The Overlord wrote:
What kind of serialized story can you do with exploration?
Spend a whole season at each planet. A real exploratory mission wouldn't just drop in for a day or three and deal with one event and one place -- they'd settle in and spend months surveying the whole planet in detail. A full-season arc could let them visit multiple different nations and regions of the planet, get involved in developing local tensions and crises, have evolving relationships with people on the planet, etc.
Plus why wouldn't the Federation have to defend from conquerors, space is a big place, its naive to expect everyone out there would be friendly.
Don't misunderstand me. There are plenty of aspiring conquerors and threats of war in Trek. But most of the time, war in Trek is a threat that is ultimately averted because the heroes are smart enough and committed enough to find a better way of resolving the conflict. (Or sometimes because glowing balls of light masquerading as medieval villagers force them to find a better way. Everyone has their off days.) Even the Xindi arc was ultimately a story about averting a war rather than waging one. Most of the time, Star Trek
is not about fighting in wars, but about fighting against
war. And that's a far greater and worthier challenge. Letting a war start is easy; stopping it or preventing it takes far more courage, strength, and skill.