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

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

  1. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I would. But with my limited intellect, I'm only interested in "fairy tales". :p
     
  2. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    That wasn't meant as a flame, and adversarial reviews are more likely to have useful input than complimentary ones.
     
  3. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    double post deleted
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    FWIW, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widower:

     
  5. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    CorporalCaptain, thanks for catching that. fixed.
     
  6. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    VOY's storytelling problems more had to do with the lack of a real plot, rather than style of storytelling.

    It may surprise you, but they did continuing storylines like that as far back as the first year of Iron Man. They did that story where his love interest Janice Kord DIED partly because of Tony.
     
  7. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    VOY's problem was failure to follow through. Set up situation, take cheap out, repeat. The IM example wasn't to say they didn't have arcs before Layton & Michelinie, just that was an example of a better (IMO) storyline.
     
  8. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed.

    I actually thought Ivanova creatively confounding the alien ambassador's expectations of human sex was legitimately hilarious, one of many moments in B5 that confounds the frequent claim that the show was somehow humorless.

    On the virtues of the episodic format: the advantage of this in Trek was that it could make the setting feel more "open" and varied, because you got multiple visions (some of them quite different) of what these adventures could be. The disadvantage was always that it robbed Trek of the cohesion that B5 enjoyed.

    OTOH if a show is going to be built around a single driving vision, that vision needs to be very strong. JMS' vision for B5 had undoubted strengths and his delivery was pretty top-notch... but it was also at root kind of a science fantasy story, which kept me from falling completely in love with it (not that I mind fantasy, but I tend to prefer something more genuinely science fiction when I can get it) and the component parts of his universe were sometimes not that interesting (I never could get into the "techno-mages," for instance, or bring myself to care all that much about the Drazi or the Drakh).

    As for Voyagers' failure to effectively repurpose the TNG format -- it was definitely a case where apart from copping out completely on their premise, they would have benefited from more TOS-style storytelling. VOY spent a great deal of time "developing" characters who just weren't that interesting or were actively irritating (cf. Torres, Neelix, Paris) in a setting that felt improbably cushy given what the show's premise was supposed to be.
     
  9. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    That's interesting. My sense of humor is a bit more dry; I never cared much for the sort of broad humor seen in a lot of comedies and movies, and often found humor in B5, just not as much that depended on embarrasing situations, characters making fools of themselves, and the like. That scene made me think how uncomfortable I'd be in such a situation, and that takes me right out of getting a laugh from it.

    true. But that's something to be careful with - go to the well too often, and it feels like you have only a handful of scripts.

    Huh? B5 was less space fantasy than Trek, especially after TNG. "Phase inversion, cap'n" could fix almost anything.

    Uneven character development, poor sense of timing, lack of vision, and timidity. Mama Janeway this ep, Cap'n PMS Avenger the next. We can't let Starfleeters argue with each other, so we'll mix them with a Maquis crew (Roddenberry was dead by then, they could've just ignored his dictum instead of invoking mixed crews as a work-around), and then get cold feet and have them fet along just like Starfleeters 99% of the time. Let's give them a serial killer, and when they catch him, instead of making the captain act logically to protect her crew, let's write her jailing him for the next 70 years, or until we get home. And then she lets one of her most senior officers mind-meld with him as therapy! Say what? You're risking your entire crew on this guy! But ok, we want to talk philosophy and say we have to watch out for the murderer's rights, too. OK, then when the ship gets captured, and he's already mostly rehabilitated, he escapes and kills bad guys to get you your ship back. Instead of letting him live so you can make psychological points over the captain's angst at the bloody, dirty way she got her ship back, and her guilt for letting him do it, let's kill him off in the process so we can sweep it all under the rug as a heroic final act and forget the gory details. They had no follow-through, and were afraid to complete any reaches they made.
     
  10. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, TOS and TNG did that a lot too. Even DS9 did that.

    VOY would've benefited from having a real plot to drive the stories, since the "Internal Tensions" thing was never going to last more than 1-2 years and the whole "Lost in Space" thing wasn't sustainable either.

    DS9 and B5 had the Dominion War and the Shadow War arcs to drive their series, VOY needed something major like that too since the "Lost Ship going home" thing wasn't even that interesting a plot to begin with.

    Of course, this was mainly due to Berman and co not really wanting to make Voyager to begin with. It was an Executive command, not something they wanted to really do. By comparison, Berman and Piller DID want to make DS9 and took the proper time and effort to do so.

    B5 was space-fantasy, it's just that instead of using made up technobabble they just rarely ever explained any super-tech and had it basically be magic (or tech so advanced it seemed like magic).

    EDIT: B5 also had the major problem was that it usually wussed out on Sheridan's character. It kept making him out to be some kind of Saint and everyone who disagreed was either evil or stupid, or brainwashed (even when they had valid points).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  11. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not so.

    On the one hand, B5 was actually much better about keeping its basic scientific and technical premises straight than Trek ever was.

    OTOH it was much less interested in telling science fiction stories than Trek ever was, most definitely including TNG. For all of Trek's fudging and for the Treknobabble that became commonplace in TNG, there were still plenty of episodes based around scientific what-ifs (revolving around singularities, cosmic strings, digitization of consciousness, cloning, and of course a signature obsession that eventually became cliche, time travel). It was mainly the Trek "god-being" trope that regularly detoured into fantasy, and even then they were brief excursions*.

    B5's driving themes by contrast tended to be sociological or political (which I quite liked) or tied up with the larger fantasy narrative of mysterious destinies and prophecies and evil aliens from the planet Mordor (sorry, Z'ha'dum) which had its moments but was less compelling for me on the whole.

    * Yes, Trek's version of science fiction did eventually deteriorate completely into its own brand of science fantasy wherein things happened According to Trek Convention rather than according to scientific plausibility. But that process didn't fully take hold until... well, Voyager:

    QFT.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
  12. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    I might be mistaken but it wasn't just Trek that audiances tuned out of but TV in general.
     
  13. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    DS9 faced far stiffer competition in the televised SF medium than previous Trek shows, in particular competition from another Trek series that started up a couple of seasons into its run. It was also essentially ripping off the concept of B5 which ran during the same period. These shows were all competing in the same niche.
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Link?
     
  15. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    It's not the audiences were no longer watching television. Rather, thanks to cable, there were more channels dividing the audience's attention, which is why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was able to simultaneously decline in ratings and remain the top (or near the top) syndicated drama on television.

    (Which is not to say that people weren't also tuning out because they didn't like the series, for whatever reason).
     
  16. KeepOnTrekking

    KeepOnTrekking Commodore Commodore

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    I've always found Berman-era Trek or JJ-Trek to be full of fast cuts and action and cramming all of these A, B and C-plots into one story. When I go back to watching TOS, TOS just seems to be a much slower way to tell a story. I have this same feeling for any tv show from the 60s or 70s (e.g. $6 Million Man, Bionic Woman).

    With that said, TOS is still my favorite Trek. When I watch a show, I just like to lose myself in the moment. I hate being interrupted by someone else in the room. I hate being interrupted by B-plots or even C-plots. It's annoying like c----- interruptus. That's why I can't get into some of the novels like Spock's World or the Vulcan Soul trilogy. I just want to stick with the one storyline.

    As for technobabble, it may have been prevailant in Berman-era Trek, but it was actually there in the beginning in TOS. (e.g. "That Which Survives," "Immunity Syndrome," "Alternative Factor.") TOS writers/producers were just savvy enough to cross out 2 pages of technobabble and substitute in the famous Roddenberry line of "Reverse course!" :lol:
     
  17. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ You found Berman-era Trek to be "full of fast cuts and action"?!
     
  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Consulting Cinemetrics (a wonderful site) it turns out that the franchise under Berman actually had less cutting than it did in the '60s.

    (Just do a search for "Star Trek," sort the list by average shot length, and you'll see what I mean).

    The information is user-provided, so it's not a perfect tool (you can see multiple entries for TWOK with varying ASLs, for example), but it's still a useful one.

    What strikes me as interesting is that Star Trek Into Darkness has longer shots than its predecessor.
     
  19. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Again, that's more to do with the smaller casts those shows had compared to the larger ensembles of the Berman-era.
     
  20. KeepOnTrekking

    KeepOnTrekking Commodore Commodore

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    Special effects-wise, the first thing that popped into my head was,say, DS9's "Way of the Warrior." The station's firing its torpedoes at the Klingon fleet. Bang. Bang. Bang. We follow the torpedoes around to the targets until they destroy a Bird of Prey or two. In comparison, TOS's "Tholian Web." A long static shot of the Enterprise firing its phasers at the Tholian ship so they can lay in the special effects. Another static shot of the Tholian ship being hit.

    Storywise, maybe I should replaced the words "fast cuts and action" with "detouring constantly to the clutter of unrelated B-plots" as if the A-plot would prove boring to the attention span of some viewers over the course of an hour. (Or maybe the writers just weren't talented enough to keep the suspense up with one plot with such bland and boring characters that were forced to "get along" in Roddenberry's Utopian 24th-century Earth.) Berman-era Trek, to me, just seems crammed with cutting to lots of B-plots that were just as boring to watch as all of those padded moments of Lokai and Bele running around the corridors to the transporter room in TOS's "Let That Be Your Last battlefield."