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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    That makes sense. Rewatching TNG means slogging through some bad crap. But their best episodes were brilliant.
     
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  2. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like both series but prefer TNG. It’s the one I grew up with (typically more important in determining which show is someone’s favorite, looking at larger numbers not anecdotal feedback), and it’s the more high-concept and aspirational.

    Also, DS9 had a chip on its shoulder that for me detracted from what it might have been. You don’t watch DS9 without feeling you’re not at the “cool kids’ table.” You’re with the drama kids. It’s awesome, but there’s baggage.

    And the melodrama (popular with genre series of the time like Hercules, Xena...and since) seemed like a crutch. I really wish they played it straight.

    Also, the war arc would have been better if it was less WWII In Space! I forgive early TNG because it was the first new Trek in the modern era or whatever (DS9’s early seasons were structurally better but didn’t have as steep a learning-curve), but late DS9 seemed like it was rushed, stretched, and thematically a step backward. A couple steps, if you count the pah-wraiths and red-eye Dukat.

    TNG’s last season and a half was weak too, so I’m giving more my critique of DS9 more than my reasons why it’s better/worse here, but these things annoyed me because I expected more from Trek overall by that point.
     
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  3. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by melodrama. Can you give some examples?
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Perhaps he means "campiness"? Not really a term I'd apply to DS9, but I suppose that would be the opposite of "playing it straight."
     
  5. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I've never considered DS9 to be particularly campy, although that description would certainly apply to Hercules and Xena.
     
  6. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I tend to look through the prism of writing. In my early 20s, I developed my pen by reading all that I could, to develop my talent. I tried my hand briefly at some fan fiction, and it taught me how difficult it is to create a single culture, from scratch, without relying on archetypes and previously established characteristics--having an individual in a society that does not talk as if they represent an entire society. It's not easy to do.

    Star Trek was defined for me by my father. My mother watched, but Dad was the driving force of Trek. He watched re-runs with a friend while in Seminary, during the layoff between cancellation and The Motion Picture. My introduction to Star Trek was through "The Best of Both Worlds, Part I," the morning of Part II, airing that night.

    With that history, I say the following:

    The volume of great episodes in the first two seasons of The Original Series is outrageous. I can name 30 of the 54 episodes that I can watch today, and feel satiated creatively, and they are thought-provoking. These episodes are like watching the old "Twilight Zone." They are embarrassingly great.

    TNG is amazing, when on it's game, and embarrassing when it's not. They are thoughtful, and when they try to have fun, it is like trainwreck. The Ferengi, for instance. The kids in the episodes. Love stories. Terrible. Lwaxana. They are much better with philosophy and truly emotional moments of loss.

    DS9 is very cute the first two seasons; on the nose. The dialogue tells a story best left to subtext. And the symbolism can be straight out of Spaceballs. But, when it hits its stride in season 4, there isn't a bad episode. Behr and Wolfe wrote epic stories, and Berman was their best producer. Season 5 meandered with the characters too much, and season six felt like what the show was building. It was lightning in a bottle, in season 6. They had missed opportunities in seven. All in all, DS9 had its great moments, but I still felt like they left some meat on the table, in terms of what they could do with that theme.

    Voyager and Enterprise felt like a reheated TV dinner. Terrible actors, bland characters, the Zimmerman and Westmore aesthetics were looking a little old. The silverware ships. Impractical railings.

    Disco is awesome. I have always wanted a show that joined the first three series, as re-watchable. It has felt like a return to what made Star Trek great, and fun.
     
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  7. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Commodore Commodore

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    DS9 for me, no question.

    TNG gave me a few classic characters, and maybe a dozen or so classic stories. Plenty of other stuff in there that was decent, but nothing anywhere near its incredible reputation claims. And in exchange for that relatively small reward, I put up with large chunks of the worst this franchise has ever had to offer (TNG season 1 is overall really unforgiveable).

    DS9 has better consistency from the start and better characters and stories by the end (though one indeed has to look past the episodic/arc divide and understand that several of DS9's best storie can't be confined to a single episode).
     
  8. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    DS9 was absolutely the better show overall IMHO - particularly if you attempt to count up the number of above-average episodes across its entire run.

    TNG started out godawful. Really, Season 1 is terrible. Even the episodes which people call "good" only stand out as good either because they aren't as bad as what surrounds them or because they introduce important development for later in Trek. Season 2 was a step up, with some great individual episodes, but merely okay on the whole. The series found itself - and hit its peak - in the third season. Seasons four and five IMHO were a bit less impressive than season three, though six was quite strong. Season seven had even worse quality control than normal for TNG, with really only four standout episodes (Parallels, The Pegasus, Lower Decks, and All Good Things).

    DS9 came right out the gate relatively strong I think. Yes, the first season had some wobbly acting and a number of episodes which were literally just cast-aside TNG scripts reworked. But even given that they managed to make the first season an above-average season of television. The show had slow, steady improvement - fleshing out its characters and world - through the second and third season. Then in the fourth season it kicked into overdrive, delivering the single most consistent season of any Trek show ever. The show continued to be almost as strong in the fifth season and the first two thirds of the sixth season. Unfortunately I sort of feel like the show lost its way after In the Pale Moonlight, with the back run of the sixth season and the seventh more inconsistent (the latter partially due to attempting to integrate Ezri Dax into the show). The series largely righted itself in the final serialized arc however, as long as you ignore the pah-wraiths.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  9. HaventGotALife

    HaventGotALife Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I feel the subtleness of DS9's stories were its strength. It's hit-or-miss through the first three seasons, but I'll agree four was fun, relevant, and engaging. It's essentially the Cold War with the Dominion that puts the Alpha Quadrant in the same quandary the Cardassians faced with the Bajorans--how do you secure peace when you cannot see your enemies? What the Klingons did, Starfleet, is rip themselves apart in terror.

    I stop appreciating Dukat in season 6. The Ziyal story felt forced, contrived. His mental state wouldn't be this scarred, especially since he snaps in a moment where there is no revelvant precursor, foreshadowing, of his mental health issues. Losing Ziyal and his political might should free him from the trappings of being a good man. He has been a wolf in sheep's clothing. Just become a wolf.

    Now, with nothing left but to seek to take power from Benjamin, he seeks the Pah-Wraiths, because the Emissary to the Bajoran gods destroyed his fleet. It's time to match, and take, Benjamin's power from him by turning to the devil. Make him amoral, not immoral, and crazy. He uses the Pah-Wraiths, and unleashes them into the Galaxy, again, and they consume him, eating the one who wishes to use them. Dukat is dead; the Pah-Wraiths take his form.

    Since Jadzia dies by their hand, problems with Terry Farrell or not, earn a better death by having the Wraiths take her form in order to drive Sisko from the prophets, or to kill him because they exist outside of time and know they cannot exist if their Emissary destroys them. They tried this with Jake, but it works with Jadzia much better. Worf sees her for what she is, and has to kill his former wife. No Ezri on the show. Just replace her with Aron Eisenberg in the cast, and move on. It's Reassociation, anyway, to be stationed on DS9, to sleep with Worf, etc.

    See these missed opportunities? It's terrible what they did once Wolfe left. They could do so much more with the devil, than they did. And, ewww for trying to get Kira after having her mother. Ewww.
     
  10. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    Personally, I've always thought Dukat should have gotten Damar's redemption arc, but with the twist that within his heart, he wasn't redeemed. That is to say that to the outside world it would seem that he had shifted to becoming a heroic figure, but in truth he was just looking for his ego to be stroked, same as ever. Then, like Damar, he dies in an anticlimactic fashion right before the Dominion flees Cardassia. So in the end, a complicated, but ultimately nasty man gets remembered by history as a great hero - entirely undeservedly. That's the sort of messy ending that I would expect from DS9.
     
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  11. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like that a lot, and it would have been better than the red-eyed cartoon he turned into. It would have shown how complicated history can be as well as individuals. Dukat was interesting early on for being a bad guy but in a realistic way -- few people think of themselves as truly bad people. They're either the good guy from their own perspective or just trying to get ahead, win at the universe's amoral game. The pah-wraiths I thought were a jump the shark moment. Too Judeo-Christian and cheesy. These are aliens. Besides, Babylon 5 already did angels vs. demons with the Vorlons vs. Shadows.
     
  12. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I just finished DS9 season five. I thought it was definitely the best DS9 season yet, but when matched against TNG's fifth season, I still have TNG coming out on top when the best episodes are matched up, and DS9 coming out on top when the lowest episodes are matched up.

    DS9 won the episode count 14-12, but when the episodes are weighted by quartiles TNG won 36-27, a comfortable win but not a blow out. TNG won the first five match ups - although I have to say that all but the first were difficult - and DS9 won the last seven.

    Personally, I think TNG season six is close to but a bit behind TNG season five. Most people seem to think DS9's best season is its sixth, so DS9 might just get a victory, its first since season one, but at this point I don't see DS9 catching up to TNG. It definitely wins on consistency, but TNG is just too strong at the top for DS9 to handle.

    However, I can say that DS9 finally gave me its first outstanding episode, a 9/10: Empak Nor. I thought they did a marvelous job with that episode. I had a couple minor criticisms, but all in all I thought it was outstanding. I especially liked that they had Garak in a space suit in an airless, zero-g space station. You don't see that kind of thing from Star Trek very much.
     
  13. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    DS9's season 6 has the good arc in the beginning. They are not all strong episodes, but Rocks n' Shoals is very good, and I wouldn't call any of them "bad." As for the rest of season 6, there are a couple great episodes, like Waltz, In the Pale Moonlight, and far Beyond the Stars. There are some other good ones like Inquisition, Magnificent Ferengi, et al, Then there are a bunch of DS9's worst episodes. It's certainly the most uneven season.

    Imo, the strongest and best overall season of DS9 is the 4th, and TNG's is probably the 6th.
     
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  14. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I found DS9's 5 to be better than 4. I think I would take TNG's 5 and 3 over 4, too. To each his own.
     
  15. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    I went back and looked at my own season by season ratings of TNG and DS9. For every episode I just used one of three ratings: good, meh, or awful. This was the result:

    TNG:
    Season 1: 3 good, 15 meh, 6 awful
    Season 2: 8 good, 11 meh, 3 awful
    Season 3: 16 good, 9 meh, 1 awful
    Season 4: 9 good, 13 meh, 4 awful
    Season 5: 8 good, 14 meh, 4 awful
    Season 6: 12 good, 11 meh, 3 awful
    Season 7: 4 good, 13 meh, 8 awful

    Total: 60 good, 86 meh, 29 awful

    DS9:
    Season 1: 6 good, 10 meh, 3 awful
    Season 2: 10 good, 14 meh, 2 awful
    Season 3: 14 good, 11 meh, 1 awful
    Season 4: 19 good, 5 meh, 1 awful
    Season 5: 14 good, 10 meh, 2 awful
    Season 6: 11 good, 9 meh, 6 awful
    Season 7: 13 good, 10 meh, 2 awful

    Total: 87 good, 69 meh, 17 awful

    So on the whole, DS9 beats out TNG. The only two seasons where TNG surpasses DS9 are Season 3 (because that was the all-time high of TNG, while DS9 just improved modestly from the prior year) and Season 6 (DS9's most uneven season overall, while TNG rallied a bit before falling off the abyss for its final season).
     
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  16. seigezunt

    seigezunt Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I enjoy both, but I think DS9 is overall a better show, especially when it comes to characterization. Much of my affection for TNG is nostalgic, even though I came to it as an adult having grown up with TOS. But on repeated viewings, I notice more and more how poorly it served its characters, especially the women.
     
  17. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I see them as two sides of the same coin. TNG is like the lighter, public facing PR side of the franchise, possibly the epitome of Gene Roddenberry's utopian vision, but it oft lacks a grounding in reality, or what little reality exists is shown through a particular spectrum of characters who hold themselves with morality and a self belief in their own inherent right-ness. DS9 still maintains that as a facade, but drops it into a corner of the universe far from the Federation's ideals, and scratches the underbelly of that utopia. I therefore see both shows combined as a kind of 'complete picture' that compliment each other, and find it very difficult to choose between them.
     
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  18. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG, no contest. It is the high point of the entire franchise for me. I absolutely love the unashamed optimism. DS9 is decently made show, certainly better made than any of the spin offs since then. Yet I can't escape the feeling that it is show made by people who didn't like TNG for people who do not like TNG. Never ever while watching TNG did I think: "You know what, I know this show needs more cynicism, war, religion, capitalism, war and evil spellbooks (did I already mention the war? Damn that thing dragged on.) But that's apparently what the people who made DS9 thought. I don't appreciate the deconstruction of the TNG utopia. And I never forgive them introducing the most toxic concept in the entire franchise, the Section 31, that thing continues to poison Trek even today. I really like some of the character on DS9 (even though half of the good characters were borrowed from TNG) and there are some marvellous individual episodes. But I really do not like the overall tone.
     
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  19. Spirit of 73

    Spirit of 73 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    For me, this really came to a head in the episode where Eddington gives himself up to Sisco. Was that For the Uniform? Sisco turns psychopath and Dax just kind of smiles like he's just this naughty boy.

    I don't mind that a character would do that, but I do mind if the show writers seem to take his side when he does.
     
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  20. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yep. It was that sort of things that soured it for me.
     
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