WHERE HAVE ALL THE WRITERS GONE? OH THERE THEY ARE.
If you can believe it, the easy part of this multi-part, science-fiction series which takes place at specific parts of our own future, where the human race has joined in a highly political union of planets which we see from the perspective of one ship traveling around a small section of our own galaxy; is over. No, creating multiple shows of the same name was not quite enough for these guys. They had to go ahead and make these series take place at the exact same time. So did I get to simply sit back and leisurely click that “play next episode” button with season 6 of The Next Generation (TNG) as I had done with every other season of Star Trek? Absolutely not! Along comes Deep Space 9 (DS9), and below you will find an example of what I have to do in order to continue watching Star Trek in the correct order:
Now, what we have here was copied from Wikipedia. Its part of a much larger document which has each episode/film of Star Trek in chronological order. You can see it here. What I did is break them up into each pair of seasons and keep those docs on my desktop. I then cross out each episode as I watch it, as shown. The first column is of course, series. The second column is episode title, followed by season #, star date, and original air date. The order they are listed in is star date. So yeah, there’s all this.
So these seasons; 6 of TNG and 1 of DS9 is where the crossover madness begins. Where does it end you ask? No? Too bad. That would be season 7 of DS9 along with season 5 of Voyager. Yup. I’ve got 12 more seasons of this, not to mention the TNG movies which will pop in as they please. So, I suppose this would be my test of commitment.
All I’m saying is if I’ve got not one, but two plots to keep track of, these seasons better be damn good! At first, things weren’t looking so hot. Don’t get me wrong, S6 of TNG has a couple of real gems, (Relics, Chain of Command) but for the most part I felt like the writers looked at fan suggestions to get the ideas for most of these. What if Data had a dream? Lets have Warf’s hair double in length for no good reason at all. You know what we need, more Q! Hey, what if there were… two Rikers!? It’s still okay though, TNG has been nothing but great up until this point. Surely they’re focusing their efforts on DS9 and no doubt that is why TNG has become episode after episode of obvious silliness. Well DS9 finally rears its head at last, and what do we have?
The pilot, Emissary, is an extremely cerebral and intense episode complete with flashbacks, trippy sequences, and a dark undertone barely reminiscent of anything Star Trek has been before. Though within a few episodes things settle down and a better idea of DS9 comes forth. In some ways DS9 is like the other Star Treks. It’s about the top ranking officials on a craft in space. There’s a bridge area, and a man in charge. In those ways it’s familiar. It’s still basically about different races dealing with each other’s differences, and there’s still the heavy social and political undertones. The cool thing about DS9 is that it’s from another perspective.
You see until now Star Trek has been from the perspective of a Star Fleet crew on a Star Fleet ship. Now granted in DS9 there are some members of Star Fleet present, that does not make them necessarily welcome. The space station belongs to a race of people known as Bajorans, who were introduced in S5 of TNG. Their planet, Bajor, is way out in the boondocks of space and is not a member of the Federation of Planets. Along with the Bajorans came the Cardassians (yup, pronounced just like those other ones) who had forcibly occupied Bajor for several years. DS9 begins just after the Cardassians ended their occupation of Bajor. Bajor is an absolute mess and they now have a mess of a space station, which the Cardassians just abandoned control of along with the planet. This is when the interim government calls in The Federation for help. A lot of Bajorans are not happy about this, as they see it as another occupying force controlling their planet. Still with me? Great. There’s more.
It turns out just as Commander Sisko and other members of Star Fleet show up to the newly renamed space station, now called Deep Space 9, they discover that Bajor so happens to be right next to a stable wormhole built by an ancient race which leads to another side of the galaxy that would otherwise take several decades to get to. So now Bajor goes from being a nothing little planet nobody really cares about to being the closest planet and therefore guardians and beneficiaries of a gateway to a new and exciting part of space to explore. Therefore Deep Space 9 becomes a popular space station with lots of explorers, scientists, etc, etc, stopping by. Ok, got it?
The point is The Federation and Starfleet aren’t in control here. The Cardassians are lurking and waiting to attack to gain control of the wormhole. The Bajorans have the final say and don’t particularly care for Starfleet’s rules. It’s more the dirty, back alley, seedy side of space. Money’s an issue here, theres shady dealings, terrorist plots and all sorts of filthy fun for the whole family. The cast is much more troubled and not the well-to-do, intelligent folks we’ve known in the previous Treks. Everybody is damaged in some way. The station itself looks entirely different from the good old enterprise. The story is more plot heavy and serialized, though the issue of the day idea of Star Trek does still exist.
All in all I’m in to it, I’d like to see TNG’s upcoming final season to be a bit more than S6 was. DS9 has tons of potential, is off to a great start, and has time to come into its own. So as far as a test to commitment to finishing the Trek Trek, I am unwaivered. DS9 has shown it’s willing to go much further and I’m ready to take that ride with them. In the end, having the series overlap does provide a nice break in the monotony of watching the same series episode after episode, season after season.