Amidst all this talk about the current “Crisis of Infinite Star Treks,” I came across this remembrance/article from Max Temkin about my favorite Star Trek incarnation: Deep Space Nine (DS9).
I have now watched the entire series three times: first, when it was broadcast. Second, in the early naughts on DVD, and most recently with its debut on streaming Netflix. Some episodes, like “Necessary Evil,” have been ones I’ve watched more than three times.
Is DS9 still “a worthy watch?” Yes, I think it is, but that need not always be so.
If fanboys and fangirls of all stripes are honest with themselves, a lingering fear is always that they will return to their beloved works, the works that gave them such joy in their youth, and they will find the magic gone.
I don’t think this is a case of life emulating 1 Corinthians 13:11 (“When I was child, I spake as a child, etc. etc.). Comic books, “genre movies,” and the like are not, in and of themselves, childish things — despite what some insecure muggles would have you believe. But at the same time, as with any art, not all art can speak to you at different ages. And some art is very much of its time and does not age well (e.g. certain WWII Looney Tunes). Consider works like King Lear. If you encounter the play when you’re young, the idealism and heroism of Cordelia and Edgar may stand out (or perhaps Edmund if you’re feeling naughty). As you get older, you begin to better understand Kent and even foolish Lear. Good works have layers and can say many things at once — and I would also suggest that good works can leave hints and thoughts of a wider world beyond the stage or screen. This world may be too terrible or nuanced for the restrictions of censors, sensibilities, or timeframe… but when you encounter the work again you see them and fill in the blanks.
I find this phenomenon happens frequently in TV and movies. Restricted by things such as the Hays code and the MPAA ratings system, innovative directors, showrunners, and writers found ways to have all the complexity of human life hinted at through the filter of a PG rating or network broadcast TV show. Now, in this “golden age of TV,” we forget that dialogue didn’t used to be so full of profanities, that clothing didn’t used to be so optional, and that people’s throats were not slit with such reckless abandon.
All this brings us to Star Trek, in its many incarnations.
Star Trek, at its best, wrestles with some weighty ideas: a storytelling approach that television can excel at. As I rewatch the many Star Trek series (yes, streaming Netflix is quite the enabler here), I am continually impressed by how well the various series hold up. Yes, there are dated references and sensibilities here and there as may be expected. But overall, I am impressed by how well so many of the stories hold up because of their commitment to the characters and the concepts.
All of this factors into the groundbreaking nature of DS9 when it first came out.
So for those Star Trek fans out there who may not have watched the series closely when it was first broadcast, it’s on streaming Netflix now, waiting for you.
And to warm you up, check out this fan-created “DS9 20th Anniversary Trailer.” Heck, fans of the series should check it out too. Tell me it doesn’t give you a few Trek-related chills.