Like many other people I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation at the start of season 5.
I was eleven years old. The actors, the stories, the uniforms and the starships were what brought me in. When I say what I am about to say, please don’t think of me as a huge Star Trek “nerd”, “Trekker”, “Trekkie” or whatever they’re called these days. I know a fair bit about the cultures and mythology and backstories but only because I’ve absorbed it through osmosis, not because I sit around reading expanded universe novels – I’ve never read a single one. I say this with a great deal of objectivity – Star Trek: The Next Generation is the best cast of any television series in history. I’m not even going to waste time explaining why. Factoring in just the talents of Patrick Stewart the cast is better than 78% of television.
The reason why Star Trek, and sci-fi in general is so great in my opinion is the way it allows us to look at ourselves, our own problems, our own inadequacies through stories about something much more fascinating. Star Trek allows us to disassemble the world we live in, judge it, figure out how it could be better without ever being preachy.
I was just hitting puberty when I started watching Star Trek. I was trying to put labels on both myself and the world around me. I didn’t really understand it all. I liked the uniformity of Star Trek uniforms (is that a pun or just bad writing?). You look at a Star Trek uniform and you understand a person’s job and their rank. I liked that. And the (Federation) Starships, while sometimes eclectic, followed a pattern: saucer section with warp nacelles behind. I liked that continuity. I will freely admit that I was a pretty right-wing conservative kid and I liked things under control. Oddly I’ve matured in the opposite direction from most people into a borderline communist… possibly because the lack of economy on Star Trek appears to work so well.
So… when The Next Generation came out on DVD (winter 2002 I believe) I bought them right away. Even though they were $119.99 PER SEASON. Ridiculous price; all seven seasons added up to a thousand dollars after tax. I had already seen every episode but I wanted… needed… to OWN them.
The next year Deep Space 9 was realeased in similar fashion. Now, here’s the thing. I started watching DS9 when it premiered in 1993(?) but I lost interest by roughly the fifth episode. It didn’t connect with me. I didn’t like Avery Brooks as Commander Sisko. His acting was just weird. He always seemed out of breath. The stories were nothing special, the same kind of thing I could watch on TNG but without the great cast. The uniforms on DS9 were all over the place. Bajoran uniforms looked like carpet samples. And the starships… there were no starships. It was a Cardassian built space station. I didn’t care for their architecture. Sure there were “Runabouts”… I use quotes to imply annoyed sarcasm, but “Runabouts” were just glorified shuttlecraft.
When DS9 came out on DVD I was in my early twenties. I had a full time job. No responsibilities. Since I had only seen a handful of episodes through the seven seasons I figured what the hell, I’ll buy it and catch up.
But I never did. I sporadically watched episodes but rarely focused on it. I couldn’t find the time, nor the drive.
Irony… so here I am. I am almost 34 years old. I am married. I have a mortgage. I have a twelve year old step-son and a two year old daughter. I am a stay-at-home dad. But I have decided NOW IS THE TIME for some reason. Maybe I want to feel like I have accomplished something tangible (I don’t blame you if you’re rolling your eyes right around now)? Maybe I want to be a kid again? I don’t have a goal in mind for this exercise other than to complete it.
But I do hope to answer the question that has been stuck in my head: was DS9 not a good show or was I looking at it wrong?