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DigificWriter January 14 2013 09:42 AM

'Streamlining' DS9
 
Hi, all. I've long been a fan of DS9 and consider the series to be the best iteration in the Star Trek franchise. However, it's been years since I sat down and watched the series in its entirety, and so I decided to change that. Instead of watching every episode of the series, however, I sat down and figured out how to condense the show's 2nd through 7th seasons to 20 episodes each and will be using this 'streamlined' approach as I rewatch the series.

I' 'll be using this thread to post reviews and observations as I go, starting with a review of the pilot episode, Emissary.

Emissary Review
There are a lot of things that a TV pilot has to do in terms of balancing setup and storytelling, and it can sometimes be a difficult task to strike that balance.

Emissary strikes that balance perfectly, particularly since it has the added pressure of needing to not only introduce the characters and basic premise of DS9 but also establish that, while there are going to be a lot of things that are recognizably Star Trekkian about DS9, there are also going to be a lot of new elements added on top of the familiar formula that Gene Roddenberry established.

All TV series - regardless of genre - are driven by their cast of characters, and DS9 boasts a stellar group. There' s not a single weak link amongst the series' cast of characters, both primary and secondary, and this includes Jake Sisko. Unlike Wesley Crusher, Jake genuinely feels like he belongs as part of the series and there's no struggle when it comes to figuring out what his role is.

When you've got a cast of characters that are as diverse and multifaceted as DS9's, you need the right group of actors to bring them to life, and DS9 excels in that regard as well, with Nana Visitor being a particular standout. Her objection to and 'dressing down' of Doctor Bashir's attitude towards Starfleet's presence in the Bajoran Sector and his assignment to DS9 is brilliantly played and immediately establishes Major Kira as a force to be reckoned with.


Emissary is by far the strongest pilot episode in the Star Trek franchise and the perfect way to kick start the expansion of Gene Roddenberry' s episodic magnum opus beyond the formula he'd personally established while simultaneously honoring that formula and remaining true to it.

Edit: Mods, can someone change the title to Watching DS9 (Streamlined)? I posted this before I realized that I'd given it the wrong title.

Seventh White Boomer January 14 2013 03:40 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
Is the down to 20 episodes just to match season 1 or is it based on something else?

DigificWriter January 14 2013 04:43 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
Quote:

Jono wrote: (Post 7532902)
Is the down to 20 episodes just to match season 1 or is it based on something else?

Yeah, the 20 episodes thing was based on the episode count for Season 1.

Ho Ho Homeier January 14 2013 05:34 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
Quote:

DigificWriter wrote: (Post 7532317)
However, it's been years since I sat down and watched the series in its entirety, and so I decided to change that. Instead of watching every episode of the series, however, I sat down and figured out how to condense the show's 2nd through 7th seasons to 20 episodes each and will be using this 'streamlined' approach as I rewatch the series.

Arbitrarily restricting the later seasons to 20 episodes each is not "the series in its entirety," which was what you apparently intended to do originally. But you didn't, so you didn't really change anything. How do you determine which episodes get included, and which are not worthy of your time?

I tend to agree with your 'Emissary' evaluation.

DigificWriter January 14 2013 05:47 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
^ Research... specifically research into those episodes that comprise the primary story arcs of the series and those episodes that are particularly important for character development. This isn't any difference between this and someone only watching the 'mythology' episodes from a series like, say, Fringe.

BTW, regardless of the length of each season, I AM still watching the series 'in its entirety' because I'm starting at Season 1 and ending with Season 7.

CoveSanta January 14 2013 09:01 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
Quote:

DigificWriter wrote: (Post 7533367)
BTW, regardless of the length of each season, I AM still watching the series 'in its entirety' because I'm starting at Season 1 and ending with Season 7.

Er... no. I understand what you're doing, but eliminating approximately 36 episodes from the series is not 'in its entirety.' It doesn't matter how many seasons you watch or what order you watch them in, you are not seeing it in its entirety if you cut out episodes.

DigificWriter January 14 2013 11:07 PM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
^ Were arguing semantics here, I feel, which is pointless, so let's move on. Here's my review of Past Prologue.

Past Prologue Review
As I start my review, I'd like to make note of something I forgot to put in my review of Emissary.

There have been numerous comparisons between DS9 and J. Michael Strachzynski' s Babylon 5, but the two series are actually very different, and both Emissary and Past Prologue illustrate these differences rather vividly.

The first difference between B5 and DS9 that is illustrated by Past Prologue is the nature of DS9's storytelling versus the nature of B5's storytelling. Soul Hunter, the second episode of B5, is about setting up/seeding pieces of the B5 mythology both in terms of Sinclair's character arc as well as in terms of the wider B5 universe, whereas, by contrast, Past Prologue is a character piece through and through.

Another significant difference/distinction between B5 and DS9 that is illustrated by Past Prologue is DS9's ability - by virtue of its being a spinoff of a franchise - to use/feature already- existing characters in what are essentially extended cameos in order to expand and enrich the narrative of a given episode.

There was no reason the writers could not have used two completely original characters as Tahna Los' collaborators in obtaining one of the components of his bomb, but by using Lursa and B' Etor, they were able to establish continuity and character development by having Odo and Sisko discuss the reasons why their presence aboard the station is troubling and enhance Odo' s character by establishing the style by which he would traditionally deal with station security. Using the Duras sisters also enhances the impact of the subplot involving Garak and Bashir.

Past Prologue is a great follow-up to Emissary and an excellent example of the things that differentiate DS9 from B5, as well as an excellent vehicle for exploring Major Kira' s character and giving Nana Visitor yet not opportunities to establish herself as one of the series' standout actors, as her tiff with Sisko early on in the episode is a great follow- up on her verbal smackdown of Bashir in Emissary.

Speaking of Bashir, he serves as the perfect foil for Garak, whose smooth attitude as written and the brilliant acting choices of Andrew Robinson imbue the scenes between the two characters with a delicious undercurrent of behavioral innuendo that only serves to accentuate their interactions.

DigificWriter January 15 2013 08:05 AM

Re: 'Streamlining' DS9
 
I apologize for the double- posting, but I made it through A Man Alone and Babel and wanted to get my reviews posted sooner rather than later.

A Man Alone Review
There are a lot of things about this episode that are significant both from a narrative a well as a production standpoint.

On the production side of things, this episode constitutes the DS9 debut of multi-plot episodic narrative, the 'randomized' teaser, and multi-character focus, three staples of Star Trek storytelling structure, all things that end up coming to define the series as it progresses.

Narratively, we see a lot of 'firsts' in this episode: the first non-duty- related interaction between Dax and Bashir, Dax and Sisko, and Sisko and Bashir; the first meeting of Nog and Jake; and the first real seeding of the close relationship between Kira and Odo that, in later seasons, will progress far beyond mere friendship.

As I was watching the ep, I was reminded at times of the B5 episodes Born to the Purple and Infection, as this ep's plot is somewhat of a hybrid of both those eps. I aalso noted traces of similarity between the interaction between Odo and Quark and the evolution of the relationship between Londo and G'kar.

Although the official synopsis for the episode identifies it as being Odo-centric, I'd personally say that, in accordance with it being the DS9 debut of multi-character focus, it's also very much an O'Brien-centric episode, marking the first instance in the series of an episode being focused on both one or more main characters and one or more secondary characters.

I really enjoyed this episode and would mark it as one of the highlights of Season 1, not only because of the ways it helps to establish storytelling structure trends that become staples of the series, but also because of its story, which sets up a lot of character and narrative threads that recur in future eps.

Babel Review
If there's one type of episodic story that can be said to be a standard for the Star Trek franchise, it's the 'viral infection/quarantine' story, which has been done in one form or another in every installment of the franchise. The quality of these types of episodes has varied, ranging from ridiculous to excellent, with Babel, IMO, being counted among the latter, at least IMO.

The thing that makes the episode's premise work is that the virus plot itself is really only a catalyst and vehicle for exploring characters, in particular Kira, Odo, and Quark. Armin Shimmerman and Rene Auberjonois are both great actors and the way they play off of each other is brilliant, particularly towards the climax of the episode when Quark becomes the last resort Ops manager while Odo embarks on his mission to stop the alien captain' s ship from exploding.

Kira' s search for the architect of the virus gives us a chance to see her resourcefulness and tenacity, both qualities that make her the excellent XO that she is while also demonstrating and reinforcing how far she's come in only a few episodes in terms of her role on the station and her assimilation into that role.

I would actually rank this ep as another of the highlights of Season 1, if only because of its excellent character development and the way it utilizes and establishes/expands upon character relationships and interactions that are carried forward through future eps.


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