In the mid-1980’s, the Star Trek franchise made a major TV comeback with the introduction of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After nearly two decades without weekly Trek adventures, Trekkies were ecstatic, and the show became a major syndicated hit. As the 80’s moved into the 90’s, The Next Generation shifted from TV to feature films, but fears of a Trek-less TV landscape were calmed by the announcement of an all-new spin-off: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was a bold experiment, sacrificing the previous shows’ exploration-based thrills for a more subtle, drama-based approach. This risk was justified when Deep Space Nine became a long-running hit, creating another notable success for the Star Trek dynasty.
Departing from the “wagon train to the stars” approach of the original Star Trek, Deep Space Nine took place at a Federation space station that orbited a remote planet in the newly liberated Bajoran sector of space. Captain Benjamin Sisko presided over the crew with his son Jake, an aspiring writer, in tow. Kira Nerys, a former resistance fighter for the Bajorans, served as the first officer, and former U.S.S. Enterprise officer Miles O’Brian was the chief of operations. Tending to medical situations was the dedicated Doctor Julian Bashir.
There also were plenty of alien officers working on Deep Space Nine, including Security Office Odo, a member of the shape-shifting Changeling race, and a Ferengi bartender named Quark. But perhaps the most interesting was Science Officer Jadzia Dax, a joined alien consisting of host body Jazdia and a symbiotic invertebrate named Dax. In addition to these otherworldly types, several different varieties of alien passed through the ship on a regular basis. These other alien races included the Klingons (including Worf, a character from The Next Generation who later joined the Deep Space Nine crew in the fourth season), the Romulans, and the Cardassians.
The old flare-ups with the more difficult races were still there, but most challenging group for the Deep Space Nine crew was the Dominion. They were introduced on the debut episode when Commander Sisko discovered a nearby “wormhole,” a sort of rip in the fabric of space and time. This wormhole was the first stable one ever discovered, a portal to the Gamma Quadrant, an area on the other side of the galaxy. There, space was dominated by the Dominion, a group of aliens of many different races—including the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta—which was led by the Changelings. Since Security Officer Odo was a Changeling, his loyalties were severely tested as time went on.
As time passed, the Dominion soon decided they wanted control of the Alpha Quadrant, the liberated area that included Deep Space Nine. When the Dominion bullied the area’s local Cardassian race into joining them, the stage was set for a battle royale between the Federation and the Dominion for control of the Alpha Quadrant. This concern came to dominate the later seasons of the show, as Deep Space Nine divided its time between high-tech space battles and inter-species drama. The end result was a space opera that resembled a galactic version of War And Peace.
Although this interstellar intrigue came to form the heart of the show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would occasionally break stride to do an experimental hour. These stand-alone episodes often explored alternate realities or used unique plot devices like time travel. Fan favorites included “Trials and Tribble-ations,” in which a Klingon’s action sent the Deep Space Nine crew back in time to the original Enterprise crew’s famed trouble with the Tribbles, and “The Visitor,” an alternate-future outing wherein Jake Sisko spent his life trying to revive his father after a mysterious ailment caused him to vanish into air.
Like The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine was a major success in syndication, leading the show’s creators to form another franchise, Star Trek: Voyager. The adventures of Sisko and his associates lasted for seven seasons, leading up to a send-off in 1999. Its thoughtful combination of drama and high-tech imagination ensures that it will be a major favorite with Star Trek fanatics for many years to come.
USA / Syndicated – Paramount / 176×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 1993-99
Creators/Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Michael Piller / Theme Music: Dennis McCarthy
AVERY BROOKS as Cmdr Benjamin Sisko
NANA VISITOR as Major Kira Nerys
COLM MEANEY as Chief Off Miles O’Brien
TERRY FARRELL as Lt Jadzia Dax (Until Season 7)
RENE AUBERJONOIS as Odo
SIDDIG EL FADIL as Dr Julian Bashir
ARMIN SHIMMERMAN as Quark
CIRROC LOFTON as Jake Sisko