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12 Surprising Facts About Deep Space 9's "Emissary" [Television]

On January 3, 1993, the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine premiered with its first episode, "Emissary." To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this now classic series, here are twelve things you may not know about DS9 and this episode.

1. Deep Space Nine is a Western - It was NBC president Brandon Tartikoff who first came up with the idea for DS9. Tartikoff suggested the new Star Trek show should be an outer-space version of The Rifleman, a western about a man and his son who arrive at a lawless town in the middle of nowhere. Many of the characters are based on western archetypes, including the sheriff (Odo), the mayor (Sisko), the barkeeper (Quark), and the Native (Kira).

2. Deep Space Nine Was Almost a Planet - At first, the idea was to set the show on a planet, but that didn't survive. The producers decided that the location shooting would be too costly, and that Trek fans wanted to see a show set in space. That's why they moved the idea to a space station.

3. Ensign Ro was the Foundation of DS9 - Ensign Ro Loren (Michelle Forbes) from The Next Generation was a very popular character, and DS9 was originally set on Bejor specifically to cast Ro as the first officer. However, actress Michelle Forbes didn't want to commit to a six-year contract, so Nana Visitor was cast as Bajoran Kira Nerys, instead.

4. Terry Farrell Was Too Hot For Prosthetics - When the Trill originally appeared on The Next Generation, they had prosthetics on their foreheads. When they cast Terry Farrell as the Trill Jadzia Dax, that idea went out the window. After filming some of her scenes, they changed to simple dots because they thought Farrell was so beautiful that they didn't want to mess up her features with a fake forehead.

5. The Star Trek/M.A.S.H. Connection - The scene in "Emissary" where Dr. Bashir asks Odo to assist in treating wounded in the promenade is an intentional nod towards actor Rene Auberjonois' prior role in the movie M.A.S.H. Auberjonois played Father Mulcahy, who at one point is asked to help treat wounded in a M.A.S.H. operating room.

6. O'Brien's Crossover From TNG to DS9 - A scene that was cut for syndication showed Picard transporting O'Brien from the Enterprise to Deep Space 9. This was intended to be a bridge between TNG and the new series, and even the music changed from The Next Generation to Deep Space 9. The scene was later restored on the DVD release.

7. Quark's Nose is Rom's Nose - When it came time to shoot the pilot, the makeup department hadn't finished the Ferenghi nose prosthetic for Armin Shimerman, who played Quark. They had to use the Ferenghi nose prosthetic made for Max Gordenchik, who previously played Ferenghi in previous episodes of Star Trek: TNG. Gordonchik later became a fixture on DS9 as Quark's brother, Rom.

8. Emissary Was a "Disaster" - When writer and co-creator Michael Piller saw the first cut of the pilot episode, he thought "it was going to be a disaster." The main problem seemed to be with Sisko, written as a hard man who didn't want his job, hated the beloved Captain Picard, and snapped at everyone around him - "very unlikable" as Piller put it. Piller insisted that they re-shoot scenes to make Sisko a softer and more likable character.

9. Benjamin Sisko Had to Shave - Avery Brooks says he was contractually required to grow his hair for the pilot. That's because they felt his bald head made him look too much like his iconic role as Hawk in Spenser: For Hire. This didn't get changed until Season 4, when Brooks approached the producers and the studio allowed him to shave his head again.

10. The SFX Were Excessive - "Emissary" required an enormous amount of work in post-production because of the special effects involved - 250 special effects shots, to be exact. It took two hundred people five months to complete the visual effects, including a battle between the Federation and the Borg, Odo's morphing head, and Sisko's journey to meet the Prophets.

11. Emissary Was a Hit - With its premeire, "Emissary" became the highest rated syndicated show at the time. "Emissary" scored a whopping 18.8 percentage of the syndicated television market, and was number one in syndication in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington.

12. Sisko's Return of the Orb - A scene that was filmed but finally cut showed Sikso meeting with the Bajoran spiritual leader Opaka again to return the Orb. When he tries to tell her that the Prophets are actually aliens, she rebuffs him. She tells him an unbeliever was chosen because "one should never look into the eyes of his own gods." Berman always regretted cutting the scene, and used the line again in the first season finale, "In the Hands of the Prophets."

What did you think of DS9?

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  1. I rewatched DS9 last year. It's awesome. Hard to believe it's 20 years old!

  2. It's a show I didn't warm up to in first run syndication - I've since read several of the books and watched the first season - a very good show. And now I have six seasons of unseen Trek to watch while you all have to wait for the movie. Ha HA, He-Man!

  3. Farrell was too hot for anything more than dots!
    This was my favorite of the Star Trek series. Very solid cast of characters.

  4. I have very fond memories of DS9. It was one of those shows that we gathered around the TV as a family to watch when I was growing up. :)

  5. Max Grodenchik didn't play Rom in TNG. Although that would have been awesome continuity! Same with Michelle Forbes. But I prefer having gotten to know Nana Visitor. It's funny that they say they softened Sisko, because his scenes with Picard remain pretty caustic But for Picard it was almost a preview of Star Trek Generations after he learns about the death of his brother and nephew, and thus is almost a preview of DS9 ultimately being far more cinematic than its predecessors.

  6. You're right about Max Grodenchik. He played two differently named Ferenghi on TNG. I'll fix that. Not sure what you mean about Michelle Forbes, though...never said she played Rom. If you mean that she didn't appear on TNG, then check out her six episodes on TNG in the sixth season, starting with the episode "Ensign Ro."

  7. I watched this episode when it was first broadcast. Thanks for the points. Number 1 can be said about many science fiction movies and shows (i.e. Star Wars, Babylon 5, etc.) and that's one of the reasons Whedon just brought the whole western metaphor front and center on Firefly. I remember reading about number 3 before the show premiered.
    I didn't know about the others, but the bit with Farrell doesn't surprise me. Unless I was imagining things, they also shrunk the forehead prosthetic on the half-Klingon character on Voyager in order to emphasize her beauty.


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