Friday, November 8, 2013

A Negative Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Sucks

Mhm.

Let's face it: DS9 is pretty terrible. Of all the various Treks, DS9 was the only one to really have a Whedon-esque arc going on, but despite this, ended up falling victim to many of the shortcomings plaguing the likes of The Next Generation and Voyager. As the series progressed, character arcs went to some pretty weird places, various subplots were entirely forgotten, and Kira's haircut became increasingly more bizarre. Certainly, not all was bad – at least the entire show wasn't based around an omnipotent troll having decided to amuse himself by throwing humanity down the gauntlet. Instead, the entire show was based on some omnipotent trolls deciding they weren't having a good time with humanity and other "solids" (what?) in general, such that the former group ends up trying to murder everyone. And then something about magic power orbs and The Prophets. I'm not really sure.

It's quite difficult to judge DS9, however, because un/fortunately, the show is pretty selective about sticking to its various arcs with any consistency. It doesn't help much that the pacing between episodes is so grungy, either, since one minute you've got the crew relaxing on Planet Sex (sorry, I mean Risa), and the next you have the entirety of DS9 being evacuated for the 40th time because those silly Cardassians are raiding again. What is the show trying to do, really? Is this whole deal with the Dominion the focus, or is it fleshing out the characters in more casual scenarios? The show never quite makes up its mind, and developments obtained in one half don't necessarily carry over into the other. Perhaps this is all a bit vague, so at this point it's probably necessary to look at each character individually (starting with the shittest, and progressing to least shitty):


Kira Nerys

Kira is far and away the worst character to exist on any Trek show. Hands down. After seven seasons of DS9, she's had zero development, has no bearing on the resolution of the main arc, and ends up being a huge pain in the ass in basically every scene she's a part of. I don't know if Nana Visitor is just a bad actress, or whatever, but I couldn't stomach the sanctimonious bullshit Kira was constantly spewing out about preserving the sanctity of her idiotic culture and how necessary it is to maintain the favorable opinion of the Bajorans (the latter being that group of people without the technological capacity to threaten a tribble). It doesn't help much that Kira's role on the station is made increasingly irrelevant as the seasons progress, so much so that eventually, Worf, of all fucking people, is imported to instill the sense of military know-how that Kira is supposed to have. I guess you can't blame Kira all that much, since by that point in the show she was too busy using a time machine trying to find out if Gul Dukat was fucking her mom. Anyway, Kira's major downfall is that by the time of the home stretch, DS9 dived into full on Prophet-arc mode, and Kira was basically there to make sure you didn't forget how absurd that whole schtick was. 


Lt. Cmdr. Worf

To this day, I still don't understand why the writers decided to bring Worf over to DS9 instead of, say, Ro Laren. It's possible Michelle Forbes decided she'd had enough after TNG, and I don't blame her, but man, did Worf make for a piss poor character on DS9. For reasons left unknown, Worf has completely lost the seven years of immersion into human culture he'd experienced on Picard's Enterprise, so whenever Worf wasn't busy helping terrorists take over Risa's weather systems, he was the subject of tacky fish-out-of-water jokes that never really stopped coming. And as if Jake wasn't bad enough, Worf's son had enough of a presence to permeate this review – I'm telling you, every episode involving Worf facing the hardships of being a father was agonizing. Maybe it just runs in the family, or something, since Worf's brother was kind of an idiot too. But perhaps the worst part of having Worf as the sole primary-character Klingon on the show was that every single encounter with the Klingons post-Worf was reduced to the clich├ęd alpha male bullshit we all couldn't get enough of in TNG. I mean, seriously, here you have a vastly unique set of circumstances, for Starfleet – the area of the main action is a station instead of a ship, there is an investment in defending the nearby territory instead of merely defeating the enemy repeatedly, and for the first time, there was genuine variety regarding the various types of aliens that could interact with each other (since DS9 was a mosh pit). And yet, instead of extending this variety to the Klingons, all we got was Worf grunting at everything. 


Jadzia Dax

Who knew, right? 

Jadzia's problem, like Kira, is that she is boring. For all the supposed history betweek Sisko and Dax, very little of it seeps through into Jadzia's character. Actually, hardly any of the brilliance that is the Trill-esque exposition-o-matic device endows Jadzia's character at all. We learn that she lives vicariously through herself. She once had an awkward moment just to see how it would feel. Her hair alone has experienced more than a lesser man's entire body. When it rains, it does so because she is thinking of something sad. Her uniform never wrinkles. She is left-handed and right-handed. The police often question her just because they find her interesting. As the show would have us believe, she is the most interesting Trill in the world. Anyway, the list continues, according to Jadzia, but we never quite get there in terms of seeing it for ourselves. About the only thing of interest here is how hilarious the whole Trill thing even is – it's even stupider than Q. At least the latter is just a flat-out space wizard; the secret ingredient to Trills is simply BULLSHIT. You know, she's Jadzia, but then she's Dax, except when she isn't, but then she is, and then s/he's Ezri, and– oh, forget it.


Miles O'Brien

Oh man. Talk about inconsistent. Or maybe not, actually – the only thing throughout the entirety of DS9 that remains consistent is Miles' obsession with his family. It probably borders on the same level of wackiness as Skeletor's obsession with Castle Grayskull. Anyway, when Miles isn't out reminding you how important his family is to him, he's busy firing phasers at Julian's work to solve the Jem'Hadar's genocide problem. Yeah, Miles was always kind of an asshole, but it was a lot more veiled on TNG – it's only on DS9 that eventually we come to realize that Chief O'Brien is a little irregular. But I guess being killed and replaced with the you from the future would do that to someone, especially after being locked in magic mind prison for some 20-odd years. Overall, Miles ends up being okay because of chemistry with Bashir, but any time he's by himself or with anyone else, he's just kind of a dick.


Benjamin Sisko

Sisko is the first character, so far in this review, that overall is more good than bad. Unfortunately for Sisko, however, Jake happens to be his son, and somehow Jake manages to be worse than TNG's Wesley. It's okay, though – the whole Sisko/Jake schtick mostly goes away after season 2, and is only revisited when Jake decides he wants to be a part of RED SQUAD. Anyway, Sisko's chemistry alone with Gul Dukat is reason enough to power through the first two seasons of DS9, although by the show's end, it kind of degrades and isn't very rewarding. No matter. Avery Brooks is a fine actor, even despite his bizarre soliloquies about social equality and justice. Also, Sisko punched Q in the face. Picard never did that.


Doctor Julian Bashir

Julian of the house Bashir, the first of his name, Doctor of Deep Space Nine and the First Men. Doctor Julian the Slayer. Lord of the many ladies and protecter of the station. Bashir the Provocateur. Doctor Julian the Blessed. Yeah. This one is the type of guy to drunkenly come on to you with a smile. Love him or hate him, it's undeniable that Julian would often evoke the most interesting response from any given character. His relationship with Garak is probably the most rewarding thing on the show. His relationship with Miles is consistently humorous, and often absurd. But Bashir and Kira kind of sucks, and so does Bashir and Dax (which means both Jadzia and Ezri). His arc gets really weird towards the end, too, like the other characters', but a special mention goes out to Bashir actually being a genetically engineered superhuman. But in total, when this guy isn't busy being a complete badass, he's busy being a complete badass in San Francisco in the holodeck. So why does Julian still kind of suck? The answer is simple: he hardly ever interacts with Quark or Odo, and ends up having to carry most scenes by himself. Unfortunately for the doctor, this means that his potential as an interesting character is limited by virtue of him never finding his way into a particularly attention-grabbing situation. 


Odo

Odo is one of the good guys. Say whatever the hell you want about his character, because his voice alone makes up for anything else that could possibly be wrong. Odo's back and forth with Quark, throughout the show, is fantastic, and the former's constant misanthropy translates to some very effective humor at the right times. Unfortunately for Odo, however, he is most central in the whole Dominion storyline, which means that he constantly finds himself in the pits of bad writing. As far as his character goes, he also makes some pretty stupid decisions in those scenarios – he keeps coming back to the people who make it clear they want to destroy his entire way of life and take every turn to manipulate him. Still, Odo powers through, and ends up delighting every scene he appears in throughout the show.


Gul Dukat

Perhaps Gul Dukat is the most tragic character ever to appear in any Star Trek series. During the incipiency of DS9, Dukat is a complete mystery, and as his arc progresses, figuring out all of the layers to this man can be very rewarding. Dukat is a true nationalist – he loves Cardassia to a fault. Actually, probably beyond a fault, because by the end of the show, he ended up reminding me of Mojo Jojo. Anyway. Yeah, it's cool how Dukat has this sort of slippery slope type-thing going on, whereby he becomes increasingly more miserable and pathetic in his attempts to secure victory for Cardassia, but at some point, that plot line starts to drag. And as if that wasn't enough, it eventually intertwines with the whole Prophets bullshit and then gets really stupid. Still, Dukat was absolutely fantastic in the first few seasons, and even though he sort of got dumb by the end, the acting was still enough to make sure it was never boring.


Elim Garak

Garak is wonderful. Great character, great actor. If you buy into the whole misinformation bit, you end up loving every minute of it. Otherwise, it kind of sucks. But supposing you fall into the former category, it's incredibly interesting to see how Garak, whom everyone on DS9 has a separate reason to hate, manages to survive. Garak also has the niche of being the character with ties to nearly every plot line – he has history with Dukat, DS9, the Cardassian occupation, the Obsidian Order... it's all pretty great. Did I mention how good Garak and Bashir are? The only problem here is that by comparison, Garak makes nearly every other character on the show seem uninspired by virtue of his rich background and ties to everything. Seeing a "Garak episode" makes you realize just how shallow some of the other characters are, and often leaves you wishing the rest of the show was as nuanced as this guy is. Garak is also the only character whose arc doesn't end up in a wacky place by the show's end.


Quark

Armin Shimerman! Quark is the single best character to have ever graced any Star Trek series, with the only close second being John de Lancie's Q. As a result, Quark easily takes the spotlight in any scene he's in.  All is well with this guy, basically, with the one caveat being that for the part of the comic relief, Quark occasionally does some extremely questionable things, such as facilitating the sale of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. Other than that, though, Quark is a great character that provides some much needed wit to the otherwise dry show that is DS9. I have no complaints.

Anyway, with that much out of the way, the original point remains: some of the characters are downright awful, whereas others shine (some more consistently). This is to be expected on a given show, but DS9's problem is that, often, the great episodes stand as great episodes only in and of themselves – In the Pale Moonlight, The Die is Cast, and The Wire are undoubtedly some of the best pieces of writing to ever befall Star Trek, but taken out of the context of DS9's world, the episodes still function perfectly; this is problematic, and stems mostly from the fact that despite its hailed arcs, DS9's occasional greatness has nothing to do with its characters' development, but more to do with the characters themselves. Perhaps this is vague – specifically, I mean that I take issue with DS9's great episodes not being a reflection of how far the characters have come, but merely being exercises in throwing them into situations where their respective stereotypical roles are seen in action. And then the few episodes that do build on something that has developed in a given character(s) are often uninspired – Take Me Out to the Holosuite, What You Leave Behind, and Sacrifice of Angels; all of these episodes fall under a typical Trek episode archetype.

So perhaps at this point you're wondering how it's justifiable to say the show "sucks," given the unusual amount of praise it's received thus far in the post. Well, let it be known that DS9 has 7 seasons, each containing 27 episodes, such that categorically listing every failing of the show beyond the (major) faults already listed would be inexorably time consuming. Beyond that, it would be unnecessary: it's still Star Trek, and therefore already pretty fucking stupid to begin with. But seriously. Don't discount the proportionality of the criticism throughout this post – the whole point of DS9 was to have an arc, but that arc ended up sucking.

Yeah. Something like that.

13 comments:

  1. It has some good Babes on it and some good or sexy episodes but overall I agree it is the worst series of Star Trek and very boring. For that money they rather should have made one good "Voyager" cinema movie or lengthen that show or so. Well nevermind - it never came back and we don't miss it, right!?

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  2. I actually loved DS9, but I laughed and loved this blog post! It was awesome, I ever read some aloud to my boyfriend who also cracked an amused smile.

    I was so eh about watching Star Trek to begin with. My boyfriend begged me to sit through TNG, and I'm super patient person, so much that I made it through the notoriously bad first season while my boyfriend snored. It grew on me, and I felt I had fulfilled my obligations by watching his crappy show--and actually loving it--after subjecting him to mine. Then he begged me to watch DS9, but I didn't like the idea of no Picard; I'm probably a female with daddy issues, but who knows.

    Anyway, what I loved about DS9 is how dark some of the episodes were. I don't know if you play Zelda, but the best analogy I can use is that it was the Majora's Mask of the Zelda series, with TNG as Ocarina. I did find Kira intolerable, and the constant reminders of the Bajoran struggle was touching... but grew irritating fast. I put the show on in the background while I was working on a mid-term essay, and I swear every other episode in season 1 is Kira going on badly acted rants about Bajor and how it suffered. I began to feel guilty that I wanted her to shutup, because I know it's supposed to be an analogy for other persecuted groups in history that shall remain nameless.

    I actually couldn't wait for season 4 (5?) when I was told Worf would join the show, but I missed TNG Worf a bit. Jadzia I liked, maybe because as a female I found her to be the least annoying woman... but yea, she was bland. I think your view on O'Brien is hilarious... he actually is a dick, yet I like him. I think it's something I didn't notice until you pointed it out (although I was touched by him and "Tosk"). I did love the complexity of Dukat's character, and I loved how conflicted I felt about him, oh man and his daughter. I actually thought Quark was a gimmick when I first started the show, but then found myself thoroughly enjoying his character, and his plot lines were amusing enough with some exceptions.

    Hands down best character: Morn. Seriously!
    My favorite episode is "The Quickening". I have personal reasons why, but I felt it was the most touching by itself and actually made me cry.

    I haven't done Voyager, and I've heard it's the worse, but I'm willing to try. I did sneak a peak at one episode I loved, it was the one where a planet's time is something like 3 years to our three seconds or something. However, the female captain's voice (her name escapes me) really irritated me, and the doctor was cheesy. I'll give it a shot!

    Thumbs up on this post!

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  3. Where are the moral dilemmas that were in almost every episonde of TOS, TNG, and Voyager? Granted I'm only on episode 5 of DS9, but it just drags on and I'm so uninterested in the lack of compassion, empathy, and good story-telling. It took me till mid-season 2 of Voyager to become hooked, but I at least sensed it would get better with time. DS9, thus far, has had a constant flow of dumb shit pooping out of the wormhole and people saying dumb shit that doesn't make sense. What the shit?

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  4. Where are the moral dilemmas that were in almost every episonde of TOS, TNG, and Voyager? Granted I'm only on episode 5 of DS9, but it just drags on and I'm so uninterested in the lack of compassion, empathy, and good story-telling. It took me till mid-season 2 of Voyager to become hooked, but I at least sensed it would get better with time. DS9, thus far, has had a constant flow of dumb shit pooping out of the wormhole and people saying dumb shit that doesn't make sense. What the shit?

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  5. When DS9 first came out, TV Guide billed it as a "dark" new version of Trek. So I was picturing something GOTHIC, even scary, Dark Shadows in space or something! But instead it just ended up being all this boring drivel, very disappointing. One more point -- I found all the innuendo about what happens upstairs in Quark's bar to be rather irritating. If there was really a brothel on board, I want to see some people getting naked! Big letdown all around.

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  6. I just finished watching DS9, and while I really enjoyed the experience I get where a lot of the hate comes from. When DS9 was at its best it was some of my favorite Trek ever, but when it wasn't at it's best it was some of the worst crap I ever sat through. Star Trek or otherwise. I loved all the characters and the actors who played them, the problem was that a lot of the writers and production staff (particularly that self-important douchenozzle Ira Steven Behr) thought they were too edgy and cool for Star Trek. They're strategy seemed to be: think of whatever Star Trek would do, then do the opposite. Sometimes it worked and a lot of the time they failed to see that a lot of those things were what made Star Trek so great. Most of my favorite episodes just so happen to be the ones that somehow got made in spite of the objections of most of the writers and production staff. And the ones they're most proud of are usually the ones you couldn't pay me to watch again. I'd rather watch TNGs Sub Rosa 100 times than sit through Rejoined again even once.

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  7. The thing that strikes me most about DS9 is that for the bulk of its run, they didn't seem to know what to do with their basic premise: A space station. You'd assume it'd be like a wild west town, right? They even make that comparison in the show on occasion: Adventure comes to them. They don't need to seek it out.

    They always seemed confused by this. Every chance they got, the bulk of the cast were off planet-of-the-weeking far away from the station, with maybe a subplot about Jake discovering haiku or Odo sniffing glue, or whatever crap, just to remind us it exists. Once they got the Defiant, this became vastly, vastly worse as the ship continually headed out with all the department heads as crew, basically doing the exact same thing TNG and Voyager were doing. How is this a show about a space station again?

    Now, Babylon 5 is a show with a lota lotta lotta lotta flaws, but they do a really good job of establishing the location itself as a center of commerce, diplomacy, and things that matter. As that show progresses, the space station pretty believably becomes the fulcrum about which all the major events in the galaxy revolve. Despite being basically a crappy cheap-assed show with questionable writing and a C-list cast, they DO make very good use of their location/premise.

    DS9 never managed to even come close to doing this. I think what dooms DS9 is that they never understood their own basic premise.

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  8. Your drawing is terrible. lol j/k But you made Dax look so tiny. She was 6 foot tall, because Terry Ferrell is. That's why she had so many scenes with Sisko and/or Worf. How many episodes have you watched?

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    1. They're not my drawings, actually. I looked for clip art on google images and went with whatever I found the most amusing. As for your other question: all of them. I've seen every episode of every Trek series, as well as every movie.

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  9. I am sorry to hear that you got shot in the head by a type three phaser because that is the only way you could possibly explain your comment that this series sucked. Dr Bashir is a miracle worker maybe he can help or put you out of our misery.

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    1. I know right!. DS9 was a great show, at first all the aliens sorta put me off,but then by mid first season I was huge fan. Still am and now I can stream 24/7 or wait is it TWENTY SIX /seven?.lol for those that don't know days are 26 hours long in deep space. BTW, Bashir,O'Brien,and Quark are my faves on there and Q is awesome to.

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  10. DS9 has like.. 10 really good episodes (by Star Trek standard) but otherwise the writing fluctuates between mediocre and downright terrible. I just watched the whole thing on Netflix and actually had to skip episodes at times (I basically skipped through most of the God-awful alternate universe episodes and any episode revolving around Jake - who is possibly the most redundant and boring character on any Trek show ever).

    I actually quite liked Jadzia Dax, but don't think the writers ever did as much with the character as they could have. She could be wonderfully sarcastic and off-beat and slightly out of skew compared to the other mostly straight and narrow and linear characters on the show. Then they gave us the silly and forced relationship with Worf and her character basically went from fun and tomboyish to "Worf's wife".

    My favorite characters would be Quark or Garak. Probably Quark, because Garak didn't get enough episodes to really shine. Sadly Quark (and Ferenghis in general) were basically reduced to comical relief in the later seasons. The terrible episode where Quark is turned into a woman comes to mind. Once again the writers had all this potential - with Quark's bar and Ferenghi culture - and didn't know what to do with it. Instead they gave us f*cking Vic Fontaine. Likewise there was a ton of interesting stuff they could have done with Garak's character, but never quite managed.

    That seems to go for most of DS9 and remains the biggest disappointment: They had a lot of potential to work with, but never really managed to get anywhere with it. Odo could have been a great character, but practically didn't do any shape shifting in the last 4-5 seasons. He was reduced to a constantly moping and lovesick pathetic character beyond the dynamic between him and Quark. And that basically disappeared in the second half of the series.

    DS9 could have been quite good if it had been blessed with better writers and more original ideas. Maybe they should have placed the space station on the other side of the worm hole instead. And kept Bajor and prophets completely out of the whole thing.

    Or just replaced Kira with Ro Laren.


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    1. Well, I've got to agree with you about Jake, he was so USELESS,except that one time he pulled O'Brien out of a boiling hot jefferies tube that led to an area needed to save the station from self destructing. Total throwaway character after the first episode of first season, that showed Sisko's wife killed at Wolf 539 by the borge/Picard.
      Sisko's first officer took Jake to someone to be put in a pod then forced Sisko to the same escape pod. After that we saw them get away safely. And THAT should've been all of Jake we saw!. But noooo.... Also I really HATE Kira,she was hired I think for "looks" I read that the hirer,Berman? told makeup "he hired a pretty girl and he didn't want them to ugly her up in makeup". So except kira and Jake it was/is can great show!

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