03rd Jun2009

gotchoo BLACK SHEEP!?

by jerad.formby

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A Beginner’s Guide to Star Trek part two (Deep Space Nine)
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It is very common amongst Star Trek fans that the farther you get from the Original Series, the more bickering begins to happen. As the shows become newer, fans question, doubt, challenge, ridicule, and fight against new incarnations. It’s always been this way since The Next Generation began.

It has happened with every show ever since.

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It’s happened with the new movie –which just might be your favorite and only exposure to Trek.

Allow me to introduce one of Star Trek’s most controversial entries.

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With the popularity of Star Trek: The Next Generation at its peak in the early 1990’s, a new show seemed a logical progression. Gene Roddenberry died before the spin off could be discussed in any great detail, but I did read once that the idea of a space station fascinated him and he wanted to hear more about it.

Roddenberry never saw a frame, character concept, story outline, nor anything for this new series. It was the first created without him and it divides Star Trek fans more aggressively than most. I humbly submit to you new Star Trek explorers and old fans who never gave it a chance, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

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Micheal Piller was one of the most celebrated Next Generation writers and was tapped by show runner Rick Berman to start spinning the new show concept. Piller realized very early in the creative process that when it comes to Outer Space you have one of three settings to choose from: a space ship, a space station, or an outpost on an alien world.

Because The Next Generation was already rocking a spaceship, Piller decided to go for the space station. There are some who would suggest that Piller and Berman ripped off a television show called Babylon 5. Piller’s defense is a whole other blog.

For now, be content to know that Piller not only embraced this new setting, he and Berman decided to create what could best be termed “anti-The-Next-Generation.” Each character was created to challenge an existing “Next Generation” model. It worked so well that some fans don’t even like the show.

Piller chose to set the show on a space station that Starfleet didn’t own. Starfleet’s mission was to act as administrators or managers and help the nearby planet not kill itself in a civil war. When Starfleet arrives, they learn quickly that the rules of Deep Space Nine are very different from the posh life Picard and his friends always led.

They have to roll up their sleeves. They have to try and get along. Because they’re not going anywhere next week. They’re always going to be in the same place.

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Such aggressive and temperamental characters is only one reason this show is known as the “black sheep” of Star Trek. Trekkies will argue that a show set on a space station is the direct opposite of what Roddenberry would have wanted. That argument makes me chuckle because Deep Space Nine did plenty of exploration in its own immense backyard and came home in time for supper . . . or they were at least home at the end of the week, or month, or how long was O’Brien in that mental prison again? Over 20 years?

They will argue that alien religion played too much a role on the show. This is another argument that grates on me. It seems exploring strange new worlds is a notion with a deadline. The idea that Kirk or Picard might encounter a spiritual and deep culture and fly away is too much of a convenience, dare I say. Deep Space Nine doesn’t come with convenience, it demands commitment, understanding, and I would even suppose more attention from you than any other Trek.

Deep Space Nine will even dare to ask a Trek-blasphemous questions. Is there more to the universe than being a Roddenberry archetype? Is there something I can learn from these alien cultures that will affect just who it is I am? At what price does a Roddenberry utopia even exist?

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Deep Space Nine was envisioned as an opportunity to explore inter-character conflict between Trek personnel. This choice could be viewed as a violation of Roddenberry’s edict that characters could never argue or be petty. To uphold this directive, it was decided that Starfleet characters would operate as Roddenberry intended, but they would be interacting with species who did not work within Roddenberry’s framework.

That’s another notion that’ll burn a fan’s backside.

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The stories told on Deep Space Nine are not as conventional as a lot of Star Trek. The show plays more like a soap opera and a lot like television today. Each character is highly developed with rich backstories that they carry with them. The characters are also deeply impacted by the decisions they make and others make. It’s also not unheard of for Deep Space Nine to rock story arcs that run up to five and even ten episodes.

This is the Star Trek that fans say makes Roddenberry roll in his grave. This is the Star Trek where an officer just might punch somebody because his temper gets the best of him. This is the series where a Roddenberry character will have to lie for the better good and it will crush him. This is where the good guys are a little gray at times, but this is also where Star Trek gets really human and I think even more accessible.

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Not all fans hate this series. Some say it’s the best one since Captain Kirk and Spock. I’m very much in that camp and cannot recommend this show to you enough.

With Deep Space Nine presenting such epic story arcs, it might be difficult to hone in on that one or two episodes that will give you a proper glimpse of the show to see if its your speed.

It’s most popular entries are “The Way of the Warrior Part 1” and “The Way of the Warrior Part 2” (a popular Next Generation character joins the cast). “Little Green Men” which focuses on the station’s alien bartender caught up in the events of Roswell New Mexico and “Trials and Tribble-ations” which brings the DS9 cast into a classic Star Trek episode.

Going through its seven seasons, I recommend you watch “Paradise” from its second season. This demonstrates just how far Captain Sisko will take his Federation ideals. “The Visitor” is arguably one of Trek’s finest hours and features Sisko’s son going to great lengths to rescue his father. And because Deep Space Nine is known for its action, I would also like you to see “Rocks and Shoals” which is one of my favorite episodes involving the series’ main villain: the Dominion.

When The Next Generation kicked off in the late eighties, Star Trek didn’t know that it would exist on television in one form or another for eighteen years. Once TNG finished its run, a new show called Star Trek: Voyager launched on the brand new UPN network.

But that’s another story.

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  • http://apizzagirl.blogspot.com PizzaGirl

    Falkor:
    Leaving so soon, hmm?

    Atreyu:
    Uh, I was just going….. I have to ……I was trying to …

    Falkor:
    Sneak away?

    Atreyu:
    Yea….. I mean no. No!

    Falkor:
    I like children.

    Atreyu:
    For breakfast?

    Falkor:
    Never ! I’m a luck dragon.

    Pizzagirl: Don’t lie Falkor, I saw you eat that kid. 🙂

  • Ryan

    Another great blog Jerad as usual. I love your insite it is always entertaing. Also Jerad I have to know where you get those Orion girl sexy pics.

  • http://www.ussgenesis.ning.com Mark

    Well done mate!
    I am a true DS9 fan. I am convinced it was the only series to accurately place Star Trek in the future.
    The trials and experiences the crew and extras reveal inside each episode flared my emotions, from wet eyes one evening, to tears of laughter the next.
    A great ride to be on each time I revisit the series entirely.
    Loved the blog!

  • David Kleparek

    The reason I don’t really like DS9 is partly because the writers used “plotonium” like starting wars with the Cardasians or the Dominion or the Klingons. I was okay with the interpersonal stories, as long as they were stories that I could relate to. Another thing that I didn’t dig was all the klingon-centric episodes. When I rewatch the Seasons of TNG and DS9 and come up to a Klingon episode, I just hit the skip button.

    I’m not a hater, so don’t hate back!

  • S.A.S.

    I can see how Sisko got his name…very true in nature to your bullet points on Captain Sisko. HAHA. I kid….Um…Just stopping through. No time to read. Wanted to look at pictures….I know, I’m a little lame at times :o)

  • Nebraska_Dave

    DS9 is disliked by a lot of the traditional Trekkies because it brought the utopia envisioned by Roddenberry to a crashing stop.

    This attempt to bring the utopia back to reality ended up with a backlash with the creation of Voyager, which tried to do both the utopia and the reality, and is disliked by more fans than the complete break DS9 had with TNG and TOS fans.

    It’s that realism that makes it my favorite Trek series. In fact, I would dare say DS9 inspired a number of shows later on that are popular today: Lost, Heroes, the revised Doctor Who, Torchwood, Stargate SG1/Atlantis. Each of these shows have a similar dynamic between the characters first seen with DS9 (and Babylon 5).

  • VegasAndorian

    J-rad, as a fellow lover of DS9 I say thank you! I remember watching the series on dvd and loving it almost as much as the Original Series. And a special shout out to “Blood Oath” the episode that guest starred John Colicos, William Campbell and Michael Ansara, the original Klingons! One thing I loved about DS9 was it’s obvious love and respect for the Original Series.

  • April Hebert

    I love DS9 as well…but from my understanding the link between DS9 and Babylon5 is a little stronger than a coincidental resemblance! I seem to remember some serious bad blood between Berman and Straczinsky (sp?) and even a lawsuit! Unless I am hallucinating, which is possible…

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  • Thomas

    Now, I can see why you didn’t include “In the Pale Moonlight” on that list… a good one, but honestly you need the greater context of the Dominion War to really feel the drama in that one.

    But really, you didn’t mention “Far Beyond the Stars”? Not only is it a great standalone episode, but it shows how Deep Space Nine is willing to address social issues head-on, without even having to dress them up in sci-fi metaphors.

    I worked retail at the Experience, and whenever I put that episode on the big screen, a small crowd would gather.

  • jerad.formby

    @Thomas

    I know you! I never forget a face!

    I didn’t include “Far Beyond the Stars” –which is a personal favorite of mine, because I feel if someone is to truly appreciate that episode you need a wider appreciation for the universe of DS9 and most certainly a “glee” factor for each of the actors.

    It’s so much more fun when you know that’s Weyoun out of his make-up or that’s Martok as the artist, you know?

    Fantastic episode! Couldn’t include it in a getcher feet wet list. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.bariatricsurgerydigest.com Maya Bailey

    Stargate is probably the best science fiction series after Firefly. Nice visual effects too.;”.

  • http://www.leatherwristbands.org Mason Parker

    Stargate SG1 is much better than Stargate the movie. the series has lots of action and adventure.:-‘

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    stargate SG1 was my favorite sci-fi tv series on our cable TV'”:

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