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A lot of spinach before cake
I grew up in the nineties, when it seemed a given that Star Trek would be on TV forever. I'm glad I experienced TNG and and Deep Space Nine when I did. The whole Babylon 5 scandal was unknown to me; I thought Deep Space Nine was off the hook, yo. Shadowy sets, darker uniforms, tough amazon babes...

Having rewatched it as an adult, the Odo/Quark catfights proved timeless... and yet Dax made me want to strangle myself with my extension cords. But that's my opinion; a lot of people dig Jadzia and Ezri, and I wouldn't go around besmirching them online if I were you.

The show took forever to find its feet. The irony is that with all the criticism of DS9 being the weakest or least memorable Trek show, the show invariably sucked whenever it was aping TNG. Unfortunately, this is most prevalent in the first two seasons. The writers dragged out the tired Maquis arc, Monsters of the Week, John de Lancie, Borg, the works. This is not to say that DS9's original ideas were all that hot; on the whole, I find anything involving the Bajorans to be a total bore. They're a glorified hat. The immortal life of Dax was a cool concept, but fell flat on its face thanks to Terry Farrell's dreadful acting (though she greatly improved by the last season — just in time to screw over the writers and quit).

That said, I urge everybody to stick with it. It's painful having to watch those wheels turn and grind their way toward their goal. But eventually it pays off. For me, it was the addition of Worf in "The Way of the Warrior." Rather than throw everything into chaos, the actors hardly miss a beat with Worf around. It was also a second pilot of sorts, a way of re-introducing the expanded cast.
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Deep Space 9: So past the final frontier, it sometimes hurts.
There's often fights about what makes Trek what it is. Nowhere is that debate more polarising than when it's coupled with this series, often leading to verbal skirmishes (and sometimes even warfare.). The reason the fighting is so fierce is that very few people can argue with the fact that this series is the best critically-rated series of Trek and that for most of the time the characters and writing were superb; yet that doesn't mean that they personally enjoyed it. I'll say where I fall on the issue at the end, but for now we should focus on the show itself.

DS 9 was a show that was based around conflict and consequences. This was a complete departure from the usual Trek model, where the Federation flies in, attempts to fix a problem, pontificates, then shoots off into the distance. For the most part, you did not get consequences, nor conflict between the crew. If you wanted the crew to rebel, you stuck leeches in their ears or let William Shatner direct. (Star Trek V, I'm looking squarely in your direction here). The Next Generation was the show that kept to, but altered the model most, showing that the consequences of big decisions still hang over Picard, Data, Hugh and Wesley. (Even making Wes a better character)

In DS 9, the station where everyone knows your name, everything hangs over the characters. It may not be referenced, but actions and words last long after they're created. Some chatacters don't like each other. Some do, but can't admit it. A former spy and retired murderer lives on the station, but because he's useful, witty and charming he gets away with it. It was almost as if the show was created to bend and shatter the utopia that Gene Roddenbury created,

Personally, I don't think so, but even if it did I wouldn't say it was a bad thing. When Roddenbury's vision became strong enough to become dogmatic, it led to many bad things. The Prime Directive became sacred law instead of a guideline, and we got Star Trek: TMP and the first two series of TNG. DS 9 questioned them to breathe new life into the world, to make us think about it. In many ways, the world of Star Trek feels better when you establish the good points of the utopia, as well as the bad. For me, DS 9 is both a great series, and a great Trek series. And if you disagree, I'm sure many of you will agree with half of that statement.
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