In a recent TrekMovie interview with Ira Steven Behr, one of the topics was the change in the Ferengi from The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine.
The Ferengi were originally supposed to be bad guys, who made their debut in The Next Generation‘s first season episode The Last Outpost. Behr was not thrilled when he heard that Michael Piller and Rick Berman were bringing in a Ferengi as one of the regular cast members. “When Michael told me about it I went ‘Ewwwuggh’ and other weird sounds,” said Behr. “I was not a fan and I thought it was a mistake. The moment it clicked for me was when I did the pass on Babel, which was the first real episode I wrote on DS9. We started out with Rom being the hard-core Ferengi who didn’t want his son to go to HU-mon School and frankly I thought that did not work for me. I didn’t like the Ferengi being the nasty hard-line guy.
“What I had was a scene with Quark with O’Brien or Odo and Quark said, ‘My brother couldn’t fix a straw that was bent,’ and that line just started me thinking what if this was a show about brothers, about these two brothers. You have the successful brother and the loser brother. And I started to think of the Ferengi in human terms, 20th century human terms. And that nailed them for me. And that became my push. Not that they were so much comedic – although they were comedic – but more importantly they were 20th century human beings and we could write their relationship as such.”
Behr admits that they didn’t always get it right when it came to writing Ferengi episodes. “So obviously Quark as a woman was a total failure from the launch,” he said. “So if I could take that one back, but it is not number one. It is actually number two. You know when we wrote that script [for Profit and Lace] we thought it could work given some changes it could have worked. But the one that was a fucking disaster in the making was Let He Who Is Without Sin. That was a compromised show to begin with. There was no way we could do the sexuality of Risa to make it work, there would be a backlash. So while we were writing it Robert Hewitt Wolfe – God bless him – said, ‘Let’s dump it, this isn’t going to work. Rick and the whole system [are] going to be against it being any good. Let’s not do it. It is not going to work. We are straining to get to an issue that we are going to fall short of.”