So I started re-watching Deep Space Nine

I never finished the series when it originally aired, so no spoilers please! I'm only about halfway through season one thus far.

Watching this show makes me so nostalgic. It originally aired when I was eleven or twelve years old, just old enough to reject bed times and begin making my own decisions. Where I lived, it aired at 10:30 on Saturday nights, and I used to curl up in my father's recliner to watch it. We had a three-story split level house, and the family room was on the lowest level, halfway underground. Since my parents were always in their bedrooms on the top floor, I felt completely independent and alone downstairs. Those years were also the first years that I became really aware of politics, and I knew just enough to appreciate the show as the product of a post Cold War world where former Soviet satellite states were slowly rebuilding after years of occupation. Now, with a political science degree and a lot of Eastern European/Central Asian travel experience behind me, I appreciate the historical resonance of the show even more...although I also wish that Kira was really the main character and we could watch the show through her eyes instead of Sisko's.

My favorite thing about the show is still its basic premise. It's dark and gritty. Not everything is shiny and new. There are morally ambiguous characters and situations where right and wrong are muddled. TNG will always have a soft spot in my heart, but their complete and total faith in the perfect goodness of the Federation made the show unsatisfying in many ways. DS9 does the best kind of story telling in my opinion -- the kind where no one is the bad guy and you can see the reasoning for the decisions that each character makes. When Kira called the Admiral on Sisko, I knew that she was out of line, but I also empathized with her uncertainty about Starfleet's role on Bajor and her passion for defending her people.

Although Nana Visitor overacts a little, Kira is still one of my favorite science fiction ladies. When I saw her the first time, I felt the same jolt of longing and pride I experienced the first time I saw Princess Leia in Star Wars. Here was a woman who could speak her mind and fire a gun, someone who wouldn't take no for answer and probably wouldn't let the writers sideline her either. I didn't know how to articulate it then, but that was the kind of woman I wanted to be and wanted to see. Even though it's been fifteen years since I saw the show, I still remember how much I loved her. On the other hand, I'd completely forgotten how much I love Quark and Odo's relationship, or maybe I didn't appreciate it when I was twelve. Their banter is so pitch-perfect. They hate each other, but neither one of them would know what to do without the other.

My least favorite thing about the show is graviton particles. Graviton particles are responsible for everything that ever happens. In fact, things like graviton particles are my least favorite aspect of every Star Trek show. All the technobabble story resolutions waste the potential of the series. I notice it more on DS9 than I ever did in TNG because the characterization work is so well-done on this show, and the larger political context has been well-developed too. Yet, every episode ends with a technological crisis that is either caused by gravitons or resolved by gravitons. It's not like sci-fi can't do character-driven conflict well -- just look at BSG and Firefly, neither of which tried to hide behind the technology of the future. DS9 just missed that opportunity, like all the other televised Star Trek series.

My other least favorite thing is Dr. Bashir. Seriously, can this man just die? I actually appreciate that the show created a less-than-ideal character who thinks that the Bajorans' struggle for freedom is his grand frontier adventure. In fact, I find that even more important in light of our ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But there is absolutely no reason for him to treat women the way he does. He is icky and sleazy and disgusting, and I'd really like to see him get slapped across the face -- or worse. I really hope that the men of the future are more evolved than he is.

So how does Yuletide madness work? Can you play even if you didn't sign up for the main Yuletide event? I'd kind of like to fill a couple DS9 story requests if I could, even though my offerings would have to be set early in the first season.
Ahh, I am so glad you are watching it again! :D And I agree--I'd never seen DS9 before my recent watch-through, but I couldn't have appreciated it the precise way I do without knowing what I know from the field I studied/work in. It makes a big difference for me.

My other least favorite thing is Dr. Bashir. Seriously, can this man just die

Ahhhh, I also can't wait for you to get to the character growth and eventual crazy character revelations for poor Bashir. Cut his character a little slack in the early seasons, I think a lot of it is an unfortunate result of bad writing (they knew they needed a doctor on the show and hadn't even settled on his name, let alone anything resembling a character sheet, before casting Siddig El Faddil for the part). I overlooked him for a long time because I didn't really resonate with him until later seasons and Siddig had the chance to take Bashir and make him into a truly awesome character on a journey of his own. I hope he redeems himself in your eyes.
Well, I'm glad to know that I will eventually stop wanting to vomit each time he appears on the screen. I don't really mind him when he's not hitting on women, but hitting on women appears to be his dominant character trait right now, so... I know his parents had him genetically engineered somehow. Is that when his story arc starts getting good?
...ah, good, you do know that about him.

No, actually he becomes an extremely excellent character before then, but that revelation does shed a lot of light on the inner workings of his mind and why he's as green and desperate for approval and validation as he is. O'Brien really nails Bashir in this unspoilery scene (it has some context in the episode, but they're mostly unimportant details). I personally think that Bashir is an extraordinarily insecure and lonely guy and has been for his whole life, so his social skills are seriously lacking. Bashir becomes a really excellent character when the newness of space wears off, he finds his footing, and starts to let out those insecurities. (And when O'Brien gets the chance to knock him down a few pegs whenever he needs it.)

There are a few plots in the show involving Bashir that I am extremely enthusiastic about, but I will let you get to them before I explode in sparkly joy at you.

And I am really excited to find another political scientist in fandom, which I don't think I said before!
About Yuletide: Yes, according to the comments in this post, you're welcome to write treats without being signed up for the challenge. As long as they're over 1000 words, you can upload them to the Yuletide 2011 collection at AO3 too, as explained in this post.
Ah, thank you! I had browsed the Yuletide comm a bit, but the whole thing is so large and overwhelming that I couldn't find the answers I was looking for.
Bashir was my least favorite character for a while as well. Then - it really takes a while - he starts to mature and develop, and I ended up liking him quite a lot - though more as a doctor and as a friend (primarily to MIles and Garak) than in his relationships with women.
Well, I'm glad there's some hope. I don't really mind him when he's not hitting on women creepily, but hitting on women creepily seems to be his major character trait right now, so...
I <3 DS9 so much, and really need to do a rewatch as well.

Have you seen the reimaged BSG? It was produced by Ron Moore, who was responsible for a lot of the gritty feel of DS9. It's definitely not Star Trek, but it's got a lot of the themes of DS9 and a very neat religious mythos.
Yes, I loved BSG! The boyfriend and I marathoned it last summer, and I was awfully sad not to have discovered it when there was a fandom for it.
I loved DS9 as well--we're about the same age, so I was also watching it as a tween regardless of bedtimes. (Sometimes. Sometimes we had a blank tape around so I'd record it and watch it after school the next day.) I loved the dark grittiness and moral ambiguity as well, even as a kid (I was a strange kid, I guess).

I mean, I love all iterations of Trek (except ENT) but DS9 was everything at the right place at the right time for me.
I mean, I love all iterations of Trek (except ENT) but DS9 was everything at the right place at the right time for me.

Yes, that's a good way of putting it for me too.
I loved DS9. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was in middle/high school. I liked Kira back then, but I'm embarrassed to say I sort of took her for granted. It's not until I started rewatching the show recently as an adult that I went "Omg, she's awesome."

Apart from Kira, DS9 was sort of a mixed bag on gender for me. A huge part of that can be attributed to the Ferengi, because I have so much less patience for the "lol, they're completely oppressive to women and it's funny!" schtick. Oddly, Bashir's obnoxiousness didn't bother me quite as much (although it did bother me) because he was regularly smacked down by other characters. It also helps that he does improve as the show goes on.

Voyager, for all its problems, was so inspiring to me when I first watched it as a teen/pre-teen. I absolutely hero-worshipped B'Elanna Torres.
Yeah, I agree - Ferengis' attitude toward women is icky, and I don't love the "backward alien" trope. I do appreciate that DS9 at least has two major female characters who get a lot of screen time though - I certainly couldn't have said the same for TOS or TNG.
So true, to your last point. Is it getting ahead of where you're watching to mention Kasidy Yates? Because she's one of my favorite side characters (and I so wish she weren't a side character).
You are super into Chekov/Sulu, you are really nice, you loved Voyager, and DS9?

It is ridiculous that I don't have you friended yet.

(That is, may I?)
DS9 was and always will be my favoritest Trek ever.

I would say lots more but haven't time.
DS9 is my once a year rewatch. Love it so much. I usually skip most of the first two seasons because there is so much fail. Especially the writing for Bashir and Dax. The writers really didn't know where they were going with those two until the third season. But Kira and Quark are awesome from the get-go!

Hey have you seen ds9_rewatch? We're going through the show weekly. I think we're up to season three
Random person commenting (sorry):

My other least favorite thing is Dr. Bashir. Seriously, can this man just die?

lol This!

The writer's really had no idea what the heck to do with him (or so it seemed). What I should say is that he seems to lack substance. His character development is shallow and, I'm sorry Siddig, but I found Bashir's affect almost always flat (despite the smiles and whatever else--just very little alteration in expression and his voice). Even during the Section 31 portions that would seem to stretch his character, I found little development (and by that point, I didn't really care).

In fact, "side-kick" Colm Meaney (on my third, in-my-thirties rewatch) delivers such excellent performances that I found O'Brien outshining Bashir every time--while as a youth, O'Brien barely reached my conscious brain. But I found O'Brien (in DS9, rather than TNG) to be well-scripted and utilized (while Bashir was sort of like flotsam on the surface of the pond). The fact that O'Brien and Garak have more moments/opportunities to develop eachother's characters in meaningful ways when Garak is intended, often, as Bashir's friend (or suggestively more--and this is a huge disappointment because Bashir just never seemed to "match" Garak, and by "match" I mean in the overall presentation of the characters) staggers me: kudos to Meaney and Andrew J. Robinson. Last note (thinking of Garak), there's one Bashir episode I do like and that's the "James Bond" episode because Garak--and Robinson's performance, goddamn--is so skeptical and, as the "real spy," depicts a kind of jaded disappointment with the fact that Bashir seems to believe in and want to emulate something so fabricated and, in reality, cruel (a fabrication that plays at life/death, but does not recognize its actual consequences).

Woo that was crazy long, but your sentence inspired me :D

And I totally agree about Kira :)