Director: Ira Steven Behr, David Zappone
Cast: Ira Steven Behr, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Aron Eisenberg
Have I Seen it Before: I mean, I’ve seen the show before, if that’s what you (read: me) are asking…
Did I Like It: Yes. More than I thought I would, and I was looking forward to it quite a bit.
Rare that I express any particular thoughts about television in this space, but here we are.
I’ve been on a jag lately of taking in what I’ve euphemistically come to call showrunner porn. Porn may be a strong word. I probably mean something like Chicken Soup For The Showrunner’s Soul, if such a thing were to exist. Odd how the border between those two concepts is nebulous, but I digress. Whatever it is, I’ve been doing it, and as Deep Space Nine is one of the key influences to some of the work I’ve been doing now, a deep dive, honest look at the show was right up my alley.
I’m pleased to report that the film is more honest than most documentaries of a similar subject.
It deals with the shows sometimes-maligned status as the middle-sibling of the franchise. It admits that adding Worf (Michael Dorn) into the proceedings in the middle of the show’s run was not the first idea of the staff, and added more than its share of ego bruising to the cast, while being careful to stress that those feelings were not Dorn’s fault. They even go into a fairly raw reopening of the cast shift before production of the final season began when Jadzia Dax (Farrell) was replaced with a new Dax, Ezri (Nicole de Boer).
It even admits where the show failed. While extolling the shoes social consciousness, Behr intercedes in the flow of the documentary (several people do this during the course of the film to great effect) to take points away from the show for never fully embracing an exploration of sexual identity. Also, a gag during the end credits about “the most important moment in the seven season run” that was not addressed during the film will incite belly laughs from fans of the show, and should not be spoiled here.
And the rest of the film is infused with this sense of fun, and that is often missing from similar showbiz documentaries. Some might find this tone off-putting, but if you were a fan of the show, you will enjoy the tone. I’m thinking that is kind of the point.
The biggest draw of the film is the experiment in which several of the shows writers re-unite to break—or outline—the premiere episode of a theoretical season 8. It’s interesting to see such fine craftsmen (and they are all white men, BTW, but that’s a discussion for another time) at play, but it is play. They even mention somewhere in the process that since they will never have to actually write the script—to say nothing of the twenty-five episodes that would follow in such a season—the pressure is off. It’s fine, but I would have much rather seen a fly-on-the-wall documentary about these writers actually breaking—and feeling under the pressure to break—the twists and turns of the actual show while they were making it.
That would have been something truly special, just like the show. As it stands, it’s more like one of the Ferengi episodes. But then, again, I love the Ferengi episodes, too.