Why didn't DS9 capture a large audience like all the other Treks?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by ReadyAndWilling, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. ReadyAndWilling

    ReadyAndWilling Fleet Captain

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    everybody in society knows or has heard of kirk and spock. most people will recognize worf and picard. to make this more clear, i was watching an episode of TNG when a buddy walked in and as i was watching the last 10-15 minutes of the show, he decided to sit down and chill out with me. he's not a fan of ST at all by the way. he knows i pick and choose between different treks so he wasn't sure which one i was watching. he asks "oh, is this the one with the bald captain and the powerful voice?" he had obviously known of him.

    when the show had ended he asked if we could watch another. i asked him "which one takes your fancy?" he didn't know enough about trek so i chose the next one. i decided on watching VOY and the episode is just getting started and he says "this is the one with the woman who's got full breasts right? and the borg?" i swear he has only seen a few episodes of trek and only has a hollow knowledge. and yes, i know this isn't the most flattering way to recall a show.

    to test his knowledge i took him to my DVD cabinet and he didn't recognize ANYONE from DS9. to be fair, he didn't recognize anyone from ENT, but ENT is unique because it was set in a completely different era.

    so why was DS9 so unknown to the general public?
     
  2. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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    Terrible first-run scheduling in many areas, especially during the first few seasons. That's a big one.

    It also premiered incredibly controversially, what with all the 'no ship' hoopla, and there are other factors.
     
  3. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Star Trek was different because it was the first of its kind and everybody watched it, not just science fiction fans. The shows go down in public awareness on a continuum from TNG onwards.
     
  4. Danoz

    Danoz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well I think you, in part, answered your own question.

    Everybody knew the novelty of Kirk and Spock as science fiction icons. After that, most people know of Star Trek: The Next Generation-- and even more so today because they can connect that "bald Captain with the strong voice" to the now very famous Sir Patrick Stewart. As for Deep Space Nine, the series required a far stronger week-to-week commitment than either of its predecessors and was therefore destined to be more esoteric in the long run.

    As for Voyager, the network did so much whoring of the show with Seven of Nine that I don't think anybody could forget those promos. They had her fight The Rock in the ring and brought on Jason Alexander to oggle her breasts (both fun episodes, but very publicized ploys).

    To the non-fan, there's really isn't much to really make you remember DS9.
     
  5. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The first 2 seasons were generally mediocre writing and non memorbale episodes. Only from season 3 did it really take off, but by then a lot of audience would be turned off to giving it a go. Who would remember someone they never watched?
     
  6. Navaros

    Navaros Commodore Commodore

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    Here are some reasons:

    1. Seasons 1 and 2 and are pretty bad overall, especially Season 1, including Emissary which had excellent ratings that were never repeated because most people don't wanna see that kind of stuff, like Bajorans whining ad nauseam and ad infinitum about being oppressed. Stuff like that made up a large bulk of DS9's content for the first two Seasons. By the time DS9 cut out being annoying in that way at the Season 2 finale and on, the viewers who tuned out had no idea. In addition, Season 1 and 2 also have many bad episodes. Although there are bad episodes in every Season, but a much a smaller amount after Seasons 1 and 2.

    2. DS9 is way more complex than other Trek shows, and hence someone who watches it out of order will have no idea what's going on. Similarly, someone who does not watch on a regular basis will miss a great many of the nuances resulting from DS9's semi-serialized format. This is a great for quality storytelling, but bad for appealing to the masses.

    3. Kind of similar to point 1, DS9's best element, the Dominion, was not introduced until the Season 2 finale, by which point many had already tuned out and had no idea of the good stuff going on.

    4. Season 1 of DS9 tried to be an exact copy of TNG, only with a new crew, which no one wanted to see.

    5. DS9 wasn't sold based on T&A, which is the main reason why VOY is famous: due to Seven showing off her body. What your friend said about recalling VOY for that reason is quite typical. Although overall, DS9 had better ratings than VOY.

    6. DS9's premise is very hard to define effectively in a simplistic way, unlike that of other Trek shows. That is a big problem when it comes to marketing a product for the masses. On paper, saying "here is a show about a space station that never goes anywhere" does indeed sound very boring. AFAIK There weren't any marketing ploys that overcame this burden in a successful way, aside from hyping Worf as joining in Season 4, by which time tons of viewers had already left permanently. This problem is compounded by the fact that DS9 needed the Dominion to make its premise interesting, and the Dominion didn't exist at the time DS9's premise was being defined.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  7. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Firstly, I dispute the claim. While both shows were on the air, DS9 consistently had higher ratings than Voyager, and it obviously had higher ratings than Enterprise. The show's ratings started out really well (Emissary had the highest ratings for any modern Trek episode when it first aired) but they declined considerably over the course of the 7 years. The same is true of Voyager; it started out with strong ratings and gradually declined from there. The only Trek show that didn't suffer from ratings decline during its first run was TNG.

    If you're asking why DS9 didn't catch on in the public's consciousness, I think it suffered from being "that other Trek show" during its whole run. It started out playing second fiddle to TNG, which was one of the biggest shows on TV at the time, then Voyager came along and it got a lot of attention as it was the flagship show of the UPN network and they pushed it with advertising. DS9, being in syndication and not being TNG, was left to flounder.

    Personally, I'm glad of this. Voyager was the focus of attention for Paramount and there's numerous examples of executive meddling screwing up that show and keeping the writers on a leash. DS9 didn't attract the same level of attention from the suits in Paramount so Ira and co were free to push the envelope more. For example, the Dominion War was originally meant to last only 4 episodes at most, but because the execs were more interested in shooting down Braga's idea for a year-long Year of Hell arc, DS9's writers got away with extending the war over two seasons.
     
  8. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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    I actually came back in here to say this.
     
  9. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    DS9 had higher ratings, but Seven of Nine helped Voyager pop-culture wise, I'd guess.


    One important thing to note is that by DS9's time, quality television sci-fi was no longer so special. 1993 saw "X-Files" and "Babylon 5" start.

    DS9 never got to "go it alone" as a series like TOS and TNG did. It always had other Trek on TV.

    TNG was just in another era, whered there wasn't much in the way of good tv sci-fi.
     
  10. Leroy

    Leroy Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think because of competition from other syndicated sci-fi shows at the time like Babylon 5, people getting burned out on Trek in general after the super popular TNG, people not being used to serialized storytelling, people not liking the space station setting saying that DS9 "goes nowhere" (ignoring the fact in TNG the characters just walk around and talk anyway), people not liking DS9 for not rigidly adhering to Roddenberry's utopian ideals this argument reeks of Roddenberry worship and ignores the fact that more people other than Roddenberry made TOS and the movies great, also ignores the fact that TOS and the movies weren't a perfect utopia, and just plain narrow mindedness.
     
  11. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    wait, it's "narrow-mindedness" that DS9 didn't capture a larger audience? That's a pretty arrogant view.


    I like DS9, but I don't think that people who were previous Trek fans but couldn't get into DS9 are "narrow-minded."
     
  12. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, all the other Treks didn't capture a large audience, which makes your question a bit hard to answer. Voyager had an audience week-to-week that was bit smaller, though Seven made a bigger splash in the popular consciousness than anything on DS9. ENT had a smaller audience than either of its immediate predecessors.

    The two Trek shows that had mainstream impact and popular success on a large scale were TOS and TNG, though in very different ways.

    Post-TNG, and even in the latter couple of seasons of TNG, it's clear that interest in Trek was pretty much destined to dwindle no matter what the producers did (when compared to TNG's peak years). This is due to a number of factors, notably the increase in quality sci-fi/fantasy on tv, which saturated what is basically a niche market.

    A comparison between DS9 and Voyager supports this, since the two shows couldn't be more diametrically opposed in how they approached the Trek formula and how they attempted to generate ratings, one was syndicated and the other UPN's flagship show, one heavily marketed and the other much less, yet both shows experienced an almost exactly comparable ratings slide while they were on the air.

    B5's ratings were a bit lower than Voyager's, and Hercules and Xena (syndicated like DS9) started lower than DS9, as I recall, and ended slightly higher.

    That's not to say that the Trek producers couldn't have made better choices. Obviously, having Trek compete against itself for seven straight seasons seems a bit dumb in retrospect, but the entire tv landscape was changing. The DS9 writers were aware of this and adapted the show in many respects to that changing landscape, which is part of the reason why the show has aged so much better than anything else from the TNG-era, but none of those changes affected the ratings slide. They probably slowed it down a bit, like Jeri Ryan's boobs on Voyager.

    A reboot in some form was eventually going to be necessary to bring Trek back into the popular consciousness, regardless of what anyone did on the post-TNG shows. This is something that producers have become more sensitive to in recent years, which is why the "reboot" is such a major aspect of popular culture at the moment. Basically, audiences get bored quick and move onto other things. But if you take away something audiences like for a while, then bring it back in a shiny new package, they will rediscover why they liked it in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  13. HoneyBLilly

    HoneyBLilly Commodore Commodore

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    Because at that time franchise fatigue was starting to set in and it was difficult to overcome it. Some people took a racist view and didn't like having a black captain. Other people just didn't like him because he wasn't Picard. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact reason but it just didn't catch on for some people.

    I wasn't allowed to watch it because it was at 10 o'clock for us, but after I started watching Voyager my mom stopped fighting it and I stayed up to watch it. But that was in the fifth season.
     
  14. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    For my part, I had a really immature reaction to it, and I wonder if I'm alone on it. I stubbornly refused to watch it simply because it wasn't TNG (I did the same with the original "Star Trek" with the added excuse of believing that something that old couldn't not be outdated and cheesy due to age).

    I was really closed-minded as a kid. I saw a bit of "Change of Heart" and just thought it was ridiculous for Worf to be in a relationship with a human (I didn't know better) as I only caught the scene where they were in the bedroom. How wrong I was. How little I knew...now she's my favourite Star Trek character!
     
  15. Danoz

    Danoz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Still sad that Braga never got his wish on that. There were so many problems with the structure of Voyager, an arch where they were actually "roughing it" could have been interesting.
     
  16. ReadyAndWilling

    ReadyAndWilling Fleet Captain

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    a year of hell season would have been what voyager needed
     
  17. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I used to confused as to why TNG was more popular than DS9, but I understand now that TNG had the audience to itself and was first to carry on the Trek legacy for the first couple of years.

    But when compared with other shows, it does seem like Voyager got more mainstream press and appreciation.

    I haven't seen any DS9 reruns on any channels, though I see Enterprise, Voyager and TNG.

    Especially TNG- a resurgence -I count 3 different stations that it appears on weekly at different hours.

    I recalled once on another thread, how the series finale of Voyager got a special mention on the news that appeared after it, along with interviews and such, but DS9's finale didn't get the same treatment.

    It was given a two hour slot on Saturday but not as much fanfare.
     
  18. Jeff O'Connor

    Jeff O'Connor Commodore Commodore

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    UPN ran a special before Voyager's finale aired because it was their show -- and their first show and probably their most successful drama at that -- whereas DS9 was syndicated.
     
  19. pimp

    pimp Commander Red Shirt

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    Are you people saying that the only reason why Voyager had good ratings is becuase of seven's breasts hmmm didnt think that was it lol

    anyways I kind of agree with some of the comments here about why DS9 was not as popular or famous, maybe its due to timing issues wit voyager and DS9 also the seasons from 1-2 and maybe 3 are not as good but also you have the mother of all issues No starship to explore and well they basically sat in a station for the most part and had small runabouts to fly in until the defiant came along but that was a warship so it kind of goes against the star trek franchise theme having said that it is my fav show :P and in order to love it you got to give it a chance and watch the char development (quark + odo best friends :P, kira + odo and the fight wit dukat then you got my fav 2 chars Garak & Weyoun enuff said), and massive story arcs that span seasons and not end in the last 10mins of the episode, I personally grew up on DS9 and it will always be the best for me while others say TNG and the old school still dream of TOS.

    I just think people never really gave it a chance and let the story develop over time, these days an audience wants action asap
     
  20. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Part of the answer is that the premise isn't quite right - "all the other Treks" didn't capture a huge audience.

    Star Trek should be looked at in the context of all television, not as if it's a special phenomenon that works by its own rules in terms of audience acceptance.

    TOS probably had a big audience on NBC, when measured against the kinds of ratings the later syndicated Trek shows achieved - with only three networks dominating the prime time schedule in the 1960s, even the least successful shows had a lot of eyes on the screen.

    TNG was the only post-TOS Trek that commanded a large audience for very long, and it's always hard to say (okay, impossible to say for certain) what the variables are that make one show popular and another less so. It almost always seems to have something to do with the audience really liking the actors, and there's no formula for this (just because - for instance - you may like Auberjenois better than Spiner or I find it painful to watch Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer together means nothing; other people seem to lfeel differently).

    From the POV of the general audience the post-TNG shows are purely and simply TNG sequels, each one a little more removed. Sequels to immensely popular TV series do not have a history of necessarily great success: M*A*S*H and AfterMASH, Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda (and Phyllis!), Friends and Joey. The tendency, looking backward, may be to see Trek in the context of later successful franchises like CSI or Law & Order, but that kind of "branding" was an innovation which had not, up until then, been made to work. And - based on examples like the above - Trek managed to succeed to a greater degree with DS9, Voyager and even Enterprise than most other sequel series up to that time. About five hundred hours of post-TNG Trek was successfully produced, after all.

    One can also cite examples of sequel series that were successful, but this just brings us back to Goldman's dictum: nobody knows anything. Most new series fail or fall short of hoped-for success, and it's rarely because the producers and financial backers didn't absolutely believe they had it right based on their industry experience and careful observation of the market.

    Really, a better question would be "why was TNG so successful to begin with?" and that, despite our enthusiasm for the Franchise, has no better answer in hindsight than "because people liked it a lot."

    Each Star Trek series that succeeded TNG fell a little further down the curve of diminishing returns. DS9 started out with higher ratings than TNG for a few weeks, then started to fall off. Voyager spiked for a couple of weeks, then fell onto the same curve, likewise Enterprise. When the curve of audience attrition bottomed out somewhere around two million viewers a week, it was over.

    [​IMG]

    (Above is partial data, but it demonstrates the curve. I'm missing a chunk of one Voyager season, there, and I dropped the Voyager and DS9 premiere weeks just because at the time I made the graph my mistaken reasoning was they made the falloff for both shows look worse than they actually trended - DS9 in particular spiked very high for its first week and then fell a lot in week two. Data for TNG, DS9 and Voyager is sweeps data; Enterprise is week-by-week. I believe someone on the board has a complete week-by-week graph that makes the point more definitively; I can't find it in the archives but hopefully someone will post it).
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011