Deep Space Controversy on Deep Space Nine

Airing from 1993 – 1999, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a new concept in the Trek universe where instead of a ship traveling through space, it took place on a space station (Deep Space Nine, of course) where characters would freely come and go. DS9, as it would come to be known, would become controversial among both Trekkie (or Trekkers if you prefer) as well as regular SciFi fans for a variety of reasons. Airing just a few weeks before Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine seemed to have a very identical plot. Created by J. Michael Straczynski, Babylon 5 featured an almost identical plot and concept. Many fans felt that Paramount was ripping off JMS’s concept and only went through with it because Warner Bros. had announced Babylon 5.

Along with this initial wave of controversy, DS9 would also introduce several concepts that were “foreign” in Trek properties. Money, which had more or less been done away with in the future according to previous Roddenberry projects, was reintroduced of the bat. Many fans were angered that DS9 seemed to be doing away with the utopian society that Gene Roddenberry had created for fans. The hopeful future was seemingly being replaced with a darker, bleaker Star Trek. One of my followers on Twitter, Matt Natsis (@MattNatt2000) even said “The whole “no need for money” Roddenberry ideal just doesn’t work very well in settings like that.”

Other fans grew angry with DS9 with the introduction of the Dominion War in season 3 of the series stating Roddenberry would never have gone for it. Though many people from behind the scenes of Star Trek debated this. Series writer for Star Trek The Original Seires, D.C. Fontana stated that Gene would have enjoyed it as a veteran of World War II. George Takei criticized the show as being the opposite of the values that Gene Roddenberry had created. Roddenberry’s wife and Trek acctress Majel Barrett-Roddenberry even gave conflicting opinions on whether Roddenberry would have approved. Going so far as to say he would have hated it. Then later to say that the only reason the original series didn’t have more space battles was because of the lack of money and technology at the time. That Gene “knew what the fans liked.”

While it may have held quite a bit of controversy early on, Deep Space Nine would grow into what some consider to be the best that Star Trek could ever be. Show writer Ronald D. Moore stated “I think Deep Space [Nine] was the show that really took Star Trek as far as you could take it. You have the original series which is a sort of a landmark, it changes everything about the way science fiction is presented on television, at least space-based science fiction. Then you have Next Generation which, for all of its legitimate achievements is still a riff on the original. It’s still sort of like, ok, it’s another star ship and it’s another captain – it’s different but it’s still a riff on the original. Here comes Deep Space [Nine] and it just runs the table in a different way. It just says ok, you think you know what Star Trek is, let’s put it on a space station, and lets make it darker. Let’s make it a continuing story, and let’s continually challenge your assumptions about what this American icon means. And I think it was the ultimate achievement for the franchise. Personally, I think it’s the best of all of them, I think it’s an amazing piece of work.”

Personally? I agree. Deep Space Nine is without a doubt my favorite of the Trek series, as I’ve often stated on twitter. Sisko Is MY Captain. Star Trek The Original Series, in it’s time, was about dealing with concepts like racism, sexism, exploration and the bettering of the human race. The Next Generation was essentially an extension of the original, dealing with many of the same concepts on an episodic basis. Deep Space Nine took that to the next level. It dealt heavily with war, racism, religion and family on a much larger scale.  Multi-episode story arcs became common with the characters being involved more long term in conflicts and problems. It was something new to Trek fans and something we didn’t really continue to see much in Voyager and Enterprise.

Many fans praised the show for it’s portrayal of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other races in the series, most of all the relationship between Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko raising his young son alone. Personal conflicts between characters was more common as it showed more real life situations where characters didn’t always get along, or easily make peace with one another afterwards. With a rough start behind it DS9, while still controversial among some fans today, became the #1 rated show in syndication in the later 90’s. TV Guide called it “the best acted, written, produced and altogether finest” of the Star Trek series. So whether or not if you’re favorite, or if you even like it at all, Deep Space Nine hit a chord with Star Trek fans both young and old that has yet to be matched on TV by any other Trek show.

Now the only questions to remain are with the new Star Trek film series out will we ever see these characters again and what does fate have in store for Star Trek on TV?


PETER watches a lot of DS9 since it’s been added to Netflix Instant.

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