Over the course of the past year, I have spent most of my precious little free time re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. For many years, it’s been one of the most maligned of the Star Trek series, but it had been one of my favorites when I watched it in the ’90s as it came out. Not only am I happy to report that it has become my favorite of all the Trek shows, but it should be of particular interest to fans of Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica series.
Before I dove into Deep Space Nine, I consumed Battlestar with a similar fervor, blazing through it as fast as I could. Never before had I seen a show that was so willing to change the status quo of the story and the characters. But my memories of Deep Space Nine were hazy. I hadn’t realized that the creative team behind Deep Space Nine had gone on to launch Battlestar Galactica into the stratosphere.
From the beginning, Deep Space Nine is a different sort of Star Trek, assembling a cast of characters in a stationary space station (instead of an exploring starship) and delving into the politics of the Federation and its neighbors. To follow the over-arching storyline, the episodes must be watched in order—again, something that hadn’t been done on Star Trek before.
But things were kicked up a notch in the quality of storytelling when Ronald Moore came on as a producer in the third season. He later was the driving force behind Battlestar Galactica, and you can see him learning how to make that show with every episode of Deep Space Nine. Both shows also got better and better as they went on, building to a crescendo of action and emotion that left you hungry for more.
There are many ideas that were explored briefly on DS9 but truly blossomed on Battlestar Galactica. An episode of DS9 has the Trill Science Officer, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), suddenly remembering how to play a song she has no memory of in her eight lifetimes. For fans of Battlestar Galactica, you’ll know how that storyline played out on the later show, to shocking results.
There are also many characters on Deep Space Nine who change with each season. Sometimes you love them, then they’ll do something despicable and you’ll hate them. Then they’ll revert back to being lovable. But it’s never done in an unbelievable way. Moore and company managed to make each character on both shows consistent in their personality, yet able to grow in a way only a linear show can accomplish. Seeing the shows back to back, you can really see them toying with the storytelling techniques on Deep Space Nine, then turning it up to 11 on Battlestar.
As I turned back to the old Star Trek show, I wondered how well it would hold up to the style of viewing television shows we’re now accustomed to. I crammed seven years of story into one year of viewing, worried the whole time that the story would fall apart under such intense scrutiny. I’m happy to report that I think it’s almost better crammed into a shorter time. It’s hard enough to remember what I ate for breakfast, let alone what happened in an episode of television that aired half a decade prior. Compressing the viewing time actually makes the story richer.
If you’re a fan of Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek—or, ideally, both—it is well worth your time to go back and watch Deep Space Nine from beginning to end. It’s a great show in its own right, but connecting the creative dots from one show to the other is fun, too. And since both shows are streaming on Netflix Instant, you have fewer excuses than ever not to experience these shows as quickly as possible.
Bryan Young is editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.