Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Star Trek DS9: A Much Better Show Than I Thought

(nerdmode on)

When ST:DS9 first came out in 1993, I watched a few episodes and thought it was promising, but then work and other matters got in the way and I missed the rest of the season, and most of the second season. When I caught it again a year-and-a-half later, I was hopelessly lost and just let it go again for a while. I gave it a few more tries over the years and each time I caught an episode I was just more and more lost: Who the hell are the Jem Hadar? What's a Vorta? Worf? How did HE get on there? What's all this religious stuff? I basically just gave up on it.

But thanks to all the episodes being released on DVD and the power of Netflix, I decided to go through the series sequentially one episode at a time. That's 176 episodes on 49 DVDs. I checked out the first disk on March 13 and just finished the last one September 24. That's darn near one episode a day over a half-year period, but I usually went in spurts, sometime watching all four episodes on a disk in single day then going dry for a while (I usually packed several disks on my overseas trips, which came in really handy).

Except for probably six episodes, the whole series was new to me, and after sitting through them all I have to say this: it was a great series and I think a whole lot better than The Next Generation.

The weakness the series had for television was its strength on DVD: long, involved story arcs that reached over multiple episodes or even seasons. This sort of story telling is a problem with television since if you miss one, you were pretty much hosed. But in a DVD environment when you can chug through multiple episodes, it makes it incredibly interesting. In fact, with a DVD setting you want this sort of involvement rather than a 45 minute self-contained episode where everything is wrapped up in the last 5 minutes of the show (which is why the Sopranos is also a great DVD rental).

This format allowed the show to explore some really interesting topics, some of which I thought were very pertinent for today. I thought how the Federation dealt with Bajor was analogous to what we are doing today in Iraq, and the continuous shifting alliances over seven years of several wars was like, well the continuous shifting alliances that are a part of all wars. The series explored religion, personal relationships and other topics I found compelling.

Yeah, there were some episodes that sucked (usually involving Bashir), and they dipped into the "parallel universe" well WAY too many times, but there were some really great episodes: The Visitor (I cried during this episode, but I dare any parent not to), Trials and Tribble-ations (just a great tribute to the original Trek), and Far Beyond the Stars (which was just a great premise) all stick out as some of the best (which sort of goes against what I liked about the show since these are all self-contained episodes).

I'm actually pretty bummed that I'm done with the series. After half a year, I am now wondering what is out there that can keep my attention for another half a year.

(nerdmode off)

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