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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is by far the most violent entry in the franchise. One alien race was enslaved and forced into concentration camps, while another has been genetically engineered to become the perfect fighting machine (their masters take over a portion of the galaxy and prove to be brutal dictators). A secret faction within the Federation engages in biological warfare. Later seasons focus on an all-out war against the Dominion, which costs billions of lives and features several battle scenes involving hundreds of starships. There are more sexual situations and innuendos than in other Star Trek series, but there's never any nudity, and language is not an issue.
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What's the story?
Unlike other entries in the Star Trek lineup, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE takes place in a space station that's permanently parked near the planet Bajor. It centers on Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), who oversees the station's operations. At the series' start, Bajor has just been liberated from five decades of brutal occupation by the Cardassians and with the assistance of the Federation, the freed planet is assuming joint control of the strategic space station. Shortly thereafter, Sisko discovers a "wormhole" in space, a shortcut to the far side of the galaxy. Peace on Bajor and the wormhole's tantalizing secrets quickly transform Deep Space 9 from a galactic backwater to a thriving commercial hub.
Is it any good?
The show's complicated setup provides endless opportunities for drama. Not only does the series explore the lingering tension between the Bajorans and the Cardassians (who make it very clear that they want to regain control of the outpost), the constant stream of characters passing through the busy station means endless opportunities for guest stars with new conflicts. And unlike the other Trek series, which almost always resolved their conflicts by the end of each episode and rarely followed story arcs for more than a few episodes, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (which originally aired from 1993 to 1999) really hit its stride by creating a compelling, overarching storyline that follows the complicated political machinations among the Federation and its allies, the Dominion and its invasion plans, and the simmering conflict with the Cardassians (who eventually ally themselves with the Dominon and later come to regret that choice).
DS9 is also notable for its many comedic subplots, which generally focus on Quark (Armin Shimerman), a grumpy Ferengi who owns the station's popular bar (imagine the famous Star Wars cantina, with a bit less attitude and a lot less gunplay). The Ferengi value greed and pure capitalism, and the show often depicts them as childlike nuisances. They also have institutionalized sexism, which is clearly displayed in Quark's attitude toward the bargirls he employs. Not surprisingly, a fair amount of drinking takes place at the bar.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dictatorship and rebellion in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Two of the show's main alien races were involved in a long war before the series began; considerable tension remains between them, and there are frequent references to atrocities committed during the conflict. Is war ever necessary? When is it acceptable to fight back?
Does the violence in Deep Space Nine ever feel over the top? Is it exciting or gruesome? Which do you think it's intended to be? Why?
How is this Star Trek series different from the other TV series and movies? Which one is your favorite? Why is the franchise so successful?
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