Start of a Journey

Posted on Wed 31 December 2008 in geek

Fliss has always known I'm a bit of a Star Trek fan and on the run up to Christmas was probing me as to which series I thought was the best. The subtle questioning resulted in a present of season one of DS9 for Christmas (FWIW she got a Family Guy box set). Fliss' previous experience with Trek has been the odd episode here and there. Since watching them all and no longer having Sky I haven't seen many recently and those I have seen were the usual random selection of re-runs. It should be an interesting experience watching the series together in order.

DS9 was the Trek response to Babylon 5 which at the time was being fairly innovative with the concept of a 5 year story arc. While plenty of TV shows had an ongoing narrative Sci-Fi shows tended to be fairly short story based with everything wrapped up by the end of the episode. Before DS9 the original TNG had only occasionally experimented with breaking the episode driven format. Although DS9 started in much the same way as TNG it grew into a more sweeping story told over the eventual 7 seasons of it's run. In part this was due to set-up of the show based at a fixed point in space. This meant the relevance of the politics of Bajor while it rebuilt from it's recent occupation and it's relationship with it's neighbours was a key part of the story. The alien races involved were treated more than a simple trait caricatures which is a common criticism of Treks approach to aliens*.

While I (unlike most people) still have a soft spot for Voyager I still think DS9 was possibly the best of the Trek series. While Trek as a show suffers from many criticisms including many cliches and the near communist utopia that is the Federation I still count myself as a fan. Sci-Fi is often a lot more free to explore difficult contemporary topics through it's medium of story telling than most shows and I think Star Trek has played an admirable role in that cultural discourse.

* This is a little unfair. While a lot of Trek races tend to take a human trait and make it the basis for a whole alien civilisation it did also explore what real differences would mean. We can all point to the ubiquity of the Universal Translator (a pragmatic story telling device in many Sci-Fi shows) as a Trek conceit. That however ignores a number of excellent episodes where the writers tried to imagine what communicating with very different lifeforms would actually mean in reality.