Was DS9 Unpopular Originally Early On..??

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by VulcanMindBlown, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. VulcanMindBlown

    VulcanMindBlown Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 28, 2015
    United States of America
    I've noticed that pretty much *every* Trek show has been unpopular in terms of ratings and/or amongst the fans in the original run, except for The Next Generation that ended strong as it gained more ratings, popularity and approval among Trek fans and the general public. It seems like all of the shows were unpopular in the beginning. The Original Series was an exception. It had a decent start, but people lost interest in it, en-mass, when it came down to it, eventually... even if it had a cult audience and was a write-in hit.

    Even though a lot of people nowadays, at least, consider Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to be the best Star Trek television show, I'm scratching my head to wonder if it encountered the same 'curse' that every other show of its kind encountered. The plot and characters were much more plot heavy and interesting as they went along according to what the fans say, generally speaking. It was the best show for thick plot and characters, but TOS is still my favorite. I could be wrong about this (but it is an opinion after all) that DS9 was a cult hit among the fans and writers who paid close attention to the whole of Star Trek and wasn't a fair weather/cursory fan (that may not be the right expressions, but I wanted to use a synonym in the sense of the word "casual" in that context) drawl to massive amounts of people.

    The reasoning for DS9 not being as much a hit from the beginning might also be three-fold:

    One, for instance, there is a general consensus amongst the fans that Deep Space Nine got better as it went along, with Season 1 being the worst and Season 7 being the best (which it ended on.) There was a little exploration in Season 1, but it slowly faded out (if not more so as it went along to its end.)

    Two people also didn't like the show because it changed the utopian ideals of Roddenberry for a more (some say more realistic) glitter Trek to tackle the darker side of life. That might have and still might turn people off, but the show is the best received among people who are not the more causal The Original Series and The Next Generation fans that seem to bring in the more general public than (I'm assuming) people like us who try to pay attention to everything that comes out for the fictional universe.

    Three, there was also no single channel that showed the show throughout its first run (according to Wikipedia... :lol: )

    I was days before being born when Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came out... you could say I was a little preoccupied... ??!!! ;) :D :angel: :nyah: :lol: :p :rommie: :rofl:
  2. Green

    Green Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 18, 2016
    I know TNG had a guarantee of 3 seasons so they were able to weather seasons 1 and 2 without fear of cancelation -- not sure if DS9 had a similar deal. Looking back on DS9s seasons 1 and 2 they seem pretty bad (although not as bad as TNGs 1st two.) I think what DS9 had going for it was they for whatever reason landed a ton of compelling recurring characters -- Rom, Nog, Ducat, Garak, Kai Winn, Nagus, Bariel, Weyoun, etc. -- and once the writing got better they were all set. The shows were more interesting because of the quality of the cast and guests and weren't so reliant on each episode being ground-breaking or unique or loaded with action or FX.

    Then throw in that they had the guts to make it less episodic and follow the Dominion for 5 seasons made it truly something different from the Trek that came before or after -- until season 3 of Enterprise at least.

    But after seeing the first 2 seasons I liked it enough to keep watching -- but then it surpassed my expectations from then on.
  3. ozzfloyd

    ozzfloyd Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 15, 2014
    DS9 was not my favorite upon release. It is however the only Trek series that I can rewatch in its entirety without skipping episodes. I'm in my 3rd complete rewatch since 2008 and still as engaging as ever. Been on a bit of a binge lately too, 3-5 episodes a day this week so far.
  4. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I tried a few episodes at the time, and didn't care for it - especially the premiere. I wasn't fully appreciative of it either, especially as TNG's format in seasons and 5 and 6 were eminently stale so when I tried watching I had a preconceived notion, which wasn't fair to have.

    I did see random episodes as the show went on, quality was improving and for the most part the episodes I tuned into showed they were doing something different and new and not always redoing TNG plots, and by season 4 I had become a solid fan, even though I'd sometimes watch a new episode while eating and spit out drink because they reused old incidental music from previous productions and movies, which still came across tacky regardless of how good anything else was. And the reused scores were technically excellent and it's easy to hear why they'd get reused to begin with, but it's not 1968 anymore where all shows reused the same music cues. Might have been due to a budget or time crunch, which makes reasoned, reasonable sense but - at the time - it seemed to bizarre and even humorous that "Oi, there's the great-danger music from 'Generations' as the zillion Klingon ships are pulverizing the station!".

    I'm extremely grateful to those won over early on, especially when I was clouded by TNG's floundering. Revisiting the show a year or so ago, it's held up the best of any Star Trek TV show (even TOS, which I largely adore) and even early season 1 has a freshness and a vibe that TNG of the time lacked, which I didn't recognize at the time but clearly do now. And the earliest DS9 episodes I wasn't fond of, I appreciated a lot more out of. Even if "Emissary" tries to strike a TOS vibe a little too much with the "what is love but we didn't want Kirk to give us space herpes without telling us beforehand" considering the Prophets and all that, who knew Sisko was the right person for their needs, could have been given more time for exposition than the "lurrrrrve" subplot.

    Having said that, I always sorta liked "Move Along Home". Even the cheesy repeat-the-song bit where only Avery Brooks was trying to make the scene feel authentic while half the other cast were (mostly succeeding in) not rolling their eyes at the camera.

    And "Starship Down" was a remake of TNG's "Disaster". I didn't care for it originally but gave it a revisit after the 2016 DVD set came out and picked up on a lot more this time around.

    Wow, didn't know that - I thought it was a year-by-year basis and TNG got renewed only because ratings were high enough, due in part to lack of sci-fi competition at the time? (Doctor Who being 4 stories instead of 26 for a year wasn't much competition.) That was also one heck of a risk back in the day, especially how awful early season 1 tended to be.
    kkt likes this.
  5. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 19, 2013
    Bad Thoughts
    There are a few issues which are probably more important.

    1. The first batch of episodes did not necessarily flow directly from the pilot. The writing staff really only had a bare-bones series bible with which to develop stories and hire scriptwriters. While they were doing that, fundamental aspects of the main characters were under constant revision as Piller, with Berman's help, wrote Emissary. The scripts they received then had to be heavily rewritten in order to gain some consistency with the pilot, if at all. This is reflected in the fact that during most of the first season, Sisko is a lot more "Picard-like" than he was in the pilot or in subsequent seasons.

    2. They blew a huge chunk of the FX budget on the pilot. Every series frontloads ongoing expenses onto the pilot, but many of those things would be reused in future episodes. For DS9, this was extreme. The pilot had not only the exterior shots, the wormhole, Odo's morphing, it also had several new and huge sets, most important the promenade. As a result, many of the stories that followed had to be smaller, more modest stories, often bottle episodes, that did not reach the epic scope of the pilot.

    3, There was no consensus on how to make DS9 feel different from TNG until late in the first season. It was only with In the Hand of the Prophets that Piller insisted on moving the series in a different direction.
    Armus likes this.
  6. kkt

    kkt Commodore Commodore

    Aug 3, 2014
    I don't think there's a general consensus that season 7 is the best. If I remember, we did a poll on this, and seasons 5 and 6 were the general favorites. Not that season 7 was bad, just not quite as good.
  7. thribs

    thribs Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2017
    Yeah DS9 started rather poorly. Not Discovery bad, just not as good as TNG.
    That soon changed however.
    eschaton likes this.
  8. Worf'sParmach

    Worf'sParmach Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 13, 2011
    Plano, TX
    I’m an original viewer from the 90s and it was no where near as popular as TNG. I thought the whole “Start trek without a ship” thing was dumb and didn’t watch it until season 3, when TNG was off the air.
  9. DS9forever

    DS9forever Commodore Commodore

    Oct 3, 2007
    United Kingdom
    TNG's first two series were pretty bad.
  10. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    Besides the space station thing I think a lot of people were turned off by other things about the show. The focus on the Ferengi, the brash attitude of the Bajorans and focus on their religion. Plus they did some storylines early that were harder for the audience to get invested in.

    I think TNG and DS9 were overall very similar in quality. But TNG was in sync with the TV style of the 90s and DS9 wasn't. Plus its message was more narrowcasted than DS9's.
    Armus likes this.
  11. DS9forever

    DS9forever Commodore Commodore

    Oct 3, 2007
    United Kingdom
    DS9 is more in sync with TV now.
    Worf'sParmach likes this.
  12. Serveaux

    Serveaux Mediocre Old White Man Premium Member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Location, Location
    Actually, it's very mannered and old-fashioned - like Trek in general, to this day.

    DS9's premiere episode was possibly the single highest rated episode of any of the Trek spinoffs. It understandably declined some from that high in the following weeks, quickly fell behind TNG and then continued a steady decline in viewership throughout its run.

  13. Sophie74656

    Sophie74656 Commodore Commodore

    Aug 10, 2016
    New Jersey
    There is resistance to every new series. DS9 was different because it was darker and set on a space station. I remember that being an issue for people who thought their potential would be limited because they can't go anywhere.
    Alejandro likes this.
  14. Herbert

    Herbert Commodore Commodore

    Apr 20, 2017
    Yeoman Rand's Quarters
    At the time, I couldn't get into it because it wasn't on a starship and all trek shows have to take place on a starship, dammit! :mad: :guffaw:A buddy of mine said that was the reason he liked it. he's never watched any trek series other than DS9

    I only stuck with DS9 (and Voyager) for the first couple seasons and then dropped off. I think it was more like a general trek burnout for me than any other reason. I watched ENT for some of season one and then lost interest. However, I do want to go back and watch all of DS9. I recently did that with Voyager and enjoyed it.
  15. DS9forever

    DS9forever Commodore Commodore

    Oct 3, 2007
    United Kingdom
    DS9 also had competition whereas TNG had, what, just Alien Nation?
  16. DS9-31

    DS9-31 Ensign Red Shirt

    Mar 31, 2016
    I loved DS9 from the jump, but I was one of the few in my circle. By S3 and the Defiant, they start to come around though.
  17. Maurice

    Maurice FACT TREKKING across the universe... Premium Member

    Oct 17, 2005
    One ferry ride from Starfleet HQ
    Where did you get that idea? The plan was that if TNG flopped in its first season they would just bundle the episodes of it with the TOS ones. They had a guaranteed full season. That was it.
    Vger23 likes this.
  18. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

    Feb 14, 2003
    Massachusetts, USA
    Ds9 got really good at the end of season 1 and I thought season 2 was fantastic, one of the best written seasons of all time. By then the viewership was in a significant decline so who knows what could seduced viewers back other than a major reboot which would have made DS9 a significantly different show. Obviously the Defiant, The Dominion, and Worf didn't reverse the overall ratings decline for the 7 year run.
  19. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Loved DS9 since it started. You can't overlook a good concept, writing, character development and acting.
    Armus likes this.
  20. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

    Dec 19, 2011
    They didn’t have a full season guarantee. At first it was only a 13 episode deal, and if those didn’t fly, they would be added to the TOS package. That’s why the stardates in Season 1 for “The Big Goodbye” make no sense. TBG was the finale episode of the first 13 by production number (“Datalore” was the first of the second half), but it’s stardate is 41997.7, placing it chronologically after “The Neutral Zone”’s 41986.0 date, even though Yar is alive, and even assumes Command at one point in TBG.

    And once the second part of Season 1 was approved, all the actors were given contracts for the next 5.5 years, to the end of Season 6. At that point Paramount was planning to finish the series after 6 seasons.

    But with DS9, I remember in my area, DS9 aired at about 10pm (the pilot aired at like 9 pm on a Thursday as I recall) and I remember it switching from Monday to Thursday to Friday so I use to have my parents tape a few episodes so
    I could see it as it was on past my bedtime , whereas TNG would air at 7pm on weekdays and 7:30 pm on Saturdays, so was more accessible for a kid.