‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ at 25
January 3, 2018 3:37 PM   Subscribe

‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ at 25: Through the Wormhole With the Cast and Creators [Variety] “What evolved was kind of a third-child mentality of not being everyone’s cup of tea, but the people who liked it were passionate about it and really enjoyed the neurotic quality to our characters,” says René Auberjonois, who played security chief (or Constable) Odo. “Every single character on ‘Deep Space Nine’ had some deep psychic problem they had to work out. It was being developed at the time of the riots in Los Angeles and the burning of South Central. And also politically Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Everything was falling apart. There was a real darkness, and I think that deeply influenced the style of the show.”
posted by riruro (101 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Jake Sisko is all grown up!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:42 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]

I still think the Dominion War arc was the best extended arc of any Trek series! However, the different tone of DS9 made for a rough first season for the writers and probably turned off a lot of viewers.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:47 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

Far Beyond the Stars is still my favourite Star Trek episode ever.
posted by Pendragon at 3:50 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]

the different tone of DS9 made for a rough first season for the writers and probably turned off a lot of viewers.

If Sisko has hair, you need not care.
Sisko with a goatee? That's the DS9 for me.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:51 PM on January 3 [64 favorites]

I tend to think of the early season issues like some folksy adage. Sisko's got hair? Viewer beware!
posted by tocts at 3:51 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]

Ha, holy shit! Great minds, etc.
posted by tocts at 3:51 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

Speaking of Sisko:

CTRL-F "Avery Brooks" [no match]
CTRL-F "Sisko" [appears only in the comments]


I agree that the first few episodes were dire, but once the series got going, it really got going. Even as a teenager, I found TNG's "resolve all conflicts in super-quick time" deeply frustrating, and DS9's willingness to let tensions boil--not to mention suggest that maybe not everyone would regard the Federation as a bastion of sweetness and light--was far more absorbing to watch.
posted by thomas j wise at 3:59 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]

For all its flaws - and they could be pretty galling at times - I love DS9 more than any other Trek. I maintain that it's the one with the truest follow-through on Roddenberry's utopian vision because it showed its work. Every other series* was either too quick and tidy, or hampered by being Enterprise.

Reading the article, I particularly liked this:
A syndicated science-fiction television series was not, in the early ’90s, a prestige gig. But Berman called Visitor and pitched her on the vision for the show — and on Kira, a former member of a terrorist organization who had moved into a military position in a newly liberated society.
I guess I owe Rick Berman a hat tip or thank you card or something. Nana Visitor managed to keep some really bad-wrong plotlines off the ground behind the scenes, (she's the reason Gul Dukat/Kira wasn't a Thing), and on camera, Kira was one my favorite characters in all of Trek. It's rare to see Star Trek handle religion with any sort of nuance or deftness, but her relationship with Sisko as CO vs. Emissary felt pretty real to me.

(* Too early to judge DISCO about much, I'll get back to ya'll in about five years on what I think about its place in canon.)
posted by mordax at 4:02 PM on January 3 [21 favorites]

Elim Garak is one of my all-time favorite Trek characters...
posted by jim in austin at 4:12 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]

Speaking of Garak, and the fact that Trek in general has not always been great about LGBTQ issues, I sort of have a headcannon about DS9. In it, O'Brien is married and has a kid with Keiko, but also has a boyfriend named Julian, who sometimes stays over, but sometimes stays with his other boyfriend, that nice tailor named Elim, and Keiko probably also has someone that she visits on Bajor, and it is all so unremarkable in the 24th century that no one even comments on it.

(In fact, most people are more concerned about Miles' PTSD, or the position of the current regime on Cardassia regarding certain former Obsidian Order agents)

Also, my absolute favorite line from DS9 is when someone is trying to assassinate Garak, and Odo tells him that "If Major Kira wanted you dead, you'd be dead."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:26 PM on January 3 [37 favorites]

I particularly enjoyed the distortion ring episode
posted by philip-random at 4:38 PM on January 3

I came to Deep Space 9 after Voyager after The Next Generation. And DS9 after Voyager felt like a breath of fresh air. I loved that there was this grim dirty feel to the station and its inhabitants. It felt like the most real of all Star Trek series. This is what would happen, people/aliens are all forced into one area, a kind of loosely controlled chaos. It also felt very fun. Voyager never felt fun, it always felt like a slog.
posted by Fizz at 4:45 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]

Julian/Garak for life

And it was almost canon

More space husbands please
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:48 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]

If you think the first seasons of DS9 are bad, I humbly suggest you may be thinking some episodes are later in the show's run than they are. "Duet", my favorite single DS9 episode, is actually Season 1 Episode 19.

DS9 also has by far the greatest first episode of any Star Trek series (and only the fact that The Gathering and 33 are such good shows keeps it from taking the top spot of any space show). In 2 hours we get the Battle of Wolf 359, an introduction to all the characters, an introduction to the station and Bajor and the Cardassians, the greatest Star Trek villian Gul Dukat, baseball, and Sisko using all of that to make first contact with the most alien species Trek has ever given us: one that doesn't understand linear time! In doing so, he also begins to heal from his own trauma of losing his wife! If Garak had been in episode 1, 33 might have some serious competition.
posted by BeeDo at 5:00 PM on January 3 [29 favorites]

The pilot was the series killer. I tried to watch a few episodes beyond that, but it just didn't work.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:08 PM on January 3

I love Deep Space 9. The stories were good but the characters were incredible and complex.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:13 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

The spots go all the way down.
posted by Lizard at 5:13 PM on January 3 [16 favorites]

Forgot to add my husband still tells me he wants to get me Bajoran earrings.....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:13 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

You'll have to get the nose as well, then.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

Deep Space Nine is one of the reasons I was so disappointed with Voyager. Imagine if they'd taken the same serialized storytelling over to Voyager. So much wasted potential!

DS9 also has the best episode in trek for me in The Visitor.
posted by Start with Dessert at 5:30 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]

I think my two favorite DS9 episodes are probably "In the Pale Moonlight" (obviously) and "Trials and Tribble-ations" (because it's just fun). However, I do have a soft spot for "Defiant," which is the episode where Riker shows up, and acts super shitty to O'Brien, and then steals the Defiant, and then pulls off his sideburns, and everybody goes Tom Riker!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:40 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]

You'll have to get the nose as well, then.

I would but my 78 year old mother is still alive, and I have to really want to do something to make it worth dealing with that. Heh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:44 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

I would go the opposite direction--respectfully--of those with issues with the pilot. The show came late in my college years and got the TNG Bump. But once I graduated in the pre-DVR years I just couldn't make the time or space on my VHS tapes. Then the ending came around so I made a point to watch it and... Ugh? Even knowing I missed some great story arcs made it hard to come back to that ending. It was The BSG Ending way before that show ended like a wet fart.

I do cry every time Babylon 5 meets its end, though (the station. Not the show. The fifth season was a hot mess and you only need to watch the first season once to kick into the better middle stretch.) so, yeah, I just started that argument...
posted by Cyrano at 5:46 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

One of the wonderful little things that situates the show culturally so firmly in the '90s was that everyone was always drinking and fussing over their Raktajinos. Remember when coffee drinks were still a new thing, and kind of a big deal? The centrality of Central Perk to Friends is another example, and the fruitless search for a cappuccino in Hudson Hawk another.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:16 PM on January 3 [15 favorites]

Nah, the Klingons just know how to make really good coffee.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:18 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]

I'm a funder of the What We Left Behind documentary on Indiegogo and co-wrote the episode summaries on the FanFare rewatch, so, yeah, I guess I'm a fan. Even despite the occasional dumb aspects, such as some of the more LGBT-friendly characters (Garak, Julian, Kira, the Daxen...) getting railroaded into heterosexual relationships, we still got this. And I'll say, that even though I'm also taking part in the Voyager rewatch, and usually like it (to some degree), and even like nitpicking over episodes when I don't... the more I watch VOY, the more I like DS9. What the former could have done with the latter's storytelling approach...
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:26 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]

For those of you who missed it first time through, may I humbly point out that the show is on Amazon Prime Video (so if you get free shipping, you can also ship Julian and Miles *at no additional charge*) - and furthermore direct you to Mefi's own FanFare DS9 rewatch threads, which are a great place to grab a raktajino and shoot the shit.

I missed the show on first run (serialized narratives are poison! anathema! especially if you are playing in bands and in your late twenties!) but noticed many folks, years later, expressing passion for the series, so I thought I'd give it a run.

I never was able to get fully on board with the show, in part to my antipathy toward religiosity and in part because I was deeply frustrated with what I really do see as badly-developed handling of religious themes, but I am very glad to have seen it through, because the show's highlights are without question among the best Trek ever made. Maybe more importantly, the show's highlights are at *least* as ambitious as the most groundbreaking episodes of TOS and generally better-developed.

Maybe I should toss up a Duffer's Guide to DS9 as well as the one I assembled for my own needs with regard to Voyager. DS9's best stuff is really in the class of best, maybe in ways that TNG couldn't really pursue. I mean, DS9's darkness is far, far lighter than Black Mirror, for comparison, but the scripts really. do go places no other Trek has to date.
posted by mwhybark at 6:28 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]

There was a season (at least in the NY area) where DS9 and Voyager ran head to head on different networks. I would watch DS9 in my room, and my roommate would watch Voyager in the living room. Afterwords, we'd give each other episode summaries.

When the season was over, we both agreed that I had gotten the better deal.
posted by fings at 6:37 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

An illustrator I follow on Twitter has a marvelous interpretation of DS9 as a humans-in-makeup performance of actual historical events in the 24th century where the aliens were much less human-like.

Her version of Cardassians as 8-ft tall bipedal reptiles with their main sense as the heat-sensitive pit in the forehead "spoon" (contributing to their cultural appreciation of truth being as subjective as their sight) is a highlight, but I also quite like the Vorta (the clones are custom-engineered for the species they will be ambassadors to, the Weyouns are human shaped) and Odo, his face like a helmet shot through with gold.
posted by figurant at 6:42 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]

Later in the show's run they pulled off suitably toned humorous episodes than I think any other Trek series. Definitely including the tribble episode with the time cops, but also Who Mourns for Morn?, which is basically the plot of Charade with Quark playing the Audrey Hepburn role.

IMHO other series, when they tried for humor, ended up being just campy or silly. (Excepting the original Tribble episode.)
posted by mark k at 6:46 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

Right now, the CBC is showing a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Kira's backstory with the Shakaar resistance always reminded me of this song.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:51 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]

Speaking of Sisko:

CTRL-F "Avery Brooks" [no match]
CTRL-F "Sisko" [appears only in the comments]


Yeah, that is incredibly strange that he's not even mentioned. It looks like he retired from acting in 2001, though I did see him in that documentary The Captains from 2011 and was quite shocked at how much older and frail he looked. I hope he's doing okay. The man acted the shit out of that role.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:16 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]

The weird thing about DS9 is that it has weak episodes, but oddly placed. Season 1 is basically Pretty Good TNG for the most part, and then season 2 is largely where the forgettable and weak episodes go. This stands in markèd contrast to TNG, where you just skip a season and a half outright, and also most of the second season too. Both shows find their voice in season 3, though, and become legitimately great in the fourth (though DS9 does a lot more with shocking character changes that have permanent ramifications).

Haven’t finished DS9 yet but boy am I looking forward to the rest of it.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:31 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]

posted by 517 at 7:35 PM on January 3

Fugurant - I like those a lot!
posted by Artw at 7:40 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

Ok, so, given that I did watch the first few years--so broad familiarity with the characters can be assumed (and noting the best single episodes that have already been mentioned)--I really am curious about the Dominion stuff. Is there a good start vs. stop point? Some seemingly-one-shot episodes earlier on that are valuable setup stories?
posted by Cyrano at 7:41 PM on January 3

If you think the first seasons of DS9 are bad, I humbly suggest you may be thinking some episodes are later in the show's run than they are.

Agreed. I also think the Sisko facial hair test only works if you also have memory-holed some of the truly dire episodes that happened in later seasons. Like I would rather watch all of Season 1 again, clunky as a lot of the episodes are, than ever watch the Season 6 "DS9 Repertory Production of Donnie Brasco, for no reason" episode or the "Quark turns into a woman, and learns nothing" episode ever again.

The Cirroc Lofton + Penny Johnson Gerald photo was an "Aww!" moment for me. They had so much natural rapport on the show that sometimes it felt like Kasidy and Jake wanted to have a parent/child relationship more than Kasidy and Benjamin wanted to have a romantic relationship.

Nthing the Nana Visitor love. Kira is to me, the most complex and fascinating character in any iteration of Trek. I'm so glad she was played by an actress who reveled in the complexities, instead of an actress who might have worried about coming off as abrasive or unlikable.

I also think the humor of the show is underrated. In the Pale Moonlight, which is often cited as one of the darkest episodes of Trek, has my one of my favorite exchanges (it helps that it's Avery Brooks and Andrew Robinson, who were comedic geniuses on the show):

Sisko: Who's watching Tolar?
Garak: I've locked him in his quarters. I've also left him with the distinct impression that if he attempts to force the door open, it may explode.
Sisko: I hope that's just an impression.
Garak: It's best not to dwell on such minutiae.

I love this show so much, despite its flaws. I haven't seen Discovery, but it's nice to hear they may be following in DS9's footsteps.
posted by creepygirl at 7:51 PM on January 3 [29 favorites]

However, the different tone of DS9 made for a rough first season for the writers and probably turned off a lot of viewers.

I was thinking about why I never really followed past TNG, and I think the nature of syndication + the writing in that 1st season, meant I lost the plot and never followed up.

Netflix solved that problem, and I'm in S03 of DS9 now.
posted by mikelieman at 8:04 PM on January 3

figurant, those redesigns are pretty incredible! I'm also a fan of this Tumblr artist who has redesigned most of the major races in the franchise to be more alien/less human-with-forehead-or-ear-latex-appliances.

Also, WRT when to start watching, I'd suggest watching the pilot, then "Duet" in S1, then skipping ahead to "Blood Oath" in S2, and go on from there, and go back and watch the skipped episodes when you want to know more about certain recurring characters, such as Kai Winn.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:22 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]

There is a wonderful paperback follow up to "in the pale moonlight" called "Hollow men" by Uma Mccormack. It is a wonderful book that just adds to that episode, which is my favorite of any Star Trek.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:23 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

Halloween Jack, OMG the Klingons.
posted by figurant at 8:35 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]

DS9 Duffer's Guide stub is live. DS9 rewatch vets, drop some episode lists over there.

(for reference: my VOY DG.)
posted by mwhybark at 8:56 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]

figurant, holy vorta, that is some great stuff! The colored-pencil renderings (as seen in the down-thread TOS stuff) remind me so much of seventies TOS fan art. Fantastic!
posted by mwhybark at 8:59 PM on January 3

Dammit, I want to see each of those TOS entries, not just the Klingons and a thumbnail grid!
posted by mwhybark at 9:03 PM on January 3

Oh, I see, a row of text links below the grid. Thank you!
posted by mwhybark at 9:07 PM on January 3

There was a real darkness, and I think that deeply influenced the style of the show

No kidding! Buy some damn lightbulbs, light the set, and then I'll watch your show. Too dark for me. Literally.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:15 PM on January 3

I was a teenager when DS9 began. I was excited because I had loved the ever-loving crap out of TNG and then came DS9's pilot.

I was not sold.

I watched it, sporadically, until S3 came around and by S4 I was pretty hooked (I laughed at the hair/no hair Sisko comments above). I didn't watch every single episode and the larger storylines about the Dominion War were mostly lost on me because... war. And I could never figure out Garak. At all.

I mourned the end of it, though. And I had good memories of it, but, like the article says, it's very much a Russian novel type of show. It's heavy and dark and that wasn't what I'd grown to expect from my Star Trek. This wasn't a show where you could tune in for an hour, be presented with a problem and see it resolved in the same episode (or, occasionally the next). This was difficult to get into, particularly if you'd missed episodes.

Still, some of the best Trek episodes ever (IMHO) were DS9 episodes. From The Visitor to Second Skin, from Trials and Tribble-ations to Rejoined, from Far Beyond the Stars to In the Pale Moonlight. I vividly remember watching In the Pale Moonlight and my jaw dropping clear to the floor when I understood what had just happened. It was the 19th episode of the 6th season and yet that e[ospde was the major moment for me when I went "well, this might not be TNG, but this is damn good television".

I rewatched it a few years ago, because I knew my initial viewing had not been optimal, and I was pretty much in awe of most of it. It did take time to find its feet, I think, but, like most Treks, by S3, they knew what they were doing more consistently.

As to Kira and Dax, I had been too young to recognize that the main female characters in TNG were "healers" of a sort, once Denise Crosby left. I hadn't learned how to watch television critically yet. I know that I appreciated the hell out of Kira being a badass and loved that Dax was a scientist. These days, I look back on DS9 and go "wow, two badass female characters on that show. I'm lucky I got to see that in the early 90s."

Can't believe it's been so long. A lot of things can happen in 25 years.

(Okay, that's clearly a quote from TNG, but it felt like it fit.)
posted by juliebug at 9:23 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]

Garak is my favorite Trek character ever. He improves every episode he’s in. How can you not love this exchange?
Bashir: I can't believe you're not pressing charges.
Garak: Constable Odo and Captain Sisko expressed a similar concern, but really doctor, there was no harm done.
Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.
Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
Bashir: Garak, this isn't funny.
Garak: I'm serious, doctor! Thanks to your administrations I'm almost completely healed but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.
Btw, does anyone know if DS9 will ever be released in HD, like TNG was?
posted by culfinglin at 11:42 PM on January 3 [23 favorites]

does anyone know if DS9 will ever be released in HD, like TNG was?

Short answer: no. Longer answer: no, because of the difference in production methods between TOS, TNG and DS9/VOY. (ENT was produced and broadcast in HD.) Basically, converting DS9 to HD would be even more expensive than it was for TNG, which did not make the sales numbers that they were expecting for the HD version. Longest answer is here, which goes into a lot of detail, in an interview with one of the people from the TNG remastering project.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:43 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]

Up until the first episode of Discovery, DS9 was my absolute favorite Trek, and I've been a fan since 1972.
I can't wait to see the documentary; and maybe a DS9 rewatch in 2018 seems appropriate.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 5:20 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

It's got to be the work of the Prophets that this thread and this tweet were both posted within hours of each other.
posted by Cash4Lead at 5:43 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]

From the DS9 McDonalds alignment pyramid:

Miles should be off to the side somewhere labeled "pulls into McDonalds, it explodes, car is destroyed, he has to walk home"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:59 AM on January 4 [14 favorites]

I really enjoyed DS9 and would say that it was my favorite series of the Treks. With that said, the biggest flaw I saw was that they seemed to often fail to balance the tone across the A, B and C plots. The A plot (especially in the Dominion war episodes) would be suitable dark and distressing and then the other plots would often be comically broad and goofy. I know why they were attempting to lighten things up but it often felt like it was a different show.
posted by mmascolino at 6:30 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]

I'm amused at people dragging S1 of DS9 which, while it definitely had some clunkers, had some very solid episodes. Meanwhile, TNG's first season is completely unwatchable with the exception of "Symbiosis", "We'll Always Have Paris", and "The Netural Zone".

I watched all of DS9 original run on TV. I liked it (never stopped watching, unlike Voyager), but TNG was still much more to my tastes. However I've grown to love DS9 way more than TNG with re-watches. Might be the difference between my optimistic early 20s and the real-world scepticism of my late 30s. The primary thing missing from Roddenberry's conception of the future is that he didn't really think people could still be damaged or traumatized. Meanwhile DS9 kicked off with aliens helping Sisko work through his trauma (and slamming us with the idea that people might actually hate Jean-Luc Picard). With time I've come to love DS9 for showing us the costs of the Federation's utopic colonial aspirations.

The whole thing in the last season with the Pah Wraiths was stupid, but not enough to turn me off the show.

And Garak.

Bashir: What I want to know is, out of all the stories you told me which ones were true and which ones weren't?
Garak: My dear doctor...they're all true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.
posted by dry white toast at 7:33 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]

"Far Beyond the Stars" was absolutely incredible. One of my favorite sci-fi stories of all time, in any medium.

Rewatching DS9 after 9/11 was quite an experience, causing me to think more deeply about Kira as a terrorist, the Cardassians as colonialist occupiers, the Federation as a deeply flawed entity.

And as clunky as the first season could be, I really appreciated how it opened on Sisko hating on our beloved Picard. War has consequences, yo.
posted by xyzzy at 7:41 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]

The other gift of DS9 is the world-building it does for the Trek universe. TNG and TOS only ever gave us the most superficial insight into non-humans (with the possible exception of Vulcans and Romulans) because it only ever dealt with the leaders of alien cultures. DS9 did deep dives into the culture of Bajorans, Klingons (the Klingons in DS9 were AMAZING), Ferengi, Cardassians, Jem Hadar, the Founders.

To me it's a major failing that no post-DS9 Trek production has been able to do anything with the very well drawn universe the show left them with. In fact, post-DS9 Trek has pretty much been an exercise in retconning non-humans back to being as superficial as possible.
posted by dry white toast at 7:49 AM on January 4 [14 favorites]

This stands in markèd contrast to TNG

Is that how you do that? I'm pretty sure that's not how you do that.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:15 AM on January 4

The hallmark of all ST series post-TNG is the failure to live up to the promise of their concept (either for the individual shows or ST as a whole).

For DS9, this is epitomized by the storyline created when the actor playing Kira got pregnant in real life. There were a whole bunch of interesting things they could have done but what we got was a dumb surrogacy plot where OBrien gets mad because she drank caffeine and he “didn’t want his baby born with a caffeine addiction.”

I wanted to like it, and I think they were on the right track with serialized storylines, but DS9 wasn’t very good.

Maybe Discovery is finally getting it right?
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:30 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

The first Star Trek I ever watched was in sixth grade when I saw the DS9 episode where Sisko chases Eddington (For the Uniform). I'd just finished Les Miserables for the (who knows, loved/love that book) time, and I ate up the (yeah yeah, in retrospect, ham-fisted, but whatever. It was 90's network TV) parallels. Was hooked from then.

Dry White Toast explains exactly what captured it for me - the world building. I've since watched all of the various iterations of ST, and the only one that seemed to go (even though it was sometimes pretty problematic or basic. But even the Jem-Hadar had their "we're not all mindless apes, asshole" scenes) beyond the Planet of Hats syndrome was DS9.

Also, as an addendum, agreeing with the fact that they didn't quite live up to the promise of their concept (though honestly, I'd argue the same about TOS and most of TNG, but much of that is my problem with the over-explanation and non-realistic style of TV at the time (... and much of it now)) the DS9 relaunch books (especially the first what, 20? that ran in series Before they realised they needed to _really_ skip ahead) I think get things going very well... basically they read to me like the ideas that got tossed around before the producers realised that "oh wait, we have to stick to a budget and 42.5 minute episodes..."

It probably also helps that, as juliebug mentioned upthread, DS9 really was the Russian Novel of ST (... yes, I read The Never-ending Story when it came out and was only mildly disappointing that it wasn't _the_ Never-ending Story referenced in the series). DS9 over-explained what was going on, just like all the others, but sometimes they were content to just drop you in. Back to what I lead with - I think what grabbed me on that first episode - and then as I enjoyed the series-first-watch was that, yeah, Sisko may have explained why he was pissed at Eddington. ... but it wasn't a To The Camera Monologue in a staff meeting, it was 3/4 of the way through the episode and he was taking his already-seen-brewing anger out on a heavy bag. I dropped in on an episode of episodic TV that assumed that the characters in-universe didn't go around calling each other by Full Name And Title on the first-mention-each-episode, and I respected that it (more often than not) trusted that I'd catch up. (... yeah yeah. ST technobabble is ST technobabble. It's all white noise)
posted by Seeba at 8:45 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]

Bashir: But the point [of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"] is, if you lie all the time, nobody's going to believe you, even when you're telling the truth.
Garak: Are you sure that's the point, doctor?
Bashir: Of course, what else could it be?
Garak: That you should never tell the same lie twice.

(From tvtropes Truth and Lies quotes)
posted by BeeDo at 8:52 AM on January 4 [33 favorites]

CTRL-F "Avery Brooks" [no match]
CTRL-F "Sisko" [appears only in the comments]

Now do the same thing with "Ronald D. Moore." Both in the linked article and this thread.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:29 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]

I got a soft spot for:
- the one where they all embody Dax's past lives
- the one where they crash on the planet and have to negotiate with the J'em Hadar (however that's spelled), who are betrayed by the Vorta
- the one where they accidentally go back in time whilst crashing on a planet and become the forebearers of an entire civilization
- the one where Jake and Nog undertake an increasingly ridiculous series of bargains to get a baseball card
- any episode with Bashir before they ruined his character by revealing him to be genetically enhanced

also Ezry Dax is underrated, there I said it
posted by daisystomper at 11:31 AM on January 4 [6 favorites]

I have a lot of difficulty getting past the "comedy" episodes of DS9, and there seemed to be an awful lot of them. Somebody on the production team obviously thought that Ferengi hijinks were hilarious, but I do not. The episode where they played holo-baseball against Vulcans was also a decided low point IMO.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 12:52 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]

DS9 and The X-Files invented the golden age of television.
posted by Automocar at 1:15 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]

I sometimes have trouble re-watching DS9 because when I watched it, it was so amazing and sparked so many thoughts that my memories are more about the show in my head, seen through that lens, than the actual show. The actual show is of course rough, sometimes clunky, has flat spots, and so on, and it suffers in comparison to what I remember.

What does still shine is the work of the actors, it just takes me a while to sink into their performances and stop noticing the weird plot issues and bad makeup jobs/effects nowadays. I still love Odo and Kira's story, and all of Odo's angst. I still grieve about Jadzhia. I still think Jake is pretty annoying but love how much Sisko loves him anyway.

It was a good show.
posted by emjaybee at 1:28 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]

Maybe Discovery is finally getting it right?

In this Trekker's opinion, they are getting it wonderfully, wonderfully, right.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:41 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]

The weird thing about DS9 is that it has weak episodes, but oddly placed. Season 1 is basically Pretty Good TNG for the most part, and then season 2 is largely where the forgettable and weak episodes go.... Both shows find their voice in season 3, though, and become legitimately great in the fourth.

I believe this has been referenced, but is there any kind of guide regarding what episodes can be skipped?

In 2018, I'm willing to put up with clunkers in order to advance an overarching plot line, but entirely stand-alone episodes need to be reasonably strong for me to enjoy them.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 7:08 PM on January 4

I'm amused at people dragging S1 of DS9 which, while it definitely had some clunkers, had some very solid episodes. Meanwhile, TNG's first season is completely unwatchable with the exception of "Symbiosis", "We'll Always Have Paris", and "The Netural Zone".

Excuse me, but you seem to be implying that any episode that features the unisex skant isn't by definition a good episode.
posted by tocts at 7:09 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]

TNG's first season is completely unwatchable with the exception of "Symbiosis", "We'll Always Have Paris", and "The Netural Zone" "Heart of Glory".
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:53 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

"The Visitor" is not just my favorite episode of any Star Trek series, it is my favorite episode of any television series.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:16 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]

I believe this has been referenced, but is there any kind of guide regarding what episodes can be skipped?

Funny you should mention that, sss. Your friend and mine, Cheeses of Brazil, just tossed that exact thing together for you as an element in the Duffer's Guide contruction thread.
posted by mwhybark at 10:38 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]

some of the more LGBT-friendly characters (Garak, Julian, Kira, the Daxen...) getting railroaded into heterosexual relationships

I can't agree. While the only confirmed relationship we ever saw Garak have was hetero, it was strongly implied that he was bi or poli, or something. Bashir was all about the ladies, to the point that I remember a lot of folks in the fanfare threads crabbing about his relentless attempts to flirt with lady guest stars. Kira was kind of butch, but she only ever seemed drawn to men. (The Intendant, on the other hand...) Jadzia Dax was definitely poli, and we didn't get to know Ezri well enough to know everything she was into. Some fans like to write fanfics where these characters are all super queer, but I feel like the show was generally pretty upfront about everybody's sexualities. (Well, except for Garak. All we knew for sure was that he was one kinky lizard.)

RE: Episode skipping, Imma quote myself from a 2016 comment about this very show:

I've never thought much of guides that tell you to skip an episode or an entire season of a show. Sometimes your favorite episode will turn out to be the one that all the other fans hate, or vice-versa. And there may also be references you'll miss if you skip things, or thematic stuff that won't resonate for you because you don't know (for example) why Sisko's baseball means anything.

I think DS9 had a solid but unspectacular first couple of seasons, it's probably about as good as Enterprise ever got. But the seeds of the excellent show it became are there at the beginning, and if you're skipping stuff you won't get how far those characters have come. (Also, stuff that doesn't SEEM serialized often does come back later. It's not all grand Dominion War stuff, there are all sorts of little dramas in everybody's lives.) Just have some patience and watch the whole thing, and it'll be worth your time. (Although you may want to get a head start on next year's taxes or something while you watch Move Along Home.)

posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:12 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]

Andrew Robinson definitely played Garak as pan/omnisexual, and he's pretty open about it. From his 2016 Reddit AMA:
For me playing Garak, it was never about being straight or gay. It was about having the kind of sexual appetite that doesn't exclude possibility. Who knows where we - sexuality! - is going. It's changing even as we speak.
He also wrote a Garak-focused novel, A Stitch in Time, that affirms his interpretation. I haven't read it, but I've been meaning to!
posted by lumensimus at 7:21 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]

I saw a bunch of photos that René Auberjonois tweeted from this photoshoot when it happened (and then subsequently took down at the request of Variety) and we seem to be missing a bunch in the final article? Are there more somewhere? Or is this just how they chump out on the online version of their print magazine?
posted by danny the boy at 4:33 PM on January 5

B5 teased DS9 scriptwriters into developing more conflicted/dark stories, and the DS9 stories were more interesting as a result.
posted by ovvl at 7:34 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

Poor old DS9 seems doomed to forever be compared with the other trek series as well as with Babylon 5.

The fanfare rewatch threads for DS9 and Voyager have been repped above but I also wanted to suggest that a first watch of Babylon 5 has just begun on fanfare and would be a worthwhile investment of time, provided you can make it through the uneven first season. Even if only for the ability to join future discussions on 90s sci-fi (sure to come up again!)
posted by Start with Dessert at 10:09 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]

Start, thanks. I'd asked about this in the DS9 thread and at that time I think it was a not at the moment deal. I crapped out somewhat early in S01 going solo, less on plot grounds (cough Voyager cough) than production values, which I am fully qualified to waive. But here, I tried, I failed. Will try again.

Someday, the Salvage One and Quark rewatch threads will prove... something about myself to myself, probably something I would prefer to ignore
posted by mwhybark at 1:03 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Quark did NOT age well.
posted by mikelieman at 5:09 AM on January 6

Quark has weirdly become my favorite character, setting aside the anti-Semitic coding. I'm not sure how to explain it other than that he seems to be the only straight man on a station full of naivety. He just needs to be reminded that he's a good man, too. Repeatedly.
posted by Think_Long at 5:17 AM on January 6

DS9 certainly has a good go at a salvage job on the Ferenghi and all their baggage , both with QUark turning into and interesting character and with Nog and little things like Mirror Quark.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on January 6

For those confused, the Quark that mwhybark and mikelieman refer to is the 1977 SF TV show about a space garbage collector, not the beloved DS9 character.
posted by fings at 10:28 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I have no knowledge of that Quark and any stereotypes he made worse or better.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on January 6

fings is most correct and the clarification is appreciated. Sometimes I have wondered if our Quark was named after that Quark.
posted by mwhybark at 12:55 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

...and Salvage 1 (not "One", I guess) was a TV movie-to-series about a junkman who builds a lunar rocket from Apollo salvage and flies to gathe. ommouhdn and yretyens p.

Athe the, shhjms, ahahk. hskkwnwy! What the erff? Cnat type, Rgh I

posted by mwhybark at 1:02 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I have both physics and logistics questions I suppose it makes little sense to ask.
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on January 7

Fuel tanker truck tank: fuselage. Cement mixer: capsule. Strap-on boosters. Isaac Asimov, Science Adviser. Also: Andy Griffith. You have been warned.

(I was mixed up about the source of the salvage.)
posted by mwhybark at 4:19 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

A helpful diagram.
posted by mwhybark at 4:22 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I mean, if you can create a craft to salvage material on the moon that’s actually costs less than the material on the moon is worth then it makes a certain kind of sense but I suspect there’s significant misrstimations on both sides of this equation...
posted by Artw at 10:40 AM on January 8

DS9 Duffer's Guide is live. I had fun putting off some accounting for a couple days on this; thanks.
posted by mwhybark at 4:49 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

I'm bummed I missed the DS9 rewatch. I just finished rewatching them over the weekend, and started on Voyager. It's… rough going.
posted by culfinglin at 3:31 PM on January 16

Culfingling, if you wanna post on old DS9 threads those of us who posted previously will see it in recent activity and you may well see some responses.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:24 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]

culfinglin, I have felt your pain. The VOY rewatch and my DG are not synchronous, and the impetus for my VOY DG was that I found VOY very disappointing especially after DS9 in a rewatch here. Give it a shot! My appreciation for VOY has increased dramatically.
posted by mwhybark at 10:58 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]

I did it in reverse. Enterprise, where I learned Jeffrey Combs is a master.

Then Voyager ( The Naomi Wildman story ) and the perpetual-reset-button.

NOW, I'm 1/2 through DS9 S06

Then I'll rewatch TNG
posted by mikelieman at 5:35 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

The stories with reset buttons are both the best - they actually go with the premise - and the worst - then they reset it.
posted by Artw at 7:06 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

Thanks! I will try to make some time to go back through the old DS9 threads :)

And thanks for the guide to VOY, mwhybark — I only caught a few episodes when it was on the air, and remembered it as being more like TNG (not quite my thing, but still Trek and generally okay). Season 1 made me seriously question that conclusion.
posted by culfinglin at 2:42 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Happy to be of service, culfinglin. I guessed that given the intersection of volume associated with seasonal episodic shows in that era and the noted capacity of Trek to attract passionately invested writers, some of the show's episodes had to be good despite the very apparent results of a dysfunctional work environment which broadly characterize the show.

I feel that view has been vindicated, and it was at least in part due to the MeFi Trek rewatch crews. Shoutouts, Starfleet! Have a round on me at Ten Forward or Quark's!

(oh god, Ten Forward. I swear I wrote about this once, and it's not on my blog, so maybe it's here? There was a terrifying TNG dive bar in north Seattle, near where I now live, for five minutes around the end of TNG, and my pal Greg and I ventured out from the Hill to check it out. It was horrifying.)
posted by mwhybark at 4:25 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Deep Space Nine Is TV’s Most Revolutionary Depiction of Black Fatherhood by
Angelica Jade Bastién:

No series before or since has a portrayed a black father with such complexity, crafting him as a widow, a powerful authority figure, a religious icon, a man whose morals are formed in shades of gray and whose love of his son remained his guiding principle.

posted by creepygirl at 8:39 PM on January 20 [10 favorites]

This essay is beautiful and moving. Thanks for the link.
posted by mwhybark at 10:24 PM on January 20

A late update for anyone still watching the thread: A Stitch in Time is excellent. Highly recommended.
posted by lumensimus at 7:00 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]

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