I just recently finished a massive watch of DS9 from start to finish for the first time. While I caught a number of season six and seven episodes… maybe 16/17 years ago… yikes… (and I have seen the odd episode here or there), I never really have had the opportunity to watch it as one complete set before. So thanks to Netflix (and having finished a binge of ENT) I set out on this beast. Back in the day I really only had previously watched Voyager end-to-end, so it was pretty exciting to watch a show that was manly virgin territory for me (granted after 20 odd years - I was aware of all major plot points).
Over all, I did enjoy watching it, though my goodness, those first few seasons where painful. However, I only ever stopped watching and skipped two episodes total. One being one of the umpteen dozen time O’Brien was trapped behind enemy lines (Miles was seriously the butt-monkey of the early seasons! He seemed to be constantly knocked out cold, got stuck on the wrong side of a conflict, and all the annoying crap seem to fall onto him, being married to character the writers had no idea what to do with). The other one, was one of the Klingon Honour episodes with Worf... doing something Klingon... just because. I will confess, regardless of series, Klingon episodes are my least favourite. And ones where it seems to be nothing but Worf talking about honour are the most painful by far.
Hey, I made it through all the Ferengi episodes, that must count for something!
Personally to me though, the greatest crime an episode can be, is that of being boring (which is probably half the reason I cannot stand Klingon Honour eps). Bad episodes can often be entertaining (even in an awful way), or at least can be watchable. This is why I don’t hate the Ferengi episodes or ‘Come Along Home’ (though I acknowledge the WTF stupidity of the later). In fact I found the most painful early episode to be ‘If Wishes Where Horses’. My lord that episode just draaaaaaaaagged on.
I am not sure if I am going to describe the following the right way, so forgive me if my though process fails me lol - While I enjoyed the show, and I thought it was a good show, but I felt it struggled to cast off the chains (at least during the first 5 seasons) of that post-1987 Gene Roddenberry vision/idealism which I felt delivered a universe full of perfect people living in a perfect society. I mean DS9 did the best at bucking this convention compared to TNG or VOY (both of which tended to wrap up issues of moral ambiguity in 44 mins), but I think it also suffered from this direction as well.
Many times I felt like the show was screaming to be released from burden and be free to explore the grey. This Utopian Pacifism I think did hinder it greatly at various points (at least until the Dominion War started - but then again,how much of that war was a result of them trying to stay true to their ideals as opposed to nipping an enemy in the bud before they got too powerful by going on the offensive early?).
Whereas Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica could create their own universe from scratch, where the humans where shown to be fallible and far from perfect, DS9 had to use a template where it wasn’t necessarily a perfect fit for the story the writers wanted to tell and thus many times the characters ‘sense of duty to some golden ideals’ won over in the end of the episode (mainly from Sisko). This trope I felt was just as annoying as any of Voyager's multiple technobabble deux ex machina endings. At times I feel like the show was wanting to go darker, grittier and more morally ambiguous but it couldn’t get to the level it wanted to either. This isn't too say that a story arc of a utopia-like society being attacked from outside and having to reassess its ideology for survival purposes isn't a good idea - I just think this was one thing DS9 (mainly Sisko) struggled to tell well.
Random other thoughts: By far the best character for me was Gul Dukat. My word man, he wasn’t just the best developed villain in Star Trek history, he is up there in one of the best developed character period! With a complex and compelling storyline that rarely reset itself! I could hate, empathize, feel sorry, feel disgust and even casually like the character, often in the same episode. He was layered and multi facilitated and quiet magnetic. I guess props need to go to Marc Alaimo for delivery such a performance, because very few others, even permanent cast members, in any of the shows, I dare say came close.
Jadzia over Ezri – I remember when I watched years ago I like Ezri, but that was basically only having a handful of season 5 and 6 episode of Jadzia to judge by. While Ezri was certainly delightfully cute and perky, she didn’t have that cool sophistication and presence that Jadzia (not to mention the trope of a dirty old man in a nubile young women's body that I think Terry did better) brought to the cast and having now watched the show fully through, Ezri’s presence in Season 7 is much for jarring then it was first time around. What is it with Terry Farrell with leaving shows a season before it ends? Hahaha.
Also special mention must go to the kid that played Molly was so gosh darn awful. I know most child actors are pretty dire at the best of times, but Hana Hatae was particularly painful.
One of things I feel, that might put me in the minority is I really failed to buy into most of the romantic pairings on the show. Almost all of the various couples combinations the show gave us really didn’t have much chemistry between them. The only ones that tended to work where the comic pairings (Rom/Leeta - heck even Jadzia/Worf worked best when they where played up in a comedic ep with Worf as the Desi/straight man and Jadzia as the Lucy/OTT wife). Saying that, I absolutely loved the episode 'Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places', so i guess there was the occasion the writers did strike gold with the hooking up various characters. On the other hand the show did unrequited mooning over somebody pretty well, I felt Odo/Kira worked better when Odo was mooning over her and Kira was oblivious to it more so when they finally did hook up.
I kinda wonder what the budget was during the seasons. So many caves. Many many many caves. Did I mention the amount of paper mâché caves this show had? It was like Bajor was riddled with so many caves, tunnels, basements, cellars, cubby holes et cetera I’m kinda surprised it collapsed onto itself for all the holes in the earth! Even Enid Blyton's Famous Five never accounted this many caves! I felt some episodes suffered from this - the Bajoran coup episodes in early season 2 I felt lacked a certain punch cause all the action scenes took place in cheap looking caves with a limited amount of background extras.
All in all, I did enjoy it, though I wished on occasion they'd change up the establishment shot of DS9 with the Defiant in the foreground and that same random starship in the back!
The good thing about DS9 was the rich background given to the secondary characters - they where gold (except Keiko as previously mentioned), especially since a few of them where up there with Jake in actual episode appearances. While I appreciate them not shoehorning the kid in every episode (unlike Wesley), though sometimes you forgot he was even on the show, and it made shoehorning other characters (mainly Quark) into some episodes much more obvious (pops his head around the corner for a second, makes a quip and disappears for the rest of the ep. Many of the Cardassian characters had such meaty stories. Really fleshed out and enjoyable.
In an age full of 10-13 season shows which are mapped out in advance and stories are spread over episodes as opposed to contained in just one, it is funny to watch a 26 episode a season show that does feel mammoth and long winded in parts, struggling to fill in the gaps. It also does lead to some unevenness in that there was a lot of filler. I.e ,- they followed up the darkest episode of Star Trek ever in 'In the Pale Moonlight'with a Kira/Odo holladeck romance episode. I guess it is more glaring these days because our viewing habits have changed that htis is more obvious.
Ergh... I probably have many other thoughts. Mostly positive, though darned if I can remember any at the moment lol. Needle me and I might recall