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The End of an Era/DS9's Season Finale:




Well, it's a little after 7pm on Saturday June 5th 1999, and I have just finished watching the season finale of DS9. Seven seasons of what has been, in my humble opinion, the most consistently enjoyable trek, has come to an end.

The original STAR TREK had several great episodes, such as "Mirror /Mirror"; and its sequel... GENERATIONS had astounding episodes such as "Yesterday's Enterprise". But both these shows also had a lot of failures, a lot of just plain bad episodes, but somehow DS9 has managed to remain strong throughout its run, managed to somehow have a better batting average than its predecessors. Managed till the end to make you care, about these characters it crafted so well.

I think a lot of that had to do with the family aspect that was inherent in DS9, the sensibilities of father, and husband, and caring individual that Avery Brooks (and the writers) brought to the role of Benjamin Sisko. And then it was a real sense of growth to the characters, a real story arc feel to it, of these imperfect and diverse characters learning to grow and trust together.

Now having said that, I have to say I did not care for the finale. I was rooting for it throughout, but at the end it was... insufficient. There was a rushed, haphazard quality to the fate of Benjamin Sisko that left me cold. Not that it was a bad ending, it does leave the door open for rich possibilities, but I feel it was badly executed. There should have been a more mythic feel to the ending, a larger than life presentation, Egyptian drama, for the end of an Egyptian tragedy.

But regardless it was a good seven season run, and leaves us its fans with time to reflect on the past, and be part of the future.

Some of you have written about the absence of strong Black roles on television, saying America evidently wasn't ready for the strong, positive presentation of Black man as hero, that Avery Brooks presented. I think to generalize the problem by saying America is to do a disservice to those Americans who brought the show into being and kept the show running these past seven years, these writers and producers and executives, these mostly white men who kept this Black led drama going for seven years.

There are real reasons for why this show never obtained the mainstream recognition of its peers and some of it does have to do with bias, and does have to do with prejudice. But you won't find, will never find, the real culprits if you don't look past generalizations. Generalizations somehow dilute and mystify the decision to cancel the show into some group gestalt, generalizations depower us by making decisions something beyond us and therefore to powerful to inspect or question, when the truth is this show died for the reason most shows die, a very few people make a decision that affects a large number of people. And this decision is of course based on questionable stats, such as Nielson ratings, which I have long been opposed to, as basically a very haphazard and meaningless indicator of program popularity. I would prefer a very public, very open polling system, which gets a much broader spectrum of America than the invisible test base the Nielsen system uses.

To say America is not ready for change, and leave that as summation, is be part of the problem. It is to be guilty of the crime you would accuse others of, by doing nothing to oppose the crime. No one is ever ready for change, no nation and no person, and if you wait for people to be ready for change you will be waiting the rest of your life. America does not have to be ready for change, that is not her obligation, it is for those of us who want change to impose it on America. It's easy to make generalizations about America, but generalizations are a waste of time. It is specifics we must deal with, specifics which we must blame or praise. Specific companies, specific people.

You want more Black characters on television than you have to get your kids in internship programs with the studios, you have to submit your work before you have the luxury of saying your work is not being represented. Write the scripts, pitch the pilots, go on the auditions, apply for the jobs, because a person who isn't in the game, can't play the game, can't coach the game.

DS9 was a great show, and to ensure more such shows, it becomes necessary to fan the talent and support the talent. Play to your strengths, be it writer, actor, musician, director. Get in the game.