of the most underappreciated show in not just Star Trek’s, but television history as a whole. With this documentary, though, we’ve seen that history has been kind to it and it appears to have a devoted fanbase that seems to be growing faster than any of the other Treks. This documentary (And Blu-ray release as a whole) leaves no card unturned and really does tell the story uncensored and full of passion, fun stories and gives an exciting education on what it was like to make the show and the mentality surrounding it on the set.

Everyone except Avery Brooks is back for participation here. However, they utilize a few old interviews with him to insert in places. But if you’re worried about his lack of physical presence, worry not, as his essence looms large over this story as many have a lot to say about him and his demeanor, mentality and philosophies are on displays through stories and details on relationships he had with the cast and crew as well as the work. And boy, there are some rough things to hear about he and Rene Auberjonois butting heads on some occasions, but their professionalism always won out.

One of Brooks’ biggest contributions was a suggestion to he made to Ira Stephen Behr about something to focus on with the writers for the documentary. He said don’t just sit and talk about the old episodes, instead tell where it was going to go forward. And sure enough, a sort of wrap-around segment in this film is Ira and company pieces together and brain storming a Season 8 premiere taking place as many years as it has been since the finale. And damn, this is some compelling, fun stuff to watching and they really absolutely nail it perfectly as if they’d just moved on in the 90s.

What We Left Behind has a BOATLOAD to offer for fans, and I don’t want to sit here and spoil or overdiscuss a lot of it. Just go out and watching it, as its absolutely terrific and flies by. As a fan of the show myself, this was a complete delight and had me looking over to my library and tempted to toss in Deep Space Nine Season One, Disc One and begin the show again. I can’t see fans NOT loving this. And, despite some self-wankery that occurs in the doc, I concede that it should be held up with the great franchise retrospective documentaries of the last ten years or so.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio:

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: What We Left Behind is a modern documentary, shot digitally and yada yada, it looks as you’d expect and very good for a modern indie film. What we NEED to discuss is the gorgeous restore footage for select sequences of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They have put in the work for some for this movie and man are they as ever the revelation as Star Trek: The Next Generation was on Blu-ray. The colors are strengthened and the detail is just filled to the brim with new and more defined information. Fans are going to swoon over this “What if” we have now about the season Blu-rays we are never going to own. But here, there is a small window into it, and damn does it look absolutely marvelous

Depth:  Great spacing throughout. Its a digitally shot film so its lending itself to a little more depth of field pushback. Motion is natural and smooth with no real distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are bit lighter colored on the modern interview sessions, but on the restored footage they look really nice and deep. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty strong as displayed by Ira’s blue goatee that pops during the whole thing. Its a pretty vibrant picture with a good sense of refinement on its varied palette.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout no matter the footage new or old. Facial features/textures will differ on the quality of the old footage but the new stuff has them clear as day from any reasonably given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portugues, German, Netherlands, HD Heroes

Dynamics: Mostly this consists of talking and such with varying degrees of quality due to the different mics being used, different locations and so on and so forth. When they do some action and stuff it does get good in ramping up the intensity and utilizing the surround aspect. However, its a terrific sounding film, mixed and balanced the best it can be and more than does the trick in bringing this charming documentary to life.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: There is some booming with music and special effects in the show, but the subwoofer never was going to be the star of this thing.

Surround Sound Presentation: What We Left Behind is a front heavy track, but does manage to pull in some fun moments with animated sequences or big action moments from the film with accurate sound travel and placement.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Some of the quality can depend on the room, session or equipment used to record an interview.

Extras 

Intro From Ira & the Gang (HD, 1:43) – A brief little intro about the bonus features, including the cut intro that comes next.

A Brief History of DS9 (HD, 3:19) – The original opening for the film, featuring a cameo from “Star Trek icon” Jonathan Frakes.

What We Left Out – Deleted Scenes (HD, 47:34)

Filmmaker HD Discussion (HD, 15:21) – This roundtable with Ira and the other filmmakers on the documentary, focuses on restoring and remastering the original footage from the show to use for the documentary. Very much a look just like the Star Trek: TNG’s process and can show you what big timely and costly effort it can be.

More From the Fans (HD, 12:40) – Fan confessionals (And goofs) that didn’t make the movie.

Behind the Scenes on the Variety Photoshoot (HD, 1:44) – Music set to a montage of the shoot.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:25)

Summary 

As a fan of Deep Space Nine, What We Left Behind really is everything you could have hoped and asked for. It joins the ranks of the Never Sleep Again’s for genre greatness in documentary storytelling for a beloved “franchise”. This Blu-ray has a terrific presentation and extends the life of the documentary with some fabulous extras including almost an hour of stories and anecdotes cut from the film. Fans will not want to miss out on having this for sure, they’ve really gone their way to make the Blu-ray worth the purchase. And again, THOSE HD SCENES LOOK LOVELY! Its a shame we will likely never see the full series remastered. BUT, we now know what it would have looked like. Pick this one up fellow Trekkies.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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