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"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" Profit and Lace (TV Episode 1998) Poster

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Considered by many to be the worst episode of DS9 ever made. While still in its initial stages, the writers thought it had the makings of a classic episode. Armin Shimerman (Quark) was accused of playing it too seriously, while the producers wanted it more comical. Shimerman hated the script, and Alexander Siddig (Bashir) directed it too seriously, with none of the high-energy farce the writers had clearly envisioned with it. The major complaint against it was that it straddled a serious and funny story and ended up being neither one. The sheer disappointment everyone had ensured it was the show's last Ferengi episode.
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Chase Masterson commented "I have to tell you, I had the most fun in "Profit and Lace". Teaching Quark how to be a woman - how much more fun does it get than that?
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Armin Shimerman reportedly hated the script for this episode, as he felt Quark did not learn anything from his experience as a woman. Indeed, the original script had Lumba crying a great deal, but Shimerman refused to play it that way as he felt it was a negative stereotype against women. Shimerman commented: "...I just don't think Quark learned anything in ["Profit and Lace"]. That was disappointing. I didn't mind Quark's sex change, I minded that nothing came of it..."Quark has been a chauvinistic pig all of his life. He becomes a woman. Should he not learn or realize something from that experience? That would have been a great episode, to see Quark begin to realize the error of his whole culture's ways".
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Slug-o-Cola and Eelwasser were originally created by Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe for the book Legends of the Ferengi.
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This takes place in 2374.
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Armin Shimerman watched both Some Like It Hot (1959) and Tootsie (1982) for inspiration on how to play a woman; "The difference between those two films is that Tony Curtis was always winking at the camera, as if to say, 'I'm, playing a woman, but you know I'm really a man.' Dustin Hoffman's performance in Tootsie (1982) was, 'I'm playing a woman and I believe it.' And I decided I wanted to do the latter. I tried to be as feminine as I could."
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It is generally accepted amongst the writers and cast that the main problem with the episode is that while the writers wrote it as high-farce, Alexander Siddig and Armin Shimerman saw it as a much more serious piece, in the tradition of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Family Business (1995); a comic episode with serious undertones. As Shimerman says of Siddig, "He wanted to make it less of a comedy and more of an exploration of the relationship between a bickering mother and son. He tried to push the envelope and take Quark into an area that Quark isn't used to going in. I applaud him for it, although we reshot some of the scenes, like the heart attack, because he had a much darker vision than the writers had imagined."
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According to Armin Shimerman, the reason the episode ultimately failed was because it was half serious/half comic, and the two halves didn't gel; "It could have been a more serious dramatic piece or it could have been funnier. But it was neither one nor the other."
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Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien) does not appear in this episode.
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Cecily Adams said of this episode: "Sid wanted to explore how people who love each other really can hurt one another. Quark and Moogie have a very complicated relationship, and they each have access to that place in the other where they can cause hurt, and they both use it. The first time we shot the heart attack scene, it was very dark and the pace was slow. It was actually disturbing. We wouldn't have played it any differently had we not been wearing rubber masks. Armin and Sid really liked it, but when I watched it in dailies, I didn't like it. Even though it was an interesting exploration of the dark side, I didn't think it was exciting enough. And apparently the producers felt that way too. They wanted it more humorous."
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In retrospect, Ira Steven Behr sees this episode the biggest disappointment of his entire time at Star Trek; "If you look through the list, "Profit and Lace" was really the last Ferengi show. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Emperor's New Cloak (1999) is a mirror universe show, and the Ferengi portion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Dogs of War (1999) is only the A-story or the B-story, depending on how you look at it. So this was the nail in that coffin."
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The original idea for this episode came from René Echevarria; "We were all at lunch, talking about doing an episode about Moogie, the feminist movement, and giving Ferengi women the right to vote. It was a very preliminary discussion, and I said, 'I have this feeling that Quark ends up in a dress. I don't know why, but I think somehow Quark and Rom have to masquerade as women in order to pull something off." Echevarria's idea was seized upon by Ira Steven Behr, although he knew that the proposed episode carried risks; "The idea was to do a character comedy. We wanted to take this misogynist character and make him into a woman. But it's very difficult, for a lot of reasons, to get people on board with stuff like this, and when they do get on board they tend to go too far, or too broad, or they lose the reality, or they're not comfortable with it. And if any of those things are true, it won't work."
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The title of this episode may be a play on words from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Profit and Loss (1994).
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