Thoughts on Deep Space Nine and other science-fiction television.



5.  Piqard
4.  Kirq
3.  The red-shirted ensign that gets vaporized the moment he gets off the ships-qo
2.  "Help!  I've lost nearly all of my credibility because my former wife keeps attaching my name to crappy shows!"  Oh, wait, that should be in the top five things Gene Roddenberry says while rolling in his grave...
1.  What else?  Q

(What happened to Sisqo, anyway?  Usher's still around, but this guy's been missing for years...)


I could cry.  The third and arguably most original Star Trek series didn't end with a bang or a whimper, but rather a loud flushing noise.  I was definitely looking forward to seeing the war with the Dominion resolved- for over a year, the Deep Space Nine crew was too busy trading fire with the Jem H'dar to explore more original territory- but the last few episodes wrapped up the storyline a little too conveniently.  After months of tooth and nail battles with the Founders, we're supposed to believe that one meeting with Bajor's gods was enough to send an armada of heavily armed starships, packed to capacity with bloodthirsty killing machines, running back to the Gamma Quadrant with their tails between their legs?  Come ON!  And speaking of cheaply resolved storylines, how's about that last episode?  Y'know, guys, maybe I'd LIKE to see a few loose ends dangling from the series... that way, the show's best characters could make cameo appearances in the next Star Trek movie, or even Star Trek: Voyager (it'd be the only way to keep people who still watch that piece of crap awake through an entire episode!).  Instead, Sisko tumbles into a lake of fire, Odo leaves the station to cure his people of a terminal disease (the gelatinous jerks deserve to die after being such a pain in the ass for the last five seasons, I say...), and Quark is stuck serving watered down brews to every synthoholic who stumbles into his bar.  What a wonderful payoff for DS9 fans who stayed loyal to the series throughout its seven year run...


Well, enough about the cosmic truth that is Paramount's stupidity.  Let's cast an eye toward the realm of science fiction comedy instead.  There have been some great books in this sub-genre, like Venus on the Half-Shell and Glory Lane, but humor's been a pretty rare commodity in science-fiction television... that is, until now.  Matt Groening's delightfully twisted look at the 30th century, Futurama, convinced my local PBS affiliate to start running another humorous series set in the distant future.  The British comedy Red Dwarf centers around a lowly ship engineer with more compassion than common sense.  When he's caught with a pet he snuck aboard for company, his superiors insist that the cat be dissected and tested for disease. When Lister discovers that, no, she can't be put back together afterwards, he refuses to give her up, and is sealed in a statis tube for four months as punishment for his insubordination.  The only problem is, while he was sleeping, the entire crew was vaporized by a toxic gas that floated into the ship through a faulty vent, and it took the ship's computer three million years to properly air out the place.  When Lister wakes up, all that's left in Red Dwarf are the ship's dryly witty navigation system, a holographic simulation of the most obnoxious member of the crew, and the great, great, great (etc.) grandchild of his pregnant cat, which he'd stashed away in the ship's hull (away from prying eyes and miraculously enough the vapors that killed everyone else).  It doesn't take long before wacky British flavored hijinx ensue, but luckily, much of the comedy revolves around science-fiction concepts, including a few you won't see on any of the Star Trek series. There's also a steady rotation of cast members to keep things fresh, with old favorites coming back every once in a while for hilarious cameo appearances.  There's still room for improvement, but Red Dwarf's inventive sight gags (you have GOT to see the reverse time episode!) and likable characters make other popular Britcoms like Are You Being Served? look downright crappy.  Even crappier than they already are, I mean.


Well, back to the gripes.  The starship Voyager just keeps plodding along in space, for no other apparent reason than to get on my nerves.  I'm convinced that the only thing keeping this series alive is its reliance on cameos by Star Trek characters that everyone loves, like that omnipotent imp Q, for instance.  A friend reminded me of that Voyager episode where Q offered Janeway a "get out of Delta Quadrant free" card, and she flatly refused his offer, demonstrating the Voyager crew's (and writers'!) almost legendary stupidity.  Speaking of transparent gimmicks, I can't forget about the show's latest and more obvious attempt to draw in viewers!  I should be overjoyed that the writers found an excuse to finally rid the Star Trek franchise of its most boring and least memorable character ever, but Kes' dismissal is a bittersweet victory when you consider that her replacement is just another distraction from Voyager's miserably low quality. Seven of Nine gives Trekkie nerds two things they rarely ever see- Borgs and breasts- but she has very little else to offer the series, and I hate the way the producers have slowly been removing her implants (her BORG implants, stupid!).  Guess that's strike 13,478 for this minor league Star Trek series...

While we're on the subject of shows unworthy of Gene Roddenberry's mighty name, what's the deal with this Earth: Final Conflict crap?  I've seen enough science-fiction shows with pompous, limp-wristed aliens who use humans as doormats, thank you.  If this is the best idea Gene could come up with in the 1990s, it's no wonder he died... it's probably the only way he could spare himself further embarassment.  Shame on Majel Barrett for cashing in on her husband with this clearly inferior series rather than keeping Gene's first Final Conflict script in the garbage where it belonged!