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Sykonee April 9 2009 09:33 PM

DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
As with many I'm sure, I came to appreciate shows like DS9 and B5 relatively after the fact, when they were being broadcast through syndication or via DVD packages. Although I managed to catch some of the shows in their initial run, times were often distracting to a teenager such as myself. It was only in the latter seasons of the shows that I even became aware that there were massive divides growing -and, sure enough, became quite aware of them in my early wanderings in Interwebland. But that's not what this thread's about; rather, the basis for such squabbles is what's lead me to undertake this little viewing project.

I've grown quite curious what it may have been like to watch these shows as they originally aired against each other, how individual episodes would have initially been compared to one another as they were broadcast, and thus if that had much to much to do with those schisms; after all, we see it happening constantly with contemporary shows. So, I've decided to do just that: watch the shows in conjunction with each other on their original broadcast dates. And what the heck, I may as well bring TNG and VOY -the other 'big name sci-fi' shows- into this project as well, as they were also on the air while DS9 was too.

Granted, this is probably just an elaborate excuse to break out the DS9/B5 DVDs once more, but I think this may provide some intriguing insight into what it was like to have watched these shows first-run.

So, the way this'll work:
-I'll view an episode of DS9/B5/TNG/VOY once a day from it's initial broadcast week; so, if there was an original episode of two (or even three) shows that week, I'll watch them both

-since I'm admittedly somewhat DS9 biased, I'll only be doing this while DS9 was on the air; however, DS9 is kind of unique in that all the other shows were also on at some point while DS9 was; nicely coincidental, eh?:techman:

-if DS9 didn't happen to have an episode that week, but another show did, I'll still watch that show's episode in chronological order

-for each week, I'll post which show had an episode, probably provide a little personal commentary on it (everyone else is welcome to join in), and declare a 'winner' of that week.
*note*: This 'weekly winner' thing is NOT being done to see which show is 'the best, lolz!', or to add fuel to any lingering fires of such debates -it's being done to provide insight into what a comparative 'review' may have been between the shows when they started broadcasting them 15 years ago (yes, it's been that long!:eek:). Think of it as the kind of 'review' the A.V. Club does for its Sunday Fox Evening Cartoon Wrap-Up (Link for example.).

Ultimately, this is meant to be fun and insightful. If this thread descends into petty flaming, I'll sadly have to pull the plug. Please keep your comments civil.:bolian:

Anyhow, my follow-up post will be a brief 'lead-up' paragraph to what was on the air just prior to DS9's pilot debuting. Time to break out the TNG DVDs!

Sykonee April 11 2009 03:11 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
Week 0: Before DS9

Well, the only show on at this point was TNG, well into its 6th season. For some, this was about where the show had truly peaked out, and who can blame them. You had the James Doohan guest-staring Relics, the creepy X-Files-esque alien abduction Schisms, another Q episode with True Q, the light-hearted Western romp A Fistful Of Datas, and the dark two-parter Chain Of Command.

It's actually been a while since I last watched Chain Of Command, and viewing it here, with the foreknowledge that DS9 was to premier in a couple weeks, I'm quite struck by just how much this two-parter seems to be as much about setting the Star Trek viewership up for the new show as it is about the TNG cast. Gander:

-Change and conflicts in command: the audience had grown quite accustomed to the TNG command structure operating smooth as silk -there seldom was any conflict. Then, Jellico replaces Picard, and immediately begins butting heads with Riker. A prelude to the sort of conflict we'd be seeing from Sisko and Kira, perhaps?

-Cardassians as a serious threat: they'd proven themselves to be worthy re-occurring opponents up to this point, though seen sporadically and still well down the 'food-chain' when it came to TNG heavies. These episodes, however, legitimized the Cardassians as an undeniable threat, a race that was bold and malicious enough to compete with the Feds when the opportunity presented itself. This definitely helped make them come across as a prime threat in DS9 without the show having to fall back on TNG's heavies (Borg, Romulans).

-Darker tone: Some have said Chain Of Command: Part 2 is TNG's darkest hour, a fair assessment considering half the episode is of Picard being tortured. If the producers were hoping to prepare the audience for DS9's darker tone here, they certainly succeeded.

One other interesting factoid. Rascals was Colm Meany's last TNG episode before DS9 started, where O'Brien has to deal with his wife now being a young teenager. Yep, it was a prelude to the 'Torture O'Brien' episodes!

Next: Week 1 - DS9 debuts

Praetor April 11 2009 03:15 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
A very thorough assessment of pre-DS9 TNG. I'd never really considered how much they were doing to set up DS9 going forward.

I'm very much looking forward to following this thread as I do GodBen's thread about VGR. :)

PKTrekGirl April 11 2009 04:38 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
You should post the 'schedule' in this thread. You might get a few folks watching along with you - at least for bits of time.

I, for one, am too lazy to look up air dates. But as a big fan of both DS9 and B5 in particular, I might watch a few episodes with you, if you post the combined viewing order. :)

Might even watch some episodes of VOY with you as I quite like the early seasons of that show and that was the part that was on during DS9.

But count me out when it comes to TNG. Not really interested in going there.....

Sykonee April 11 2009 07:35 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient

PKTrekGirl wrote: (Post 2818455)
You should post the 'schedule' in this thread. You might get a few folks watching along with you - at least for bits of time.

I'll definitely be posting what'll be 'airing' in the next week of each post, though it'd take me quite a while to make a full comprehensive list at this point. Right now I'm just going one week at a time by what's printed in the DVD sets, since they have the original air dates included. It'll probably be slow going until B5 makes its season debut anyway, which'll be after at least one season of DS9.

TheGodBen April 11 2009 02:58 PM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
This is a very ambitious project, I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

My only issue is that I've only seen the first four episodes of B5 before I bailed on it (and yes, I know it got better in the second season) so I'll probably have to skip reading those reviews in case I decide to watch it in the future. But the contrast between the various Trek series should be interesting.

Eddie Roth April 11 2009 03:26 PM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
Well, I seem to remember that in the 1998/99 season, for a while there, I enjoyed VGR more than I did DS9. Seventh season, slow start, while VGR was pretty good that year. That changed again, but altogether... DS9's first season also compared unfavorably to TNG's sixth.

However, VGR, not particularly strong to begin with in Season 2, was all but obliterated by DS9's fourth season. It is only now that I move AWAY from comparing the different shows to one another based on what episodes ran against each other. Makes you appreciate the show's merits of its own much more.

Sykonee April 12 2009 04:38 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient

GodBen wrote: (Post 2819502)
This is a very ambitious project, I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

My only issue is that I've only seen the first four episodes of B5 before I bailed on it (and yes, I know it got better in the second season) so I'll probably have to skip reading those reviews in case I decide to watch it in the future.

Hehe. Maybe now's a good time to start?;)

WEEK 1: (Ending 01.03.93)
DS9: Emissary (Airdate 01.03.93)

Well, there really isn't much more to comment on about the pilot that hasn't been psychoanalyzed to death in this forum, now is there.:techman:

TNG was in the middle of winter re-runs at this point, though depending on the network it was being syndicated on, I don't think they would have even aired a re-run, instead leaving its hour-slot to air the full two hours of DS9's premiere. Of course, having Stewart and the Enterprise-D in the episode undoubtedly helped ease the audience into the new show. It's actually a bit odd seeing Picard in the role of "Exposition Admiral" here, especially with his experience in Chain Of Command relatively fresh in the mind.

It was the only show on, so DS9 wins the first Weekly Versus by default.

Weekly Winner

Next: Week 2
DS9 - Past Prologue

TheGodBen April 12 2009 03:27 PM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient

Sykonee wrote: (Post 2821649)
Hehe. Maybe now's a good time to start?;)

I still have five seasons of Voyager to work through, then all of Enterprise, then all of DS9, and I want to fit The Wire in there at some point. I'm afraid that B5 is pretty far down my list right now.

Sykonee April 13 2009 03:00 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
WEEK 2: (Ending 01.10.93)
DS9: Past Prologue (Airdate 01.10.93)

I'm amazed I can recall this, but I can distinctly remember being underwhelmed by the teaser for this episode when it showed after Emisarry. With it looking like a 'talky episode with Bajorans', I think I initially skipped on it. I certainly didn't remember anything about it until I saw it when the DVDs first came out. Damn, but was I silly to miss it.

Well, it definitely appears the show was determined to differentiate itself from TNG, as there were plenty of things going on here that not only got to highlight the new characters in action, but showed just what kinds of shades of gray they'd be dealing with too. The Federation Capt- sorry, Commander fighting with his Number On- sorry, Major? Black-market dealings and conspiracies on the shi- sorry, station? The Cardassians actually in the right for a change? Hadn't seen much, if any, of this in Trek up to this point. At the same time, though, the inclusion of the Duras Sisters is a pretty blatant 'piggy-back' on TNG -their role could have been any black-market smuggler type.

Robinson's definitely the key that elevates the episode -his shadiness practically steals the show. Can't help but wonder what folks first thought of this intriguing guest star.

As the only new broadcast, Past Prologue wins the week by default, but it's definitely a strong enough episode to have competed with some of TNG's better episodes from the same year.

Weekly Winner

Next: Week 3
DS9 - A Man Alone

Sykonee April 14 2009 06:05 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
WEEK 3: (Ending 01.17.93)
DS9: A Man Alone (Airdate 01.17.93)

DS9's first regular episode to truly stand apart from TNG, and in some respects it succeeds. Even more so than Past Prologue, the cast get little moments to flesh out their characters. Unfortunately, these good moments are somewhat undone by the convoluted murder mystery. I doubt I'm the only one to think Ibudan is about to say, "And I would have gotten away with it too..." when Odo unmasked him at the end.

While it doesn't tie into sci-fi, here's another growing popular trend DS9 was kind of reflecting at the time: the return of the Western. I'd just recently watched the Costner flick Wyatt Earp, which was released a year after -plus Tombstone was to premier later in '93 as well- and watching A Man Alone, I couldn't help but notice the parallels they were drawing to the Old West, as the show was loosely premised on: tough, no-nonsense sheriff; angry 'torch and pitchfork' mob; trying to start a school in frontier setting. I rather doubt folks would have quite caught onto it at the time, though, since they'd be expecting more TNG type stories.

Yet again, DS9 was the only show with new episodes on this week. Another default victory for the rookie. Will it build enough momentum to take on the veteran TNG once it returns from its winter sabbatical? Stay tuned...;)

Weekly Winner

Next: Week 4
DS9 - Babel

Sykonee April 15 2009 06:48 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
WEEK 4: (Ending 01.24.93)
DS9: Babel (Airdate 01.24.93)

I guess the best way to get a built-in audience familiar with a new series is to let it stand on its own for a month, and that's what those in power certainly did for DS9, as the show got nearly all of January to itself. Even if folks weren't entirely sold on the premise, it was the only new Trek they were going to get until TNG came back from re-runs. The last week was a bit of a stumble, but Babel definitely has the hallmarks of an episode trying to end its solo time in the spotlight on a high. Station-wide crisis, everyone having moments to shine (even if poor O'Brien is relegated to whipping-boy), balance between tragedy and comedic moments... and that score in the final act sure is bombastic, ain't it.

So, DS9 wins another week, but finally -finally- the Versus truly begins, as TNG's back from re-runs next week. Hopefully I'll have time to watch two episodes of Trek tomorrow while fitting in a Geography Final and the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Weekly Winner

Next: Week 5
TNG - Ship In A Bottle
DS9 - Captive Pursuit

Evil Twin April 15 2009 06:52 PM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
I did something similar to this a year or two back, going through all of Trek chronologically with TNG/DS9, DS9/VOY episodes interpersed (though no B5) and had a great time. I did make some preferential tweaks here and there, such as swapping around "Past Prologue" and "A Man Alone" as the later was produced first and works better a second episode. Tried to tackle Voyager in production order as much as possible also, such as watching season 1 episodes ("Twisted", "Projections", etc) that were held back til season 2 in their "proper" place.

Currently watching Buffy and Angel for the first time and doing the same thing. Crossovers there are even better than they were on Trek. Watching "Fool for Love" and "Darla" back to back was an absolute blast!

Sykonee April 16 2009 01:26 AM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
WEEK 5: (Ending 01.31.93)
TNG: Ship In A Bottle (Airdate 01.25.93)
DS9: Captive Pursuit (Airdate 01.31.93)

Hm... it's a versus in more ways than one: Hologram Moriarty vs. Tosk.

On one hand, Moriarty was an interesting character when first introduced way back in S2 of TNG, raising questions about the nature of life and consciousness -it was nice to see the story followed upon. However, while the whole 'wall of mirrors' thing in the holodeck is cool for the 'didn't see that coming' factor, there's some serious plot holes that become quite obvious on repeated viewings (how could Picard, Data, and Barcley be so far apart during the simulation in such a contained space; if Moriarty had such control over the holodeck to create such an elaborate illusion, how did he not see through Picard's ruse; and so on). And in the end, the episode felt more like tying up a loose end (that a newer audience wasn't even aware of, for that matter) than building upon Moriarty's first appearance.

Tosk is an interesting character too, and in some ways more compelling than a sentient hologram. Here's a creature specifically bred a certain way, and is quite comfortable to remain within the confines of his existence, something us 'always growing' humans seem to have a hard time accepting (as Sisko's reaction to it all demonstrates). And fortunately for the episode, the drama that comes from it is great -O'Brien's the perfect person to play off of it too. And, if anything, Captive Pursuit did wonders to help Colm Meany shake off the TNG association folks probably still had for him -O'Brien really shines here.

Overall, Captive Pursuit is just a more entertaining hour of TV. Unless you're a HUGE Hologram Moriarty fan, DS9 definitely had a better episode for the week.

Weekly Winner

Next: Week 6
TNG - Aquiel
DS9 - Q-Less
(oh dear...)

neogothboy74 April 17 2009 05:50 PM

Re: DS9 Versus: A viewing experient
I watched all these episodes as they aired so I had the comparison thing going on back then. Sometimes one show would be the clear victor. Other times not so much. Sadly, other times, both episodes were less than perfect. I think they could have done better crossovers though; I'd have enjoyed a more in depth crossover event. I like that kind of stuff.


Sykonee wrote: (Post 2818199)
-Darker tone: Some have said Chain Of Command: Part 2 is TNG's darkest hour, a fair assessment considering half the episode is of Picard being tortured. If the producers were hoping to prepare the audience for DS9's darker tone here, they certainly succeeded.

The Chain of Command 2 parter was initially meant as a crossover with DS9. The Ferengi that Crusher seduces with her possible 'gratefullness' was written as Quark, but then it became clear that these episodes would air before DS9 started and the role was rewritten as another character.

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