Mr Cool Dude wrote:
the values that were espoused in TNG are tested in DS9.
Excellent post overall, and I think this point is particularly perceptive. DS9 puts Trek overall and TNG in particular to the test. Creatively speaking, it uses the world that TNG established as a kind of constraint that it stretches, turns inside out, unravels, deconstructs and examines.
Having TNG's idealistic world to work with (and against) is a resource that DS9 had that most comparable shows do not have: there is a past history there that grants the show a historical and moral depth that is more compelling than any simple "backstory" that a show might come up with from scratch to shape its characters and storyline.
I compare this to the LotR, which is pretty much the reference as far as world-building is concerned. These novels attain a sense of depth and "reality" of the fictional world that has rarely been equaled since, imo for one simple reason: the world already existed when Tolkien wrote the LotR. He had invented the languages and mythology of Middle Earth over the course of many years since childhood as a pastime that he never even intended to publish. Then he wrote a story for his nephew (The Hobbit) that his brother suggested he publish. Its popularity led to the LotR.
So, by the time the LotR was composed, Tolkien had this pre-existing universe to work with and build upon that he didn't just invent on the spot to serve as backstory for the novels. This is a dynamic that can't really be created from scratch because at that point, by definition, you are creating the backstory with your current story in mind.
TNG provides that pre-existing world for DS9 to work with as a resource, which is why the show has a depth that it couldn't have created all by itself. DS9 certainly would not have been possible without what TNG had established. However, what DS9 did right (that Voyager unfortunately did not do) was take the established universe and send it in a new direction, subvert it, analyse it, create something new with that resource.