Ronald D. Moore wrote some of the Star Trek franchise's most memorable episodes during its golden age in syndication. He contributed to 54 of The Next Generation, 30 of Deep Space Nine, and two for Voyager. The writer, producer, and occasional actor was such a creative force, he even wrote the screenplay for the first two TNG films in Generations (1994) and arguably their best film First Contact (1996). Moore spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about one memorable DS9 episode called "Our Man Bashir" in its 25th anniversary, which involves the station's resident doctor Dr. Julian Bashir, played by Alexander Siddig, who finds himself in a transporter accident and placed in a holosuite program in the role of a secret agent tuxedo and all evoking shades of the 1960's James Bond films. His objective is to complete the mission and save the day before he can resume his normal life.
"I remember it being a very fun episode to write," Moore says of the season four putting, which aired at the end of November 1995. "It was one of our more challenging shoots, too, if I recall. I had always loved the classic James Bond movies, I grew up with the Sean Connery films, so it was a great opportunity to combine a version of them with another thing I loved, which was Star Trek." "Our Man Bashir" was originally conceived as a freelance pitch by Bob Gillan but thanks to the need for filler content, it made it through. One of the regular tropes used in the Star Trek franchise particularly on TNG was the "malfunctioning holodeck," which forces its participants to see their roles play out when the simulation doesn't act according to plan. "Once we had that [transporter narrative] device locked down, we were able to break the story in a way that was relatively easy, if I recall, because we had years of Bond movies to rely on and borrow from," Moore said. "It was a very ambitious episode, and the sets were amazing. Especially the evil villain's lair set. It was great to see the production value put into what was our version of, an homage to the classic volcanic lair-type sets that [the late Bond production designer] Ken Adams made back in the day. I mean, it was the closest thing you got to making a Bond movie."
One of the nuances of filming such an episode is the elaborate sequences involved. According to Moore, most DS9 episodes took seven or eight days to make, but "Our Man Bashir" took nine. The writer recalled one involving Colm Meany, who normally plays Miles O'Brien as the chief engineer, but plays the Bond villain type in the episode. "There's this sequence with Bashir's spy and one of the bad guys, you know, our version of an Odd Job-type character [Falcon]," he said." And there was this explosion and, we rarely got to go on set back in the TNG days. But I was able to see this and I have to say it was such a cool thing to be on set for because — we were really, essentially, trying to make a James Bond movie. It was hard, very hard work. The shoot was a bear for the crew. But there was an energy to it because everyone was so excited to be pulling it off and doing something different, with the period, Bond-era costumes, too. One of my favorite memories from my time working on the show."
Despite the episode being a love letter to the spy genre, MGM and Eon, the creative forces behind the Bond franchise were less than amused. "MGM sent us a letter," Moore remembers. "I don't recall [Bond producers] the Broccolis being on it or having signed it, but I remember after the episode aired, the studio sent us a very stern letter. And it even got back to some of the higher-ups at Paramount. It seems [MGM was] not very flattered by our 'homage,' but it wasn't like we got in any serious trouble or anything." Siddig told StarTrek.com, "I think 'Our Man Bashir' was probably one of the most important in terms of changing attitudes towards Bashir. I think that was probably one of the most-influential episodes. I don't know if it's one of the best, but it is certainly super-influential. I remember opinions began to change after that episode. So that would probably be an important one, historically." In following up Bashir's secret agent alter ego, DS9 continued his tale in the season five episode "A Simple Investigation." Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available to stream on CBS All Access.