I saw this post on the IMDB Deep Space Nine message board, and I thought it was very well said. (S)he addressed a lot of poorly-constructed criticisms I hear about DSN and Bajorans especially. I must say, I am always relieved to come across people out there who are capable of actually understanding what they watch. It seems like a rarity these days.
Anyway, I’ll paste the post and bold my favorite parts. I’m also going to color my personal comments so it will be separated from the OP’s own comments. The italicized comments were made by someone who claimed DSN was a terrible show based on arguments that are extremely flawed.
Please note that it does not bother me that someone considers DSN a terrible show. Actually, I used to dislike the show when I was a kid (although my brother was really into it back then). It just bothers me when someone says something is bad based on “facts” that are far from the truth, or are completely illogical/nonsensical.
Word of advice: Always research or at least try something before dismissing it.
I must say I’m baffled by your reaction to DS9’s first season:
- “…constant boring religious fanatics” That’s a weird thing to say considering there were only two fanatics in the whole season (Tahna Los & Vedek Winn) and only one of them was religious. (Thank you! I am so annoyed with Bajorans especially being labelled as fanatics. Are you saying that anyone who enjoys their beliefs and doesn’t attempt to hide it is a fanatic? Save for a few bad apples, I did not see anyone being religiously intolerant on the show, or behaving in an overzealous manner.)
- “…no exploration, no new and interesting species” The show takes place on a space station, and the main characters are all assigned (or making a living in Quark’s case) to that space station which doesn’t even have any ships besides runabouts made available by Starfleet (not yet anyway). Exploration and meeting species of the week isn’t exactly a priority for these people (though they do meet plenty of them, only instead of searching for aliens of the week it’s the aliens that come to them). That’s Picard & co’s job. (This was explained in the first episode. Why watch an entire series to complain about something that the first episode already told you would happen? -_-) There’s plenty of “exploration” on DS9, but the show explored those things that other Star Trek series ignored or pretended didn’t exist – things like politics, <gasp!> religion, war and learning to deal with each other’s differences. It’s also about what happens when you don’t have the luxury of flying off on the federation flagship at the end of every episode and instead have to stay put and deal with the consequences of your actions. Picard and co. rarely had to do that. Also, if you stick around till the end of the series you’ll come to the conclusion that while DS9 didn’t feature tons of alien species or new locations every episode, it did the best job of exploring and fleshing out species like the Cardassians, Klingons, Ferengi and Bajorans; the other series (TNG and VOY in particular) didn’t have species, they had two-dimensional stereotypes.
- “just boring religious quabbling” How so? What other episodes besides “Emissary” and “In the hands of the prophets” had “religious quabbling”? (Even post season one, you don’t come across many religious episodes. So, I don’t get this observation.) There were more episodes of the usual trek cliches of characters being possessed/having their personality altered (“The Passenger , “Babel”, “Dramatis Personae” than episodes dealing with anything remotely religious. So I’m baffled by your reaction and I suspect the season finale (the one episode featuring the religious fanatics and quibbling you complained about) may have made more of an impression on you that it should have. (It’s sad how many religiously intolerant people watch DSN, and immediately write it off as having an overbearing hidden religious agenda. You cannot expect Earth and humans alone to have spirituality. While religion is not a major theme in ST, it has been there since TOS. Why is it a big deal now?)
- “I really don’t think the Bajorians are ready to enter the Federation yet, not for a few more decades at least!” Neither do Picard & Sisko nor most fans of the show for that matter. And there is no indication that the writers were trying to suggest such a thing (in fact you’ll be happy to find that -SPOILER- Bajor still hasn’t joined the federation by the time the series ends).
- “This is not what I was expecting after TNG.” So in other words you were expecting more of the same, no innovation or new ways to expand the franchise, (Wow. This reminds me so much of the FF7 fans who just can’t let the damn game go, and has to complain how every game after FF7 wasn’t FF7) just put a new cast on a ship and have them out there “exploring” and meeting more one-dimensional, stereotypical aliens. Well, you should check out Voyager then for a more satisfying experience. Like TNG, it features tons of aliens of the week, new locations every episode, solid performances from a few of the leads and the rest of the cast is average, almost no character development and “play it safe” writing. It should be right up your alley if that’s the sort of thing you look for in a sci-fi show.
Finally, I think you are rushing to conclusions here and should not judge a show based on it’s first season (if I did that with TNG let’s just say I wouldn’t have watched past season 1 – Patrick Stewart or not). DS9 also starts to mingle serialized storytelling with stand alone episodes in its later seasons (even as early as season 2 you have a 3 episode story arc – which was a first for Star Trek at the time as none of the previous series had ever done more than a 2 episode arc). And everyone who has ever watched a show which featured serialized story telling knows the payoff comes at the end of the series not after each individual episode.
In the end I can only hope that – while you will continue to raise issues and criticize things you don’t agree with like you did with during your TNG viewing – you will hold off until watching all of DS9 before comparing it to other Trek shows. It would be unfortunate if you gave up on it now and come off as an ignorant fool each time you criticized it without having watched it.