Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Photon, Feb 8, 2013.
A good read. Merci for that post.
Well, it's nicely written, but the article is mostly the same made up BS that gets recycled by everybody who listened to far too many of Ron Moore's BSG commentaries.
Deep Space Nine is a great show, but come on...
Was it really this heavily serialized epic with the odd one-off adventure? Or were the vast majority of episodes stand alone stories with a few rare instances of multi-episode serialization?
Was it really established that Federation values weren't always better than Ferengi values, they were just different? Or were the Ferengi values clearly shown as ass-backwards and hilarious?
Did Deep Space Nine really not use technobabble in the same way that TNG did? Or was it just as notoriously indulgent in it.
I love Deep Space Nine a whole bunch... but if we're going to be honest it wasn't as successful as TNG because for most people it wasn't as good as TNG. And there's nothing wrong with that, different strokes for different folks as they say...
It wasn't as successful as TNG because it wasn't as broad and was too complex for most viewers. Nothing to do with quality. If somebody tuned in to TNG for the first time during S6 they'd understand pretty much everything. If a new viewer tuned in to DS9 S6 they'd be utterly lost.
And that's not a bad thing. Not every show should aim to please everybody. Risks should be taken.
Not just that. If you tune in an episode of TNG and didn't like it, well okay, because at the end of that particular episode it was over.
If you watch a episode of DS9 and didn't like it, you're screwed, because the theme of that episode is going to continue for the next few seasons.
The Enterprise Dee is in a battle, and you don't really care for warfare/combat episodes, the next episode of TNG will be something different.
If you didn't like the Dominion War, isn't that just too bad? 'Cause that all you be getting for a while.
Deep Space Nine was not too complex for most viewers, it simply didn't interest some of them. Nobody said anything about quality, what I said was that a lot of people enjoyed TNG, and then didn't enjoy DS9. Of course there were a ton of us that did like it as well, the show (contrary to what the internet perpetuates) was incredibly successful, just not as much so as TNG.
This whole "DS9 never got the attention it deserved / DS9 was treated like the bastard middle child of Star Trek" myth is crazy. The show was a huge success! It did much better than poor old Voyager or Enterprise. It got pretty much exactly what it deserved.
The first 6 episodes of that season are serialized (and even then they're pretty compartmentalized), the other 20 are stand alone stories that anybody could follow. Hardly bewildering to a casual viewer.
Even within many of the stand-alone episodes, there was a lot of character/relationship growth, conflict and development, I believe more so than other shows partly because most of the DS9 characters were flawed as the author says (much more eloquently than I could). And while the specifics of what happened within many of those episodes weren't part of the broader story, there were layers of recurring aliens, cultures and politics that needed some exposition and development, often as "stand alone" episodes. Plus as the series went on, more and more characters were added to the mix to explore and develop. So for me, all of that was part of the serial or the "epic feeling" even when some of those developments occurred within stand-alone episodes.
Well I can't speak for most people. But speaking for myself, I'm one of those people who did tune in from time to time when it aired originally, and I was completely lost. I was too busy or too lazy to try and figure it out at the time. On the other hand if I missed an episode of TNG, no worries. So I stuck with TNG and caught the episodes I missed during re-runs or later on when it was in second-run syndication and it didn't matter. It was only after watching DS9 in its entirety almost 2 decades later with the convenience of Netflix that I was able to see DS9 for what it truly is: a beautiful story from beginning to end. And for me, it's even better than TNG (though I still love TNG). But again, I can only speak for myself! I'm quite sure others disagree...
Very true. Personally I think Trek is more fun when it's a new adventure every episode, with the occasional two parter and references to earlier episodes. DS9 was okay, but TOS and TNG were my favorites, and that was partially because they were more fun and less caught up in try-hard political seriousness that lasted for seasons at a time. That's not what I ever really wanted out of star trek.
Don't get me wrong, though. I think DS9 was a pretty good Star Trek show. Certainly better than any incarnation that came after it. It just never grabbed me fully and part of that was because I didn't care for the ongoing struggle of the "look how spiritual we are" bajorans or the battle against the cheesy dominion. It had plenty of great stuff going for it though, like a very interesting supporting cast and some classic episodes.
I agree that DS9 was not 'too complex' for the average viewer, but I disagree that the reason not as many liked it has to do with quality.
It has to do with the way most people watch TV. Most people just want a fun escapist adventure, they don't want dark characters exploring the moral ambiguities of war and religion. DS9 doesn't give people what most people look for in a TV show. But that has to do with breadth of appeal, not quality.
I would say you're right, except for the part about that being present in Deep Space Nine more so than the other series.
You can find all kinds of examples of this kind of continuity and world-building in TNG. The fictional worlds of DS9 and Voyager were literally built in TNG with episodes like The Wounded, Ensign Ro, Chain of Command, Lower Decks, Journey's End, Pre-emptive Strike... You may not be as interested in the themes and characters being developed on TNG as you are with the ones on DS9, but they're still there.
The article is trying to say that DS9 was a serialized TV show in opposition to TNG consisting of solely one-off stories, and that because of that people cruelly misjudged it, leaving it scorned in obscurity.
In reality, DS9 had great ratings with wide exposure, and the only times DS9 became more serialized than TNG was the 3 part season 2 opener, the 6 part season 6 opener, and the 10 part season 7 closer. That is 19 out of 176 episodes.
Again, I never said it has anything to do with quality. Clearly DS9 was made with same level of care and craftsmanship as TNG, some could even argue that it surpasses it. What I said was that it simply didn't interest some of the audience of TNG. It was given a fair shake. The ratings for the DS9 pilot were massive. A whole bunch of people gave it a shot, and then a portion of them said "no thanks." It doesn't mean they were unable to comprehend deep dark characters or whatever elitist sentiment gets tossed around. They weren't into it. I am. That doesn't mean I'm able to see something they don't, it just means I like what I see and they don't.
I'm not arguing that it didn't exist in TNG. As I said, I love TNG. I just feel there was more development in DS9 -- not more as in quantity, but more as in DEEPER, much more time and more attention given to specific cultures and characters making the development more complex, and that development helped to build a broader story. They had to do it that way because the station wasn't going anywhere and the mission this time was not to explore strange new worlds. TNG did indeed introduce and develop characters, aliens and cultures, and they were interesting (never said they weren't), but there was not a larger, complex story there that encompassed the series. In other words, the development of the characters and cultures were mostly contained to individual stories that were resolved quickly, and then it was time to move on and continue the mission of exploring. Yes they revisited many of those cultures and developed them further, but they didn't live with those cultures the way DS9 did simply because they moved around the galaxy a lot more. And there's not a thing wrong with that! They were just two different kinds of shows. It's not an elitist argument, it's just the nature of each show. And I love them both.
I haven't read the article, but can we stop with the misnomer that DS9 is some red-headed step child of the Star Trek franchise? Why are fans still carrying this thought. Ever since the DVDs came out I think DS9 has gotten a lot of respect. Also, this week LaLa land records is bringing out the music of a series and it sounds like they are going through great pains to respect it. The series may not be in syndication, but neither is Voyager or Enterprise. All the series are on DVD, freely avaliable on Netflix, and ever since the DVDs, the series has gained a much larger following (This board showing a good example of that).
I say it's time to stop being this bastard child and freely enjoy the show. To ask for any more respect than it's already given does strike me the same way of a spoiled brat.
Ok, I agree with that. But I don't think it's fair to characterize people's defense of DS9 as saying it's more 'Deep' and too hard for people to understand. And, you did earlier say that you thought the reason for TNG's greater popularity is greater quality.
But you're right about the basic reason for the lower ratings. DS9 doesn't entertain the same number of people TNG does. It's not a matter of most people not being able to comprehend it's 'depth' or anything like that. DS9 and TNG are equally 'deep' in different directions. It's a matter of there just being a greater number of people entertained by something light and fun than something dark and critical of human nature.
But, I do think that a lot of people who might have liked it dismissed it too early because it wasn't TNG redux. Because it didn't say 'Humans will evolve past all through their current problems', it said 'Human failings are permanent'. And I'm saying that because it's exactly what I did when the show first aired.
I get what you're saying, Deep Space Nine created this wonderful tapestry of a setting in which to tell their stories, and while you enjoy TNG, you feel like the combination of DS9's setting, characters, and story themes resonate more with you. That's cool, but you have to understand that is a subjective experience, and isn't inherently "deeper" or more developed.
TNG has it's own wonderful tapestry, it's supporting characters just tend to wear starfleet uniforms instead of Bajoran outfits. Yes, the ship itself bounces around from planet to planet, but the community of people on the ship are the show, and they don't go anywhere. Along with some cool outsiders that pop up from time to time like Gowron, Q, Lwaxana, etc...
I keep using TNG as an example because honestly it's the only one I'm into as much as DS9, so I don't have the level of familiarity with Voyager and Enterprise. The original is an animal all of it's own classification, heheh.
That's my whole objection to this article in a nutshell. It's time to stop perpetuating the myth that DS9 didn't succeed because the unsophisticated masses couldn't handle it. It should be celebrated for what it was and what it accomplished, not falsely remembered as the martyr of more refined tastes.
I was 10 when DS9 started.
I didn't like it because I disagreed with its philosophy. It was not too complex for me, it was not over my head. I just wanted Star Trek to be optimistic. I wanted everybody to be willing to listen to reason, and I wanted humanity to evolve. I wanted spatial anomalies and evolved human philospohy, not a bunch of greedy ferengi trying to buy stuff and dirty humans falling back on their animal nature without their creature comforts. That is why I only watched DS9 sporadically and didn't even see half the episodes until much later when Spike aired it.
It's not a matter of superior taste or greater depth, it's a matter of not giving the audience what they expected.
Sorry man, I didn't mean to sound as if I was saying anybody was right or wrong. Far from it. I was just trying to better articulate what I meant by "deeper" because I felt like I failed in my first attempt. I enjoy all of the perspectives! That's why I'm here!
But that's the thing, DS9 doesn't need a defence!
The internet has concocted this story about how DS9 is so misunderstood and nobody paid attention to it while it was on TV and on and on... It's crazy. It didn't happen. Most TV show productions can only dream about attaining the level of success that DS9 had.
I didn't say that, and I didn't mean that. If you look at the wording of what I said I think I was pretty clear in what I meant.
"if we're going to be honest it wasn't as successful as TNG because for most people it wasn't as good as TNG."
I prefer TNG (only by an infinitesimal margin), but I honestly couldn't find any fault with anyone who's taste led them to prefer DS9.
I feel like this is part of the myth, and maybe you're buying into it a little bit too much... that TNG was this light and fluffy romp while DS9 was a bastion of darkness and complexity. I can cite just as many conflicted characters from TNG as I can from DS9. I can cite just as many dark themes and commentaries on the failings of human nature in TNG as I can in DS9. I can cite just as many silly comedic endeavours in TNG as I can in DS9. They're basically two slight variations on the same formula, with minor differences in order to keep the plots feeling fresh.
Of course Deep Space Nine was Deeper, it's in the very name of the show. Sorry, just a little joke.
I agree with the general consensus, it simply didn't appeal as much to as many as TNG. I think part of that may be that TNG survived it's rough start, because it was the only game in town, DS9's rough start wasn't as easily forgiven, because TNG had already found it's legs and was going strong. Disclaimer: I personally enjoyed DS9 from the beginning, so, for personal taste, it didn't have a rough start, I enjoyed the Bajoran Politics & Religion and missed that aspect when it dropped into the background
And "The Wire" and "Breaking Bad" haven't been as successful as, say "White Collar" or the new "Dallas" because most average American consumers would likely support the latter group over the former. But does ratings and fan approval represent quality? No and it never has. Some of the very best and most creative TV shows end up lasting a season or less while some of the most ordinary television go on forever (Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, CSI). I suppose it is all subjective anyway but nonetheless I can make a claim that using ratings success as the means to determine the quality of a show is absurd.
Now I will concede is that there is a bit of revisionism going on about the serialization of DS9. Babylon 5 was a true example of a serialized show; DS9 on the other hand never came close to that strict a format. How could it. It was a Trek show and therefore had to follow some previous guidelines as well as follow the orders of the studio which financed it. Nonetheless DS9 did have serial elements that no other Trek show came close to displaying. It relied heavily on continuity and long story arcs.
Personally to me it is the best Trek and I say that as someone who loved TNG like crazy. But I felt DS9 was simply something special back then and to be frank it holds up a lot better now than TNG. Just my opinion but I'm not alone. Since DS9's ending there have been countless people in articles that could have been found online at genre or TV websites and in genre magazine. The only mainstream affirmation that I recall came from TV Guide which wrote, when DS9 ended in 1999, that it was the best of the modern Trek shows. Plenty of people feel that way.
Boy, I would love to bet on that. By all means please list all those more complex TNG characters because I'm sure quite a few of us can have fun with that. When TNG was going off the air and Paramount was putting out those TV specials to celebrate its run I recalled one in which Berman was discussing the change and growth of the TNG characters over the course of seven seasons. A few examples of this "growth" were Riker growing a beard, Troi getting a costume and hair change and Geordi becoming the ship's engineer! Laughable. That ain't growth. The complexity and so-called growth of TNG's characters were superficial at best. And at best a TNG character mave have gone from A to B or perhaps A to C. DS9 had characters that went from A to M or maybe even further. Heck, D9 had recurring characters that displayed more growth and complexity than the main TNG characters did over a span of seven seasons. And don't get me started on where Sisko, Kira and Bashir started off and how they ended up by the final episode of DS9 (as compared to the seven year arc of Picard, Data and Riker).
As for dark themes you had people like Kira the terrorist who made TNG Worf look like a mild saint. Is there anything in TNG that matches Sisko's decisions to use a chemical weapon to posion a planet, be complicit in a murder and a coverup just as long as he could trick a galactic empire to join his side in a war or basically suggest to his commanding officers to do whatever it takes (::cough:: kill ::cough: the leader of an ally empire who was getting in the way? Did TNG tackle terrorism like DS9 did, did it touch upon the religious zealotry like DS9 did, did it show us any of the ugly underbelly of humanity (and Starfleet itself) that DS9 did from time to time? Did TNG ever present a universe in which idealism couldn't work in the end, other than confrontations with the Borg of course? I'm just scratching the surface here and could go on for a long time but I just realized I don't want to be typing this all night.
Granted DS9 wasn't as dark as, say BSG or perhaps even SGU. That is overblown to some extent. But it was a hell of a lot darker than the other Trek shows. It wasn't every Trek's fan cup of tea and I don't begrudge anyone for feeling that way. But let's get real. TNG and DS9 are two totally different shows.
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