The Eternal Question: TNG or DS9

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Spirit of 73, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I watched very little of Deep Space Nine when it was on the air, whereas I was a pretty faithful watcher of The Next Generation. Not long ago, I finished going through TNG again for the first time in a long time and found it to be every bit as good as I remembered. I even discovered a handful of episodes I am pretty sure I never saw back in the day.

    When I went to college, there was a guy in my dorm who loved Deep Space Nine and I caught the occasional episode with him, but only for one year. After that, I never saw him again and probably never saw more than a handful of DS9 episodes. I was, therefore, not in a position to ever opine on the DS9/TNG rivalry.

    I am now making my way through DS9 and just last night finished season four. With three seasons to go, I am still not in a position to make a final determination as to which series was superior, but I am starting to notice a pretty clear pattern. I wonder whether it will continue in the final season of DS9, which most people seem to think are its best.

    To compare the series, I have matched episode vs episode by season. To account for differing season lengths, I split each season into quartiles and, after ranking the entire season, match the top episode of each quartile against its counterpart until one series runs out of episodes in that quartile. For instance, season two of TNG had 22 episodes but 26 in DS9, so TNG was split into quartiles of 5/5/6/6 while DS9 was split into quartiles of 6/6/7/7. The best episode in quartile one for TNG is Q Who, for instance, while for DS9 it is Necessary Evil. The fifth best episode of the first quartile for TNG, Where Silence Has Lease, goes up against the fifth best for DS9, The Maquis Part 2, but the sixth best episode of DS9 in its top quartile is idle. This prevents the worst episode of TNG's second season, Shades of Gray, going up against DS9's merely fifth worst episode, Rules of Acquisition.

    What I am noticing so far is that after season one for both shows, TNG has most of the worst episodes, most of the best episodes and DS9 is far more consistent.

    DS9 won the episode matchups 11-8 in season one. When I weighted the quartiles, giving 4 points to the top quartile match ups and 3 to the second and so on, DS9 still maintained a 25-20 edge. There did not seem to be any trend as far as which quartile DS9 was winning and losing in and it was consistent with my gut reaction: DS9 had a poor first season, but was definitely better than TNG at the same stage. After that, a very strong trend has developed.

    In season two, DS9 won the head-to-head matchups 14-8. This would seem to be a clear victory, but TNG won the first eight matchups and wound up taking the weighted score 29-24.

    In season three, the matchup count was 13-13, but TNG won the first six and wound up with a comfortable 40-23 victory in the weighted category.

    Season four was interesting because it is the TNG season that is most like DS9: not as strong at the top but very consistent. However, it still isn't as consistent as DS9 because the trend is as strong as ever. TNG finally took an episode count 17-8, and it won the first 17 matchups, leading to a 52-9 blow out.

    From what I gather, DS9's two best seasons are yet to come, and season 7 is also quite strong, whereas TNG's seventh season is very strong at the top but very weak at the bottom. I don't know how these will turn out, but I can definitely say that after four seasons, TNG is the stronger series. The top episodes are more important than the bottom ones, which can be skipped, and TNG is the clear victor here. DS9 has had some strong episodes, but has yet to produce one I would call outstanding. Q Who, The Measure of a Man, The Offspring, Yesterday's Enterprise, Best of Both Worlds I and II and the Drumhead are superior to anything DS9 turned out in its first four seasons: The Duet, Necessary Evil, Whispers, The Adversary, Improbably Cause, The Die Is Cast, Homefront and Starship Down.

    And yes, I left The Visitor off that list. Decent episode, but way overrated.

    Anyway, let me know what you think. I expect I will get a lot of disagreement, but so far, when TNG was clicking, it was superior to anything DS9 could come up with.
     
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  2. BillJ

    BillJ History’s Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    No need to chose when both are readily available to watch. Besides, they were two very different types of shows. TNG relied mostly on the episodic format, while DS9 shot for a more overarching story that ran the length of the series.
     
  3. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think TNG is a little better overall. But it's close.
     
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  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Whilst it's close overall I think I have to give this one to DSN. On balance S1-2 of DSN are slightly better than S1-2 of TNG so that's why it gets it.
     
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  5. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Season 4 is easily DS9's strongest overall season, even if there are some very strong episodes in later seasons.

    All the shows are great. It isn't a competition, nor can there be a winner. Besides, Voyager wins:adore:
     
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  6. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

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    You put a lot of thought into this. I think we can find some objective standards to judge and compare each series but differences in taste make it impossible to settle the matter.
    It's a good question: Higher highs vs. Consistency?

    For me, TNG was amazing when it really clicked during its earlier seasons. I know that's a minority opinion. I'm thinking of episodes like 11001001, Conspiracy, Q Who, Yesterday's Enterprise. There was something special about the way those early episodes were produced, and I think the TNG cast was a real family. Higher highs during the early seasons.

    I think seasons 4-5 of TNG are consistently enjoyable but when they worked they weren't remarkable.

    I have my issues with TNG seasons 6-7(it feels like another series to me) but I think the batting average of good episodes is respectable.

    When TNG failed it was boring as hell.
    When DS9 failed it was obnoxious, frustrating, and indulgent but not necessarily dull.

    DS9 was a consistently well-written and entertaining series, especially in seasons 2, 4-5, and 7. When DS9 worked it often worked better on the page than on the stage. The early seasons of DS9 desperately cried out for better music. The early seasons worked as drama but not action because the music often sabotaged that element in the story. Those 1993 Jay Chattaway scores were just awful.

    When DS9 found its second wind in season 4 it was an amazing series. I think the scripts were better than most TNG scripts. The cast was uneven, some of the characters and writing seemed indulgent, but it was a damn good run of episodes from 1995 to 1997. I thought the 7th season was just as excellent.

    It's a close call between TNG and DS9. It really comes down to taste. Some days you want to be on the Enterprise, some days you want to stroll on the Promenade.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  7. BillJ

    BillJ History’s Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    DS9 wasn't limited by the Roddenberry rule of no conflict the way TNG was.
     
  8. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG is the winner, although (no surprise) it had multiple bad episodes. The first season was off in a lot of ways, but it was interesting to see them trying a different approach.

    TNG is only behind TOS in my book.

    DS9's Dominion arc should have been (imo) at most a season and a half before moving on to something else. Towards the end of the war the show was just dragging, felt like some of the seventh season episodes could have been consolidated into a single episode.

    It would have been nice to of had the last season with the war behind them and seen the characters moving on to other adventures.

    DS9 is behind VOY and ENT and ahead of STD.
     
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  9. Mutai Sho-Rin

    Mutai Sho-Rin Crusty Old Bastard Moderator

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    This actually belongs in General Trek since it covers two,series,equally.

    Whoooosh!
     
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  10. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    There were many ways in which Roddenberry held TNG back early on, but I think they got past that by season three, and showed signs of coming out of it in season 2.
     
  11. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Someone was saying in another thread that Rick Berman had a bust of Roddenberry, and that whenever a story was being discussed that didn't follow his rules, he put a blindfold over it. If that's true, that is hilarious.
     
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  12. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG is Star Trekkier, & thus winner by default
     
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  13. Farscape One

    Farscape One Commodore Commodore

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    I would argue that DS9 was the spinoff that stayed truest to the vision of STAR TREK.

    STAR TREK, despite what many think, had a number of dark things happen in their episodes and endings. But they also tempered it with multiple comedic scenarios and episodes. Plus, it was quite a welcoming place for all... just look at the bridge crew's ethnicities at the time it was produced.

    DS9 fit this mold even better. They had a lot of dark stories, but they had just as many light and humorous ones... they balanced that act extremely well. And DS9 was, I believe, the most welcoming and inclusive series of all. Not only were MANY different races aboard working and living together, but you even had OUTCASTS of worlds welcome there... Garak, Odo, Worf, and Quark (for a while) were outcasts in their society, but were always welcome and thrived on Deep Space 9.

    What better message is there than saying, "Even if you are not welcome on your world, you are accepted here."
     
  14. Defiler-Of-Redshirts

    Defiler-Of-Redshirts Commander Red Shirt

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    I honestly can never decide, because I valued TNG and DS9 is such vastly different ways, with such different flavors/styles, it's the ultimate apples vs. oranges comparison. They both added very different features to the Star Trek universe. Yes, I know this is sort of a cop-out answer.
     
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  15. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

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    I am amongst the fans who enjoy both. I never understand the you-must-hate-one -to-appreciate-the-other mentality.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  16. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think my opinion echoes some of those above: I like both shows about the same, but think that DS9 was more consistently good, while TNG had more great episodes and more terrible ones.
     
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  17. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That is exactly what I am discovering right now.
     
  18. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's hard to compare the two as they are very different beasts. TNG was created with Gene Roddenberry in charge, as such his ideals of what the universe would be in the mid-24th century was ingrained into all that TNG was, with the idyllic version of Earth and humanity, whilst our heroes warped from one planet to the next, never really looking back. DS9 was created by a new team, who looked at what the universe was like when separated from the perfect Federation and put on the outskirts, where the people living and working on the station must deal with the consequences of their actions and decisions first hand.

    Sisko's line in "The Maquis" shows the difference between the two shows perfectly: On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarised Zone, all the problems haven't been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive whether it meets with Federation approval or not.

    I enjoy TNG, it is a great series, the characters are iconic and they have some amazing episodes, but for the greater feel of "realness" and shades of grey the series is painted with, I am most definitely a hardcore Niner. They are both Trek, but they look at different sides of the same coin, both with an optimistic and hopeful look at our future, though taking different approaches of how to examine it.
     
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  19. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Captain Captain

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    When I was a youngling, TNG was Star Trek to me. I mean, I was aware of a TOS and the old movies, but TNG embodied everything I liked about Trek, and I couldn't handle any deviation from that--uniforms, sets, format.

    Then, I grew up.
     
  20. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Absolutely, but I do have a very strong preference.

    As much as I love TNG, DS9 will probably always be my favourite Trek show.
     
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