Gaaaaawd! It's soooooo good.
I remembered loving it and Babylon 5 equally, but unlike Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine has not gotten syndicated airplay since it blipped off the air at the end of its seven-year run. I had forgotten that these characters I grew to love were so amazingly unlikeable at first (with the sole exception of Dax, Jake, and to a very lesser extent, Sisko). It's amazing to me that these characters grew and changed over the years to slowly reveal these noble and surprisingly spiritual sides. Even Worf, who was a defanged Klingon on Next Generation and has been turned into a joke in the movies, is almost a completely different character in this series.
In many ways, Deep Space Nine is the anti-Star Trek. It's the only Star Trek series that took non-human races at all seriously enough that you knew almost as much about the Klingons, Cardassians, Bjorans, Jem'Haddar, and the Dominion as you did the humans. Spiritual beliefs, societies, and the alien point of view were given equal weight as their human (or Federation) counter parts.
In Deep Space Nine even the Federation citizens knew the Federation could be narrow-minded when it came to races who weren't members.
In Deep Space Nine the Marquis had a damn good point about what was done to them.
In Deep Space Nine villians could become heroes, and in some cases, become villans again.
In Deep Space Nine there was an acknowledgement that going along to get along and shedding your unique identity was not necessarily the way to go.
In Deep Space Nine the impersonal villans in the Dominion and the hotter villans that were the Cardassians were so frightening because you understood their reasoning (even if you didn't agree with it).
In Deep Space Nine Jake was just a kid, not a super kid, and his dream was not to go into Starfleet like his old man, but to be his own man.
In Deep Space Nine you had legitimate ethical quandries that were both small (How do you serve side-by-side with a commanding officer who wasn't just a commanding officer, but also an important religious figure in your belief system?) and big (How do you fight the Marquis when you're sympathetic, but they've been branded as terrorists by your government?). Ethical quandries that were not only not solved in one episode, but weren't always perfectly resolved.
In Deep Space Nine sometimes people did bad things to get the right result. ("In the Pale Moonlight" is the best Star Trek episode ever made in any series. Bar none.)
In Deep Space Nine things people did in the past came back to haunt them and no one got off scot free.
In Deep Space Nine very political side-stories about the corruption of the Klingon empire and the collapse of the Cardiassian empire was engrossing.
In Deep Space Nine they pulled off shit that would make Gene Roddenberry spin in his grave.
In Deep Space Nine the told you what was going to happen in the VERY. FIRST. EPISODE. All the major plot lines for the entire series were laid down before the end of the first season.
Right now, I'm sort of...ahem...a little bit of an outcast in an old fandom I was in, aka Battlestar Galactica. I was one of the founders of one of the first Internet e-mail lists dedicated to that show for which I have an unexplainable love. I wrote my first fanfiction using that show. I used to engage in Usenet fights over why Battlestar Galactica was worth loving.
Because I'm willing to give the new Battlestar Galactica a chance and judge it on its own merits and because I'm actually happy it's been picked up by SciFi, some people I've "known" online for years are, shall we say, not too happy with me. (And I'm putting it politely.)
I've actually, amazingly enough, been called "not a true fan." Which is funny since I own my very own DVD set with Cylon head. *blink*
My defense for being willing to give it a chance? Ron Moore, one of the crazy guys who made Deep Space Nine the stand out series in the Star Trek franchise.
Sure, it's the red-headed stepchild of the franchise and doesn't nearly get enough credit or respect from Paramout. But considering that Voyager and Enterprise are creatively bankrupt, I really hope more people will take a second look at this series and give it the big love it deserves. Certainly it's not beloved among some hardcore Trekkers because it goes against the grain of many things Trek, but I would trade the other three post-original series shows to keep this gem any day.
Plus, I'm fully convinced that Sisko could outwit and out kick-ass Kirk seven ways to Sunday.
Eeeeep! I sound like Andrew...Help me...
A long way to get around to this post: I've finally figured out what an outstanding series really is.
And you may take this with a grain of salt, since it's just IMHO...
A truly outstranding series is when you can watch the very first episode with joyful glee because you already know how it ends and you don't care because the storyline over the course of the series makes sense. I don't necesarily mean "happy ever after" for everyone. I mean that the ending is somehow satisfying in a way that a really good imperfectly perfect present is.
Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine definitely fall into this category. Homicide: Life on the Street does to a lesser extent (I was upset about Bayliss's fate, but it also made a certain amount of sense).
Forever Knight? Another old fandom that I once loved very much and wrote fanfiction for? I can't even consider buying or renting the DVDs, that's how furious the final episode made me.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer falls somewhere in the middle. I so disliked the last two seasons, that I've done a "self-edit" to pretend that it ended with S5, which is hilarious since I write almost exclusively post-"Chosen" fics. In many ways, when I write the characters, I'm writing them based on their S5 personnas (with the exception of Faith, I base her on a mix of S3 BtVS and S4 AtS).
See, here's the good thing about ending with S5:
Xander can come into his own (without his Anya-crutch)
Anya can come into her own (without her Xander-crutch)
Willow never becomes uberpowerful to insanity and becomes "addicted" to magic
Tara doesn't die
Spike finds logical reason to be helpful and gets over that Buffy fixation
Giles never manages to leave Sunnydale because the Scoobs need him too much (and they're not shy about telling him so)
The Buffybot slowly starts gaining her own personality as her programming evolves
Dawn's keyness is finally explored instead of ignored
And because the shipper in me can't resist, the Council springs Faith and she blows back into town because, hey! Hellmouth! and it needs to be dealt with
See? I'm delusional