DS9's "Dramatis Personae" Turns 25
It’s been said that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the dark Trek, the angry Trek. One episode that certainly gave credence to those claims was the first-season hour “Dramatis Personae,” in which main characters truly butted heads. Believe it or not, “Dramatis Personae” debuted on May 30, 1993… or 25 years ago today. To commemorate the anniversary, StarTrek.com is pleased to share 6 Things to Know About “Dramatis Personae.”
The official, full logline for “Dramatis Personae” read as follows: “Odo is caught in the middle when an alien influence pits Kira against Sisko in a deadly struggle for control of the station.” The TV Guide ad read: “Mutiny on Deep Space Nine! Alien forces pit Kira against Sisko in a deadly power struggle! Can Odo prevent it from becoming an all-out war!” And the short TV log listing noted: “Alien force causes Kira to Mutiny aboard Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
“Dramatis Personae” translates as “the characters of a play, novel, or narrative,” and thus was a perfect title for this episode. However, the working title for it was “Ritual Sacrifice.”
Not Bole-d Over
Cliff Bole had been one of TNG’s most-prolific directors, but he didn’t enter the DS9 game until “Dramatis Personae,” the 18th episode of season one. Bole, in an interview with StarTrek.com in 2012, revealed that he and executive producer Michael Piller were initially not in sync. “He thought I was a studio man and not creative, and I’d keep telling him, ‘Go back and look at “The Best of Both Worlds”’ He said, ‘Well, you don’t work late.’ I said, ‘I do my best not to because I don’t want to burn out the crew or my actors and, by the way, I know what I’m doing and I come in prepared.’ I was trained as a script clerk and an assistant. I’m a set rat, and have been on sets my whole life. When I was a kid I lived in the San Fernando Valley, and on Saturdays we’d go sneak onto all the back lots, roll around and watch what they were doing. So all that added up to I was very, very prepared. I’d had a couple of directors that I’d worked with over the years that I admired – John Huston and people like that – and I picked up a lot of experience. Michael Piller thought just because I wasn’t there for 14 and 15 hours a day that I was ducking creativity.” Bole, who ultimately directed 42 hours of Star Trek television, passed away in 2014 at the age of 76.
According to Memory Alpha, “When the airlock is opened in cargo bay four to clear the telepathic entity, Sisko can be seen gripping a crate with his combadge clearly visible on his uniform, despite the fact that he and O'Brien removed them in a previous scene. After the bay door closes he appears correctly again, with the missing badge. This portion of the scene had to be re-shot later in the production, and the missing combadge was overlooked.”
Character actor Tom Towles played Hon-Tihl in this episode and, later, Dr. Vatm, in the Voyager episode “Rise.” A favorite of horror fans thanks to his gallery of baddies, Towle’s many credits included Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead, The Borrower, The Devil’s Rejects and the 2007 reboot of Halloween, as well as the William Shatner-directed film Groom Lake and an episode of Seinfeld. He died in 2015 following a stroke.
Jadzia and Benjamin
Our favorite line of dialogue from this episode is a no-brainer. Delivered perfectly by Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax, it’s: "I've been friends with Benjamin Sisko for many years. In many ways, he's like a son… or a nephew. Some kind of close relative anyway.”