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Deep Space Nine: Old TV, Hideous Immigrant Tropes and Other Problems - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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April 6th, 2015


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12:22 am - Deep Space Nine: Old TV, Hideous Immigrant Tropes and Other Problems
teaotter, amberite, and I started rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently, and while there have been a few interesting points, I also remember it as definitely being much better that what I'm watching now. I'm expecting it to get better once it ceases being old-style episodic TV and becomes (from my PoV, generally vastly superior) modern long-form storytelling TV, but it's really not very good.

teaotter noted that Jadzia Dax's character actually makes sense if you understand that the actor is playing a dirty old man (Curzon Dax) in a woman's body. Her character made far less sense until Becca mentioned that. Also, amberite mentioned that they found it interesting that Sisko is (at least in the first season) far stricter than Kirk or Picard, and that part of this is that in US media, black men in position of authority need to be far more authoritarian than white men in the same position, but that this seems a bit less true now than when DS: 9 was shown.

The bad is far too obvious. Sexual harassment was clearly considered far less serious and more comedic and there were several episodes that were extremely weak and dull. We decided to skip ahead, since I remember even back in the 90s thinking that some of the mid-season episodes like Move Along Home were simply terrible. So, tonight we tried The Nagus - the first big Quark episode, and it was hideously bad. Thankfully, by this point the Ferengi have moved away from being walking anti-semitic stereotypes, but instead they had become a grab-bag of offensive negative stereotypes about immigrants (lazy, greedy, thieving, dishonest, nasty, ignorant…) that was simply too unpleasant and bad to watch. Next we're skipping ahead to the end of this season, since that's where we first get Vedek Winn. If that still sucks, we'll keep jumping ahead.

I think there's a non-zero chance that we'll simply keep skipping ahead, simply because since Buffy, and especially post-Buffy, TV (or at least geeky TV) simply became better and (if one is fairly selective) has continued to improve, so that the better geeky TV of the last 7 years (which from my own vastly biased PoV includes Arrow, Leverage, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Orphan Black, The Vampire Diaries (Seasons 1.5-4), & Fringe (Seasons 2-4) is all vastly better than any pre-Buffy TV series. Heck, even 2nd season Agents of SHIELD is considerably better than anything we've yet seen on DS: 9.

I'm once again struck by the fact that I used to love going to really good movies because they were visual storytelling that was far superior to anything I could find on TV. Now, TV has improved sufficiently that most movies are considerably worse than TV I'm interested in watching, and even the best movies aren't better, especially since I typically prefer less, because I generally prefer long-form visual storytelling.

That said, there was definitely some good older TV – I rewatched the ST:TNG episode Darmok a few years ago, just to see if the suck fairy had visited it in the many years since I last saw it, and it remained very good. Also, watching and listening to Patrick Stewart recite a (far too short) portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh was still impressively awesome. However, from my PoV, the overall quality of TV has improved immensely.

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Comments:


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From:mrteufel
Date:April 6th, 2015 09:59 am (UTC)
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I think your broader point certainly stands. The best genre tv is happening now, and has been happening now for perhaps the last decade.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:April 6th, 2015 09:36 pm (UTC)
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teaotter, amberite, and I started rewatching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently, and while there have been a few interesting points, I also remember it as definitely being much better that what I'm watching now. I'm expecting it to get better once it ceases being old-style episodic TV and becomes (from my PoV, generally vastly superior) modern long-form storytelling TV, but it's really not very good.

Preferring later Star Trek to episodic OST puzzles me (Jay Lake complained that Kirk had a new girlfriend every week). To me, it has gone from new fresh SF ideas every week, to soap opera among the regulars.
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From:heron61
Date:April 7th, 2015 12:15 am (UTC)
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I'm not certain about later Trek, because I haven't seen later DS 9 and so am not sure it's still watchable. Voyager suffered from the fact that until Jeri Ryan joined the cast, it had one competent actor (Robert Picardo), and even Scott Bakula admitted that Enterprise was less than good, because the cast never really jelled (although even Enterprise looks utterly brilliant compared to the two reboot films).

However, I remember the last 2 seasons of DS 9 being quite good, in large part because the Dominion War story arc was well done (for the era - it's impressively clear to me that geeky tv has gotten far better in the last 10 years) long form storytelling, which features actual character growth and change as well as characters dealing with situations that were not static and watching the events around the characters shift and the characters respond to these changes.

The best example I know of what makes modern long-form TV awesome isn't Star Trek, it's seasons 2-3 of Fringe - which was a single impressively tight and well done story of first uncovering the reason for many of the various weird events and then solving the problem, while struggling against the people from the other universe. That sort of story is impossible in old-style episodic TV, and at this point I'm happy to watch a few of the best individual episodes of older style TV, but watching entire seasons feels static and dull.
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From:rjgrady
Date:April 7th, 2015 05:36 am (UTC)
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I was never that big of a fan. Some of the best bits were military escalations, situations where they had to examine events that took place during the occupation, and Starfleet having to deal with a functional religion involving actual, if somewhat underwhelming, gods. I found Sisko macho and flat, the Ferengi to be absurd caricatures (who, by the way, contradict their presentation in early TNG episodes, in which they are presented as minor but well-armed imperialists, not loony libertarians), most of the character arcs belabored and lacking in payoff. Dax was under-used and Sisko under-written. Q shows up in a cutesy comic book "this is Sisko and he ain't Picard" style, like those lazy comics they used to make about Superman facing off against the Joker.

The only episode I consider a real gem is when we find out that the arrogant Bashear is actually a superhuman who has been putting on his colleagues for years, and actually goes out of his way not to show people up.

It was interesting, for a while, because it held up a mirror to the utopianism of TNG, but without that novelty, it loses something.
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From:benlehman
Date:April 8th, 2015 12:00 am (UTC)
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Huh. I quite liked it. But I also read the Ferengi as, in many ways, the moral superiors of the federation.

In general, I felt like DS9 repeatedly let us know that the federation wasn't all that.
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From:heron61
Date:April 8th, 2015 01:17 am (UTC)
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But I also read the Ferengi as, in many ways, the moral superiors of the federation.

There are times that your ideas make vast amounts of sense to me, and other times, like with that statement and with your attitudes about The Culture (and for that matter, the (from my PoV) very dubious society in WJW's Aristoi) that completely & utterly baffle me.
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From:benlehman
Date:April 12th, 2015 08:16 am (UTC)
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We can talk about it in person, I think is the best bet.
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From:mindstalk
Date:April 8th, 2015 02:51 am (UTC)
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I only saw later DS9, but I have the impression from others that early seasons aren't very good.

(Of course, the ending to the Dominion War was pretty rabbit-from-hat, too.)
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