Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Discuss: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Karen: Continuing our discussion of Star Trek TV series, let's move on to the series that deviated from the starship-exploring-space mold: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Let's hear your thoughts on this addition to the mythos.


Rip Jagger said...

DS9 was a better show than I expected it to be. I remember hearing the premise and thinking how in the world they were going to generate enough stories being isolated in one place. They had not problem with that.

The key to this show was really strong distinctive characters who were exceedingly well acted. Unlike the later Voyager which had a great premise but was hurt by too many cliche charcters, DS9 had a very good blend.

The darker tone was good to see on a Star Trek show. The comparisons to the oddly similar Babylon 5 make DS9 unusual in that you actually get to see two takes on essentially the same premise working out at pretty much the same time.

Rip Off

david_b said...

DS9 was really a wonderful experiment on several levels. Would established fans accept this twist of Trek story-telling with all new characters..? Granted they did it once to great accolades with Next Gen, but with all the characters bickering at each other out on an outpost..?

The only outposts we had really known in Trekdom was the K7 Space Station from the Tribbles episode. As Rip mentioned, it really became more than the sum of it's parts. With a great lead as Avery, all the characters resonated almost immediately. Bashir and Kira were my immediate favs.

I don't recall all the character names off hand, but I quickly got hooked on the interplay between Julian and Garak, just a hoot how Garak would manipulate Julian and the others with 'secret pasts'. 'Our Man Bashir' was a superb episode, letting viewers know that despite the more gritty episodes than Next Gen would ever do, there was still time for fun.

The Tribbles episode was just fantastic; just watching the behind-the-scenes camera work to get the hallway dimensions down, the old lighting, you name it. Just a tremendous lovefest for that TOS classic episode.

One thing I'm a big fan of is how each Trek series had their own habitual fun between the characters at leisure. In Next Gen, it was poker; in DS9 it was darts. And they drank LOTS of coffee, so it was a perfect atmosphere for me.

Rom and Nog also kept me in stitches.. ('Little Green Men' anyone..?) Worf joining the cast (so Michael Dorn could buy another airplane..?) was welcomed on some levels, and I acknowledge it was a ratings-saver for Season 4, as was the Defiant. I had mixed feelings about that; love his character and it made some sense, but still unsure it was the best move for the show's original formula.

I didn't stay too faithful after the first couple of seasons, but I did enjoy the two-parter 'Past Tense' and most definitely 'Far Beyond the Stars', the latter being probably one of the finest Trek episodes ever done, exploring '50s racial prejudice as a black writer (Sisko..) trys to envision life on a space station. Powerfully, powerfully done.

I'm a bit disappointed that the Trek movie franchise moved beyond the Berman genre nowadays. I would have liked these strong characters (and gifted actors) on the big screen.

Ah, well.

Doc Savage said...

Ugh, could not stand this show. All the unlikable characters bickering, the inappropriate (for Star Trek) dark tone, the mysticism...especially the nonexploration. Not sure why this had to be Star Trek, could've been anything given how little it had to do with the basic concept of a Wagon Train to the Stars.

Didn'thelp that I found the lead to have zero charisma.

humanbelly said...

Well, there we have it again, just like Doug pointed out earlier. One reasonably positive impression, one rave review, and one scathing pan & dismissal.

Sheesh! We are a group of diverse tastes, aren't we?

I remember sticking with most of the first season, because I enjoyed the bulk of the cast. But I too found Avery just astonishingly underwhelming, uncharismatic, and honestly, almost comically wooden. I kept wondering if it was just me, 'cause I wanted to like him-- but I simply didn't buy him, and that (and hectic life schedule) made me lose touch. It's strange, because the guy is a HIGHLY respected actor-- he's been in a couple of high-visibility productions in DC, and there's not a knock against him in that arena.

The title theme is the BEST of all the Trek franchises, I must say. It captures the sense of wonder and hope and inspiration that should be intrinsic with space-exploration type adventures.


Bruce said...

This is far and away my favorite of the Star Trek series, and one of my favorite TV shows ever.

The characters made the show for me. They were nuanced and complex, but (most of them) were likable. There was tension and disagreement, and that felt real.

Beyond that, I loved the darker tone and episodic nature of the show. Story arcs built over time, and you couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

But DS9 wasn't all gloom and doom. There were some genuinely funny episodes, and some heartwarming moments (especially "The Visitor," which focuses on Sisko's relationship with his son, Jake.)

I could talk all day about DS9. Good thing I've got to get back to work!

david_b said...

Oh, I can rave on it's merits but I also agree with Matt and HB on Avery and other aspects. Avery was a bit more low-key than other captains, depth but low charisma, so I agree it was a challenge to maintain interest in the long run.

You both hit on aspects of WHY I didn't watch regularly after the first year. I didn't like the mysticism angle, the never-ending Dominion storylines, nor all the Bajoran and Cardassian war stuff much. A lot of it just seemed too convuluted and it sucked a lot of potential excitment out of the show. I also didn't think much of Odo and his changling shtick. It got dull quickly, hence Worf and the Defiant, to re-energize the fanbase. I will say friendship with O'Brien and Bashir was nicely done.

I was also seriously dating someone who was very much into Babylon 5, so I took my eyes off DS9 for a few years, and learned the characters and subplots on Babylon which seemed much more interesting and fun; hopefully we'll have a column on that someday soon.

david_b said...

HB, as for memorable, 'wonder and hope' themes.., my pick would be TOS, nearly tied with 'ST:Voyager'.

And even though the TAS theme was heavily 'Filmationed', I enjoyed the Animated Show theme as well. I still take a couple of TAS DVDs with me on trips.

Doug/Karen, we won't be forgetting Star Trek: The Animated Series, will we..?

Karen said...

Well...I didn't have the animated series slotted for a post, but if enough of you want it, I can add it to the calendar. What say you?

I've mentioned before that DS9 is my second favorite Trek, after the original show. I was initially skeptical about a Trek show that did not involve a starship, but DS9 managed to do its own type of exploration - within the different cultures and people we encountered on the station.

I thought the crew were very interesting, far more than the Next Gen or Voyager casts. Sisko was always on a slow boil it seemed. The Dominion War gave the show a chance to put characters into some morally difficult situations -one of the best episodes was "In The Pale Moonlight," where Sisko makes his own deal with the devil, falsely bringing the Romulans into the war in order to save the Federation. Can he live with it? He thinks he can. Maybe. David already mentioned "Far Beyond the Stars," which is just a heart-breaking story.

The Bajoran religion was different, at times a bit annoying, but it did add a real-world aspect to the show that we had not seen in Trek. I also enjoyed the return to the Mirror universe. There were some strong relationships -O'Brien and Bashir, Odo and Quark, Sisko and Jake. I loved Andy Robinson as Garak -so complicated, so vile! And Mark Alaimo as Gul Dukat, another strong character who was no cookie-cutter villain.

Now when the heck are they getting this out on Blu-Ray? My standard DVDs look awful!

William said...

I remember not liking DS9 that much at first, but it grew on me over time (much like STNG did). Nowadays I'd consider DS9 my second favorite Star Trek series (after NG). I especially got into it when the Klingons became a big part of the series, as well as the Dominion War saga.

Doc Savage said...

Maybe his acting works better on stage?

Doc Savage said...

I might even like the animated show's music better than the original!

david_b said...

I'd agree with Karen about Sisko's slow-boil approach. A classic breakthrough moment was the 1st year Q episode..:

Q: (punched by Sisko) "Picard never hit me..?!?"
Sisko: "I'm not Picard!"

I don't know quite how to say this about Avery, but his approach's a lot like my wife's personality..: 'He makes black coffee look relaxed.'

Edo Bosnar said...

I was not too fond of DS9; don't hate it like Matt does, but I there were many things about it I didn't like.
First and foremost, it took more than just the first season for it to even pick up momentum. In fact, until the Dominion War started, there were so many episodes which I found incredibly boring. Second, I think Babylon 5 just did the whole space station/interstellar politics thing so much better.

Also, I found it had the highest number of annoying characters. I mean, TNG has Wesley Crusher, Voyager has Neelix (who kind of grew on me after a while), but DS9 has Rom and Nog (I always rooted for Quark in their various arguments), Ezri Dax, that obnoxious holographic 1960s Vegas lounge lizard, and the emo, pouty, whining Odo - sorry, I just could not stand him.
By contrast, I really liked Garak and Kai Winn (both were so wonderfully duplicitous), and Chief O'Brien and Worf as carry-overs from TNG.

I agree that "Far Beyond the Stars" is one of the best episodes (perhaps even the best). Another personal favorite of mine is "The Magnificent Ferengi," in which Quark gathers a band of Ferengi misfits and outcasts to rescue his mother from the Dominion. That was one of the few episodes in which Rom and Nog didn't bug me, and another cool factor is that Iggy Pop guest stars as a Vorta commander.

Mike said...

I'm with Karen on this one -- my second fav series after TOS. Its interesting how polarizing it is to some Trek fans. A friend of mine agrees with me on everything sci-fi until we get to DS9 and Voyager -- he hates DS9, I love it. He loves Voyager, I did not. Even Jeri Ryan couldn't keep my interest in Voyager.

I really liked the writing on DS9. Of course there's hits and misses, but I felt overall it was very well made. In fact one of my favorite Trek episodes of all time is "Trials and Tribble-ations" -- absolutely brilliant and fun.

Karen said...

Holy Crow -how could I forget to mention Iggy Pop?! Yes, that was one of the weirdest and most wonderful moments on any Trek!

Honestly, I think both Next Gen and DS9 were pretty weak their first two seasons. It took them a bit to hit their stride. Nowadays, a show gets maybe three episodes before it is yanked!

Hoosier X said...

I've never seen Deep Space Nine, so I hope it's OK if I go a little off-topic and talk about the Mego Star Trek action figures. I was thinking about them because I was kind of surprised that - on the BAB poll - so few of the respondents said they had the Star Trek figures.

My brother and I had Spock and Kirk and, as we were too young to remember the original run of the show, we didn't get them until the early 1970s, when the show had been canceled, but was still running ubiquitously in syndication.

Were those action ficures available when the show was still on its original run? Or were they issued later solely on the stength of syndication popularity?

And did they have figures for anybody but Spock and Kirk? I just don't remember. Did they have McCoy or Scott or Uhura? Or maybe a stray, generic Klingon?

Doug said...

Hoosier X --

Here's a pic of the 1974 line-up, which is when Megos were in their heyday:


Hoosier X said...

Thanks, Doug!

I love it that Uhura is gigantic. It's like, what if Uhura was played by Angela Bassett and Kirk was played by Tom Cruise.

Mike said...

Here's some info on the Trek Megos:

All I had was Kirk and Spock. Some spoiled neighbor kids of mine had flipping everything and wouldn't let me play with any of it.


Anonymous said...

The first season was kind of slow, but I really got into it in later seasons. I agree with David_b about "Far Beyond the Stars"...Brooks should've won an Emmy for that we got to see the entire cast without their usual makeup!

Mike W.

Hoosier X said...

Thanks, Mike!

The Mego Museum looks like a fantastic place to spend hours of your life in a manner that many people would consider unproductive.

david_b said...

Oh, I've been a pretty ACTIVE member of the Mego Museum for a few years, which where I scored lots of MIB Megos, Legend figures, and other odds/ends.

Apparently the Trek license was sold to Mego for about $2000 back in '72.. Related to my earlier touts of ST:TAS, Mego seized the license right on the very cusp of the then-surging Trek groundswell. The timing could NOT have been any better to capitalize on what what essentially a odd syndicated show.

AND SINCE WE'VE ENGAGED in tangents.., let me add some additional support for a ST:TAS column (drumroll please..?)

1) Freed from some of the TOS plot devices (Kirk gettin' the alien girl, the 'Kirk-Spock-McCoy' banter, etc..), TAS touted arguably the purest science fiction offerings of any Trek series with writers like Larry Niven, David Gerrold, DC Fontana and other established writers contributing some pretty far-out, mature stories.., visiting the center of the Universe, etc.

2) Aside from the Next Gen's 4th year 'Devils Due', it was the only Trek series to actually feature 'the Devil' in a episode; suffice to say, not your typical Saturday morning fare.

3) The original cast's involved along with Roger C. Caramel (Mudd) and Stanley Adams (Cyrano Jones) returning to voice their characters.

4) Canon..? That's always been the key question, hasn't it..? Per the sources I've read, Gene never said it wasn't; apparently one of his staffers made some comment it wasn't and it stuck (obviously until the '90s when Paramount wanted another Trek cash cow, started promoting it for the long-awaited DVD release..). As David Gerrold mentioned,

"Arguments about "canon" are silly. I always felt that Star Trek Animated was part of Star Trek because Gene Roddenberry accepted the paycheck for it and put his name on the credits."

5) First use of the holodeck and first mention of Tiberius as Kirk's middle name.

And it was Trek's first series to win an Emmy.

Others can chime in more, just some candid thoughts.

mr. oyola said...

Benjamin Sisko is my favorite Star Trek captain.

It doesn't hurt that despite Star Trek's lip service to equality, it was the first of the franchise to put a black person in charge, and one of the few TV shows in history to display a positive representation of black fatherhood. I swear every time Sisko shows some affection, love and concern for Jake I choke up!

Here is a great piece on Sisko over at once my favorite pop culture blogs, Racialious:

Karen said...

The interesting thing is, Sisko wasn't a captain to begin with. He started the show as a commander and was eventually promoted. I always thought that was odd.

Mr. Oyola, thanks for passing along that article. It was worth the read. I thought the comments about the difference between Roddenberry's color-blind vision and DS9's more nuanced vision were spot-on.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, personally I liked DS9 more than TNG, if only because of the darker, edgier tone and strong characters.

As for Sisko, I think his character worked simply because he wasn't Picard, as evidenced by that famous punch to Q's face! This series rocked because they consciously tried not to be a carbon copy of TNG.

- Mike 'I wish I had a pet sehlat' from Trinidad & Tobago.

MattComix said...

This is where I parted ways with Trek. I loved TOS and TNG (up to and including All Good Things). With DS9 the combination of the concept, Berman spreading the franchise too thin overall and Ira Steven Behr's darker and cynical outlook on Trek just didn't work for me.

There's also the extent to which DS9 is where Star Trek starts trying too hard to be an action thing and it's still doing it.

david_b said...

Actually MattComix, you brought up a great point here...

Incidentally, I didn't feel the franchise was too thin until Voyager premiered, but you could definitely feel the effects on TNG the season DS9 began.

Gone were the seemingly non-stop delivery of exciting TNG stories and creative spark (after a dismal Season 2), gone was the clever use of background music you heard so much in Season's 3 and 4.

It was VERY clear that at that point, creatively, TNG was now on 'auto-pilot'.

Teresa said...

DS9 was my 2nd favorite behind TNG. I liked the show when it dove head first into the local and galactic politics. My favorite episode is "In the Pale Moonlight." That episode still gives me goosebumps.

I have always felt that the actors were held back. They looked like they had so much more to give. But maybe that is me just hoping.
DS9 sold me on the Ferengi. Those were some of the best episodes. Somehow Nog wormed his way into my heart. The Tribble episode was pure fanfic and I loved it. (-:

I am more of a B5 fan. IMHO, It did the politics within a spacestation better.

Edo Bosnar said...

"In the Pale Moonlight" - I'm really torn about that episode. By itself, it's really well made. However, to me it seems to epitomize what I didn't like about DS9: I hated the fact that it portrayed a Star Fleet captain channeling the spirit of Henry Kissinger...

Karen said...

Edo, I think your reaction to "In The Pale Moonlight" is exactly what makes it such a great episode. I recall feeling very upset on one hand that Sisko could do such a thing, yet on the other recognizing that he was in a horrible position and left with few choices. I really loved the whole Dominion War cycle because it put Trek characters in a position we had never seen them in before and forced them to make very tough decisions and face the ugliness of war.

Teresa, you also mentioned Nog -I couldn't stand him until the war and him losing his leg and having to deal with getting that. I thought they handled that situation very well. He really matured as a character through the course of it.

As for Babylon 5, I did watch a few seasons of it but never warmed to it. But we can certainly run a post for it down the line. Once we get through the Trek posts, we'll get back to more SF book, TV, and movies posts.

Bruce said...

Karen, I'm with you on "In the Pale Moonlight." Sisko's behavior was disturbing. But ultimately, his actions may have turned the tide of the war. It's one of those "Should Truman have dropped the bomb?" kind of moral questions that provoke powerful, yet varied, responses.

The part that really got to me was the very end of the episode, where Sisko, in private, admits that his actions were immoral, perhaps evil. Then he says something to the effect of, "and, God help me, if I had to, I'd do it again." That was perhaps the most unsettling moment in Star Trek history, at least in my mind.

Bruce said...

Teresa, you make an interesting point about the actors sometimes being "held back." I think a lot of that had to do with simply an insufficient amount of screen time to showcase so many strong actors.

For the most part, the DS9 cast was a veteran crew with lots of "serious acting" credibility - there weren't many weak links in the bunch. You could've given just about any of those performers more camera time, and they would've knocked it out of the park. But there were too many worthy actors and not enough screen time to give all of them the attention that she or he deserved.

Just my take, anyway!

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