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WARNING: This post contains spoiler information regarding the first season of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". If you haven't seen the season and don't wish the spoilers, don't read the article. Seems sensible enough on this end. :-)

Grumble. After all this time, I have not one, but two season-ending reviews to write. My fingers will never forgive me. :-)

As with the last review, my apologies for being late with this, but (1) I decided to go back through the season before beginning, and (2) I took care of the TNG review first. Such is life.

Also following in the footsteps of the TNG review, I'm going to first go through the season show-by-show (which, fortunately, will be somewhat less work than for TNG's case, since there were fewer shows), and then have a more general section. So, onwards:


I. DS9, Episode by Episode


"Emissary"
Written by: Rick Berman and Michael Piller (story) Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by: David Carson
Initial rating: 8.
Best quote: "Then why do you exist here?"

"Emissary" got DS9 off to a bang, particularly as pilots go (thinking of this and then "Encounter at Farpoint" makes the comparison a cinch). Although there were certainly bugs left to be ironed out (such as toning down Kira's combative nature without disrupting it) and problems similar to those in most pilots (such as O'Brien's rather un-touching farewell to the Enterprise and "Exposition Officer" Odo's history of himself given with all the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros), the show had more than enough kick to get past those. After this, I think most people had a reasonable feel for who these characters were and who they might become, particularly Sisko, Kira, Odo and Quark. The "nonlinear time" issue was the sort of thing you either liked a lot or disliked intensely -- I fell into the former camp.

All in all, "Emissary" was a hell of a way to start.

Final rating: 9.

"Past Prologue"
Written by: Kathryn Powers
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating: 9.
Best quote: "Go over my head again -- and I'll have yours on a platter."

"Past Prologue" only had two problems, really. One of them is that the internal logic of the episode doesn't work (there's no way to justify Tahna possessing the antimatter converter without making Odo seem utterly
incompetent), and the other is that it was just too damned early in the season for a "loyalties get tested" show. We may know Kira to a certain extent from "Emissary", but we don't know her well enough to get overly concerned about whether she'd actually switch sides. If this had been about four shows later, it would have made a lot more sense.

On the other hand, this began the first in a line of very nice "political" DS9 shows, which I'll talk about later. "Plain, simple Garak" was also a promising new player whose presence is sorely missed, and Bashir got some
much-needed time to develop here.

Final rating: 7.

"A Man Alone"
Written by: Gerald Sanford & Michael Piller (story) Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Initial rating: 6.
Best quote: "Commander, laws change -- depending on who's making them."

The best thing about this was the "Keiko becomes a teacher" half of the story -- and even it had its weak spots. Although the frame-up of Odo seemed fairly well-thought-out, and there was some terrific interplay between Odo and Quark, the show moved at a snail's pace. Add to that the trouble Terry Farrell was still having making Dax's small role believable and a great deal of biotechnobabble (a subgroup of regular technobabble), and you have an episode that really didn't do much for me.

Final rating: 5.

"Babel"

Written by: Sally Caves & Ira Steven Behr (story) Michael McGreevy & Naren Shankar (teleplay)
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Initial rating: 9.5.
Best quote: A tie, between
"You claimed Rom fixed your replicators." "So?" "Rom's an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent."
and "You, GOLD, Owe MEEEEE!"

"Babel" was the first show since "Emissary" that made me impressed again. The jeopardy angle with Jaheel was a bit much, but was also a very small fraction of the show -- and apart from that and some mild technobabble, everything was very nice. We had a believable (and somewhat worrying) premise, some great O'Brien scenes, more good Odo/Quark interaction (this time with some very serious undercurrents), and one of the better "random virus hits our characters" episodes produced.

Final rating: 9.5.

"Captive Pursuit"
Written by: Jill Sherman Donner (story) Jill Sherman Donner and Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by: Corey Allen
Initial rating: 9.5.
Best quote: "I am sorry -- I have no vices for you to exploit."

"Captive Pursuit" is a generally straightforward action piece, and only has one real flaw. The flaw it has is a doozy, however -- namely, for Tosk to be able to do what he does early on, station security has to be either useless or incompetent, and I don't care to accept either. Beyond that, there are some minor quibbles (such as the utter lack of a language barrier, and the implication that O'Brien was sanctioning murder when he let Tosk kill one of the hunters), but not enough to bring the show down much. Tosk was one of the more convincing aliens we've seen this year, and O'Brien got some much needed time to develop -- or at least, to be revealed.

Final rating: 8.

"Q-less"
Written by: Hannah Louise Shearer (story), Robert Hewitt Wolfe (teleplay)
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Initial rating: 4.
Best quote: Two of them:
"What did they call you, the god of lies?" "They meant it affectionately."
and Quark on his clientele: "They're all ridiculously wealthy -- and not too bright."

The two lines above are about all "Q-Less" has going for it. Q has a couple of good lines beyond this, and Sisko is vaguely decent (though not nearly the foil for Q that Picard is). However, that is *it* so far as this show goes. The mystery is something a five-year-old could beat this crew to solving, Bashir is put way out of character as a womanizing Riker-clone, the technobabble is very heavy, there's a truckload of unlikeable and unwatchable characters at the auction, and we have the return of Vash, the character who should never have been invented in the first place -- and she's probably in the worst of her three appearances here. This is the only show of DS9 to date that I'd have to call utter crap.

Final rating: 2.

"Dax"
Written by: Peter Allan Fields (story), D.C. Fontana and Peter Allan Fields (teleplay)
Directed by: David Carson
Initial rating: 9.
Best quote: "Live, Jadzia Dax. Live a long, fresh, and wonderful life."
From the worst of the lot ... to one of the best. "Dax"'s biggest problem is simply what the episode isn't: it isn't a show that outlines who and what Jadzia Dax is. It does, however, say a great deal about who and what
Jadzia and Dax were, and cloaks it in a good mystery/courtroom drama. Sisko and Kira begin to work together here for mutual advantage, Odo's detective work is as unique as ever, Bashir's naivete is exploited to the full, and Fionnula Flanagan turns in a devastating performance as Enina Tandro. D. C. Fontana needs to come back more often.

Final rating: 10.

"The Passenger"
Written by: Morgan Gendel (story) Morgan Gendel and Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Initial rating: 6.
Best quote: "There's nothing wrong with a good delusion -- I sell them upstairs to dozens of people every day."

"The Passenger", on the other hand, probably would have been the worst DS9 to date were it not for "Q-Less". While Kajada is an interesting character up to a point, and some isolated segments of the Odo/Primmin interaction are worth watching, the show itself really isn't. It's got loads of exposition, some surprisingly bad acting from Siddig el Fadil as Bashir/Vantika, a glacially slow pace, an obvious mystery, a silly technobabble solution, and no thought whatsoever on the part of the regulars. I was not, to put it mildly, impressed. (I should clarify that el Fadil was fine in body language as Vantika -- it was simply his manner of speech that failed.)

Oh, and for those wanting to spot small things -- if you look very carefully (you might have to go frame-by-frame) while Vantika throws Quark aside early on, you can see Bashir revealed early as the person doing the throwing for a brief moment or two. Look for it.

Final rating: 3.5.

"Move Along Home"
Written by: Michael Piller (story) Frederick Rappaport and Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci (teleplay)
Directed by: David Carson
Initial rating: 5.
Best quote: Two of them:
"Dad, I'm fourteen." "I'm glad we agree on something."
"And if all else fails, just yell again, Doctor."

"Move Along Home" could have been a very good show if it had any coherence. There's the continuation of a great Sisko/Jake relationship here, a very interesting idea, surreal game scenes, some good instances of Odo taking an active role rather than a reactive role (which he does a lot), some good Sisko/Dax interplay, and ... well, who can resist yelling "alamarain!!" when things go well? :-)

Unfortunately, "Move Along Home" also has some bizarre leaps of logic on the part of Quark and Odo, a rare bad (well, all right, miserable) performance from Armin Shimerman (particularly when groveling), and several
annoying things that seem to come out of nowhere (Bashir's screaming, Falow's laugh, Primmin's general bozo-like nature, etc.). What's more, Kira seems incredibly out of character for most of the show. This is a nice idea, but not one that came out even close to its full potential.

Final rating: 5.5.

"The Nagus"
Written by: David Livingston (story), Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
Directed by: David Livingston
Initial rating: 9.
Best quote: "And remember -- when in doubt, be ruthless!"

The vast majority of the net appears to hate "The Nagus" with a passion. Except me.

Quite honestly, I don't understand what everyone has against this. Yes, the show is incredibly silly. Yes, the Sisko/Jake plot, while good, is somewhat overplayed. But that's really about it for the negatives I could see. The best phrase I came up with to describe this beast was "generally ludicrous fun", and I'll stand by it. I enjoyed Quark being put as incredibly out of his league as he was, I enjoyed Wallace "inconceivable!" Shawn playing the Nagus, I enjoyed the funeral ritual -- hell, I even enjoyed most of the ear jokes. The show was good, goofy fun -- and that's all it wanted to be.

Final rating: 8.

"Vortex"
Written by: Sam Rolfe
Directed by: Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating: 5.5.
Best quote: "You can pour your square shape into a round hole, but you
don't really fit, do you?"

"Vortex" improves a little bit with age, but only a little. It still strikes me a show that's mostly, well, just there. The Mirradorn "let's get away from Ah-Kel" plot was pretty much a loss and a bore, and the Croden-centered
aspects of the story were, while decent, extremely simplistic. Cliff de Young did what he could with Croden, but there wasn't enough of a character there to really make me care what happened to him -- and it seemed a foregone conclusion that he wouldn't really be killed at the end. Rene Auberjonois did a nice job with what he had, but in my opinion what he had really wasn't enough to build an episode on. Still, there are moments in here to look for -- such as Odo's small smile when he tells Croden's daughter that he is a Changeling.

Final rating: 6.

"Battle Lines"
Written by: Hilary Bader (story) Richard Danus and Evan Carlos Sommers (teleplay)
Directed by: Paul Lynch
Initial rating: 9.5.
Best quote: "I'm sorry, Commander, but I've learned we can't afford to die here -- not even once."

Whew! "Battle Lines", more than any episode made up until it, exemplified what I think DS9 was intended to accomplish as a series. While still remaining true to the philosophies of the Trek universe as a whole, it managed to turn in a gritty, truly nasty examination of what violence can "achieve" if left unchecked. Opaka was spot-on in her description of the Ennis as people who "don't know how to do anything but die" -- and that's a bleakness we've never seen before in Trek, in my view. Even the regulars didn't escape unscathed -- although Kira had a major step forward in coming to terms with her past, she lost Kai Opaka in the process. This show set the stage for an awful lot of future events -- and if it weren't for some extraneous O'Brien/Dax scenes, it'd be a perfect show.

Final rating: 9.5.

"The Storyteller"
Written by: Kurt Michael Bensmiller (story) Kurt Michael Bensmiller and Ira Steven Behr (teleplay)
Directed by: David Livingston
Initial rating: 4.5.
Best quote: A tie for a few:
"I think they're the ones offering services, Chief."
"Don't worry, Chief. *I* have faith in you."
and "Do I annoy you?"

"The Storyteller" isn't bad at all. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's particularly good either. I enjoyed the O'Brien plot up to a point (particularly his interaction with Bashir, who was the self-assured member of the pair for a change), but couldn't bring myself to actually get involved in what was going on. The Jake/Nog/Sisko-as-mediator plot, on the other hand, really only had one good scene, that being the attempt to steal Odo's bucket. (I take that back -- the brief squabble outside Varis's door brought back memories of me being their age, and some sympathetic cringes on their behalf.) Other than that, I have to say that Sisko really doesn't work as a straight mediator type, both Gina Philips and Lawrence Monoson were awful in their guest roles, there was lots of technobabble, and despite having two plots the show just seemed to drag on for a while. Worth watching, but not really much of a standout.

Final rating: 6.

"Progress"
Written by: Peter Allan Fields
Directed by: Les Landau
Initial rating: 8.
Best quote: "But you have to realize something, Major -- you're on the other side now."

"Progress" continued with Kira where "Battle Lines" left off. In "Battle Lines", she had to deal with the violence in her past and in her nature -- here, she had to come to terms with the fact that she can't fight for the underdog all the time any more. "Progress" made her come to that realization quietly and naturally, and was a gripping piece of drama. The Jake/Nog plot was a bit silly, but was a relieving counterpoint to just how depressing the
other plot was in many ways. I enjoyed it, possibly more than I should have.

About the only problem "Progress" had, aside from the question of whether the environmental disaster being created here is really a good idea, is that the ending is a bit too abrupt. Another thirty to sixty seconds would have been ideal.

Final rating: 9.5.

"If Wishes Were Horses"
Written by: Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford (story) Nell McCue Crawford & William L. Crawford and Michael Piller teleplay)
Directed by: Robert Legato
Initial rating: 6.5.
Best quote: "He followed me home from the holosuite."

This is another show that has a lot of good ideas that turn into a very, well, wearing 46 minutes. While the show had several little touches that served it well (such as Bashir's spot-on reaction to the infamous "I like you
as a friend" speech, and O'Brien's storytelling), and there really wasn't a lot wrong with the internal logic of the show, there simply wasn't much there to make me sit up and take notice, either. Imagination-becomes-reality
shows are all too common in SF and Trek in particular, and this doesn't hold a candle to some of the ones we've seen before. In particular, I found the "two Daxes" subplot way overdone, the use of Odo purely as comic relief in and of itself somewhat wearing, and the climax somewhat unexciting. C'est la vie.

Final rating: 5.

"The Forsaken"
Written by: Jim Trombetta (story) Don Carlos Dunaway and Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by: Les Landau
Initial rating: 6.
Best quote: "This is no computer -- this is my arch-enemy!"

Despite the rarely-welcome presence of Lwaxana Troi, "The Forsaken" managed to at least be a watchable show. We got to see all the "good parts" of the Bashir-plays-ambassador plot without having to endure much of the ambassadors themselves, the O'Brien plot was entertaining fluff, and O'Brien himself came off once again as a very real figure. What tidbits we got of Odo's history were very much appreciated, but they weren't nearly enough to save the show from the agonizing scenes with Odo and Lwaxana trapped in the turbolift, to say nothing of her harassing behavior earlier.

Petty inconsistency note: Back when Odo first mentioned his regeneration cycle in "A Man Alone", the cycle was 18 hours. Now it seems to be 16 hours. It would be nice if we could at least go a season before everything starts contradicting itself. :-)

Final rating: 5.

"Dramatis Personae"
Written by: Joe Menosky
Directed by: Cliff Bole
Initial rating: 5.5.
Best quote: Two choices: Either
"Don't look at me that way -- I'm perfectly normal."
or "He's still dead, if that's what you mean."

If "Dramatis Personae" had used the DS9 characters and character traits we know, it could have been fantastic. Instead, it was merely interesting. The biggest problem was that there was no apparent rhyme or reason given for the specific changes occurring to each specific person. Were such a reason advanced plausibly, then the entire show could be a lot of fun, excepting the complete dumbing-down of Dax. There are still a lot of things to have fun watching, though -- Bashir's Machiavelli is such a huge change from the way Bashir usually acts that it's worth a look, and Odo's detective work is among the more subtle things we've seen from him to date. In addition -- well, there may not have been a good reason for Sisko to act so strangely, but
Avery Brooks was decidedly compelling.

Final rating: 6.5.

"Duet"
Written by: Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci (story) Peter Allan Fields (teleplay)
Directed by: James L. Conway
Initial rating: 10.
Best quote: Too many to count. Here's a sampling:
"If your lies are going to be this transparent, it's going be a very short interrogation." "In that case, I'll try to make my lies more opaque..."
"Is that what you're charging him with, Commander? LYING?"
"You can never undo what I've accomplished -- the dead will still be dead!!"
"I regret a lot of what I had to do -- " "How convenient of you!"
"What you call genocide -- I call a day's work."
"He's a Cardassian! That's reason enough!" "NO! It's not..."

Wow. "Duet" represents everythingDS9 should be. It gave Kira another step in her development, had a very naturally growing story, major repercussions to be handled later, a grittiness not germane to any other Trek genre, and some of the best performances ever seen in the show. Superb.

Final rating: 10.

"In the Hands of the Prophets"
Written by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by: David Livingston
Initial rating: 9.5.
Best quote: Again, a great many. Here's another sampling:
"One must never look into the eyes of one's own gods."
"I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them."
"Some fear you as the symbol of the Federation they view as godless. Some fear you as the Emissary who walked with the Prophets. And some fear you because Vedek Winn told them to."
"The Prophets teach us patience." "It seems they also teach you politics."
"Odo -- I am not a killer!" "No, but most of your friends are." "True."
"You claim the Prophets as your personal constituency..."
"I don't think that you're the devil." "Maybe we have made some progress after all."

A fitting close for DS9's first season. Although the lack of detail about what exactly Keiko does teach about Bajor makes the issue far more muddied than it should have been, and there is a minor logic goof (that of O'Brien not calling Odo the minute he realized Neela had done something to security), this show took several current-day issues and rolled them into a powerful story about faith, religious extremism, and misplaced loyalties. Sisko provided the strongest balancing presence I've seen from him so far, and both of the major religious leaders (Winn and Bareil, the latter of whom I very much want to see next year) were excellent. As with "Duet", we saw a lot ofseeds being planted for next season as well -- and ended with a wonderful summing-up of how far we've already come. Nice work.

Final rating: 8.5.

So, averaging it all up, we have an even 7. As with the TNG "average", this is not particularly meaningful -- but it's closer to having meaning than the TNG one was. So, onwards to some general commentary:

II. General Commentary

First, let's get the alleged "big question" out of the way. People seem to love to compare TNG to DS9, so I'll take care of it.

I think that DS9's first season stands head and shoulders above TNG's first season in almost every respect (the exception is one I'll get to). However, I don't think it beat this season of TNG -- or even approached it. And I think that's only fair. DS9 should have learned from most of TNG's early mistakes and fixed them -- and, in many cases, it has. However, to expect a cast that's been together for six months to work together as well as
one that's been together for five years is asking an awful lot.

Now that that's over with...

DS9, this season, was for the most part "routine", I'd have to say. When going back through the season, I realized that there was much less variation in ratings than I've seen in most equally-large stretches of TNG. On the one hand, there was only one show of nineteen ("Q-Less") that made me want to retch, and that's a good thing. :-) On the other hand, there were only a handful of shows that were really engaging to watch, too. This season could be boiled down, as far as I'm concerned, to "Emissary", "Babel", "Captive Pursuit", "Dax", "Battle Lines", "Progress", "Duet", and "In the Hands of the Prophets" with almost no loss of information. The main traits I feel I know about the characters, and certainly the stories really worth watching, are all in there. (I'd probably include "The Nagus" for comic relief, but that's me. :-) )

While most of the other stories had something to recommend them on a first viewing, they're also not aging particularly well. DS9, particularly compared to TNG's first season, is a very sedate show. Where TNG's quality level (in almost every respect) ranged all over the spectrum in its first season (from "Home Soil", which has virtually no redeeming features, to "Conspiracy", which was terrific, and almost everything in between), DS9 has mostly sat there -- not offending, but usually not adventuring either.

And as it happens, I think I prefer TNG's way at the moment. The erratic nature of the first season may have been frustrating, but it also meant that it had the thrill of unpredictability. :-) DS9 hasn't led me to that point -- yet. I think it will before too long, though.

And one thing DS9 has done quite well, in my opinion, is introduce us to its characters. After only a season, I feel as though I know several of them quite well, and can more or less feel at home gauging their responses.
Kira, Odo, and Quark are the three best-outlined characters, I'd have to say, and most of the others aren't far behind.

Kira, who was initially not one of my favorite characters at all, has had a great deal of development and growth -- probably more in a single year than most of the TNG regulars have had at all. From her initial, seemingly
one-dimensional attitude towards the Federation, Bajor, and Cardassians, she's had to confront most of those beliefs and change more than a few of them. The only worry I have here is where to go from what we've already
seen, short of a change in the show more radical than I think we should expect. (She could always end up on Cardassia somehow, for instance, but I think the odds of that are between slim and none in a practical sense.)

Odo is turning out to be surprisingly multifaceted. We've seen a fair amount of what makes him tick and of just how limited his field of self-assuredness is (for instance, bring technology in at all and he's usually lost -- "Vortex" was a slight exception), and his utter lack of pretense sometimes turns him into the audience's stand-in. (He seemed to serve that role in "Dramatis Personae", certainly, being the only person who got to stand outside the tableau and say "wait a minute! This isn't right!".) The big danger here is shown in "Vortex" -- there may be more teasing about his origins ahead. As long as it's a slow, steady progression, that should be fine -- but if it's just a bunch of wild goose chases, then they'll become tiresome extremely fast.

Quark is still a bit shallow, but he's deliberately so -- after all, he's representative of a race that's about the most caricature-like Trek's got. Although his personality is pretty much as expected, it's been put to good
use most of the time. Unfortunately, there are tendencies to simply use it as "Quark's scheming gets the station in trouble, and the rest of the regulars have to solve it". We've seen it in "Q-Less", "Move Along Home",
and "The Passenger", all some of DS9's weaker stories. I don't think it's going to improve with age, either, so I'd simply drop this type of story.

O'Brien had a cheat by being known before DS9 even started, but even so things like "Captive Pursuit" and "In the Hands of the Prophets" have done a lot to flesh him out. ("The Storyteller" should have, but really didn't --
that was one of my objections to it.) If Odo is sometimes the objective stand-in, O'Brien's representative of the "working stiff" that we never see in any detail on the Enterprise (Barclay excepted). I'd like to see more of how he deals with criticism aimed at his family -- based on the finale, he needs some restraint, which might be interesting to see.

Sisko got a huge burst of characterization in "Emissary", but unfortunately hasn't gotten a whole lot since then. Sisko's mostly been seen through the various bonds he's had to form -- with Jake (all right, that one was already there), with Kira, with Dax -- and doesn't always seem like much of a real person yet if you remove the bits of "Emissary" that helped so much. The main trait of his that's come out since that is worth pursuing is his distaste for diplomacy -- given that he's in a situation where first contacts should be quite common, that might be difficult for him. Let's see something where that's addressed.

Jake is probably the best developed kid Trek's ever seen. (Wesley is very well developed now, but given that he's 19 and in the Academy I don't consider him a kid any more, really.) Unfortunately, that doesn't always
translate to good, watchable stories -- look at "The Storyteller", for instance. Sometimes it does, as in "Progress", but I really think any significant plot-time with Jake needs to be used as a balance for very grim
stuff elsewhere, as in "Progress". What Jake could really be effective for is as a good way for Sisko to gripe about things -- and that's something we haven't seen yet.

Bashir isn't all that well-formed yet, but what I've seen I've very much liked. His youth and idealism are already starting to take a slight beating (in "Battle Lines" and "Duet", if nothing else), but it'd be a shame to see it removed entirely. The only facet of him I'm starting to get quite tired of already is the obsessive flirtation with Dax. Unless things are going to go somewhere (which appears not to be the case), I'm hoping not to see much more of it.

Finally, there's Dax, who's gotten the weakest treatment so far. While "Dax" did a wonderful job of outlining Dax's past, we need to see as much work go into seeing Dax's present. What's going on inside that double-brain of hers? How does it feel to be more experienced in life than every single person on the station in some ways, and yet having everything be almost a novelty in others? How have things changed with Sisko? How have things changed for her, going from a woman-chaser to an attractive woman herself? (Yuck -- that sounds almost like an ad for "Switch". ;-) ) Right now, Dax is either around to trade technobabble with O'Brien, listen to another attempt by Bashir, or be dumbed-down by plot necessities. None of these options is particularly becoming. Dax needs help next year -- please give it to her.

Now that I've gone through all of that, there really isn't that much left to talk about. I think that, Dax excepted, all the characters are really coming along nicely -- and Dax's biggest problem is that she's running in place. What needs to change are the stories involving those characters -- they simply need to be a bit more involved and a bit more interesting.

I've heard statements that DS9 will be focusing more on the Gamma Quadrant next year. I'm not entirely certain this is a good thing, and I'll tell you why:

DS9 is set on a station, not a ship. As such, it cannot be the type of "pure exploration" show that TOS and TNG profess to be. If it tries to copy that basic formula, my bet is it will have a very tough time of it.

What DS9's setting provides, though, is a wonderful backdrop to see the politics of the 24th century. Others have already said that the Sisko/Kira relationship is meant to be the focus of the series. Maybe, but I think the
real relationship is a mirror of that -- the Federation/Bajoran relationship. We've never been in a situation where we're seeing the active recruitment of a planet into the Federation in any detail, and certainly not one under these circumstances. DS9 has the opportunity to show us a lot about the mechanics of the Federation, not to mention a great deal about how it's viewed outside the normal spheres of influence we see. I think focusing on the Gamma Quadrant, while also exciting, may detract from that.

Along the same lines, since DS9 is mostly confined to Bajor and its environs, we have a unique opportunity to see the true culture of a planet in the Trek universe, something else we've never seen. Until recently, most planets and races were pretty one-note -- Vulcans had logic, Klingons had honor, Romulans had bad haircuts :-), that sort of thing. Bajor could go that way -- or it could go the way we're already seeing in "Duet" and "In the Hands of the Prophets", where it's a planet with a lot of internal issues always brewing and never resolved. There's an awful lot of potential there for powerful stories, and I think it'd be a shame to waste it.

Now I'm really almost done. Two much shorter points:

-- In my TNG review, I noted two major problems. There were a lot of logic gaffes making it so that no one could believe the situations the crew was in, and there was an overabundance of technobabble. DS9, fortunately, has mostly avoided the first -- but the second is present, though not quite to the level of TNG's. As in that review, I urge that this be lessened.

-- Here's a point which I meant to make in the TNG review, but is quite applicable to both: The people responsible for creating the "next week" previews should be replaced with people who know what they're doing. Most previews this year have either made the upcoming episode look particularly trite and awful ("A Man Alone", "The Forsaken", etc.), spoil major plot elements better left unspoiled ("Q-Less", for instance), or on a really good week, both at once. Since I don't use the previews to judge the quality of a show, I'm not all that worried about the former, although I would if I were in the marketing division of Paramount. I do, however, watch the previews -- and when they contribute to ruining suspense in a show, it's a decidedly bad thing. This needs correction.

That seems to be about it. I think DS9's off on the right foot -- it needs to work a little more before it's consistently strong, engaging material, but most of the right elements are in place. Onwards to season two!

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
BITNET: tlynch@citjulie
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"We are constantly searching, not just for the answers to our questions, but for new questions!"
-- Sisko, "Emissary"

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