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Thursday, September 02, 2004

DS9 Smackdown!

James has declared that this agression will not stand. He has risen to defend his beloved DS9 with a lengthy post detailing the show's merits.

Let's face it, nothing I write is going to change his mind; he likes that show. Is that going to prevent me from returning fire? Of course not!

Responding to each of his points:

1. The Rest of Star Trek Doesn’t Provide a Lot of Competition

Well, James pretty much blows up his whole argument right here by stating, "I like Deep Space Nine because it is the Star Trek series that feels the least like Star Trek."

So it would make sense that I wouldn't like DS9 then, since I enjoy TOS and TNG and I don't like the fact that it feels the least like Star Trek.

Here are the differences as I see them: TOS and TNG have memorable casts with good chemistry. Star Trek V is a terrible flick, but it's made bearable by the fact that, at the very least, you get to spend a little time with Kirk, Spock and Bones. Can you imagine having to spend the same time with Dr. Bashir, Kira and 'Old Man' woman? You'd want to slap the lot of them after two minutes. Better than going on a picnic with Kes, Neelix and the holographic doctor, I guess.

Then there's that god-awful theme song. When I was a kid and made Super8 movies, I used to compose music for them on piano but because I completely lack any musical talent, the songs just sounded like plodding "dum dum dum dum dum". Someone like that grew up and got to compose the DS9 theme.

2. Deep Space Nine Was (Mostly) Free of Roddenberry’s Heavy Hand

Funny thing to note when you consider that TNG started to go down the tubes and lapsed into the complacency Star Trek suffers from today following his death. At least Roddenberry had some principles and ideas that led to some interesting storytelling. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga are the problem with Star Trek, not Gene Roden-freakin-invented-the-thing-twice-berry.

James argues, "But Deep Space Nine did go boldly where Star Trek hadn’t gone before; it went into the human psyche." Yeah, if you think that facing a personal insecurity and overcoming it counts, which was already a Trek cliche by fourth season TNG. How many times does Odo go through that scenario, James? Twenty times? Eighty? Don't wait for the translation, answer the question!

3. The People Were More Real and Less Perfect

Okay, here are "the people":

Sisko the dull underacheiver. Ok, he's less perfect and more real, but was also a downer.

Dax, an old rabble-rouser in a young woman's body ... except that the actor playing the role can only portray the emotion, "cardboard", so the only way we know that she's a bit of a cranky old nut is because Sisko says that she is over and over and over ... first rule of screenwriting violation: show don't tell.

Bashir the fop. He's actually the 'perfect' character and therefore is less real. His only 'real' quality is that he's unbearable.

Worf. From TNG. Brought in to give the sagging show some life.

O'Brien. From TNG.

Kira the hotheaded former revolutionary who is pissed off at everyone about everything all the time. Real joy to be around. Michelle Forbes on a budget.

... I actually like Quark and Odo, they should have just given the show to them like when they sold out Lost in Space to Smith, Will and the Robot.

James argues in this part that DS9 took on the issues of the day (which both TOS and TNG did in their own ways). What he fails to mention is that DS9 was pretty much goaded into doing this because sci-fi fans were geeking out over the mid-series B5 episodes at that time and in comparison, DS9 was weak. Weak as a kitten. In fact, DS9 spent most of it's series playing catch-up with B5 and never really suceeded at effectively telling 'big picture' stories.

4. Deep Space Nine Was Not Afraid to Kick the Federation About, Physically and Politically

Hogwash. TNG and TOS both had episodes that showed that the Federation wasn't perfect ... heck, Star Trek 6 for starters. On TNG a federation scientist tries to force Data into having a lobotomy and Admiral Satie goes on a witchhunt ... and the list goes on and on. Moot point.

James tries to argue that "The Dominion" was a good thing when, in fact, it represents contemporary Trek's greatest weakeness: Borg fatique. Trek fell into a pattern of having to reinvent the Borg every few seasons by coming up with bigger, badder meanies. And every time they went through the process, the bad guys got more and more gussied up but less and less believable.

The Dominion is a cheat, just like the whole 3rd season of Enterprise is a cheat. It's easier to dress up the Klingons in new clothes and go through the same old motions than it is to come up with interesting new stories using the existing baddies. It keeps things exciting when you're in the middle of it, but it's junk food.

5. And, In the End, It Didn’t Take Itself Too Seriously

Blllaaaaaaaaaarrrggggg!!!

6. To Put This Politely: Voyager and Enterprise Suck, and Paramount Doesn’t Know How to Make Good Star Trek

Here's the thing: Voyager is so bad, I won't even watch the reruns for the breasts.

But I think Enterprise, for all of its flaws, is light years ahead of DS9. The cast has the flavour of an actual Trek cast and they don't leave you feeling like you should consider getting therapy after an episode. And it looks nice and while the stories are generally dull, it's bearable. All the show needs is a little flavour to be good. Dramas should be dramatic. And fix the fucking music already, how long do we have to complain about that before anyone notices?

In conclusion, DS9 sprung to life as a unfair response to Rodenberry -- who was dead and couldn't offer a rebuttal -- but the response was more style than substance and neutered the series from the get-go. This was made all-the-more obvious when B5 moved in and provided its own response to Trek, revealing how deeply ingrained the flaws were. DS9 sucks.

I do, however agree with James on this point:

I normally would not have written this post because, while I enjoy Deep Space Nine and consider it the best of the Star Trek serials, I have a sense of perspective. Deep Space Nine is far from being the best science fiction television show ever produced.

Indeed, the best television sci-fi are the later seasons of Lost in Space when Dr. Smith, Will and the Robot meet space pirates and go to planets where everyone rides around on stuffed animals. Take me to gold, baby, take me to gold!
 

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