Deep Race 9

November 30, 2010

Star Trek: DS9, "What You Leave Behind" Screen Shot, November 30, 2010. Donald Earl Collins. Qualifies as fair use under US copyright law because this screen shot is used for limited illustrative purposes in identifying the theme of this article.

I just finished re-watching the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series via Netflix, probably one of the more underappreciated Star Trek franchise shows, not to mention underappreciated during the good-old ’90s. Since the middle of June, through the death of my sister, teaching, writing and revising different pieces and Boy @ The Window, I re-watched all 176 episodes (although, admittedly, I’d missed most of the seventh and final season in ’98-’99, between travel and a long job search).

This was easily the Star Trek series with the best acting, the most interesting story lines, and the most complicated in terms of moral choices and the complexity of humanity (and the universe more broadly). I gained an even greater appreciation for Avery Brooks — who’d previously been known as Spenser: For Hire’s Hawk character — Terry Farrell, Alexander Siddig and the rest of the cast as they grew the show over the course of seven years.

But you can’t find the series anywhere in the cable TV universe. It’s as if it disappeared in a singularity — a black hole for the layman. Even Star Trek: Enterprise, a terribly written series with mediocre acting on its best days, can be found in rerun syndication. I can’t help but think that Avery Brooks’ position as the lead actor in the series has a little something to do with my inability to find DS9 on TV.

The lead cast, dealing with complicated issues in ways that some have written would’ve made Gene Roddenberry spin like a top in his grave, may have made many uncomfortable in our intolerant of anything serious times. Race, genocide, oppression, the darker side of human — maybe even alien — nature, the idea that not everything in the distant future will be paradise. All too much for those who prefer their liberalism brewed in a ’60s era coffee machine.

The last five months of using Netflix to relive a piece of ’90s culture was wonderful. Watching classically trained theater actors on the small screen, watching religion, science, race and conflict brought to together so nicely. It made me want to give James Lipton a call to get him to interview Avery Brooks, if he hasn’t done so already. After watching the series finale last week, I felt like I lost a dear old friend again.


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