The fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery arrived on home video this week in the USA.
Star Trek: Discovery – Season 4
With season 3 being a “great leap forward” and a fairly successful soft reboot for the show, there was a lot of hope for season 4 of Discovery with a fresh start in the 32nd century and an intriguing new mystery that pointed to (finally!) doing some discovering (pun intended) of something we’d never seen, with some proper, strange, extragalactic aliens.
When a totally bizarre phenomenon suddenly appears and swallows up an entire solar system, it becomes clear there’s a grave threat to the galaxy and a mystery that confounds even 32nd-century scientists. Stamets gives this new highly destructive gravitational anomaly the name “Dark Matter Anomaly,” shortening it to “the DMA.” The Discovery writing team did a nice job with a kind of homage to TOS’s “The Doomsday Machine,” which also featured a planet-killer, but Discovery‘s DMA’s went far beyond one episode and became the center of an extended arc which allowed the series to lean into some science, a key them of the franchise. Instead of focusing solely on its destruction, our crew took time—a whole season—to figure out what the DMA was, where it came from, and maybe even how to stop it—or at least come up with a plan on how to go outside our galaxy to find the highly-advanced beings responsible for the DMA and ask them to stop it.
With all this going on, Discovery still had to service a number of characters and plot points set up previously (including Zora’s continued evolution, Gray needing a physical body, Tilly’s career path, and the mission to bring worlds back into the Federation while also dealing with the fallout of the Emerald Chain, phew!), which dragged the pace at times. But scientist Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) added some needed off-kilter energy to the cast and his relationship with Book was a great story thread, one that helped to set up Book and Burnham being at odds with one another. Also joining the cast this season was UFP president Rillak (Chelah Horsdal), a new boss of sorts for Captain Burnham and Admiral Vance; as a civilian president, her character brought in a focus on the politics surrounding the galactic threat, making Burnham’s job even more difficult.
The Blu-ray set
The 13 episodes and special features are spread out across four Blu-ray discs. As we’ve come to expect for a Paramount/CBS home video release, each disc has the names of the episodes it contains printed on them, as well as a full listing for the set on the inside back of the case. There’s a special Steelbook edition of the Blu-ray set too. For those who want it, the season is also available on plain old DVD as well.
Discovery season 4 follows the slick, modern style that it initially helped to define for the CBS/Paramount+ Trek universe. Season 4 follows season 3’s lead with dynamic (but thankfully less nauseating) camera moves. Having the higher bitrate available on disc means the image quality in the many atmospheric scenes is a bit better than streaming.
The episodes have losslessly compressed DTS-HD MA 5.1 channel soundtracks. Discovery sounds great and has consistently sounded cinematic since season 2; as noted in my other reviews, the producers and Emmy-nominated sound mixers are at the top of their game with these latest seasons.
Star Trek: Discovery – The Voyage Of Season 4 (52 mins) – As they’ve done with the past seasons, this feature documents the making of the season. Writers, producers, directors, and cast are interviewed about the making of the 13 episodes.
Being Michael Burnham: The Captain’s Log (14 mins) – Another in the continued series of features season to season, in this log Sonequa Martin-Green takes fans through her personal journey as the newly promoted Captain Michael Burnham. She shares her thoughts through cell phone videos, on-set interviews, and clips. If people didn’t already know, Sonequa had her second child not long before season 4 started filming, and she was back up on wire work and running through hallways… that’s dedication!
Creating Space (20 mins) – Supervising Art Director Matt Middleton shows off the AR wall, which is made up of thousands of LEDs, used to create expansive virtual sets, a huge boon during COVID.
The Toll It Took (12 mins) – The cast and crew discuss the impact of COVID as they created and filmed season 4. We see people testing daily and they discuss how the “pod system” works to prevent a spread in case of a positive test. The actors from the USA had to come early, quarantine for 14 days, and then stay full-time in Toronto during the long shoot, instead of flying back and forth to Los Angeles and New York City in the downtimes.
Commentary: Episode 413 – Coming Home – Episode writer and co-showrunner Michelle Paradise, producing director Olatunde Osunsanmi, and cast members Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala contribute to the single commentary on the set.
For many people, these are likely behind the desire to get a TV show on disc. There are three episodes that have deleted or extended scenes, found on the disc with the corresponding episode.
“Choose to Live”
- A complete scene of Trill Guardian Xi initiating the transfer standing over Adira and Gray’s golem body, it’s very Star Trek III inspired.
- Culber walks in excited about Gray’s successful transfer to find Stamets distracted and distraught about his lack of progress figuring out the DMA.
- Stamets in the lab with Saru, and he apologizes for not listening to Saru earlier when he told him to stop his experiments with Tarka and the scale reproduction of the DMA.
- As the landing party preps, we see Detmer getting her ocular implant calibrated by Dr. Pollard before going on the mission.
Gag Reel (3 mins) – Found on the fourth disc. These “blooper reels” tend to be a nice look into the reality of making a TV show. The feature opens with Doug Jones, always a delight, flubbing his lines, and it keeps going from there, including a little bit of Tig Notaro’s dry whit. We also get prop mishaps, and a few other fun unplanned moments.
For fans who weren’t sure what to make of Discovery, especially as it’s morphed itself each season, I think season 4 is worth a second look. As with all seasons, the highly-serialized show benefits from binge-watching. Also, season 4 had some really spotty availability for international viewers, so getting it on physical media might be one of the first opportunities for some fans to see it. As usual, we also recommend it for completists or anyone who wants an offline copy of the show; this includes those who cannot or do not want to stream the show and folks who have concerns about the fleeting rights to streaming media.
Discovery season 4 is yet another recent Trek season produced in HDR, adding insult to injury, this latest season was also confirmed to be shot in 4K (Strange New Worlds S1 and Discovery S4 were the first seasons produced using newer 4K+ resolution ARRI Alexa cameras) and it is available to stream in HDR and 4K on Paramount+, I would be remiss in not expressing a bit of disappointment with the lack of a UHD Blu-ray release to let the detailed sets, costumes, and cinematography really shine. This is primarily due to market factors—the UltraHD Blu-ray format is rather niche, in the already shrinking physical media home video market.
Available now in the USA
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Trailer & special features video clips
Coming soon to other countries
The home video release will be available soon in these countries:
- United Kingdom – December 5, 2022
- France – December 7, 2022
- Japan – December 7, 2022
- Australia – December 7, 2022
- Germany – December 8, 2022
- Italy – December 15, 2022
- Spain – December 15, 2022
- Nordics – January 9, 2023
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