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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Watching ‘DS9’

Kate Rice

JUST ANOTHER GAL FROM CASPER: WHAT I’M WATCHING RIGHT NOW EDITION…

I’ve said it before — I’m always watching Star Trek. From the original to movies to current series, I’m there for pretty much all of ’em. 

My favorite — and that’s difficult to whittle down — is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s the third Live Action series (fourth series, if you count the animated offering from the 70s). While the Original and Star Trek: The Next Generation promoted diversity (and took a stab at elevating women’s status), DS9 is the first series where female characters were truly on par with the males. It’s also the first of the Star Treks to adopt serialized storytelling. 

The premise is this: The planet Bajor has recently been freed of their would-be oppressors, the Cardassians. Deep Space Nine, which once was a Cardassian base, is now a joint base of operations for the Bajorans and the Federation. Turns out, there’s a stable wormhole nearby (home to “wormhole aliens” or “prophets,” depending on the characters’ beliefs) that leads from the Alpha quadrant to the uncharted Gamma quadrant. So, in true Star Trek fashion, exploration ensues, with decidedly mixed results.

DS9 features some interesting alien main characters beyond the regular Klingon/Vulcan/Romulan, including a shape-shifter, a Trill (a humanoid implanted/entrusted with a Symbiont — a parasitic, worm-like creature), a handful of commerce-driven Ferrengi, and more. There’s also, for the first time in the Trek Universe, an African-American captain — although Benjamin Sisko is first introduced as a Commander. And Sisko wins my vote for best father ever in any show, ever. 

DS9 consistently delivers amazing storylines. Time travel, political unrest, fully developed relationships (romantic and platonic and…complicated), family, war…

It’s a darker, grittier Trek than those that came before, and that darkness appeals to me. It also gives Trek fans a great recurring character — Elim Garak. Garak’s a Cardassian tinker/tailor/soldier/spy (though he generally only admits to one of those things) living on DS9. He’s a complicated soul wrapped in a candy-coated shell, and he wins my vote for most complex character in any show, ever.

Currently, you can stream DS9 on several platforms, including Netflix and Paramount. And even though this show ran for 7 seasons, I definitely recommend picking them all up on DVD or Blu-Ray. In case you decide that you’d always like to be watching Star Trek, too.

(Courtesy Photo)

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