A few months back I caught wind of the fan-funded What We Left Behind: A Look Back at Deep Space Nine, and naturally I preordered. I watched (and loved) it tonight, and though it has nothing to do with books, Star Trek is no stranger here, so I wanted to share the news of it with those who might be interested. The documentary is a reunion show, of both actors and writers, as well as a review of the show’s unique history, sharing all the new ground it broke that the other shows never dared near. The writers’ reunion offers the bonus of a day-long brainstorming session in which five of the lead writers brainstormed the first episode of a speculative Season Eight, one set twenty years after the end of the seventh season in which so many of the crew go their separate ways following the end of the Dominion War.
As a Niner of longstanding, I was absolutely joystruck to see “my people” back on the screen. The actors have all had careers after the show, of course, and I’ll watch a show just to see them show up, but it’s not the same as seeing them with their former coworkers, sharing stories of the old days. Deep Space Nine was utterly unique, perhaps in part because the setting was ‘stationary’, if you’ll forgive the pun: instead of having new stories and actors presented week by week, the writers had to create stories by fully exploring the characters and scenes at hand. It brought serialized storytelling to Star Trek, and was alone in doing so! TNG was episodic, and VOY and ENT stagnated in the same long after serial television had taken off in protracted dramas like The Sopranos. Stories in DS9 didn’t happen and stop in one episode: they’d weave in and out throughout whole seasons. The result was far and away the most completely human characters in all of Star Trek, as background characters would grow and grow to comprise major parts. The biggest example of this, of course, would be Glinn Damar — who, from being button-pusher in the pack, would become another recurring actor’s sidekick, and further mature until by the end of seven he was the leader of a planetary resistance.
Nostalgia aside, What We Left Behind astounds from a production point of view. I thrilled to see bits of DS9 in high-definition: unlike TOS and TNG, DS9 has never gotten that treatment. I also LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED the fact that it opens with Max frickin” Grodénchik singing, and closes with him joined by Armin Shimmerman (!!), Casey Biggs (!!), and JEFFREY COMBS (!!!)* doing another song. And in between there was so much wonderful-ness. The actors, writers, and (viewer) were all in tears throughout.
(They played Rom, Quark, Damar, and Weyoun/Brunt, respectively.)
I had heard about this being made a year or so ago. I really want to catch it myself. I agree that it was some of the best of Trek. Perhaps the best. A real season eight would be fantastic.
I much prefer the Relaunch to what they were planning, although in one instance there are similarities: they also anticipated Kira leaving the military behind and becoming a religious figure. Still, it was great fun to see how writers brainstormed and built a show together — complete with planning shots (“Okay, so we start off with an over-the-shoulder, sweep around for a wide-angle, and then come back in with a close up.”)