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1.11 The Nagus


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#21 writergroupie


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:14 AM

^ I think having some "serious" Ferengi episodes would have been very interesting, but just based on what I know of the writers, as I knew them then, I think they did their best to expand a culture that was originally introduced as little more than apes with whips :( and in that sense, they accomplished that - the Ferengi were a much richer (pardon the expression) culture by the end of DS9 than they were coming out of TNG.

I'm not sure that at that time, the Hollywood anti-captalism culture had so completely dominated that that was the driving intent in the Ferengi being a caricature rather than a fully-fleshed out species.

I think the biggest reason the Ferengi were the comic-relief schtick that they were was because they reflected an interest and an aspect of Ira's personality and the Ferengi, as they became, were his babies.

In other words, they were the Borscht-Belt comedians of the DS9 world because they amused Ira as such, and that was how they stayed.

Also, the show ultimately needed to be able to slot in dependable comic-relief episodes as the tone of the show grew darker overall and that's how the Ferengi episodes were used.

Armin always strove to give the Ferengi a greater dignity and depth than even the scripts sometimes provided.  Sometimes, he succeeded; sometimes he couldn't conquer the level of the scripts' humor.

That said, I think if the same writers (or others) were to write the Ferengi now, they would be written with more of an anti-capitalist political slant.  Previously, the Ferengi were mocked for being profit-driven, but occasionally shown that that could be useful.  Now I think that profit would be portrayed as not just a selfish thing, but an evil thing.  That's the Hollywood perspective.  Whether you think that's ironic or not. :)
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#22 Cardie


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

The Ferengi could function seriously as part of the ensemble or even when an episode centered on a Ferengi character, like "It's Only a Paper Moon" or "Little Green Men." It was when an episode dealt with bunches of Ferengi doing culturally Ferengi activities that it could get annoying. I always thought the critique of the culture was less that they were money-grubbers than that they only had room for money-grubbers, so that talented individuals like Rom and Nog had to turn to the Federation to realize their potential. And of course the denial of any status to women was a regular critique.

In "The Jem'Hadar" Quark makes a pretty good case that there are things a lot worse than unbridled capitalism.
Nothing succeeds like excess.

#23 QuiGon John

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:44 PM

Now I'm picturing an "Occupy Wall Street" movement on Ferenginar that the Ferengi view roughly the same way we view the Manson family... worse, since a large-scale movement would be perceived as an existential threat to all they held dear...

I think some of this, too, has to do with the sci-fi (and especially Trekkian) tendency to use alien races to hold up just one aspect of humanity for inspection. One imagines that a "real" Ferengi society would HAVE to have room for compassionate doctors and bloodthirsty military leaders, and the Klingons would need schoolteachers and social workers, and these people might be shaped by the same culture, but they would necessarily be different from the parodies we normally saw. The shows did occasionally give us guest characters like that-- the merc in Magnificent Ferengi, the Ferengi scientist and Klingon nursemaid in TNG-- but they were few and far between, and generally treated as complete oddballs...

#24 Orpheus


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:53 PM

I agree with the "apes with whips" characterization of their first appearance in TNG, but I recall that the media interviews said they would be an examination of "Yankee traders"--a term I would not have come up with on my own, wasn't used in the texts I read on the era, and indeed confused me a bit -- and still does: do they mean the charter companies? The Triangle trade? Early 18th century, late 18th century,  19th century? Atlantic or Asian? -- All very different

I guess that term should've warned me, were I entitled to a warning at all when believing media interviews.

And I should note that I *did* enjoy the Ferengi comic relief, I was just struck by the image of this episode as a darker, more realistic drama (dark != real, no matter the current fashion, but when we're talking assassination, it's appropriate)

How would I reconcile the two? Well, surely the Ferengi Empire has its more rustic colonial outposts, and surely those would be well represented on the border areas (more as opportunistic scavengers vs the serious corporate/political machinations of the sophisticates on Ferenginar). It would have fit everything DS9 required: a planetary government would provide enough weight for this (and all other episodes) -- Bajor is one, after all-- while a whole empire was too much (and we never saw any Empire-scale actions, consequences, etc.) Would DS9 treat a threat to a newly elevated leader of any significant planet as lightly as they treated Quark, supposedly a major figure in an entire Empire?

Quark of the planet Borscht, a hick colony on fringe of the Ferengi Empire, fits far better, I think.

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