A little more than 3 months after 25 years of Next-Generation there is the next Star-Trek anniversary to celebrate: Deep Space Nine has been aired the first time on January 1st 1993, so exactly 20 years ago.
DS9, as the show is called shortly, is the third true series in the Star-Trek universe - and certainly the darkest one. And: To me it was the last "real" Star-Trek series.
I still remember my first thoughts as I have seen it for the first time quite well: The new Starship Enterprise had still been on the TV-screen at this time und exactly after the cliffhanger “Descent Part I” the tense waiting for season 7 had begun. Deep Space Nine for me was at that time not more than a “stopgap” and pastime.
DS9 has brought along several major changes:
Spacestation instead of spaceship, black commander, gloomy, pessimistic atmosphere and a large number of perfectly elaborated supporting characters.
Similar to the Next-Generation also Deep-Space-Nine has taken until season 3 until it has found the way to its own character.
But third season was a great re-starting-point: The golden thread through the seasons 3-7 was the conflict and later even the war with the "Dominion", the changelings from the gamma-quadrant.
Main- as well as supporting-characters actually have all been excellent: Sisko, the commander, ex-terrorist Kira, shapeshifter Odo, Ferengi bartender Quark or the legendary Cardassians Gul Dukat and Garak. There are only very few television series, where actors have the chance to play such complex characters at a very high level of acting.
DS9 has introduced numerous, important changes compared to the previous series: The darker, more realistic atmosphere, the more pessimistic and therefore more manlike attitude to mankind and not to mention the actual return of money to the Star-Trek universe have all been new aspects that would never have existed on an Enterprise. And it is exactly this new, darker atmosphere that I really have been enjoying.
Some of this, especially the great war, I am convinced is related to the rival series "Babylon 5". This was also a high-quality SF-show on a space station as Deep-Space-Nine - and even darker.
But it also must be said that DS9 has shown considerable wear and tear in the Star-Trek universe to days: Whether frequent and frequently changing liaisons of the main-characters, whether absurd storylines about certain characters (ranked foremost about Worfs brother Kurn) or just the repeatedly telling of stories, which already have been told in Star-Trek before.
All these issues have been clear signs that the 1990s Star-Trek boom would be coming to a foreseeable end. With “Voyager” and “Enterprise” I could never really warm to. The Star-Trek theme already was too much "sucked out" at this point.
DS9 is also a bit of the "stepchild" in the television broadcast – at least in the German speaking countries: After a break of around 10 years it has taken the show until 2012 to return on the German-language, free television. But then again I have been watching the series with great pleasure!
All in all Deep Space Nine is a great piece of television - and not only great science fiction. The ambition, the sense of reality, the humor and especially the passion for details make it also today, 20 years after its premiere still captivating.
And Deep Space Nine just meets the present reality very well:
Today’s dangers are numerous and large. The threats in environmental and social terms, but especially the creeping but unfortunately very consistent removal of democracy can grow to a similar disaster as the Dominion War - the largest in the Star-Trek universe.
Everyone has to commit himself politically and socially. Everyone needs the same fighting-spirit and the same persistence like the DS9 characters so that we can create a livable World with a proper functioning democracy and an intact environment.