Exploring the Deep Space 9 problem

Of all the many star trek Programs that have graced the small screen over the years is perhaps the most controversial of these space 9. The next generation is generally highly regarded, and Traveller often placed low in fan favorites. However, DS9 are both heralded as the best star trek show ever and the worst depending on who’s asking. Not many fans have an opinion on that. It still features the same classic Trek Stuff from wildly imaginative technology to extremely complex characters. What exactly separates the fans so much?


One of the first divisive points is that this show is formulaically different than what came before it, especially in its departure from being largely an anthology. In all other shows, it was common for anything that affected the ship or crew in one episode to be swept under the rug and forgotten in the next. Each episode was self-contained, and the writers essentially hit a big reset button between each episode. Traveller is possibly most guilty of this. While all shows had sporadically recurring or continued stories between episodes, it was generally considered episodic. DS9 changed this with a heavy emphasis on continuity between episodes. The show took a long-term approach to storylines that still continued with the episodic feel.

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Many DS9 Episodes were one-off stories, but they often progressed, allowing stories to play out in the background throughout the season. The show managed to juggle these well, but the problem came with fans of the show not enjoying the general, often political, backstory arc. They had become accustomed to jump-in, jump-out episodes. Faced with a show that required their full attention and viewers never missed an episode, some fans were uncomfortable with the change. (Of course, that was before the on-demand TV spree.)

The next problem was that despite DS9 made afterwards TNG, The show had an odd sense of staleness. This is more of an issue for modern viewers who are used to high-definition viewing experiences but still turned off many fans back then. When I look back now TNG still looks dated, but it has a clean and crisp aesthetic, partly due to the extensive remastering it’s undergone over the years. It was shot on film, so the quality can still be improved years after the first shot. As long as the original film is still intact, it can be remastered years after production. DS9 was not shot on film and while it most likely looked better at the time, this method also meant that it was not possible to remaster using traditional methods. It’s still possible, with various YouTube videos showing people digitally remastering scenes from the show in 4k (which looks great). However, it’s still not a common practice as digital remastering is quite an intensive process that only became possible in the last few years. In a way, this could be seen as a good thing. DS9 was always intended as a dirtier, more realistic representation of the Federation, on the fringes of its space and often left to decay rather than being in the paradise of the Federation’s inner circle. This makes the grittier viewing experience feel more authentic, but still makes it a bit inaccessible to modern viewers.

While those two reasons are important, the potentially biggest diving factor for fans was the overall storyline. It got off to a rocky start for many fans. Sisko is a great character (with all his flaws) and a great way to represent the 90’s. He was not afraid to show compassion and love to his son. However, there was a distinct lack of proper sci-fi, and the relationships between the main characters felt forced. This criticism came mainly from people who had come to love the friendships and camaraderie between them TNG Crew. They found themselves with new faces and expected to like them right away.

Things got better, with some great episodes along the way. People really appreciated the elaboration of the once annoying Ferengi race. Eventually, the show reached its heyday. It contained fantastic episodes like “Hard Time” which saw O’Brien hallucinating in prison for 20 long years and the fantastic story arc of Nog finally returning to the real world of science fiction. Things were going well, but with everything that happened with the Dominion War things started to get very political and war oriented, something that felt very unusual star trek. Viewership numbers are divided here. Some really liked the new, darker approach to the series. Others, looking for utopian escapism, lost interest.

In the end, the show was a mix of various risky elements that people have ever loved or hated. It prioritized continuity, which was great for those who liked the long, slow-playing storylines and narrative. But for anyone who didn’t, it was completely inevitable. It took a while to get going, and true lovers of traditional sci-fi found those moments in DS9 fleeting as the show quickly slipped back into the political swamp of war. Another big problem that people are facing up to this point star trek was all about exploring and discovering new worlds and civilizations. While that’s a big part of the previous shows, it’s arguably not what the franchise is about. Instead, it was about telling futuristic allegorical stories to explore deep-rooted societal issues of today, something DS9 did it masterfully. The show was both brilliant and horrifying for being mistaken for the franchise’s sacred formula (and responsible for one of the most tragic deaths in science fiction history). The much-needed change may have been ahead of its time and changed the franchise forever, but it angered those who loved it star trek like it was.

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