Today is a day very near and dear to my heart. It is the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the most quality Trek to ever trek.
Yet, despite having as many seasons as The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine remains one most hotly debated series in Star Trek. A lot of this is because people feel that, of all the Star Treks, it is the least true to Rodenberry’s vision. With its lack of adventuring in the stars, multiple episode story arcs, and a dark setting that involves genocide, terrorism and war, DS9 had many unique characteristics that set it apart from other ‘Treks’. It wasn’t so much that space was the final frontier to be explored, but the frontier is a perplexing and problematic place once it has been discovered.
For me, it was everything I wanted Star Trek to be, though being eight years old at the time, I didn’t know that. I now understand that is an unpopular opinion. Say something like this at a Star Trek convention- as I often have– and people treat it like you’re punching their first born just because your preferences are different. And while I do not condone baby punching, I certainly do like shows that are diverge from the norm.
So, please allow me, on this day the anniversary of Deep Space Nine, tell you why I love the show, and why it is and will forever my favorite Star Trek.
However you feel about DS9 being Star Trek, there are some definite positives to how the show was conceived. The stationary environment of the Deep Space 9 created a guest cast with a character depth that none of the other Star Treks have ever been able to pull off. Case and point, the Cardassian spy turned tailor, Elim Garak, and the traitorous Macqui agent, Eddington. Whereas in other series, guest stars appear for one episode, and are not usually more profound than what they need to be to make the plot go forward. Characters on DS9 are messy, and complicated, and keep the viewer engaged more effectively.
Another strength is that the series has multi-part story arcs and seasons that are dedicated to one premise (the Dominion War, for example),which creates more immersive environments for the viewers, and the storylines are more real. Well… as real as a show about a space station next to a wormhole can be. Yes, having multi-part arcs can make a show hard to get into at first, but in the case of DS9, having a little patience is definitely rewarding. After all, if people really didn’t like long story arcs, Battlestar Galactica and Lost would never have been popular.
And lastly, for me, having DS9 being darker than its counterparts is a positive. I will not defend it and say that it isn’t, even if it does have ridiculous episodes like “Little Green Men”, where Quark and his family accidentally time travel and become the Roswell incident. Those light-hearted episodes are always overshadowed by Sisko soliciting conspiracy to get the Romulans into a losing war, or episodes where the very reality of the station and the Federation is questioned. In the other Star Treks, as much as I love them, they can paint far too rosy of picture. Having Sisko tackling questions that don’t have clear, morally correct answers, and fighting a losing war, will always be far more interesting to me than an episode where all problems are dealt with superficially. After all, who cares what the consequences of your decisions about the Prime Directive are if you can just gallivant off to another quadrant of space like the Enterprise can?
Today, then, I lift a glass of blue liquid I am pretending is Kanaar, but is actually Hawaiian Punch, and toasting a truly successful show, and a fantastic part of the Star Trek franchise. If only it they would just give it a movie. Then we could toast to that as well.