Season 4 Review
The average score for this season is 6.4, the highest score I've given to a single season of Star Trek, but still lower than the scores awarded to the final three seasons of B5. This is a slight step up from seasons 2 and 3 (which were virtually tied), but it's not a huge increase in quality. The trendline shows a slight decrease in quality over time, but with The Visitor
in the first half of the season and The Muse
in the second half, the season is more or less consistent.
I only rated two episodes this season below average, a new Trek record, but still one more than B5's fourth season. Sadly, while there's a number of good and great episodes in this season, I only rated one as a classic, The Visitor
, which is part of the reason why this season's score is only a small step up. A substantial number of episodes had a score of six, so while the show is getting better there is still room for improvement.
I rated two episodes this season below average, three were average, and twenty were above average.
Best episode: The Visitor
Worst episode: The Muse
Hans Beimler joins the writing staff this season, otherwise it's the same four guys from season 3.
Wolfe finally wins a season with a score of 6.875 from his eight episodes. In fact, this is the first time that he has managed to beat the season average, so he has had quite a good year. Next up is Moore with a score of 6.6 from five episodes, which is a drop from his work in season 4. Next up is Behr with a score of 6.5 from his 8 episodes, while Beimler has a score of 5.75 from four episodes. In last place is Echevarria who gets an average score of 5 from three episode, which he can blame on The Muse
Fields lead (7.571) has widened due to Ron Moore's slight decline in season 4, dropping his average to 6.9. Echevarria also drops some, down to 6.125. Wolfe and Beimler both average out to a score of 6, but Wolfe has an edge as he has considerably more episodes under his belt. Behr's score increases to 5.833, while Piller remains in last place on 5.5.
Runabouts Lost: 4 (+1)
Form of... : 28 (+13)
Wormhole in Peril: 4 (+0)
Sykonee's Counter: 19 (+3)
Stupid French Things: 3 (+2)
Season 1 Average: 5.211
Season 2 Average: 6.231
Season 3 Average: 6.192
Season 4 Average: 6.4
Overall Average: 6.062
Voyager Average After 4 Seasons: 4.914
Enterprise Overall Average: 5.206
Babylon 5 Average After 4 Seasons: 6.079
Season 4 is often presented as being a major turning point for the show, the point at which is truly became great, but upon rewatching it that is not the impression I am left with. This is a small step up from season 3, the the number of below average episodes is astonishingly low for a Star Trek series, but the show is still struggling to reach the highs it needs to. The season was dominated by three star reviews, episodes that are enjoyable but not memorable, on balance they're positive but they still contain flaws. The show has broken away from the balance of good and bad episodes that dominated the other two Trek shows that I reviewed, but it still needs to convert mostly enjoyable episodes into something special.
The show is also struggling somewhat when it comes to serialised storytelling. In the back half of this season I had to deduct points from three separate episodes for screwing up continuity in some way, which is surprising for a show that's commended for this kind of thing. This is an awkward stage in DS9's development, the writers are clearly interested in developing story arcs and having major events, but they're still somewhat comfortable with the TNG format and they're not doing enough to break away from it.
So, which character "won" this season? Kira was clearly the best character in the first two seasons, then Odo took her place in season 3. But as the Dominion threat took a back seat this season, Odo's role also diminished and season 4 was more balanced across the ensemble. The introduction of Worf shook things up a bit, but he fits the show very well and he already has good chemistry with the rest of the cast. He didn't dominate the series the same way Seven did when she was introduced on Voyager, but he did get some additional screen time to facilitate the adjustment. I did notice that technobabble is less prominent on the show which means that Jadzia and O'Brien, though perhaps getting less screen-time, are being treated more like characters and less like officers, which is good. If I had to give an edge to a single character this season, it would be Sisko. The shaved head completed Sisko's visual transition, but it also affected Avery's performance for the better. He appears more comfortable and commanding, and while he doesn't dominate the show in the same way that Picard dominated TNG, he has become a more active participant in the stories. So, in my opinion, this was the year of The Sisko.
Now we head into the final year of the Dominion Cold War, the much praised season 5. Is it much of a step up from season 4? I guess I'll find out...