So, my TNG experience is still going good. My mission was mainly S3-5, skipping over the turds, then cherry picking from S7 to finish it up.
I'm halfway through S4 right now, and it's been mostly great, but I needed a little break. Before I get to that, the recent highlights:
"Family". Wow. That one is still a powerhouse all these years later. This is my kind of episode, as opposed to the exceptionally well plotted but dry "Yesterday's Enterprise". Picard's dick brother really makes it work. Rarely is the show as gripping as when they start arguing and fighting.
"Brothers" continues the string of greatness that starts off season 4. I'm not sure what kind of debate there's been over the years about how good an actor Brent Spiner is, but I think he's phenomenal. Data is one of the iconic sci fi characters of all time. Any over the top Data wackiness that has ever occured (and there's been plenty) was always the fault of the script and direction of the individual episode, I think. When you give him a good script, like with this and "Offspring" from S3, he knocks it out of the park and makes my favorite moments of the series.
After a few more S4 eps, I really needed some variety, so I saif F it and started DS9 Season 1. I read up a bit on what to expect from the early seasons, and decided I didn't want to miss any essential character building.
I remember bits and pieces and images from seeing the pilot and the first few eps back in '93. I was in 2nd grade, Jesus. I remember the feeling that the pilot was a bit of a "TV event" back then, with ads probably highlighting the totally awesome at the time wormhole effects and the Picard crossover. Boy does that same wormhole effect get used and used over and over in the 1st season. Like 30 times. I really hope they re-render it for Season 2.
Anyways, despite the pacing taking a shit and dying in the 2nd part, the pilot was pretty damn good. Sisko is the man right off the bat, and the destruction at the beginning is a great hook into the character. The show really makes you feel like Picard is being a big dickface at their first meeting. Not even a "Awwww bro, sorry bout the wife dying thing, I was totally on a Borgbender that weekend."? Tense!
After that, we start to settle into the real show. Honestly, the 2nd episode and "Dax" (I was skipping around a bit, though I ended up watching about 16 out of the 20 I think) gave the show a slightly impenetrable feeling. I was really not used to the idea of there being too much going on in a Trek show. The Cardassian/Bejoran thing, and circumstances of the Federation being custodians of the station is a pretty heavy infodump at first, nevermind shapeshifters and mysterious symbiote weirdness. Also, the station is simply...fugly.
But, soon enough, you get used to it. It also helps that the cast is fantastic. O'Brien is always a solid presence, at least as good as the best TNG crewmembers, though all he got to do on that show was show off his amazing kayaking outfit. Kira is one spunky babe, and a damn good character, especially as the center of "Duet". Dax is fine, but could use some growth to fully justify the supposed familiarity with her and Sisko. Odo is simply the man. Quark I was dreading (keep in mind I just watched TNG S3, showcasing the Ferengi at their worst), but after the pilot, I can't think of a single scene I disliked him in. He's good, except for the STD nightmare of a nose that I hate looking at.
After a few episodes, I realized that Quark's place and Odo kind of make DS9 the "Deadwood" of Star Trek. Sure, Odo isn't as handsome as Timothy Hutton, but the dynamic between the characters is just as good.
The crucial thing is, the show has a really good feel to it in the 1st season. It has that ever elusive watchability that even TNG had trouble keeping a tight grip on in the good seasons. Even if the plot of an episode is slight, you'll probably still get some prime Odo, Odo/Quark goodness. I'd probably only put 4 or 5 of the eps on my "good" list, but I'm happy to have watched all the ones that I did.
One that I really enjoyed that the episode guides weren't crazy about was "Captive Persuit", where O'brien becomes space buddies with Emmy-winning lizardman Tosk. In case you don't remember, Tosk's whole reason for existence is to be hunted by some goofy helmeted guys from the Gamma Quadrent in a "The Most Dangerous Game" type situation. Tosk's most endearing quality is that he answers any tough questions about his past with "Ah...uh....I am Tosk!". If I ever get pulled over for speeding, I am totally going to pull that one. "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?" "I....I....am Tosk!" "You're Tosk. OK. Is that supposed to, like, explain everything? Here in human society, on this side of the wormhole, the mutual exchange of information usually has a little more substance to it." "I...(*blink)...I.....am Tosk!"
So, with that surprisingly solid 1st season out of the way, I'm onward to DS9 Season 2. The rest of TNG will have to wait a little while.