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Old January 1 2014, 06:55 PM   #1
JirinPanthosa
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I thought that episode was original, until...

I had previously seen maybe 40% of TOS episodes and I've been watching through on Netflix. As I've been going through it's been deflating my opinion of the originality of shoes from other series.

Devil in the Dark -> TNG/Home Soil
Errand of Mercy -> Stargate/The Nox

Obviously, TV shows are going to influence each other, and some of these episodes probably borrowed elements from earlier scifi such as literature and Twilight Zone. But in cases like these it's like they took the exact story and just plugged in a new alien. This even seems extreme by Stargate standards. Like, yeah they have a 'Time loop' episode and an 'Out of phase' episode and other basic scifi tropes that were done in TNG, but at least they designed different stories around those tropes.

Why does scifi seem to feel more comfortable blatantly ripping off TOS than other science fiction?
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Old January 1 2014, 09:14 PM   #2
CrazyMatt
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

As someone way smarter than I once said, "Success breeds imitators."
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Old January 1 2014, 09:34 PM   #3
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

People often make the mistake of assuming that if two stories resemble one another, one must have deliberately copied the other. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It's very hard to avoid telling a story that resembles some earlier story. Perhaps the most common reason why story pitches to TV shows or submissions to fiction magazines get rejected is "We're already doing one like that." Which is why writers usually try very hard to avoid imitating other stories. Any similarity you do come across is vastly more likely to be accidental.

And there are more episodes of Star Trek, cumulatively, than just about any other SF screen franchise except Doctor Who (and surely a lot more distinct stories, since most of DW's episodes were parts of multi-episode serials). It's thus pretty much impossible to find a story that doesn't bear some similarity to some previous Trek episode. It's not proof of imitation, it's just statistics.

Every story has been told before and will be again. That's just the nature of stories. Stories work because they have meaning for human beings, and the number of ideas that carry meaning for us is finite. A story based entirely on ideas no human being had ever written down before would be so alien as to be incomprehensible. All stories are built on pre-existing ideas -- ideas the writer is aware of and wants to engage with, ideas the audience will understand and relate to things in their own lives. What matters, what makes them fresh and original, is how those ideas are put together and expressed.
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Old January 1 2014, 10:14 PM   #4
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

Christopher wrote: View Post
What matters, what makes them fresh and original, is how those ideas are put together and expressed.
I don't read as much sci-fi as when I was younger. "Concept" stories seemed the norm back then, while much of the recent stuff I've encountered feels like soap opera—where maintaining the series and the characters is the primary concern. I'll often shy away from anything pitched as "part of the popular X series!"

Maybe I've seen all the basic concepts now, or maybe the genre (meaning publishing and fans, etc) has actually changed. Or maybe some of both. "There is nothing new under the suns of Kalgash."
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Old January 1 2014, 10:32 PM   #5
JirinPanthosa
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

A lot of stories resemble each other, but usually they aren't completely identical. For example, Stargate's time loop episode was approached as a comedy episode, showing O'Neall and Teal'c doing stuff they always wanted to do but would get in trouble for, and forcing them to do the intellectual work usually done by Daniel and Sam. Farscape's time loop episode was more of an investigative episode. Neither are anything like Cause and Effect.

Starate's "The Nox" is identical to Errand of Mercy. The humans land on some planet where they find a population of apparently primitive, defenseless natives. The bad guys are there with the intention of enslaving and murdering said natives. Said natives seem unconcerned. Turns out they are super-powerful pacifists who end up stopping them from killing each other and forcing them to leave.
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Old January 1 2014, 10:58 PM   #6
Christopher
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

You're cherrypicking a few similarities and ignoring many differences. In "Errand of Mercy," a war had just started with a newly introduced enemy and the protagonists were sent to a strategically important planet to protect what they thought were its primitive natives. In "The Nox," the protagonists came to the Nox's planet in pursuit of the secret of invisibility, whereupon their already-established enemies happened to arrive and attack them. In the Trek episode, the Organian village is taken over by the Klingons and Kirk and Spock impersonate villagers and mount a guerrilla campaign. In "The Nox," the heroes are all killed by the Goa'uld and wake up in the Nox village, along with a Jaffa soldier that Teal'c knows and tries to win to his side; the village is never taken over by the Goa'uld because the Nox keep it invisible.

So yes, there are similarities, just as every story ever written has similarities to earlier stories, because all fiction is built around recurring tropes. But they're obviously not "identical." If you find it so anomalous for two or more stories to have similar themes and tropes, then you clearly haven't read or watched enough stories.
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Old January 2 2014, 12:36 AM   #7
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

Christopher wrote: View Post
Every story has been told before and will be again.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Basic_Plots
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Old January 2 2014, 01:48 AM   #8
ZapBrannigan
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

I was just thinking the other day that an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a remake of "The Enemy Within." In "The Replacement," Xander gets split into his confident and sniveling sides.
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Old January 2 2014, 08:20 AM   #9
F. King Daniel
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

There was also an episode of Smallville that copied the concept of "The Enemy Within" and gave us our first look at an evil Lex Luthor.
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Old January 3 2014, 04:38 AM   #10
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

Actually, I find it amusing to see so many stories using the title "The Enemy Within." In TV and literature.
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Old January 3 2014, 06:24 AM   #11
1001001
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

This is not TOS specific. Moving to SFF.

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Old January 3 2014, 06:33 AM   #12
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

Wait till the OP sees The Naked Time and The Naked Now.
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Old January 3 2014, 07:13 AM   #13
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
I was just thinking the other day that an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a remake of "The Enemy Within." In "The Replacement," Xander gets split into his confident and sniveling sides.
More like the capable confident adult he was actually becoming and the man-child version of himself (full of doubt, jealousy, fear) he was afraid he truly was deep down and could never leave behind.
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Old January 3 2014, 05:55 PM   #14
Mistral
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

A smart man once said that every plot point known to man can be found in Shakespeare-and the ideas weren't new when he wrote his stories.
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Old January 4 2014, 02:04 PM   #15
shivkala
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Re: I thought that episode was original, until...

In other words:


Which is from a South Park episode which tackled the topic of plots that were similar to episodes of The Simpsons.

What I came to love about Stargate SG-1 and what I think was lacking from its later seasons (not to mention its spin-offs) was the fact that it seemed to recognize it was a genre show and when they were treading familiar paths, they'd call themselves on it with some tongue-in-cheek comment or reference. It seemed to celebrate the fact that it was honoring the shows that came before it.
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