Silent Take: Star Trek – Deep Space Nine circa 1927

In recognition of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s twenty-fifth anniversary, I thought it would be fun to reimagine the show as if it had been made in the silent era. Silent recasting, here we come! (You can catch my original Star Trek recasting here.)

I usually try to Photoshop a poster to go with these but between my DVD project and work, I am spread pretty thin. I hope you enjoy stills and GIFs along with a dose of imagination.

The Intro

Deep Space Nine arrived in 1993 ready to shake up the status quo. It was the first Star Trek show with a black top-billed lead, the first to have a non-captain as the top-billed lead, the first to make its main character a hand-on parent, the first to be set on a space station, the first to have a 50-50 human-to-alien split. (In later seasons, between the recurring alien characters and the introduction of Worf, the humans found themselves very much in the minority.) Further, the women of DS9, while few, are among the mightiest in Star Trek history.

Further, the show immediately made it its business to deal with the consequences of the happier Star Trek: The Next Generation. DS9 opens with the battle of Wolf 359 and showcases its main character’s resentment at Picard’s assimilation and eventual return to command.

With one notable exception, the show eschewed killer holodeck malfunction episodes, cut the counselor (for a while, anyway) and allowed coffee in ops. The Federation characters are obliged to work with alien technology (the station was built by the sinister, loquacious Cardassians) throughout the show’s run. The station itself is basically a frontier outpost, a combination supply station, hotel, bar and fortress and it’s located on the edge of a stable wormhole.

In my opinion, Deep Space Nine took the best elements of The Original Series and The Next Generation, tossed them in a cocktail shaker and poured out the tastiest Star Trek of them all. This recasting has been like a trip to the candy store for me. I’ve been working on this for a year, I hope you like it.

Recasting

Deep Space Nine wins the recurring character derby by a mile. Due to its stationary home base and the fact that the station is not owned by the Federation, we get many, many colorful characters in residence who would never be allowed to set foot on a Starfleet vessel. Because of this, I have split everybody up by affiliation upon introduction.

The cast is made up of stars who were active in 1927. A little creative thinking is involved as I am pretty sure this set of stars would break the bank of any production.

Starfleet/Federation Citizen

All other Star Trek shows had featured a majority-Human cast. One lonely half-Vulcan in TOS; a half-Betazoid, a Klingon raised by Humans and an Android constructed by Humans in TNG. The Federation characters of DS9 are outnumbered, which changes the flavor of the show and the raktajino.

Benjamin Sisko = Paul Robeson

Who had the presence to command a space station? Who could negotiate a treaty with non-linear beings? Who had the star power to carry this science fiction gem?

The answer to all these questions is Paul Robeson, who made an excellent impression in Oscar Micheaux’s Body and Soul. He’s iconic, has charisma to spare and he sang Jerusalem.

Julian Bashir = Arthur Edmund Carewe

A bit sinister, a bit older but every inch as handsome, Arthur Edmund Carewe would be wondrous as the station’s doctor. Carewe was born in the Ottoman Empire to Armenian parents, keeping the geography diverse.

Jadzia Dax = Lois Wilson

Dax is a joined Trill, both young and old at the same time. Arguably the most challenging role in the cast, Lois Wilson had the chops to handle the part and then some.

Wilson in Manslaughter
Ezri Dax = Vera Reynolds

Ezri gets flak but I enjoyed what she brought to the show. Chipper, enthusiastic, upbeat, I believe this part calls for a flapper. Vera Reynolds was as cute as a bug’s ear and the young lady could act up a storm. Ideal!

Reynolds in Corporal Kate
Miles O’Brien = Marshall Neilan

More famous as a director, Neilan was quite an accomplished actor as well. He had just the right kind of charm to be a winning Chief.

Keiko O’Brien = Tsuru Aoki

Star Trek’s favorite botanist also formed part of the most complete family unit in the show’s history. Two parents, eventually two kids and all while having to deal with war and Pah’ Wraiths.

Aoki in Wrath of the Gods
Jake Sisko = Ernie Morrison

Jake starts the show as a cute kid who enjoys fishing and ends it as a reporter who helps save the station. The chemistry between Ben and Jake Sisko (not to mention grandpa!) is a huge part of the show’s emotional core. Ernie Morrison was adorable and he could act, what more could we want in our Jake?

Worf = Noble Johnson

There’s no way you can argue with that glower! (Johnson was co-founder of one of the earliest African-American film studios, Lincoln. Alas, no complete film produced by Lincoln seem to have survived. Check those attics!)

Johnson in Redskin. Where’s his bat’leth?
Kasidy Yates = Fredi Washington

And if you’ve never heard of the remarkable Ms. Washington, please be sure to read up. She was astonishing.

Michael Eddington = Harrison Ford

No science fiction is complete without a Harrison Ford, right? And he seems like such a nice, stable fellow. No problems with his loyalty.

Ford in Rubber Tires
Vic Fontaine = Texas Guinan

Okay, maybe “citizen” is stretching things with Vic but you get the idea. I took the liberty of giving him a little gender flip and casting the vivacious Texas Guinan (for whom TNG’s bartender was named). She ran a speakeasy and is the perfect 1920s answer to the Rat Pack’s Vegas. I would love to see a holosuite program set in her New York. (Guinan actually made a whole bunch of westerns in the silent era, rough and tough pictures.)

And thus our Victor is a Victoria.

Bajorans/Bajoran Militia

The station was built by Cardassians and is now run by Bajorans, who invited Starfleet to help them administrate. Religious, opinionated and fond of crocheted vests, Bajorans are a people made up of fiery women and very dull men.

Kira Nerys = Leatrice Joy

Major Kira is my favorite Star Trek woman of them all. Leatrice Joy has the chops, the hair and the spark needed to make the role shine on the silent screen.

Joy in Eve’s Leaves
Odo = Nicholas Koline

For fan favorite Odo, it would seem that the obvious answer would be to cast the Man of a Thousand Faces, Lon Chaney. Not so fast! Chaney was actually awful in leading man parts, he sparked with sinister roles.

Nicholas Koline was part of the wave of Russians who settled in Paris and his performances in The House of Mystery and Kean showcase the sensitivity required to play Odo.

Koline in Kean
Vedek Winn = Louise Dresser

Successful recurring villainesses were a rarity* in Star Trek when Winn Adami showed up to show us how it’s done. Louise Dresser not only bears a striking resemblance to the character, she can act up a storm.

Dresser in The Scarlet Empress
  • I said successful, not Sela E. Coyote, Super Genius. Lursa and B’Etor were initially effective but lost steam with every re-appearance.
Vedek Bareil = Lloyd Hughes

Handsome and dull? This sounds like a job for Hughes!

Hughes in The Lost World
Leeta = Phyllis Haver

A veteran of Sennett comedies and their swimsuits, Haver would have been more than prepared to work at Quark’s bar.

Haver in The Fighting Eagle

Ferengi

Originally conceived as a replacement for the Klingons as antagonists for the Federation, the Ferengi settled into comedy relief. Ferengi episodes are controversial but you know what, I have rarely laughed as hard as I did while watching The Magnificent Ferengi.

The Ferengi are funny little men, for the most part, and it turns out that the silent era is positively packed with funny little men.

Quark = Tully Marshall

For our boss Ferengi, the incomparable Tully Marshall, a very fine character actor who would have taken to the role like a duck to water.

Rom = Clyde Cook

The sad sack brother is perfect for Clyde Cook, a forlorn comedian who played woe-bedraggled characters throughout the silent era.

Cook in Barbed Wire
Nog = Coy Watson

I love Nog. Of all the Star Trek sons intended for Starfleet Academy, it’s the little Ferengi who makes it all the way. Coy Watson was the oldest of the famous Watson siblings and he would be just the right age.

Watson vs. Davies in Show People
Zek = Snitz Edwards

Another popular character actor, Edwards would bring that perfect touch of comedic sleaze to the Grand Nagus.

Edwards in The Cruise of the Jasper B
Brunt = James Finlayson

Our liquidator needs a comedian who can be pompous and violent, the perfect job for the beloved Hal Roach comedian.

Finlayson in Sold at Auction
Ishka = Dale Fuller

Ferengi feminist Ishka needs a great “What the heck?” expression and Fuller can supply that in spades.

Dale Fuller in The Canadian

Cardassians

Cardassians started out as villains but as more complicated characters were introduced and developed, they quickly became some of the most beloved aliens of the TNG era.

How can you spot a DS9 fan? When everyone else is talking about Vulcans and Klingons, they’re waxing poetic about Cardassians.

Gul Dukat = Lon Chaney

And now you know what I was saving Lon Chaney for. Wouldn’t he be perfect? Now imagine him with Cardassian neck ridges!

Chaney in The Penalty
Garak = Lowell Sherman

Everyone’s favorite tailor who is in no way a spy or assassin. The disruptor is merely for his personal protection. Was it set to disintegrate? Oh my, I’m sure he meant to set it on stun.

In this case, a GIF is worth a thousand words. Here are two that prove Sherman to be the perfect man for the job.

Really, doctor.
Both GIFs from The Garden of Eden.
Damar = Forrest Stanley

For the ultimate sleeper character, let’s cast a sleeper star. I never thought much of Stanley until I saw his super Mountie character in Tiger Rose. The perfect man to arrange transporter accidents!

Ziyal = Virginia Lee Corbin

Poor Ziyal never had a chance. One of the most genuinely nice characters on the station, she had a hard time accepting that her father was one of the baddies. THE baddie, actually.

Corbin in Hands Up

Dominion

The Dominion represented the most deadly threat to the Federation yet. A combination of shapeshifting leaders, smooth diplomats and ruthless warriors, the Dominion was smart, fast and they very nearly won.

The Female Changeling = Pauline Frederick

Another woman not to be trifled with, this part calls for intensity and chops, something Frederick had in abundance.

Frederick in Smoldering Fires
Weyoun = Nils Asther

Come on, who else could possibly play this role?

Asther in The Cossacks

Klingons

Star Trek’s most iconic aliens, tied with Vulcans, Klingons play a big role in DS9.

Martok = Noah Beery

The first blue collar Klingon, Martok called for a Beery and so I nominate Noah, who was less hammy than his brother Wallace but could still chew scenery with the best of them.

Beery in The Soul of the Beast
Gowron = Sam De Grasse

The gloriously sleazy Klingon chancellor must be played by one of the sleekest, slimiest villains of the silent era. Sam De Grasse was oily villainy in human form. Perfect!

Sam De Grasse (right) in The Black Pirate. The gent to the left, Anders Randolf, would also have made a great Klingon.

And the most important casting of all…

Mack Swain as Morn!
Pictured in “The Gold Rush”

What do you think? Which stars are in your silent DS9 cast? Or maybe your Golden Age cast? Or your Swingin’ Sixties cast? Please share in the comments!

Deep Space Nine Derangement Syndrome

Being a fairly recent newcomer to Deep Space Nine (lifelong Trekkie), I have been greatly amused by the reaction the show gets in some circles. It seems to be out of all proportion.

Disliking a television show is just fine. Really, truly. If you don’t like Deep Space Nine, well, it’s your TV viewing. Who am I to judge? That being said, I have noticed that many people who claim to hate DS9 do not have conversations so much as loudly repeat a few threadbare arguments that have been long since debunked. Here they are in all their, er, glory.

Regarding the comment section: Vexatiousness will not be tolerated. I love you, Trekkies, but online shouting matches are something of a fandom tradition and I am not up for it. Chillax.

It’s not about exploration!

What a pedant we are today. And not every scene in Star Wars involves war, I demand a refund.

Actually, I crunched the numbers on season one of TNG (which had the most Roddenberry input) and DS9 to count how many episodes involved “new life forms and new civilizations.” TNG had 42%, DS9 had 40%.

The fact is, TOS and TNG featured their share of excellent episodes that were basically: “Here’s a new alien and OH GOOD LORD IT WANTS TO KILL US!” DS9 just didn’t resolve the problem in one episode, which is a big part of its appeal.

But they never go anywhere!

 

Oh honey, you really have never seen DS9, have you? Just because home base is a space station doesn’t mean that the cast is immobile. (Heck, even the space station itself can move in a pinch.) Thanks to warp-capable runabouts and the USS Defiant, the DS9 crew easily zipped around the galaxy and there was always Bajor to deal with.

Further, unlike a starship, the space station sees a constant influx of merchants, spies, Klingons on shore leave, etc. In many cases, the new life forms and new civilizations come to them, not unlike a frontier town. (Which was the idea behind the show’s concept in the first place.)

Because they cannot easily warp their way out of a deadly situation, the stakes are often higher and the concept lends itself to serialization. This makes for good television.

It’s too dark!

Fight scenes in TNG

Yeah, like the time the captain is captured and graphically tortured for an entire episode or when there’s a conspiracy in Starfleet and a bunch of Klingons are shot in zero-G and bubbles of their blood floats through the ship. Also, Ceti eels.

Yep, that DS9. Shocking.

Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have liked it!

Gene Roddenberry also disliked The Wrath of Khan. He thought three women out of a cast of nine was “too many” in The Next Generation. He decided that the Ferengi could replace the Klingons as major villains. Let’s face it, Roddenberry developed some loony notions later in life. If you want to be pure to his “vision” then enjoy watching Star Trek: The Motion Picture and ONLY the first two seasons of The Next Generation, just ignore any episode with more than two women. If that’s your cup of tea, I certainly won’t stop you but I hope you understand why these are not necessarily the most popular corners of Star Trek.

Like The Wrath of Khan, DS9 takes the heroism of its immediate predecessor and examines the consequences. Exploring the galaxy is bound to uncover something nasty and not every evil empire is as easy to defeat as the Borg. DS9 is Star Trek, it’s just more in the TOS and Nicholas Meyer tradition than the pie-in-the-sky TNG.

(I will say, I am very much enjoying watching people who have condemned DS9 bend over backwards to explain why Star Trek: Discovery, which has done everything in its power to swipe DS9’s laurels and bills itself as dark, violent and warlike, is totally true to Roddenberry’s vision. Oh yes, do go on, I am totally listening, I’m just going to close my eyes but I hear every word.)

Frankly, I don’t trust people who confidently speak for the dead, especially when the dead seem to always agree with them about a television show they don’t like. Quite the television critics, the dearly departed.

They had to bring on Worf to save the show!

Despite rumors to the contrary, neither Worf on Deep Space Nine, nor Seven of Nine on Voyager had significant impact on the ratings of their respective shows. DS9 made better use of Worf than TNG ever did (they let him win a few fights for a start) and the character had some great episodes but the show would have been just fine with its original cast.

The writers of DS9 have never been to war!

To my knowledge, no Star Trek writer has ever been into space. (Well, while alive, anyway.) Further, it has come to my attention that Patrick Stewart has not once been assimilated by a hive mind and Leonard Nimoy never displayed a knack for telepathy, nor have any of the writers of those episodes or films. I feel cheated.

Also, my father is a combat veteran and DS9 is his favorite Star Trek. Neener neener.

Babylon 5–

Get out.

But Babylo–

Out.

***

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23 Replies to “Silent Take: Star Trek – Deep Space Nine circa 1927”

  1. You had me at Paul Robeson. I assume you are aware that Avery Brooks appeared on Broadway as Robeson? Magnificent performance. Your other selections were similarly inspired. Well done!

  2. Such a fun post.

    Nobody but Paul Robeson for Sisko! My first introduction to him as an actor rather than a singer or activist was in “Body and Soul.” He absolutely commanded the screen.

    I am so glad you included Fredi Washington. After I saw her powerful work in “Imitation of Life,” I was on a quest to find any films in which she appeared. The pickins’ were slim. The studios did not know what to do with a beautiful, talented light-skinned actress of color, particularly with the enforcement of the Hayes Code.

  3. I sooooo agree with Paul Robeson as the head of DS9. I love most of your choices especially Leatrice Joy. I have a soft spot for Anna May Wong who I would have chosen for Keiko and I might have chosen Ramon Novarro as Odo just because I think he would have been good with this role. Who am I though as you do know your silent stars. Oh..I can’t stand the Ferengi but I might have given Harry Earles a role as a Ferengi

  4. lol @ Babylo- OUT ! ~ I never made it past their commercials.

    Loved Lon as Gul Dukat! Yes, I’m one always mentioning the Cardassians. James Keelaghan, an awesome Canadian folk singer, has the neck ridges, too. Crazy!

    Your other choices, which I recognized, were spot on, as well, though I must admit to not begin as familiar w/ the show as I once was. It’s still one I recommend to others.

    Most of all, I wanted to write and ask you to please thank your father, on behalf of our family, for his Service!

    Happy New Year to one and all !

  5. Wow, this is twisting my brain because I can actually imagine those people in these parts. Talk about anachronism! But I watched both DS9 and Babylon 5, and I am also ambidextrous and refuse to take part in Coke/Pepsi debates (although of course I drink Coke if I absolutely have to choose). Thanks for this weirdness!

    1. Glad you enjoyed! My problem with B5 is that I knew some fans in real life back in the 90s and they were so obnoxious about Star Trek in general that it thoroughly soured me on the show forever and ever, amen.

  6. I love your Silent Star Trek posts! And I can totally see Ezri Dax as a flapper!

    And as for Babylon 5, I watched both B5 and DS9 religiously, and I love both. I’m so sorry that some B5 fans talked smack about Star Trek – just as I am sorry that some Star Trek fans talk smack about other wonderful shows. My gosh, people, there’s only a century+ of movies to watch, 5 million TV channels of shows, plus all the online streaming channels now. Pick a fav and leave everyone else alone. Sheesh.

    Anyway, thanks for this great geeky post!

  7. I know you’ve already considered him for Sarek, but seeing as how the character had passed on by this point, I think that Conrad Veidt would have made an interesting Garak.

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