Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

This month thirty years ago, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the second Star Trek spinoff (not counting the 1970s animated series) premiered on independent TV stations. Right from its pilot episode “Emissary” viewers saw that this was a decidedly different Star Trek show. Its main character was not a white starship captain, it did not take place onboard a starship, and its ensemble cast of characters was very diverse for its time. More than that the stories were more grounded and tackled headier topics like religion and politics, while the characters were not clean-cut explorers who got along well with everyone. Instead they exhibited shades of grey and were quite flawed.

Many fans at that time were put off by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it did not follow the typical Star Trek formula and was deemed to be too dark in tone. They wanted the loftier or swashbuckling tone of earlier Star Trek shows that took place on starships that met new aliens every week. With Deep Space Nine, the setting was stationary, pardon the pun, as it took place on an alien space station that was run by the human-centric Starfleet.

While Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a success, it did not reach the level of adoration that earlier Star Treks had. Before it had time to build an audience, Star Trek: Voyager was launched a couple of years after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and conusmed a lot of attention away as it returned to the trusted formula of a starship crew exploring space with a twist. However, in recent years, many have discovered for themselves what they initially missed or disregarded and saw its groundbreaking merits.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine starred Avery Brooks as Commander Ben Sisko, an emotionally fragile and jaded Starfleet officer, who was mourning the death of his wife. He is assigned to command the Deep Space Nine space station orbitting the war-torn planet Bajor that wants to be part of the United Federation of Planets. After their arrival, Sisko and his young son meet an eclectic group of characters including Sisko’s second-in-command Major Kira Nerys, a strong-willed former freedom fighter, Quark, a greedy alien bar owner, Odo, a gruff shape-shifting alien security chief, and more. In the pilot episode, Sisko was seriously considering leaving Starfleet, but soon discovers a nearby stable wormhole that transforms Bajor and Deep Space Nine into a major gateway destination in the known galaxy. After an encounter with non-corporeal aliens in the wormhole, Sisko gains a deeper understanding of his life and moves on past his wife’s death with a renewed vigor as an officer. At the same time, he becomes a religious figure to the people of Bajor, who see his wormhole discovery as part of a prophecy about their salvation. This development, naturally, causes discomfort for Sisko, who is has his hands full keeping the peace, raising his son and running the station.

Thanks to its newfound importance, Bajor and the station becomes the centerpoint for intrigue and machinations from various parties throughout the galaxy and is so valued that before long a war breaks out for control of Deep Space Nine and the wormhole. When war breaks out, which was a first for Star Trek, its brutal horrors test our characters in relatable ways never seen before in a Star Trek show.

One thing that the show accomplished was that it embraced the now-common story arcs that continue from one episode to the next. Previous Star Trek shows followed an episodic formula with standalone stories. But by ditching that format, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine gave its characters and situations room to breath and develop. One example was the war arc that took place over several seasons, and culminated in an epic final season that was a fully engrossing and rewarding viewing experience.

Thankfully, the show has found a second life as more and more fans have discovered it and appreciated it. Even though there have been numerous Star Trek shows since, many consider Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to be the best Star Trek show of all time and they have a point. It stands out today because it did not follow the conventional Star Trek formula. It took risks and struck storytelling gold. It’s unfortunate that we have not had any followups or reunions with the show, but it is rumored that the new season of Star Trek: Picard will feature some kind of reunion related to Deep Space Nine, so we’ll find out soon. it is comforting to know that with the current slate of numerous Star Trek shows, not only has Star Trek: Deep Space Nine withstood the test of time but it has propered.

José Soto

Top Ten Films & TV Shows Of 2022

2022 is done and it is time to briefly look back at the best genre films and television shows that came out in 2022. Of course, every reader’s preference and ranking will be different and everyone will have their opinions about these lists and are entitled to them. Drop a comment if you agree with the rankings or have different ones.

TV Shows

It is clear that we are in the middle of a Golden Age of genre TV shows given there so many high-quality shows that came out in just one year. Many of the streamed or aired TV shows are genuine classics with the top three shows being virtually tied for first place and their ranks can be interchanged.

10. The Peripheral

Loosely based on William Gibson’s book, this was one sci-fi show worth watching. Chloë Moretz Grace stars as a VR gamer in the near future caught up in a mind-bending conspiracy involving time travel and alternate realities.

9. The Sandman

This turned out to be a remarkably faithful adaptation of the classic DC/Vertigo dark fantasy comic book. More like a traditional episodic show with standalone stories, The Sandman was inventive, colorful, disturbing and brilliant.

8. Peacemaker

James Gunn sojourn into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) took a hysterical turn with the first (and possibly final) DCEU TV show. It took one of the least likeable anti-heroes from The Suicide Squad and turned him into a relatable and emotionally complex character.

7. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Director James Gunn delivered an awesome, heartfelt and funny holiday special starring the Guardians of the Galaxy. In between the gooey holiday scenes were moments of pure laughter as the alien Guardians went to Earth to kidnap the actor Kevin Bacon to present as a Christmas present. The songs were great, too.

6. The Boys

With the introduction of Soldier Boy, The Boys took a turn at satirizing the Marvel Comics heroes with his clear similarities to Captain America. Meanwhile, the series continued to be outrageously violent with gross-out humor and in-your-face commentary about our times.

5. Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor reprised the role he made his own in the Star Wars prequels. The series served as both a sequel to those films and a prequel to the original Star Wars. Despite some flaws, McGregor elevated the show with his brilliant performance as a fallen Jedi who has to rediscover his faith.

4. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Despite some Star Trek shows that faltered in 2022, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds breathed new life in the franchise. This was due to smart scripts that emulated the original Star Trek, a charming cast, and a back-to-basics approach with its storytelling that favored standalone episodes.

3. Andor

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

This Star Wars show was the ultimate slow burn as the prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story centered on the anti-hero Rebel agent, Cassian Andor. Separate arcs thoroughly examined Andor’s personal growth and the people around him. It also realistically depicted of how a rebellion grows in an authoritarian society.

2. House of the Dragon

Many who were disappointed by the final season of Game of Thrones were pleasantly surprised by this fascinating prequel that focused on the dragon-worshiping Targaryen royal family. Despite its prequel limitations, the show quickly captivated audiences who were drawn back to the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin.

1. Stranger Things 4

The fourth season of Stranger Things managed to reinvigorate the series with fascinating origin stories and situations, and new and memorable characters. At the same time, this season focused on the core characters that were so beloved and who were allowed to grow as they faced terrifying new threats from the Upside Down dimension.

Honorable Mentions:

Doom Patrol; For All Mankind; Halo; The Handmaid’s Tale; Love, Death + Robots; Moon Knight; The Orville; Raised By Wolves; Severance; She-Hulk: Attorney At Law; Snowpiercer, Star Trek: Picard; Star Trek: Prodigy; Superman & Lois; Tales of the Jedi; Titans; Werewolf By Night; The Umbrella Academy; Undone

Films

Surprisingly, the genre offerings for 2022 were not as plentiful as in previous years. Superhero films still dominate the release schedule though many other genre films (horror, animated, sci-fi, fantasy) have made their presence felt as well in a solid year for genre films.

10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The sequel film delivered the best family film of the year. It was also an exciting, colorful and largely faithful live-action adaptation of the classic Sega video game hero and his expanded roster of friends and foes.

9. The Black Phone

This film by Scott Derrickson proved why he is one of the best visionary horror directors today with The Black Phone. He cleverly combined classic horror elements from serial killers to psychic phenomenon to ghosts.

8. Nope

Director Jordan Peele’s latest genre offering was an intriguing and original take on the U.F.O. phenomenon. Nope had its fair share of suspense, horror and the contemplative character studies Peele is known for, as well as elements of a neo-Western.

7. Prey

The Predator franchise was unexpectedly revived with the latest film that took the franchise in a new and fresh direction. Placing the film centuries ago, Prey amped up the thrills as the human characters had to rely on their wits and skills instead of technology against the inhuman Predator hunting them.

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Michelle Yeoh turned in a fantastic performance as several variations of the same character in this film that gave us a true multiverse of madness. The film truly went out there with its sometimes bizarre depictions of colliding parallel universes.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion

The conclusion to the second Jurassic Park film trilogy ended on a high note full of dinosaurs rampaging in modern-day society. However, the film’s true high note was when it had the main heroes from both trilogies meeting and teaming up to save the world from extinction.

4 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Director Ryan Coogler pulled off the impossible with a sequel that does not feature the star or main character from the original film. This film was full of depth as it explored grief and loss, while expanding the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the introduction of one of Marvel’s best anti-heroes, Namor.

3. The Batman

We actually got to see the Dark Knight Detective do some actual detective work in this grounded and gritty version of Batman. The dark and brooding film delivered intense action, intrigue and a horrifying version of the Riddler that rivaled classic cinematic serial killers.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

While the year’s top MCU film did not exactly deliver a multiverse of madness, it was a fun deep dive into the MCU with chilling horror elements and wild visuals. Sam Raimi was an inspired choice of a director who utilized his horror and comic book film background to full effect.

1. Avatar: The Way of Water

The sequel to Avatar, the biggest box office hit of all time, surprised many who dismissed it for being an empty special effects-heavy sequel. However, director James Cameron’s breathtaking vision of an alien world and its solid world building and characters helped propel Avatar: The Way of Water into a must-see event.

Honorable Mentions:

Barbarian; Beavis and Butthead Do the Universe; Black Crab; Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers; DC League of Super Pets; Lighthyear; Moonfall; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish; Smile; Strange World; Thor: Love and Thunder; Turning Red

Star Trek’s Fascination With Prequels

As we approach the 56th anniversary of Star Trek and the mammoth franchise it launched, it is a good time to reflect on where Star Trek is going. Specifically, the franchise’s fascination with prequels.

When Star Trek was at its height back in the ’90s, each new TV show featured new, original characters and situations. For the most part, the premise was basically the same: a starship and its crew exploring the unknown cosmos and meeting new aliens. This premise has continued to this day, but a common wrinkle with the franchise is to look back and dwell on characters and situations that made it so popular. Look at, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the latest Star Trek series, which won a lot of acclaim from fans and critics for its back-to-basics approach in episodic storytelling and doubling down on established characters like Christopher Pike and Spock. Meanwhile, the biggest buzz going on in Trek circles has to do with a third season of Star Trek: Picard that will reunite the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Strange New Worlds Revisited

There has been a tendency with Star Trek shows, starting with Star Trek: Enterprise in 2001 and most recently this year with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, to serve as prequels to the original Star Trek, which took place in the mid-23rd century. Even the recent films have taken place during this time period, although those films were reboots that officially took place in an alternate universe. Some fans have an understandable disdain for prequels in general for many reasons. Prequels are forced to follow a certain continuity to line up with the original film or TV show. Also, much of the tension is gone with prequels when it comes to established characters and situations. Take the Star Wars prequels. They featured younger versions of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker before he turned to Darth Vader. Going into the films, everyone knew that Kenobi would survive the films and that Skywalker would eventually become evil. This fact robbed the films of some tension if the fate of these characters was preordained. Going back to Star Trek, with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Enterprise there was some uproar over how the alien Gorn looked compared to their appearance in the original Star Trek. The real-world reason for the disparity between how the Gorn looked was due to improved budgets and special effects. The original Gorn was a stuntman in a cheap suit, and recreating that look would lead to unintentional laughter among viewers instead of fear. Still, this lack of continuity has irked some fans.

Another problem with prequels is the implication that the powers-that-be have run out of ideas. This was evident in the early episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, which were usually tired retreads of previous Trek episodes. It was not until its later seasons did the show break free of its worn formula and embraced the potentials of prequels with episodes that neatly lined up with the original series.

If a prequel is done well, it can be an excellent way to evoke foreshadowing and to help develop characters and situations. With Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, an intriguing storyline has it that Pike knows his future, which was a grim one as shown in the original Star Trek. Throughout the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Pike internally debates if his future is set. Can he change his fate? Should he? This dilemma was the basis of one of the show’s best episodes, “A Quality of Mercy”, which explored the result of Pike altering his future. Hint for anyone who has not watched it, things do not end well for a certain other character.

Prequel Flaws

Then again, if a prequel falters or tries to be too different, it will alienate fans. Star Trek: Discovery suffered heavily in that while it was a prequel it strayed too far from established Star Trek lore. The technology and overall look of the show was too advanced when compared to the original Star Trek, though it took place about a decade before the old show. The look of the Klingons was radically different from the established look of Klingons in traditional Trek, although to be fair the look of the Klingons was wildly different from the original Star Trek and later incarnations. Again, improved budgets were the cause for the disparity. There were distinct continuity deviations, notably the fact that the show’s main character, Michael Burnham, was actually Spock’s step sister. Keep in mind, this family relationship was never hinted at in previous Trek shows and films. These deviations might have been overlooked if Star Trek: Discovery was clearly established as a reboot like the recent films or if the show was actually good. Star Trek: Discovery escaped from the storytelling limitations of prequels by having their characters flung into the far future. This was an excellent idea since the show would not be bound by continuity, but thanks to poor scripts the show has become unwatchable. Star Trek: Discovery was doomed from the start not because it was a prequel, but because of its execution.

There is not anything wrong with doing prequels or revisiting characters and situations. Doing so helps explore the many interesting facets of the Star Trek universe. Many of the most popular films and TV shows have successfully pulled this off and will continue to do so. As to whether or not upcoming shows or films will be prequels is not clear, though if one wants to accept Star Trek: Discovery as canon then given its far-future setting, any show or film set before the current episodes of Star Trek: Discovery has to be considered a prequel.

Lost Era Explored

One prequel idea that can be explored would be to set a potential show during the so-called Lost Era of Star Trek. This is the time period set between the last Star Trek film to feature the original cast, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is a significant time gap of several decades and a show set in this Lost Era of Star Trek could answer some questions. For instance, what happened to the Enterprise-B? What were the early missions of the Enterprise-C? What was the Tomed Incident involving the Romulans? What was the political situation in the Alpha Quadrant? What was the fate of the original Enterprise crewmembers like Chekov or Uhura? The show could explore the early years of Jean-Luc Picard, Kathryn Janeway or Benjamin Sisko. Just recast the roles with younger actors. Other things that could be examined include the occupation of Bajor, Federation conflicts with the Cardassians, Tholians and other enemies, the early years of Noonien Soong, the possiblities are endless with a TV show set during the Lost Era of Star Trek. Such a show would serve as a prequel to the later shows while being a sequel to the original Star Trek. The show could adapt the novels set during this time period or be completely original just as long as the continuity lines up.

Star Trek has demonstrated throughout the years the merits and detriments of prequels. When done correctly, the Star Trek prequels are not just fascinating companion pieces to older shows, but legitimate storytelling vehicles that fully explore the rich world of Star Trek.

The Summer Of 2022: A Golden Season For Genre TV Shows

As the summer of 2022 winds down and the recent permieres of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, The House of the Dragon, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, it can be easily argued that this summer was one of the greatest time periods for genre TV shows.

Usually the summer is a wasteland when it comes to TV shows. In the old days before streaming and cable, viewers had a difficult time finding any original TV shows. The best option was watching reruns or hoping some failed TV show with limited episodes or pilot would turn up. Often the quality of these cast-offs were suspect and they were forgettable. The summer was the time to go to the movies, to travel, or to go play outside. Well that has been noticeably different in recent summers, but especially the summer of 2022. Sure, those activities are still available, but if you want to just stay home, relax and get out of the heat, there are now plenty of original, quality TV shows to watch.

Starting in May and ending this month, we’ve been treated to a rich menu of TV shows to binge and obsess over. Here is a partial list, in no order, of what the summer of 2022 had for viewers:

Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Boys, Ms. Marvel, For All Mankind, Stranger Things 4, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Westworld, Baymax!, Moonhaven, What We Do in the Shadows, American Horror Stories, Primal, Harley Quinn, Resident Alien, The Umbrella Academy, The Sandman, Paper Girls, The Orville: New Horizons, The Walking Dead, Tales of the Walking Dead, and the three most recent premieres, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Star Trek: Lower Decks and The House of the Dragon. But there are more TV shows that will be out by the end of August such as See and Stargirl. Also left off this list were TV shows that debuted earlier this year but their season concluded during the summer, which include Superman & Lois, Fear the Walking Dead, and The Flash.

As anyone can see this is quite a diverse selection of TV shows that caters to all types of tastes. Want some space fantasty? There’s Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Orville: New Horizons. Superhero fare? Choose from She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Stargirl, Ms. Marvel and so on. How about animated shows? There are plenty of choices like Star Trek: Lower Decks, Harley Quinn, Primal, Love, Death + Robots, etc. Whether its comedy or high drama, horror, sci-fi or fantasy, this summer offered them all. Even if anyone was not interested in TV shows, there were some interesting choices running from the I Am Groot shorts to full-length movies like Prey or Samaritan.

Why the sudden interest to fill the summer schedule with can’t-miss TV fare? There are many factors, but most likely the reason is that the television and streaming schedules are very crowded now with lots of competition. Some of the above TV shows might have gotten lost in the shuffle of a fall or winter schedule with many other kinds of TV shows and events like the Super Bowl and major holidays. It could also be due to the pandemic since many people still won’t venture out into the movie theaters and prefer the comfort and safety of their homes.

Whatever the reason, it is worth mentioning that many of these TV shows are high-quality productions that resemble mini-films with big-name stars and topnotch special effects. Many of these shows entered the public consciousness this summer and became must-view events to be discussed either online or in person. These included The Boys, Stranger Things 4, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In fact, Stranger Things 4 helped revitalize interest in the old ’80s song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” due to the song’s placement in a few episodes. What is heartening is that many of the shows are not new and the fact that they can still generate public buzz is a remarkable achievement.

Will the summer of 2023 and future summer TV seasons match the quality and quantity of this summer’s exceptional genre TV shows? Who knows? Hopefully this trend will continue for a long time!

The Passing Of A Star Trek Legend: Nichelle Nichols, 1932- 2022

uhura

It’s with a heavy heart that it must be reported that another Star Trek legend is no longer with us. Nichelle Nichols, who pioneered the groundbreaking role of Lt. Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek passed away at the age of 89.

Nichols had suffered earlier a “mild stroke” in 2015, had health issues related to her advanced age, and according to her son Kyle Johnson, she died due to natural causes. These recent years mark a somber occasion for Star Trek fans since she is the fifth member of the original series to pass away, joining Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Grace Lee Whitney.

One of the most distinguishing aspects of the original series back in the revolutionary 1960s was the presence of a Black woman on a starship bridge and the fact that Lt. Uhura was a senior officer. Although her role was limited in a supporting capacity, Nichols was able to inflect competence, elegance and a quiet nobility that resonated with fans of all colors and persuasions. Many instantly recognized how groundbreaking her role since she had a prominent presence on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. One of the original viewers turned out to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who met Nichols at one point and encouraged her to remain with the show because she expressed her frustrations with her role and was contemplating leaving Star Trek.

plato

It turned out to be fortunate that she remained because as years passed her status among fans and critics grew and grew. Not only that but by staying with Star Trek through its short three seasons she cemented her place in television history by partaking in the first interracial kiss to air on TV. That episode as we all know was “Plato’s Stepchildren” where she shared a passionate season with her co-star William Shatner. Even though in that scene she admitted to being attracted to Captain Kirk, in real life she, as well as other castmembers, didn’t think highly of Shatner. But they were able to resolve their issues in later life.

Her work in Star Trek didn’t end with the cancellation of the series. She provided voice work in the animated Star Trek: The Animated Series and reprised her role of Uhura in the first six Star Trek films. Even though the amount of screen time was limited in those endeavors, she had a strong presence with some memorable moments, the best one being her scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock where she has to contend with a conceited young officer who thinks her time has passed.

Trek 3

More importantly, her contribution to Star Trek led to her being involved with NASA in a special project to help recruit minorities and women. Notable results of that project were the recruiting Dr. Sally Ride and Guion Bluford, the first American female astronaut and the first African-American astronaut, respectively. On Sept. 17, 2015, she flew on a NASA mission via a modified jet to accompany the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) telescope.

nichols sofia

nichols

Nichols also appeared in other TV shows and films like Heroes, Snow Dogs, Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Futurama and Are We There Yet?

Regardless of the amount of screen time she had when playing Lt. Uhura saying her famous line “Hailing frequencies open”, her contribution as a Star Trek legend to Star Trek and society is something that will resonate through the ages and the stars.