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How Rod Roddenberry Really Feels About Deep Space Nine And His Father's Vision - Exclusive

"Deep Space Nine" might well be the most acclaimed "Star Trek" series. A reason why is the show's morally grey, rough-and-tumble style — a stark contrast to the sleek and optimistic future that Gene Roddenberry promised. It made for great television, but also caused division among fans and even "Trek" alumni. 

In contrast to Roddenberry's infamous "no conflict among the crew" edict (via Nerdist), "DS9" was rife with conflict from the get-go. Sure, many of the races that inhabit the space station aren't part of the utopic Federation, but even the humans often found themselves at loggerheads. While Kirk and Picard would occasionally butt heads with admiralty, series lead Benjamin Sisko often expressed frustration with Starfleet as a whole — once noting in Season 2 episode "The Maquis Part II" that the Federation has an easy time moralizing because "it's easy to be a saint in paradise."  The Dominion War arc in particular saw Sisko and his crew make several morally compromising decisions in the name of survival, both choices and situations that are at odds with Gene's vision. 

Don't just take our word for it: George Takei himself said during a 2007 interview with iF Magazine that "DS9," he thought, "was the polar opposite of Gene's philosophy and vision of the future, so 'Star Trek' lost its way[.]" On the other hand, the late D.C. Fontana — one of the all time great "Trek" writers — speculated to TrekMovie that Gene, as a war veteran, would have connected to the darker themes.

Looper spoke with Rod Roddenberry, Gene's son, to celebrate his father's centennial. During our interview, we asked him how he thought "DS9" squared with his father's utopic vision. "The truth is," he said, "I've had to struggle with that myself."

"That's Star Trek doing its job right"

"I am a product of 'The Next Generation,'" Rod Roddenberry declared. "I think the Enterprise and 'Next Generation' truly symbolizes what we could be one day and what true leadership is." He's still in the process of watching "Deep Space Nine," and he enjoys it but also notes the contrast.

He acknowledges "TNG" is populated with "do-the-right-thing crew members," but with "'Deep Space Nine,' you've got very flawed crew members with hostility sometimes, and anger and frustration. But those are what people can identify with. And so there is an attraction to those characters from these people because, hey, Kira lashed out and said this thing out of anger, because she was tormented as a child, whatever the case is, and people are like, 'I get that. I connect with that.'"

Of course, there's the matter of alleged "Star Trek" purity, to which Rod has an answer. "I wrestle with what 'Star Trek' is and how many forms it can [...] But I think it is 'Star Trek,' because anything at the end that gets you to consider a different point of view, that's 'Star Trek' doing its job right."