Making a Star Trek series that fits in with today's TV landscape

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by The Overlord, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Which of course, doesn't really matter as far as ratings go. While critical praise and spotlighting in a few magazines are nice, networks tend to look at how many people are actually watching their shows. In that regard, the serialized format is definitely not the only way to go since episodic shows are still very popular with today's audiences. In fact, there is no indication whatsoever that they've ever stopped being very popular.

    I would say how much people care about a show is equal to how many people tune in to see it each week. In that capacity, you're going have to flip that statement around.
    Don't think for a moment that episodic shows don't have their legions of followers. They may not spend all week on the internet talking/complaining about the latest episode of NCIS, but if 20 million of them tune in each week, they just represent a different kind of following (the less vocal, but larger in numbers kind).
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Maybe we shouldn't be looking for Trek that "fits in". In 1966 and 1987 the thing that defined Trek was that it was different from pretty much everything else that was on.
     
  3. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Except NCIS and Law Order are on networks that every one gets, while Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are on cable channels that not everyone gets, of course the ratings are not the same.

    Besides what is the likely of Star Trek showing up on network TV rather then cable TV at this point, it seems cable TV is better able to serve niche programming then network programming does and right now sci fi programming is niche.

    Plus there have been several times in recent months where cable TV have gotten more ratings then network TV.

    http://www.vulture.com/2013/08/lessons-from-breaking-bads-ratings-explosion.html

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-season-3-finale-ratings-431948

    I really think making a Star trek series that is purely episodic would be a step backwards at this point.

    But it should be relevant, not feel like some throw back to a show from the 60s or 80s. Voyager didn't feel very unique because it often felt like a TNG clone and come across as a show that didn't fit with more modern shows in the 90s.
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's way more than that. Those shows are just more popular too (they get big ratings in second-run syndication too). You do have a lot of people that simply aren't into serialized shows, they just want to tune into a show without having to keep track of everything that happened since the first episode.
    The exclusive premium cable is like that, but non-premium cable is increasingly like broadcast television and I believe that any new Trek series will be there in order to get the biggest possible audience rather than a smaller one.
    That may be your opinion, but it's not one that everyone shares. The Star Trek format is actually ideally suited for the episodic format. That doesn't mean that there can't be story and character arcs along the way, but I doubt we'll see a Trek series where every episode is connected to the one before.
     
  5. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

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    I agree about the complicated plots. Nowadays it has to be convoluted, which often means the plot trips over itself. Whatever happened to simple (i.e. realistic) plots ? :(
     
  6. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    So a bit more like DSN.
     
  7. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's probably the best description I've heard so far.
     
  8. AviTrek

    AviTrek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Unless you plan on selling the series to Netflix for first run, the Netflix binge watching doesn't matter. All it represents are viewers who don't watch in first run and instead lower the ratings so the show gets canceled sooner.
     
  9. AviTrek

    AviTrek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Critical praise and internet chatter sure, but ratings still favor CSI, ncis, and standalone comedies.
     
  10. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's possible to do story and character arcs without resorting to Lost-style serialization that makes it impossible for the show to have decent pacing if you watch it on a week to week basis. Just have a complete story (beginning, middle, and end) in the episode, change the status quo at the end, and write future episodes with that changed status quo in mind. I'm not exactly sure what model/example of serialization that would best fit under (Mad Men, I guess), but it worked pretty well in Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis.

    Other than that, all the stuff I mentioned in this article applies too. Also, I'd like a show that managed to not fall into the "competence and pragmatism = evil" trap that most of the TNG-era and Trek Lit stuff seems to. I know Roddenberry wanted Trek to be an optimistic future, but that doesn't mean the good guys in that future act like they've tossed their common sense and critical thinking abilities into a black hole.
     
  11. Mycroft Maxwell

    Mycroft Maxwell Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In today's television landscape (which happens to be mostly CRAP) I think the only show networks would want is "Keeping up with the Cardassians "
     
  12. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm going to take a "case study" approach to this question. Various science fiction franchises have been re-booted over the years. Consider two that succeeded--the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and the new Doctor Who. These two have succeeded admirably in ways that (for example) The Bionic Woman did not. Further I would point to the BBC's Sherlock as an excellent way to refresh an idea that was getting stale.

    What these three have in common, at least IMHO, are a few factors:

    1. They look at the premise and take it seriously. BSG for example is about an entire civilization all but destroyed trying to survive and re-invent themselves. The original never really examined what that meant, the trauma involved or the consequences. DW tells the story of an immortal lone wanderer in time and space, sometimes accompanied by the mortal, primitive friends he makes and takes with him in his amazing vehicle. SH focuses on a friendship between a social misfit and supreme genius, who then meets a man who somehow becomes his only friend. Keeping the focus on what the story is about remains key.

    2. They all referenced the past versions, while not copying them slavishly. Each of the three demonstrate respect for what-has-gone-before but proved unafraid of going in a totally new direction, making a choice utterly at odds with the past. Most obviously in DW, the relationship between the Doctor and his Companions deepened, to the point where such became an integral part of the Doctor's character arc.

    3. An interesting trend all three have shown is the blend of a season-long arc in which stand-alone episodes fit. Indeed, the latter can usually work without the arc, although season finales in particular seem to depend on the arc. Lots of shows follow this pattern, which can be a tricky balance. The creators of Supernatural for example felt The X-Files ultimately leaned too much on the arc. I once saw a writer for Buffy note that shows can become over-burdened with their own mythology, especially after five years. Good point.

    4. Plus, each of the three gave us genuinely compelling and complex characters, ones with the quirks and flaws and sometimes startling virtues that feel "true." And in doing so completely went against stereotypes. One is hard-pressed to find a more interesting first officer on any ship-based t.v. show than Tigh of BSG for example. Likewise the BBC has brought us the most interesting Watson I can ever recall--not the least because he misses the excitement of combat, yet feels conflicted about it.

    I strongly feel that if a new Star Trek did those four things, it could prove a very exciting and successful program:

    Take its own premise seriously.
    Respect the past, but don't feel at all bound by it.
    Balance the stand-alone stories with the overall arc.
    Offer genuine, fascinating characters.

    As far as specifics go, let us examine life aboard a starship for a second. You're living inside a machine that keeps you alive. Nothing, absolutely nothing, must be allowed to seriously compromise that machine. Safeguards around that machine should be awesome and discipline on board ship would have to be airtight. Violating such discipline means perhaps killing hundreds of people. The lives of people in Starfleet should reflect that. One of the most mind-boggling things in Abrahms' ST remains the lack of clear chain-of-command--a wildly unacceptable state of affairs in a restaurant much less a heavily armed spaceship!

    Along the same line, a ST that simply follows the past is just a retread. I found Sisko's ruthless decision to commit terrible crimes to save the Federation one of the most powerful things in the entire franchise. Likewise I would frankly like to see stories that explore what prejudices the Federation might still struggle with--an idea barely touched upon in any Trek yet, and then usually resolved in a formula.

    When it comes to characters, I frankly found the most interesting ones were often watered down or little-used in most Treks. Not always, but the tendency towards blandness is there. Two really strong dynamics that to me seemed utterly wasted in TNG were (a) Ryker's initial view of Data as nothing but a machine, and (b) Ro Laran, such an interesting and compelling character she seemed out of place! Yet had she been a regular, replacing the platitude-spouting Deanna Troi maybe, the show would have been far more of a genuine pleasure to watch and less of a not-unwelcome chore. Just a quick list of favorite characters from other shows, to give an idea of what I mean:

    Toby of The West Wing.
    Jessica of True Blood.
    Olivia Dunham of The Fringe
    Lumen Pierce of Dexter
    Bialr Crais of Farscape
    Spenser Reid of Criminal Minds
    Ben Linus of Lost

    Mind you, I'm not saying any of the above should be transposed into a new Trek but rather this shows the level of complexity which would grab audience's attentions. And this isn't about angst or failure, but about struggle to achieve something difficult. What nearly all the above characters have in common is a genuine desire to do the right thing, but who don't find that an easy or comfortable effort. Yet none of them stop trying, a fact I find heroic.

    Just my couple of pennies. Okay, fistful of change. :p
     
  13. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If Star Trek were to get the same number of viewers as the Kardassians (2.5 million) that might be borderline for a expensive show like Star Trek, but possibly doable.

    Better still Mycroft would be rating like those of Duck Dynasty, with 10.5 million viewers.

    [​IMG]


    I said maximum warp boy.


    :)
     
  14. Mycroft Maxwell

    Mycroft Maxwell Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I am the only person in my area that hates Duck Dynasty. I thought people get a kick out of my Cardassian and Kardashian jive.
     
  15. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Man, I have a wonderful idea, and I'll share it with you because I just want to see it happen. I don't care who gets the credit. It's kind of a COMBINATION of Dr. Who and Battlestar, but set in the Abrams-verse, yet ultimately restores the timeline to the one we all know and love.
    =
     
  16. SolitaryJustice

    SolitaryJustice Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I don't know anything about pitching a TV show or how to actually write one, but I have this idea, and it's frakking golden.
     
  17. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    IMHO, the best chance a Trek Series has on TV right now, is to be an Academy Based Series on the CW. Any other concept is likely going to appeal to too small an audience to justify it's budget. An Academy Based show on The CW could appeal to the young Demographic and could justify a little bit of SciFi budget.
     
  18. OpenMaw

    OpenMaw Captain Captain

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    I don't understand why people act like science fiction is somehow unwanted on television? Battlestar, Doctor Who, and other shows of recent past show that science fiction will work just fine on TV.

    Star Trek had a problem on TV simply because it was creatively dead. It wasn't willing to bend itself enough, and it had been run by the same people for decades. It needed a refresher.


    As some of the writers and actors on early TNG said, it was some of the shows own self imposed and arbitrary rules that hurt it. The same is true of the twilight years of Trek.
     
  19. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    BSG got cancelled due to falling ratings, it ended up with less than 1 million viewers. A Space Opera show, is going to need at least 2-3 million viewers on cable, and 3 times that much on Network TV.

    Doctor Who is a British Show, with a budget nowhere in the vicinity of what it would be if it was an American show. Heck, the star of the show alone would be paid as much as the entire per episode budget of Doctor Who

    There's all kinds of SciFi shows on the air, but, there are no American Space Opera shows, because they cost too much for the viewers they bring in.
     
  20. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    Modern market? If you're going network? Reality Trek.

    Build a partial mock up of the Enterprise. Fill it full of Trekkies, give them "Missions" to do: This week "A virus breaks out on the ship and the crew must find a cure!"; "Next: One of the crew is a murder, who is it? You'll never guess!". Every week, one gets promoted, another gets "lost in a terrible transporter accident". Get William Shatner to play Captain Kirk