Ira Steven Behr left Star Trek: The Next Generation after one season only to return as executive producer and showrunner for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In an interview promoting his new show Alphas (premiering on Syfy next week) Behr talks about what worked and didn’t work on DS9, and if he would return to Trek.
Ira Steven Behr on being "trapped" at TNG + what worked/didnt on DS9
Ira Steven Behr began working as a producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation during the third season, but left the show. In a new interview with the official Star Trek site, Behr explains his issues with Next Gen:
I called TNG, perhaps unfairly, the Connecticut of Star Trek, and I still kind of feel that way. Maybe if I’d come on in the fourth season or stayed through the fourth season, things would have gotten better, but creatively I just felt trapped. That’s not to say I didn’t have a great time with Ron and Rene (Echevarria) and the gang, and (Hans) Beimler and (Richard) Manning.
Behr was one of the writers on TNG S3 episode "Yesterday’s Enterprise" – a darker episode more up his alley
Behr eventually returned after Michael Piller convinced him that things would be different with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and that it would be "grittier, darker and with humor" and more suited for him. Behr stayed for all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine and was even able to convince Star Trek overlord Rick Berman to do a multi-season arc with the Dominion War. Behr explains:
One of the things we wanted to do was experiment with serialization and with the kind of space-opera war that spoke to a lot of the mythologies the show had built up. I thought we could do it. I knew we could do it. And then it became horse trading. I don’t even remember how many episodes we did, but I know we wanted more. Rick (Berman) and I went back and forth. Nothing terrible. No fights or anything like that. But we horse traded a bit and we came up with whatever it was.
Behr went on to say that more serialized nature of DS9 is what he feels worked best on the series, noting:
The thing that worked best for me was that it told a story over seven years. There was a beginning, there was a middle and there was an ending.
Battle from "Sacrifice of Angels" – Behr fought to get Dominion War arc and more serialization into Star Trek Deep Space Nine
As for what didn’t work, Behr points to how they tried too often to do comedy/Ferengi episodes:
[O]nce we realized that Armin (Shimerman) wasn’t really connecting to a lot of the humor we were trying to do, we should have probably cut back on some of the attempts at doing humorous episodes, or at least gotten directors who were more comfortable with comedy…But every now and then we’d get a show like “Little Green Men” or “The Magnificent Ferengi,” which I thought did work. So every now and then you’d see a glimmer of hope, but we probably should have admitted defeat.
Behr remains proud of his work on Deep Space Nine, and even though he is now busy working on Alphas for Syfy, he would return to DS9 if the opportunity arose, saying
[T]here is a big part of me that would love to go back to that world and those characters. I miss a lot of those characters. I miss the people, too, but I miss those characters. So, would I say no? I don’t think I’d say no.
Cross-dressing Armin Shimerman in "Profit and Lace" – Behr admits that all attempts at humor with the Ferengi episodes didn’t work