The Next Generation had been very successful. VERY successful, considering the initial scepticism of most fans. Now was the time to make the most of it, and during TNG's fourth and fifth season, noises were being made about a newer, grittier show, where everything wasn't quite so sweet and harmonious. This new series would be different. It would be set on a space station, where adventures would come to it. There would be conflicts between the Starfleet personnel and the Bajoran officers from the nearby homeworld. There was to be a shapeshifter, a Ferengi bar-owner, and a few of the Enterprise crew were to cross over to DS9.
Things didn't quite work out as originally planned, in that Michelle Forbes, who impressed as the Bajoran officer Ro Laren, decided she didn't want to commit to a long stint on a TV show. The new thing for fans was a black captain - only he wasn't a captain. Commander Benjamin Sisko didn't become a captain until series 4.
The pilot show, The Emissary, got off to a spectacular start, with a scene from the battle between the massed ranks of Starfleet and the Borg, under the command of Locutus aka Captain Picard. Ben Sisko loses his wife Jennifer, and escapes with his life shortly before his ship explodes. Sadly, this was as good as the pilot show got really. For me, the problem is, and has been the lack of charisma that Avery Brooks has. Your captain (or commander) must be compelling, decisive and have good leadership skills. He or she must also be a good actor who has something that makes fans like him or her. Patrick Stewart had magnificent authority and conviction. Kate Mulgrew has decisiveness and warmth, and does a lot of physical patting of shoulders. Brooks is chilly, and wooden. He has only two moods as Sisko. Giggly with Jake, or thunderous eyebrows and loud, deep bellowing. Anyway, enough of Brooks.
The pilot show didn't quite work for me in that there was too much mystical stuff about the wormhole, and the story just wasn't strong enough. The characters were introduced quite well, and clearly a lot of the budget was spent on the shapeshifter effects. Patrick Stewart's appearance was very uncomfortable. Obviously just there as a link between the shows, his scenes were poorly developed.
Two characters that have been a hit are Odo, the shapeshifting security officer, and Quark, the Ferengi bar keeper. Both are played by experienced stage and screen actors Rene Auberjonois and Armin Shimmerman and their skill shows. My personal favourite is the sometimes stroppy Major Kira Nerys played by Nana Visitor who was the first Trek woman to be a real action character.(Troi and Doc Crusher were pretty girlie types to be honest.) The excellent Colm Meaney was the transferred O'Brien and his episodes were usually stong. Terry Farrell is beautiful as the Trill, Jadzia Dax whose previous host, Curzon, knew Sisko. Absolutely dreadful is Alexander Siddig (previously known as Siddig el Fadil) as the awful Dr Julian Bashir. Another poor actor and a brat of a character. He has improved a little since the pilot show, but not much. Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko is a likeable boy, who has grown into a very handsome young man. He is no Wesley Crusher , thank goodness!

The first season was a mixture of hits and misses. The tone WAS different to TNG, which pleased some but not others.

The series is now entering its 7th and final year. There have been many changes over that time, but first, an episode list.

Series One

Series Two

Series Three

Series Four

Past Prologue
A Man Alone
Captive Pursuit
Q Less
The Passenger
Move Along Home
The Nagus
Battle Lines
The Storyteller
If Wishes Were Horses
The Forsaken
Dramatis Personae
In the Hands of the Prophets
The Homecoming
The Circle
The Siege
Invasive Procedures
Rules of Aquisition
Necessary Evil
Second Sight
The Alternate
Armageddon Game
Playing God
Profit and Loss
Blood Oath
The Maquis (I)
The Maquis (II)
The Wire
The Collaborator
The Jem'Hadar
The Search (I)
The Search (II)
The House of Quark
Second Skin
The Abandoned
Civil Defense
Past Tense (I)
Past Tense (II)
Life Support
Heart of Stone
Prophet Motive
Distant Voices
Through The Looking Glass
Improbable Cause
The Die Is Cast
Family Business
The Adversary
The Way of the Warrior
The Visitor
Hippocratic Oath
Little Green Men
Starship Down
The Sword of Kahless
Our Man Bashir
Paradise Lost
Return to Grace
The Sons of Mogh
The Bar Association
Rules of Engagement
Hard Time
Shattered Mirror
The Muse
For the Cause
To The Death
The Quickening
Body Parts
Broken Link

Series Five

Series Six

Series Seven

Apocalypse Rising
The Ship
Looking For Par'Mach In Al...
..Nor The Battle To The Strong
The Assignment
Trials and Tribble-ations
Let He Who Is Without Sin....
Things Past
The Ascent
The Darkness and the Light
The Begotten
For the Uniform
In Purgatory's Shadow
By Inferno's Light
Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
A Simple Investigation
Business As Usual
Ties of Blood and Water
Ferengi Love Songs
Soldiers of the Empire
Children of Time
Blaze of Glory
Empok Nor
In the Cards
A Call to Arms
A Time to Stand
Rocks and Shoals
Sons and Daughters
Behind the Lines
Favor the Bold
The Sacrifice of Angels
You Are Cordially Invited...
Statistical Probabilities
The Magnificent Ferengi
Who Mourns for Morn
Far Beyond the Stars
One Little Ship
Honor Among Thieves
Change of Heart
Wrongs Darker Than Death
In the Pale Moonlight
His Way
The Reckoning
Profit and Lace
Time's Orphan
The Sound of Her Voice
Tears of the Prophets
Image in the Sand
Shadows and Symbols
Take Me Out to the Holosuite

Generally, DS9 hit its peak in the middle series, numbers, 2 to 5. Probably the best episode of the entire series was "Trials and Tribble-ations", a simply brilliant homage to the original Trek series, that features perfect blending of film so that O'Brien, Dax, Sisko and Bashir look as if they are right there with Kirk and co. Dax looked FAB in the Trek minidress, and even Sisko suited the old gold jumper. A lovely mix of humour and plot that sadly the the series achieved all too infrequently. Other hits, for me anyway, were those with Kira and the Bajorans. Like the Klingon stories in TNG, these were a matter of taste, and the Bajoran stories were a fairly obvious metaphor for the Jewish people. However, I liked the politics, and the wonderful Louise Fletcher made a brilliantly creepy baddie, Kai Wynn. Less successful were the endless allusions to baseball and Sisko's love life (YAWN). Also, the Ferengi episodes were a but dull, as was Odo's quest for his people. Dax was all to frequently under used, as was the excellent Colm Meany as O'Brien. Bashir stayed as irritating as ever, although a rather amusing James Bond style story "Our Man Bashir" was much more fun.

In my opinion, the switch to the Dominion war in the latter half of series 5 and series 6 was an error. Responding to the success of Babylon 5- particularly the critical success, DS9 was given an "arc". Now Sisko and co were fighting a war- cue all those tired old war cliches and cheap emotions. Trek has always had the failing of being a touch preachy, but I found the switch in emphasis to plot rather than character a turn off. Nana Visitor's real life pregnancy affected series 5, she and fellow DS9 actor Alexander Siddig had a son together. But this lead to a plot device involving Kira carrying the O'Brien's child- unlikely and restrictive for this most lively character.

In terms of character, the biggest change was the addition of TNGs Worf, at the beginning of series four. A shot in the arm was needed, but I never was comfortable with him on DS9- he was a TNG character, and the romance between him and Dax was completely unbelievable to me. Avery Brooks continued to impersonate a piece of wood, despite a new haircut, and was at his best as a director- "Rejoined" being one of the best episodes, and one that tackled and interesting issue.
DS9 limps towards its finale having lost a major character- Terry Farrell has had enough and Jadzia leaves dramaticaaly at the end of series six. In my view, this incarnation of Star Trek will be one remembered for a few high points, but generally as a disappointment.

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