Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Nana Visiter as Major/Colonel Kira Nerys
Rene Auberjonois as Security Chief (nicknamed “Constable”) Odo
Colm Meaney as Chief of Operations Miles O’Brien
(Seasons 1-6) Terry Farrell as Lieutenant/Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax
Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
Armin Shimmerman as Quark
(Season 7) Nicole de Boer as Lieutenant Ezri Dax
This is probably my favorite Star Trek series. It was probably the most professionally written of them all, was one of the first TV shows to use the now-standard story arcs, and although you can tell that this style of writing had yet to be perfected, it is used to great effect.
Deep Space Nine broke tradition in a big way. Instead of a starship, It takes place on a space station. We’re told that the Cardassians have left Bajor and the station as part of an exchange of territory. This liberates the planet and establishes a Federation presence in the Bajoran system. That presence is concentrated on an abandoned Cardassian station: Deep Space Nine. This changes a lot. There’s a lot more sets, including the Promenade, where Quark, a Ferengi who runs a restaurant/bar/casino, is the prime mover. This makes for a combination of military and civilian characters on the show. Actually, it reminds me of the military base and civilian housing areas I lived in many years ago. Obviously, this means that “to seek out new life and new civilizations” is a no-go. So the cast finds a wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant of the galaxy (the Cardies must have felt real good about abandoning the system when that happened). This means that new life comes to DS9, not vice versa.
Performance for performance, DS9 probably has the best acting of any of these shows. Avery Brooks isn’t as good an actor as Patrick Stewart, but you give him a good script and he will manage. Colm Meaney (O’brien) is an actor who, outside of Star Trek, generally plays a grumpy dick. Here he’s a working stiff and family man. standout performances include Rene Auberjonois (Odo) as a Changeling and hard-as-nails cop with a soft spot nontheless, Nana Visiter (Kira) as the station’s First Officer and free-spirited Bajoran, Garak (Andrew Robinson) as a Cardassian exile who is delightfully untrusting and dishonest, and Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) as a duplicitous Vorta for the Dominion.
The Dominion is a Gamma Quadrant empire that is mentioned in numerous episodes before finally turning up at the end of the second season, quickly supplanting the Cardassians as the series’ primary villains. They control many planets with two races of organic machines: the Jem’Hadar and Vorta. Their rulers are the Founders who turn out to be Odo’s people (he was once thought to be only one of his kind). After three years of brinksmanship, the Dominion starts a war with the Federation and Klingon Empire. This was always something Kirk and Picard always did their best to avoid. In this case, though, it can’t be helped, war is forced on us.
Religion plays a stronger role in this spinoff than in any of the others. The Kai (equivilent to Pope) of Bajor, Opaka, identifies Sisko as the Emissary of the Prophets (gods). This leads to many episodes in which Sisko is confronted by puzzles with a vague connection to Bajoran prophecies. He is also often contacted by the Prophets themselves, who seem to live in the wormhole. Except that like many of gods in fiction, they consider themselves above us mortals. Consequently, they listen to Sisko but talk to each other, not him.
DS9 has a much weaker first season, although not bad. Upon entering the second, season, it’s uphill. The stories improve greatly, the continuity-driven story arcs I mentioned earlier come into play, and socially relevent themes are used. I think that if more people had stuck with the show, it would be more well-thought of . But Star Trek shows, with the exception of the original (which, as I noted in my review of it, had its own problems), seem to take awhile to warm up.
The one negative critique I have about this show is that the story arcs aren’t constantly advanced. New developments occur in quick, occasional bursts. This is really not the way to go. But as it was a new concept, it can be forgiven.
Often overlooked, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my favorite show in the franchise. A sci-fi masterpiece!
Overall: 9 out of 10