Discovering Deep Space Nine

First off, a confession: I’m a trekkie ([trekker][1]? whatever). Have been practically since birth, and it’s all my Dad’s fault. ;) Two years old, sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the original series on television. As soon as the [Enterprise][2] zoomed across the screen and [Captain Kirk][3] started the famous lines, “Space…where no man has gone before…” I’d be excitedly saying “speesh!” and pointing off into space (which apparently was somewhere behind me and over my left shoulder).

[1]: http://www.geocities.com/themikejonas/trekkie.htm “Trekkie vs. Trekker”

[2]: http://www.asciipr0n.com/archive/0013/bonnie/craft/ “how to make a starship enterprise out of an old floppy disk”

[3]: http://www.williamshatner.com/ “The Official William Shatner Website”

I grew up with [Star Trek][4]. I never did get into sewing my own [uniform][5], or donning rubber [Vulcan ears][6] or [Klingon foreheads][7], and I’ve only been to one convention, but I’ve got a library of original series technical manuals that I’ve picked up over the years. One of the earlier ones (the [Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual][8]) had an alien alphabet printed out, which I dutifully memorized, characters and pronunciation both. Imagine my surprise when I later visited Greece, and discovered that the “alien alphabet” was nothing more than Greek, and I could read every sign around me in perfect Greek. I had no idea what I was saying, of course, but I could read it all, and it’s all thanks to Star Trek.

[4]: http://www.startrek.com/startrek/view/index.html “Star Trek”

[5]: http://www.starland.com/st/st_costuming.htm “Star Trek Costuming”

[6]: http://www.town.vulcan.ab.ca/about_station/Souvenirs.html “Vulcan, Canada Souveniers”

[7]: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/klingoncostumes/ “Klingon Imperial Costumers Guild”

[8]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345340744/djwudicom-20 “Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual”

One summer I was at one of the [CTY summer camps][9] that I participated in, and much of the talk and gossip at the time was about this [new Star Trek show][10] that was being started. Some “new generation” or something. We were all highly skeptical — after all, we’d all grown up with the Holy Trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and now someone wanted to try to recapture that? Not likely! Our skeptical opinions weren’t helped at all when one of the sunday papers printed a picture of the new crew. That kid from [Stand By Me][11] was there (a kid?). The dorky guy from that kid’s “[Reading Rainbow][12]” show was wearing a [banana clip][13] on his face. The captain…was old. And _bald_. To top it all off, their uniforms were one-piece jumpsuits, recalling bad memories of the horrid 70’s costuming of [Star Trek: The Motion Picture][14] — and they were _hot pink_! Obviously, the show was doomed from the start.

[9]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/08/12/i-was-the-height-of-fashion-i-tell-you/ “I was the height of fashion, I tell you”

[10]: http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/st-tng/ “The Next Generation”

[11]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00003CXIP/djwudicom-20 “Stand By Me”

[12]: http://gpn.unl.edu/rainbow/ “Reading Rainbow”

[13]: http://www.adorable-hair-accessory.com/beautbanclip.html “Banana Clip”

[14]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JKHP/djwudicom-20 “The Motion Picture”

Needless to say, we were (thankfully) wrong. The kid, admittedly, suffered from some bad writing (but he’s since turned into a pretty [damn cool guy][15]). We got used to the banana clip, and it certainly helped that that “dorky guy” was also a [well-respected actor][16] in his own right. As far as old, bald captains go — if I can be half as cool (and sexy) as [Patrick Stewart][17] when I’m his age, I’ll be doing well! And, thankfully, those hot pink uniforms turned out to be nothing more than bad color in the newspaper.

[15]: http://www.wilwheaton.net/ “Wil Wheaton Dot Net”

[16]: http://www.starfleetlibrary.com/bios/levar_burton.htm “LeVar Burton”

[17]: http://www.patrickstewart.org/ “The Patrick Stewart Network”

Since then, while I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been my favorite Star Trek incarnation (at least, as far as the TV incarnations go — the Next Gen movies rarely approached the cinematic quality of either [Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan][18] or [Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country][19], imho).

[18]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000683DH/djwudicom-20 “The Wrath of Khan”

[19]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6305252599/djwudicom-20 “The Undiscovered Country”

However, towards the end of Next Gen’s run, I stopped watching TV. Less and less of what I saw on television appealed to me, and commercials were getting more and more annoying, so I just stopped. With three exceptions (the Y2K turnover, the 2000 presidential debates, and the first couple months of Enterprise), I’ve not seen any more television that what I may have wandered into while at friend’s houses. Because of this, I missed the last couple seasons of Next Gen, and have caught no more than the occasional episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I watched the first few weeks of Enterprise, which seemed passable at the time, but then Paramount started releasing [DVD sets of Next Gen][20], and I [revised my opinion][21] of Enterprise.

[20]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=djwudicom-20&path=tg/stores/series/-/717 “TNG on DVD”

[21]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2002/03/29/bye-bye-enterprise/ “Bye-bye ‘Enterprise’!”

So throughout 2002, I revisited Captain Picard and the crew of the [USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D][22] as each successive DVD set was released. It was a lot of fun — I hadn’t seen many of the earlier episodes in years (some of them probably not since they were originally broadcast), and many of the later episodes I hadn’t seen at all. Once that was done with, though, I faced a dilemma. I knew that I enjoyed the Next Generation series enough to buy it all, but Deep Space Nine was an unknown. I’d caught a few of the episodes from time to time, and generally enjoyed what I’d seen, but I didn’t have enough experience to really make a judgment. Fan opinion on DS9 always seemed to be somewhat divided, too, with fairly equal camps lauding it and decrying it.

[22]: http://www.lcarscom.net/fsd/enterprise/1701d.html “USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D”

However, as 2002 approached and I started reading more about DS9 as the [DVD release][23] came closer, I started reading more and more people recommending it. Eventually, I decided that I’d at least pick up the first season to see what I thought of it. After all, if it bored me, I wasn’t out too much money, and I’d know not to pick up the rest.

[23]: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=djwudicom-20&path=tg/stores/series/-/24901 “DS9 on DVD”

The blood of a trekkie runs deep and true, it seems.

As it turns out, DS9 has impressed me _far_ more than I was expecting. The series, quite simply, kicks ass. A lot of potentially dangerous decisions were made when putting the show together (not least of which was setting it on a space station, rather than a ship), but they ended up working out incredibly well. They were able to create long-lasting story lines that run not just from show to show, but from season to season, political maneuvering and machinations galore, battle scenes that have had me wide-eyed with surprise, and many other touches that have made my introduction to DS9 incredibly enjoyable.

Today, I brought home the DVD set of season four of DS9, and just finished watching the season opening episode, “[The Way of the Warrior][24]”. _Wow._ There’s definitely a jaw-dropping aspect to watching a fleet of thirty-some [Klingon ships][25], from the now familiar Bird of Prey to newer battleship designs — even a few of the old standard D7 class (yes, I’m a geek, I didn’t need to look at that up) — decloaking around the station. Too freaking cool.

[24]: http://stds9.epguides.info/?ID=73 “The Way of the Warrior”

[25]: http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/schematics/klingon_ships.htm “Klingon Ships”

The more I watch of this show, the more I like it. The long lasting story arcs have been handled incredibly well so far, and after reading bits and pieces here and there about the [Dominion War][26] for years, it’s a lot of fun finally being able to see it unfold in front of me, without knowing what’s going to come up next, or which directions the various players are going to take. The character arcs have been just as strong as the story arcs, too, and Garak (the Cardassian tailor) is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show. His questionable standing and constant banter with Dr. Bashir (“But which of the stories you told us were true?” “Oh, my good doctor, they’re all true!” “Even the lies?” “_Especially_ the lies.”) are wonderful.

[26]: http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominion_War “The Dominion War”

At this rate, DS9 may just end up supplanting Next Gen as my favorite Star Trek series.

(Next year, of course, comes the next question. Once DS9’s DVD run is complete, Voyager will start to hit the shelves. I’ve heard far more people decry Voyager as being the downfall of the Star Trek franchise than any other previous Trek creation [except possibly Star Trek V: The Final Frontier]. So, do I cross my fingers and give the first season a shot? I’ve still got about five months to decide, though, and until then, I’ve got just under four more seasons of DS9 to work my way through.)

Published by Michael Hanscom

Enthusiastic ambivert. Geeky, liberal, friendly, curious, feminist ally; trying to be a good person. (he/him)

9 replies on “Discovering Deep Space Nine”

  1. I came home from school and watched Star Trek every day, and was always a fan. I got hooked into Next gen in their 2nd year and enjoyed that show as well. I watched DS9 for about 6 months and just couldn’t get into it and stopped watching ST from then on.
    We seem to agree on the movies, as I’ve only bought two of them ST2 and ST6.
    I watched one episode of Voyager and never watched it again.

  2. DS9 was a far more involve series of story lines than the other Treks. I didn’t watch one season and I felt totally lost when I got back around to it.

    Voyager is either good or bad, no inbetween. The best one is where they get stuck on the holodeck playing out a 30’s sci-fi serial in black and white.

  3. My Trek tastes run similar to yours. ST:TNG has been the best of the bunch with DS9 second (not a close second but a strong second). TNG movies have been terrible. If there were to be another one i probably wouldn’t go.

    So i feel comfortable in recommending NOT to spend any money on Voyager. Resistance is not futile. As pops said, it’s either good or bad – more often bad than good.

  4. I, too, loved TNG and DS9. ‘Course, now that I’m into B5 DS9 has lost a lot of its charm (B5 is story arcs done right, X-Files is story arcs done wrong, and DS9, to be brutally honest, is story arcs done half-arsed), but it’s still a bloody awesome show.

    Voyager was, um, interesting. Season One I’ve only seen the pilot, but was apparently not that bad. Season Two featured the very best (“Projections”) and the very worst (“Threshold”, “The Thaw”) episodes of the entire series. Season Three was utterly awful. Everything from Season Four onwards was watchable, but not great. Yeah, save your money: wait for it to be repeated on TV again.

  5. Okay, I’m not a dedicated star trek fan by anyone’s count, but I do like to watch it when I see it. I didn’t always like Voyager, but there were some great characters on that show that are probably worth it to watch at least a bit (six of nine comes immediately to mind, the hologram doctor was sometimes interesting too).

    I always liked TNG best. DS9 comes second. Sorry, I haven’t watched enough of the original to ever really get into it – it was too melodramatic for me most of the time, had a very badly veiled male piggery, and like Star Wars, it was ‘impressive for it’s time’ and had a decent story – most of the time. Voyager seemed to be lacking something – it got a little too far off into whatever it was and forgot to be ‘real’ – meaning something people could connect with on a human level. It was lacking something when it came to the ‘universal theme,’ where TNG really carried that off well.

    Plus, after a while, it just gets a little pathetic to have to make so many character twists based on ‘species related’ crap. Species have become the Dues ex Machina of Star Trek imho – ‘OH, it makes sense because s/he’s a (fill in the blank).’ Ugh.

  6. Thanks for the ping, Michael!

    And… Six of Nine? Bwahaha! Seven of Nine, kiddo…

    I’ve got all the seasons of TNG except 1 and 7. Season One because I can’t stand to watch it, it’s too lame for me. They sooo weren’t quite the ensemble they later became at that point. And I don’t have 7 only because I haven’t bought it yet.

    DS9, I watched the first season when it was on TV, and then I moved to Europe and missed all the rest. I was of mixed feelings about it then, and I still am. But I’ve been considering picking it up anyway, and your “review” here confirms that maybe I should. Once I get over my “I just don’t CARE about the Bjorans!” attitude, I bet it’s not that bad. ;)

    Voyager I never saw until last year. I’ve always thought the concept was stupid. I was completely in favor of a female captain, how could I not be? But the premise struck me as the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. We just want to go home… Can I get you a little cheese to go with that whine?

    But since it’s the only thing on at midnight, and I work nights, I sort of got forced into watching it. And I love it now. There are definitely weaknesses in the first three seasons – namely Kes. She annoyed the crap out of me and still does. But once season 4 got going, I was there. Seven of Nine made that show – that character pumped in the new blood they needed, and helped them advance technologically so they stopped being the 98 pound weakling of the Delta Quandrant and started being a force to be reckoned with. After three years of getting their butts kicked, it was about time.

    All I can recommend about Voyager is, if you managed to stick it out through DS9 and enjoy it, you’ll like Voyager. It’s just a matter of coming into it with an open mind. I couldn’t do that before because I was too close to TNG to appreciate either DS9 or Voyager. Now I can just watch and be entertained.

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  8. DS9, was a great series not only for it’s story arch, and its gutsyness to change star trek. But for its rich character detail, and good acting. And while some may say B5 had a better arch, it’s characters were very flat, and actors more or less horrid, i like JMS as a writer but i cant get through and entire episode of B5 without cringing! I have tried so many times!

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