Berman-era v. TOS Pacing: What do you think?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by plynch, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Outer Graceland
    [Disclaimer: TOS is my first love, but I enjoyed Berman-era first run, rewatched DS9 on Netflix and am grateful to Voyager for how it inspired my daughters. In fact, I think VOY Is what turned #2 into a Trekkie who just got Trek365 from her boyfriend (bodes well, eh?).]

    So over break at the in-laws, we saw some TNG on BBC. Hadn't seen any in years. It wasn't S1 or 2 and Troi was in science garb if that tells you anything. Having the two plots per ep seemed to make it very slow. There'd be like a conversation or bit of action of a minute or two, then back to plot B, with a little advancement. Then back to other plot. It was almost like Friends, which always struck me as having tons of miniscenes.

    Each plot seemed to advance in fits and starts, very slowly.

    Does this strike anyone as slow now? It didn't, to me, in original run. Is it just because I've been watching TOS almost exclusively for years, which really has one main plot and really runs with that? Or does TOS's narrative style seem too outdated to people weaned on modern TV? Just curious.
     
  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Oxford, PA
    I don't know about TNG, but I remember that by the time Voyager came around, its pacing seemed positively stately and old-fashioned compared to other shows of that era. I remember turning to my girlfriend during one particularly slow episode and commenting, "You know, Xena would have killed an army or two by now . . . ." :)
     
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    England
    Definitely. I breezed through a TOS rewatch about a year ago, but couldn't manage more than half of TNG. It was slow motion Trek in comparison (and also incredibly bland, character and plot-wise)
     
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    Per Ardua
    I think TOS is far better paced than its Berman-era counterparts. But TOS is my first love, so I might be biased.
     
  5. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Somewhere in Connecticut
    The problem with TOS's approach is that it often took what would have been a perfectly good half-hour episode and padded...it...out to fill that hour. TNG-era's A/B story approach seemed to be an attempt to improve upon this. I generally have no problem with it in TNG, which remains the most "comfy" Trek series to me...but by the time VGR and ENT had come along, they had problems holding my attention because it seemed like I'd seen everything they were doing a time or two before.
     
  6. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Hah! My boyfriend's a major Xena fan, and he said the same thing! We had watched Xena's "groundhog day" episode, and I asked him if we could watch "Cause and Effect" for comparison. He quickly got bored with the the latter, despite all the acclaim it usually gets from folks like me.
     
  7. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Can you name any specific TOS episodes that seem padded that way? I can think of a few, mostly in the third season.
     
  8. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Location:
    Houston, we have a problem...
    I can't think of any TOS episode that was padded...

    Remember that all episodes that get broadcast today have had little chunks taken out to allow more commercial time and seem...incomplete because of that. If there was any padding in those episodes, that editing should have had little effect on the story.
     
  9. CaptPapa

    CaptPapa Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    I really do not know . . .
    I'm definitely not an unbiased person with regards to this question, since to me TOS means 'The ONLY Series'. However, a couple of observations: One, I don't feel any of the TOS episodes were padded . . . though a couple were rather forgettable; and secondly, there is a tendency of more current series that I do enjoy - the feel of a continuing storyline.

    ME
     
  10. RunawayStarShip

    RunawayStarShip Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Actually, I think that the opposite is true. The B story, when used poorly, is the one used for padding. In fact, Q and the "trial of humanity" was written into "Encounter at Farpoint" for that very reason (to turn a 1-hour episode into a feature-length one). John de Lancie really saves the day there.

    ... Still, I guess that's better than when the A story feels like padding. "In Theory" comes to mind (A: Data and D'Sora attempt a relationship; B: the Enterprise explores a cool dark matter nebula). Worse, the B story isn't even really connected to the A story. This random romance could have happened at almost time, such as when the Enterprise was stuck in the booby trap in "Booby Trap" (another episode where the Enterprise-D exploring something cool is the B story).

    Of course, there are episodes with an A/B story structure that work well, such as BOBW which starts out like that (A: Riker realizes that he has trouble moving on in his career; B: something is scooping up Federation colonies). Of course, the A story perfectly sets Riker up as a foil for Shelby (and becomes relevant when Picard is assimilated), and the B story goes into overdrive when the Borg show up.

    In general, the story structure really doesn't matter as long as the writing and acting are good. (Also, having a killer soundtrack doesn't hurt either.)
     
  11. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    I thought that TOS was well paced, not so with TNG forward. Perhaps it was the A&B stories per episode or a more modern style of storytelling?
     
  12. Isolinear

    Isolinear Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2013
    The Galileo Seven always seems padded to me. But most TOS-episodes don't bore me, even though they are very slow compared to today's shows. Must be the quality writing that keeps me from dozing off.

    TNG was my first trek and I will always prefer it. But some of the episodes definitely have a tendency to become too "soap-opera" with lengthy talking-head shots.
    VOY and DS9 basically had the same style and when ENT aired, the difference between that show and BSG was like night and day.

    JJ-Trek is another story. Fast, faster, fastest just for fastness sake. Gotta keep that camera moving. Style over substance.
     
  13. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2007
    Location:
    Outer Graceland
    I will definitely see you on Galileo 7 and I will add Immunity Syndrome, just so I don't seem so biased. Empath, which I really like, maybe too.

    I like TNG fine, it was just the snippet-of-A, snippet-of-B, then back and back that seemed odd. So two short-stories were being stretched over an hour. Thanks for the feedback. And like I said, I don't remember it bugging me in 1993 or whatever.

    I would also ditto you on JJ being too action-fast (to my taste), but I recently rewatched STID and it did have heart and Trek-ness in Kirk's decision not to assassinate Khan on the gratuitous Klingon-kewl-fight world.
     
  14. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    Forget TNG. DS9 is the droid you're looking for. The high technical quality of TNG mixed with interesting characters, great on screen chemistry and excellent stories.


    The TNG cast had the greatest chemistry behind the scenes, but that never translated to the screen.
     
  15. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    The pacing has never bothered me in any of the Treks, to be honest.

    I think slow pace can be a positive, if the early scenes at the beginning are used to make the situation more interesting and set the stage for a greater payoff later. For example, Twilight Zone had some incredibly slow pacing much of the time, but it used the beginnings of episodes to forbode the ending and give it more of a kick. That's a better way to structure a television show than just action action action all the way through.

    Trek has had more strong moments when it's taken the time to set the stage and build the mystery. All the episodes I can think of that did strike me as slow in Trek were just bad episodes in general, not episodes that could have been better with more explosions.
     
  16. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Oxford, PA
    Faster pacing does not necessarily equal "action action action" or "more explosions." You can have faster-paced dialogue scenes (just watch any screwball comedy) or you can simply get to the point of each scene faster and more briskly. It's about energy, not just action.

    Examples: Compare "Relics" and "Trial and Tribble-ations" to Voyager's "Flashback." All three episodes were meant to be sentimental tributes to TOS, but the first two are much better paced. "Relics" and "Tribble-ations" waste no time getting to the good stuff; Scotty returns and the DS9 crew time-travels back to the 23rd century in the pre-credits teasers, but, as I recall, you have to sit through endless exposition and technobabble about Tuvok's medical condition before "Flashback" finally gets around to revisiting Sulu and the Excelsior--which was kinda the whole point of that particular episode!

    "Cutting to the chase" doesn't mean you have to literally throw in a chase scene. It just means get on with the story already! :)

    And it's worth noting that the best Twilight Zone episodes were only thirty minutes long. When they experimented with hour-long episodes during the fourth season, the episodes suffered and the show wisely went back to half-hour episodes in the fifth season.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2013
  17. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    Location:
    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination
    I think that TOS is the fastest-paced of the Trek television series. Even with action-centric episodes, TNG could seem pretty slow. Although not surprisingly, TNG seasons 1 and 2, the most "TOS-like" were the fastest-paced to me. I'd say DS9 and VOY were pretty similar in pacing to TNG.
     
  18. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    England
    What TOS has going for it is likeable characters. Even in the worst episodes I kept watching and enjoying their interactions. TNG's bland and unrelatable group of characters couldn't carry a bad story.

    I think Voyager is the only other Trek that managed to keep ones attention during poor stories (sometimes, at least), with Janeway, Seven and the Doctor's banter.
     
  19. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'll add "Plato's Stepchildren," "That Which Survives" and "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," all of which have redundant and superfluous scenes and could easily have been tightened to fit a half-hour format.
     
  20. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Somewhere in Connecticut
    I'm not one for making lists, but since others have given some examples, throw in "The Alternative Factor" and "The Lights of Zetar" (OTTOMH).