A workers state with executive dysfunction

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Jacob Nanfito
    May 2, 2016 @ 9:50 am

    I was 15 — and at the height of my early fandom — at the time of the Voyager hype, and I admit to be really excited about it.

    I've never gone back to do any research on it, but it's always been my understanding that Voyager was created to provide the upcoming Paramount network (UPN) with a big-name show to launch their network with. Also, plans to create a Star Trek show for a Paramount network go back to Phase II, don't they? I figured DS9 must've been tied up in different syndication agreements, so UPN was promised a new — bigger! better! — Trek show.


  2. Ross
    May 2, 2016 @ 10:27 am

    In fact, I remember rumors (No idea of the source) that there were plans for a miniseries (the details were sketchy, but in retrospect, if such a thing had existed, it almost certainly must have been meant to be Chakotay's pre-maquis backstory) to "tide fans over" between the end of TNG and the start of Voyager. This seemed ridiculous at the time, but makes perfect sense now in light of exactly what this article says about how the fanboys couldn't possibly be expected to be satisfied with DS9 for that purpose.


  3. Robert Hutchinson
    May 2, 2016 @ 11:32 am

    I guess I found it a little easier to understand Sisko's actions because of how the DS9 episode started, and maybe because we'd never met Hudson before. But Picard just looked like a slightly less blunt Nechayev, almost eager to elevate "you've disappointed me" over "what we're doing is wrong". Ugh.


  4. Dustin
    May 3, 2016 @ 12:04 am

    Which, of course, bears a strong resemblance to CBS' rationale for restricting next year's show to their streaming platoform.


  5. SK
    May 3, 2016 @ 5:12 am

    But as big as Deep Space Nine was, and people always forget that it really was, it was not doing well with one specific demographic Paramount considered vitally important: Namely, hardcore (white, straight, cis, male) Star Trek fans.

    In which case, surely the decision to make a new series to appeal to those fans is not the evil conspiracy that you seem to present it as, but a perfectly sound, indeed laudable business decision?

    Think about it: you have a product which was successful, but is now nearing the end of its marketable life. Your replacement appeals to some of the same customers, but not all of them, and indeed appeals to some new customers. But the customers it doesn't appeal to are, in fact, your most valuable revenue sources: the ones who will buy the most models, toys, nick-nacks, and general tat.

    In that situation it makes absolute sense to launch a new replacement product designed to appeal to that demographic. After all, if it'ss successful, then you have just widened your market, appealing to both the new demographics reached by the original replacement product line, and the original fans!

    Not only is it sensible but you would be remiss, totally failing in your duty, if you didn't give such a move a try.

    Of course, they fucked up the execution and Star Trek: Voyager was rubbish, but the idea of it, to appeal to the market segment which hadn't made the jump to Deep Space Nine, was exactly what a business in their situation should have been doing, and not some kind of evil plot at all.


  6. Ross
    May 3, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

    I always felt that conceptually, Voyager was a pretty good show and the closest the franchise ever came to making a thematic direct successor to TOS (I realize that folks will be split over whether that's a good thing).

    It's just that it sucked ass in execution. Complete fucking trainwreck in the writing. How odd to be in the position of saying that the writing is the only thing wrong with it. (Unless you read my blog, where it is basically the TLDR of half of my posts)


  7. Dustin
    May 4, 2016 @ 1:22 am

    I'll just address the Maquis two-parter:

    You're arguing that our heroes are made out to be villains here, and I don't see it. There was never a point when I thought Hudson and co. were justified, because the Maquis aren't an oppressed people; they're trying to escalate a troubled situation into open war, and their actions are no more righteous than Cpt. Maxwell's in "The Wounded". Quark's remarks to Sokanna on the illogicality of the Maquis' fight, and not anything Cal has to say, are the heart of the story.

    That said, there's a troubling through-line in the franchise's Cardassian arc, beginning with "The Wounded": the Federation's willingness to repeatedly turn a blind eye to blatant Cardassian treaty violations in the name of keeping up the appearance of peace. So this episode is likely where Deep Space Nine's writers start to directly target the Federation's utopian views, exposing (authoring, actually) some seriously troubling politics at its heart.

    So I was really hoping that you'd at least respond to Sisko's famous "It's easy to be a saint in paradise" speech in Maquis Part 2, one of his most famous, and something that's become Deep Space Nine's unofficial motto and and the party line that its fans use as a response to TNG's purported smugness and self-righteousness.

    Anyway, it isn't the Maquis episodes that are the death of Trek as The Next Generation exemplified it; that's coming with "The Jem'Hadar," and there's only one other episode in the entire franchise I'm more looking forward to reading your response to.


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