Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Star Trek Deep Space Nine

Having watched most of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine for the 4th time, the question becomes what is it about this 26-year-old show keeps drawing me back?  Serial space shows tend to be soap operas at heart, but what makes this show really stand out is the great cast of characters.  As a spin-off of Star Trek The Next Generation, which had some great characters of its own, DS9 stole the character of Miles O'Brien from that show to give the new series some familiarity.  Three years later it would also bring on the character of Worf from TNG.  However, these two characters, along with most of the other characters, were to some extent either outcasts or misfits, all of which were wonderfully acted.  This created conflicts in the stories that Gene Roddenberry would never have allowed on Star Trek The Next Generation, which was a show that he wanted to represent a utopian future.  Because Deep Space Nine was willing to go places the previous series wouldn't, it created more interesting and in-depth stories.

The characters on Deep Space Nine are so good that when the series ends you feel like all these good friends of yours have moved away.  After a few years, you miss them and want to visit them again.

The show is not without its flaws.  Early on it lacked any kind long term story arc, which we didn't get until the season 2 finale.  This new story arc was really good, but the series remained episodic, visiting the long term story only occasionally.  Fortunately, the last three seasons became serial, giving us a mostly continuous story.

Since the space station Deep Space Nine is near the planet Bajor, there are many episodes devoted to the politics of Bajor, especially in the early seasons.  The problem with this is that nobody cares about Bajor anymore.  It was a planet created just for this series, and it has never come up again in the Star Trek universe.

The special effects still hold up, but are starting to become dated.  The early seasons used physical models, so the show only had enough special effects to get by.  In the last two seasons it switched to using computer-generated effects, which not only gave us more special effects, but these computer effects hold up really well 20 years later.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine's main television rival was Babylon 5, which is another 90's show about a station deep in space.  Both shows are really good.  Deep Space Nine has better characters overall, but Babylon 5 has a more complex story that is more epic and grander in its vision.  The special effects on Babylon 5 aren't quite as good, but they are adequate.

As much as I like both of these series, neither one quite rises to the level of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica that premiered in 2004.

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