Deep Space Nine: A Re-evaluation.

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Like many of you, I suspect, I was first exposed to the show via broadcasts on BBC Two during the 90's. My vague recollection was that it was shown once a week, which was duly recorded, and I worked my way diligently through all seven Seasons as and when the BBC showed them.

I also remember enjoying the show at the time, but for whatever reason it didn't leave a lasting impression on me, probably because I was also recording and watching shows like "Space: Above & Beyond", "The X-Files" and "Sliders" at the same time and they seemed more dynamic and engaging in comparison.

But at the start of this year, I was looking at my "Star Trek" disc collection on the shelf and there seemed to be a huge "DS9"-shaped hole, and a light went on in my mind and I decided to invest in the DVD Box Set. I wasn't planning on watching it anytime soon, but then lockdown appeared, sporting events (and subsequent TV highlights) stopped and suddenly I had all this free time in the evenings with no end in sight.

So in March I watched "Emissary", the pilot episode, and immediately fell in love with the characters. The show had a look and feel that was familiar, but also somehow different and unique. I've managed to watch two episodes a night, every night, and its groundbreaking serialisation became far more evident than just watching one episode a week. It was far easier to recognise references to previous events and episodes, to see the connections that were being laid down by the writers, and to keep track of the personal development arcs of the many characters.

It's a brave, ambitious and progressive show that took risks and the writing is frequently simply magnificent. The creative industries are often about collaboration and teamwork, both in front and behind the camera in TV, and the casting, performances, editing, lighting, sets, costumes, sound and special effects are all exemplary. But, in my opinion, it's all about the script - what you actually give your characters to say and the consequences of those words - that is the essential foundation of any TV show, and some of the dialogue is just poetry and a sheer joy to listen to.

What also helps the show enormously is its depiction of moral ambiguity, conflicted loyalties, hidden motivations and character growth and change. Much as I love them, you didn't really get this as much on "TOS" or "TNG". There are also regular user reviews and ratings on IMDB and some fairly consistent moaning, especially earlier on in the show's life or particularly about the Ferengi episodes. But for me, the number of episodes I didn't enjoy I can count on one hand, and even then there's nearly always a scene, or a small moment that's pure gold.

There's also mention of Avery Brooks' unusual and idiosyncratic performance as Sisko many times, but I liked him - he was passionate and committed and engaged as an actor, which clearly had a knock on effect on anyone sharing a scene with him as they knew they had to raise their game; they couldn't just hit their marks, say their dialogue and pick up their pay cheque. Terry Farrell also came under criticism for her acting, but I found her character witty, vivacious, charming and full of life. Special mention must also go to Nana Visitor as Kira as any episode featuring her as a major storyline would always be gripping and enthralling. And Andrew Robinson would always elevate any episode he appeared in. Plus, there's Morn!

As an accompanying reference piece, I was reading Terry Erdmann's "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion" book which is an incredible achievement in its own right as it was written during the show's seven year production run. You gain real insight into the making of the show, all the hard work involved (16-18 hour days, six days a week) and the agonising about practically every artistic decision. It's an absolutely essential read if you can find one at a reasonable price as it has rocketed in value since going out of print:

Amazon product

Another book I had to hand which is much more affordable and just as enjoyable is Phil Farrand's "Nitpicker's Guide". It's nowhere near as in-depth as Erdmann's book, but it does make you think about the narrative and character inconsistencies and any continuity issues that crop up. It's also pretty funny! The only downside is that it only covers the first four Seasons (I don't know why):


Finally, as has already been mentioned elsewhere, there's a wonderful and deeply moving documentary called "What We Left Behind", which is a retrospective look back at the show's impact and influence. It's available on DVD for around £12, but that is just a waste of money because it's also available on Blu-Ray for around £18-19 and the HD footage is simply jaw-dropping and breathtaking. It's worth getting just for that alone:


The only downside is that it is Region A only, so you'll need a Multi-Region player to watch it.

In summary: I know guys like @lucasisking and @Sloppy Bob regard the show very highly, and I was clearly wrong to ignore it for all these years. It is undoubtedly the best of the "Star Trek" shows on so many levels, though I must confess that "Voyager" will always be my favourite show, despite its flaws. And this is mainly because Captain Janeway is my favourite character of all.

I know that's illogical, but I'm only human!:)
 
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Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Even though I wrote an essay during my Thread, there were still a few things I didn't say (amazingly), so I'll do this now!

Whenever you ask people if they like "Star Trek", the non-fans will usually say they enjoy "TOS" or "TNG". And even if you ask dedicated fans, they'll usually say they enjoy "TOS" or "TNG"!

But though I love both shows, even I recognise that they were two of a kind - the fundamental premise being a crew on a ship travelling around having different adventures, with each episode usually being self-enclosed and the dreaded "reset" button being pressed each time (events on a previous episode, no matter how traumatic, were rarely carried forward or alluded to again).

"TOS" obviously was the standard bearer of the concept, with "TNG" being an updated and expanded version of the previous iteration. So "DS9" was always going to struggle with keeping an audience with an expectation of more of the same.

I created my Thread not for people who already love the show, but to persuade anyone who started watching but then stopped, or who abandoned the series entirely to return. Give it another try! Persevere with it!

It hasn't aged at all (unlike "TOS" and "TNG"), still feels bold and relevant, and I guarantee that you will be engrossed and enthralled throughout.:)
 

Klippie

Member
DS9 is my favourite Star Trek... it’s not the usual Trek show as its quite deep but can be thrilling all at the same time, for me a huge boost to the already excellent cast was the introduction of Worf this elevated to show to greater heights as this brought in more great characters like General Martok...I would loved to have seen the DS9 cast in a Trek Movie.
 

scrowe

Well-known Member
Even though I wrote an essay during my Thread, there were still a few things I didn't say (amazingly), so I'll do this now!

Whenever you ask people if they like "Star Trek", the non-fans will usually say they enjoy "TOS" or "TNG". And even if you ask dedicated fans, they'll usually say they enjoy "TOS" or "TNG"!

But though I love both shows, even I recognise that they were two of a kind - the fundamental premise being a crew on a ship travelling around having different adventures, with each episode usually being self-enclosed and the dreaded "reset" button being pressed each time (events on a previous episode, no matter how traumatic, were rarely carried forward or alluded to again).

"TOS" obviously was the standard bearer of the concept, with "TNG" being an updated and expanded version of the previous iteration. So "DS9" was always going to struggle with keeping an audience with an expectation of more of the same.

I created my Thread not for people who already love the show, but to persuade anyone who started watching but then stopped, or who abandoned the series entirely to return. Give it another try! Persevere with it!

It hasn't aged at all (unlike "TOS" and "TNG"), still feels bold and relevant, and I guarantee that you will be engrossed and enthralled throughout.:)
Having collected the TOS on VHS, my entire exposure to TNG and then DS9 was by buying the 2 VHS (2 per tape) bi-monthly? Releases. I recall DS9 originally had a rental window, albeit I waited for the retail, but I still think this was before a UK broadcaster.

I definitely liked it from the off, but my real wow moment came with a 3-part story that deeply political, about the Bajoran occupation, which I believe straddled end of S1 into S3. That’s when I knew it was very special and it went from strength-to-strength after that.

I’ve had the DVD box-sets for years unopened. I keep promising myself a timeline based rewatch of all series, but not even the current inferior fast-food Trek has committed me to starting down that nostalgic road.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
I’ve had the DVD box-sets for years unopened. I keep promising myself a timeline based rewatch of all series, but not even the current inferior fast-food Trek has committed me to starting down that nostalgic road.
You see, my Thread was written specifically for people like you!;)

I must confess, if it weren't for lockdown I would've also probably just left the Box Set on the shelf to watch "at some point". And then years would pass and I would probably die and it would never happen.

Don't do this! Change that mindset! Go ahead and watch the entire show again, and not just for nostalgia purposes!

I really was surprised at how gripping I found it and how low I felt after I'd watched the final episode. I'd really connected to and believed in those characters and that world, it was actually quite hard to let it all go. I think a big part of it is that I only ever watched two episodes a night, so I never overdosed nor raced through it, I just let the whole saga gradually unfurl.

I've seen your posts elsewhere and you write so eloquently, so I'd love it if you watched the entire series again and then posted your thoughts. Even if you hated it, you'd make it sound delicious!:)
 

scrowe

Well-known Member
You see, my Thread was written specifically for people like you!;)

I must confess, if it weren't for lockdown I would've also probably just left the Box Set on the shelf to watch "at some point". And then years would pass and I would probably die and it would never happen.

Don't do this! Change that mindset! Go ahead and watch the entire show again, and not just for nostalgia purposes!

I really was surprised at how gripping I found it and how low I felt after I'd watched the final episode. I'd really connected to and believed in those characters and that world, it was actually quite hard to let it all go. I think a big part of it is that I only ever watched two episodes a night, so I never overdosed nor raced through it, I just let the whole saga gradually unfurl.

I've seen your posts elsewhere and you write so eloquently, so I'd love it if you watched the entire series again and then posted your thoughts. Even if you hated it, you'd make it sound delicious!:)
In many respects, I remember DS9 with more clarity than TOS and TNG. The new availability of TOS , TAS, TNG in HD will definitely mean I do a full rewatch in order, I’m afraid. But DS9 is probably tge one I look forward to the most.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
The new availability of TOS , TAS, TNG in HD will definitely mean I do a full rewatch in order, I’m afraid.
"New availability"?

"TOS" was remastered in HD back in 2009! The other two came later I believe, but it's still been years!

Having said that, I tried to watch "DS9" and not think about the fact that it was only SD. The picture and sound was just, acceptable, shall we say. The HD footage on the documentary was kind of heartbreaking to see as it was just so good, but it's unlikely to happen in my lifetime, if ever.

You're a brave man to watch the shows in order as I wouldn't want to switch from HD to SD. Mind you, "Emissary" looked terrible on my TV (65" OLED), but subsequent episodes improved rapidly.
 

scrowe

Well-known Member
"New availability"?

"TOS" was remastered in HD back in 2009! The other two came later I believe, but it's still been years!

Having said that, I tried to watch "DS9" and not think about the fact that it was only SD. The picture and sound was just, acceptable, shall we say. The HD footage on the documentary was kind of heartbreaking to see as it was just so good, but it's unlikely to happen in my lifetime, if ever.

You're a brave man to watch the shows in order as I wouldn't want to switch from HD to SD. Mind you, "Emissary" looked terrible on my TV (65" OLED), but subsequent episodes improved rapidly.
Yeah my entire viewing of TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager was via double-episode VHS. I picked up the DVD sets as and when I saw good deals. Then the TOS was remastered in BD but other than a browse on the TOS sets to compare old/new effects I never got round to watching. Then I sold the TNG DVD sets to CEX all still sealed, when I got the TNG BD set. Same for the Animated series. But they mainly sit on the shelf, other than I rewatch the TOS movies every now and then, never the TNG movies, from the 1-10 cube BD set.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Yeah my entire viewing of TOS, TNG, DS9 and Voyager was via double-episode VHS. I picked up the DVD sets as and when I saw good deals. Then the TOS was remastered in BD but other than a browse on the TOS sets to compare old/new effects I never got round to watching. Then I sold the TNG DVD sets to CEX all still sealed, when I got the TNG BD set. Same for the Animated series. But they mainly sit on the shelf, other than I rewatch the TOS movies every now and then, never the TNG movies, from the 1-10 cube BD set.
Did you not have time during lockdown? Were you working as usual? Or did you manage to finally get round to doing all the things we endlessly put off in life?

As a key worker, my life didn't change at all - I was still going to work every weekend. The difference was that I didn't go away on holiday, nor did I have any gigs to go to - virtually every evening was free, so there was time to prioritise watching the entire series from start to finish.

Having said that, I do think it was a mindset on my part as I'm still not going to gigs so still have free evenings. I dunno, I think I just found it a massive investment of my energy and I need a bit of time to recover before diving into another Box Set again!

Mind you, apart from various "Star Trek" iterations, I don't have many other shows that run for so long, so it's entirely feasible that I could finally watch them instead of them just sitting on the shelf.
 

brian s

Distinguished Member
I like this thread and your dedication Derek even though I'm not exactly a huge fan of the show. I really gave it a go and was pleased to see that Colm Meany transferred to it. I really like him as an actor and thought he would do well in it. Unfortunately I don't think they used him very well and certainly didn't play to his strengths. I think they used that dreaded reset button following one of his episodes. At least I think it was a DS9 episode rather than a TNG. I quite liked Alexander Siddiq as Bashir and Terry Farrell as Dax but I couldn't get away with most of the rest of the cast. Avery Brooks as Sisko was so laid back he was laid out. I found him terrible I'm afraid.

The show got a real boost when Worf also transferred to it. I actually bought that season on DVD but I don't think I watched all of it as the number of dull episodes started to outnumber the good ones.

I stuck with it for at least the first three to four seasons but found it increasingly tedious. As I recall there may have been a big war towards the end which didn't interest me whatsoever. I think I rarely watched it after that. I'm certainly not going to follow your advice to watch it all over again but I might watch that first Worf season to the end. Or at least after I've watched all of my Voyager DVDs.

Bri
 

Reyreyrey

Active Member
I like this thread and your dedication Derek even though I'm not exactly a huge fan of the show. I really gave it a go and was pleased to see that Colm Meany transferred to it. I really like him as an actor and thought he would do well in it. Unfortunately I don't think they used him very well and certainly didn't play to his strengths. I think they used that dreaded reset button following one of his episodes. At least I think it was a DS9 episode rather than a TNG. I quite liked Alexander Siddiq as Bashir and Terry Farrell as Dax but I couldn't get away with most of the rest of the cast. Avery Brooks as Sisko was so laid back he was laid out. I found him terrible I'm afraid.

The show got a real boost when Worf also transferred to it. I actually bought that season on DVD but I don't think I watched all of it as the number of dull episodes started to outnumber the good ones.

I stuck with it for at least the first three to four seasons but found it increasingly tedious. As I recall there may have been a big war towards the end which didn't interest me whatsoever. I think I rarely watched it after that. I'm certainly not going to follow your advice to watch it all over again but I might watch that first Worf season to the end. Or at least after I've watched all of my Voyager DVDs.

Bri
DS9 got better season 4 onwards so I'd say you sat through all the dull stuff and gave up too soon.
 

brian s

Distinguished Member
DS9 got better season 4 onwards so I'd say you sat through all the dull stuff and gave up too soon.
Was it season 4 when Worf joined? If so that had some of the most entertaining episodes I saw on the show. I can't remember how much I watched it after that but I found what I saw to be very poor. I'm actually being very polite in saying very poor. I didn't like it at all.

Bri
 

Reyreyrey

Active Member
Was it season 4 when Worf joined? If so that had some of the most entertaining episodes I saw on the show. I can't remember how much I watched it after that but I found what I saw to be very poor. I'm actually being very polite in saying very poor. I didn't like it at all.

Bri
Yeah I think that's when worf joined. It also started to become more serialised.
 

johndon

Active Member
Worf joined in the season 4 opener, 'The Way of the Warrior' and, whilst they had appeared in earlier episodes, it was then that what became the Dominion War arc really took off.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Was it season 4 when Worf joined? If so that had some of the most entertaining episodes I saw on the show. I can't remember how much I watched it after that but I found what I saw to be very poor. I'm actually being very polite in saying very poor. I didn't like it at all.

Bri
Brian - you didn't like it because, what? It didn't resemble other "Star Trek" shows? That was intentional!

You didn't like the tone or the characters? That's undoubtedly a personal perception.

It's not like you to associate not liking something with it also being "very poor". I think some things can be very well made but I still don't like them!

Don't be polite, tell us what you think!:)

For what it's worth, I completely get why people would hate the show after watching "TOS" and "TNG" - "DS9" definitely tried to forge its own identity, its own form of storytelling, and deliberately tried to move away from Roddenberry's vision of a perfect humanity and a flawless Federation. That's not for everyone and it's no coincidence that viewing figures started to drop for the TV franchise at this point onward.

But I deliberately called my Thread a "Re-evaluation" because I now think the show is very underrated and, especially, underappreciated by non-fans and it's worth revisiting on so many levels. With hindsight, I think it's probably the last of the truly great "Trek" shows - "Voyager" is generally seen as the runt of the litter, "Enterprise" didn't make it beyond four Seasons, and both "Discovery" and "Picard" have violently divided opinion.

"DS9", in my opinion, is better than both "TOS" and "TNG" because it was more ambitious, more fully realised and more risk-taking. But, ultimately, more rewarding if you stick with it.
 

johndon

Active Member
"DS9", in my opinion, is better than both "TOS" and "TNG" because it was more ambitious, more fully realised and more risk-taking. But, ultimately, more rewarding if you stick with it.
I'm a fan of all the series but, I completely agree, DS9 was, for me, overall better than any Trek before or after.

Among many fine episodes, it gave us 'In the Pale Moonlight', which, despite a number of superb episodes across the entire Trek franchise is, IMO the greatest Trek episode of all time...

John
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Among many fine episodes, it gave us 'In the Pale Moonlight', which, despite a number of superb episodes across the entire Trek franchise is, IMO the greatest Trek episode of all time...
I just sat there with my mouth open in disbelief when that episode finished.

I just could not believe what I'd just seen - the script, the acting, the plotting, the storytelling - it was just dramatic perfection. And both Avery Brooks and Andrew Robinson were absolutely superb.

If ever you need to make a case for "DS9", this is the episode to go for above "Trials and Tribble-ations", "The Visitor" and "Duet". I also have a very soft spot for "The House Of Quark"!

I definitely agree with the top and bottom three on this list:

 

brian s

Distinguished Member
Brian - you didn't like it because, what? It didn't resemble other "Star Trek" shows? That was intentional!

You didn't like the tone or the characters? That's undoubtedly a personal perception.

It's not like you to associate not liking something with it also being "very poor". I think some things can be very well made but I still don't like them!

Don't be polite, tell us what you think!:)

For what it's worth, I completely get why people would hate the show after watching "TOS" and "TNG" - "DS9" definitely tried to forge its own identity, its own form of storytelling, and deliberately tried to move away from Roddenberry's vision of a perfect humanity and a flawless Federation. That's not for everyone and it's no coincidence that viewing figures started to drop for the TV franchise at this point onward.

But I deliberately called my Thread a "Re-evaluation" because I now think the show is very underrated and, especially, underappreciated by non-fans and it's worth revisiting on so many levels. With hindsight, I think it's probably the last of the truly great "Trek" shows - "Voyager" is generally seen as the runt of the litter, "Enterprise" didn't make it beyond four Seasons, and both "Discovery" and "Picard" have violently divided opinion.

"DS9", in my opinion, is better than both "TOS" and "TNG" because it was more ambitious, more fully realised and more risk-taking. But, ultimately, more rewarding if you stick with it.
Derek you've got me wracking my brain to try and remember more exactly why I didn't take to it. It was a long time ago now. As I say most of the characters didn't work for me whereas I liked most/all of them in both TOS and TNG. It did niggle a bit that it was called Star Trek when it was set on a space station orbiting a single planet. If I remember correctly a lot of the stories were centred on the Bajoran religion and I just couldn't get into that. I am an atheist but I loved Frank Herbert's Dune. The interplay between religion and politics was brilliantly explored there. DS9's take on it completely failed to grab me. As I say I have season 4 on DVD. I also have the first episode on a Trek pilot episode Laserdisc collection. If my player still works I could watch that again. It might remind of why I disliked it. Or maybe I'll see it in a new light.

:eek: :)
Bri
 

Garrett

Moderator
But I deliberately called my Thread a "Re-evaluation" because I now think the show is very underrated and, especially, underappreciated by non-fans and it's worth revisiting on so many levels. With hindsight, I think it's probably the last of the truly great "Trek" shows - "Voyager" is generally seen as the runt of the litter, "Enterprise" didn't make it beyond four Seasons, and both "Discovery" and "Picard" have violently divided opinion.

"DS9", in my opinion, is better than both "TOS" and "TNG" because it was more ambitious, more fully realised and more risk-taking. But, ultimately, more rewarding if you stick with it.
Just because Enterprise did not make it beyond season 4 does not make it a poor series many posted now re looked at the series and agree it really picked up with season 3 and had some of the best stories in season 4. Star Trek Original did not make it beyond 3 seasons.

DS9 I though took a lot longer to get going than Enterprise one of the reasons it was static and yet Babylon 5 was and took of in the first season but the producers seem to have put more faith in the series than Enterprise.
 

zantarous

Distinguished Member
IMO DS9 starts much better then TNG, Emissary is a far superior pilot then Encounter At Far Point and I find the first few seasons of DS9 far easier to watch, dare I say even enjoyable compared to TNG S1 & 2.

Just because Enterprise did not make it beyond season 4 does not make it a poor series many posted now re looked at the series and agree it really picked up with season 3 and had some of the best stories in season 4. Star Trek Original did not make it beyond 3 seasons.
Completely agree, heck even I didn't like ENT when it was first broadcast but going back to it a few years ago I really enjoyed it and it has ages really well with some wonderful episodes, a huge serialised story in S3 and a S4 that offered something truly unique.
 

Garrett

Moderator
IMO DS9 starts much better then TNG, Emissary is a far superior pilot then Encounter At Far Point and I find the first few seasons of DS9 far easier to watch, dare I say even enjoyable compared to TNG S1 & 2.



Completely agree, heck even I didn't like ENT when it was first broadcast but going back to it a few years ago I really enjoyed it and it has ages really well with some wonderful episodes, a huge serialised story in S3 and a S4 that offered something truly unique.
the first TNG, Emissary I though was very poor and was quite annoying it would have been better to have had the story with Q later when you got to know the characters more it was as much a Q story as the crew and was annoying.
 

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