Was TNG more Arc-Based Than We Thought?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by tomalak301, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    We all accept TNG as an episodic series, or at least much more episodic than shows of today or even DS9 and Babylon 5. However, as I watched Season 4 (And I just finished Redemption tonight), something occurred to me that really hadn't in the past. There was a ton of follow up in this season, all leading up to the Klingon Civil War. I mean consider, these are the episodes that I would say lead up to Redemption:

    Heart of Glory
    The Emissary
    Yesterday's Enterprise
    Sins of the Father
    Reunion
    Data's Day
    The Drumhead
    The Mind's Eye
    Redemption

    Originally I thought it was only a few episodes, but this is a pretty sizable list, and then if you wanted to include Best of Both Worlds in there (Because of The Drumhead), that's two more episodes. Maybe it was the speed of which I watched the season and the series as it comes out on blu-ray, but this series almost strikes me as a transition from the episodic nature to more story arc, maybe along the same lines as a series like Farscape. Maybe I'm just looking for a way to say TNG had a story arc, but looking at the first 4 seasons at least, I could definitely see a larger scope story in there when taken as a whole.
     
  2. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How does Data's Day figure into that list?

    :)
     
  3. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    Same reason BOBW fits into the list, tying it to Drumhead and all. And it featured the Romulans, a prominent figure in both Season 3 and 4.
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    UK genre magazine 'SFX' made the point once that TNG doesn't do story arcs per se, but what they do have is something which is more like the reset button not being pressed. It's got a fluid continuity where the events of an episode are self-contained, but are not simply forgotten. Often times characters or themes would be revisited in later episodes. It's more like 'character arc' television rather than 'story arc' television. :)
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG had more "mini-arcs" than anything else. They're willing to revisit old episodes and expand upon them now and again, though for the most part yes the show is quite episodic. Yet the characters to manage to grow and evolve despite that limitation.
     
  6. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    Again, isn't that like Farscape in the first two seasons? Yeah the show got more arc heavy in seasons 3 and 4 (mainly season 3) but of all the formats you can have in TV, I think I like the whole "mini-arc" "character arc" format the best.
     
  7. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Absolutely, I think the point SFX were trying to make (more eloquently than I lol).] is that TNG didn't have 'negative continuity'. It didn't go out of its way to string along elaborate story arcs, but neither did it isolate episodes into pocket universes. Events in an episode could (and often did) get mentioned again later down the track.

    And it was like this from the very start. I remember how impressed I was when I saw "Coming Of Age" the first time, and Remmick is quizzing the Enterprise crew about events that have happened on screen throughout season one. I thought it was a very cool way of saying, "Yes, we acknowledge and reward the viewers for watching us and keeping track of this stuff". That's what successful arc-based television should be. :techman:
     
  8. Andymator

    Andymator Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    "Data's Day" also has the whole part about Data writing to Commander Maddox from "The Measure of a Man"... though I'm not sure that really makes it "arc-based".

    TNG's stand-alone-story nature is often hyper exaggerated though, and mostly in an effort to proclaim that Deep Space Nine is some kind of completely serialized soap opera.
     
  9. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    ^That's the thing about DS9 though. There were arcs, but in terms of story arcs, there were only two, and those were the Occupation Arc and The Final Chapter.

    Also, what is the difference between Arc and Theme. I thought DS9 was more theme heavy than arc heavy, if that makes any sense.
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    DS9 pretty much did exactly what TNG did, just more broadly. Its being set in one place meant that secondary characters like Rom, Leeta and Kassidy Yates could span multiple episodes and have some degree of character progression attributed to them. But it wasn't really "story arc" television. It certainly was not serialization.

    VOY on the other hand started out with a similar format but dropped it in Season Three. Contrary to popular opinion, there is a stronger sense of continuity in those first seasons (with recurring characters like Seska, Kazons, Vidiians, etc), but they dropped it and pretty much went all-episodic. Which in Voyager's case actually makes more sense, because the nature of their journey sees them constantly moving on, so naval-gazing continuity isn't really their bag.

    The only Trek series that flirted with true Serialization was the third season of Enterprise IMO.
     
  11. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm glad to see somebody else saying this! Some DS9 fans on the forums go nuts about how serialised DS9 was... but it really wasn't. It was a good show, don't get me wrong, but serialised? Not really.
     
  12. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I believe you have oversimplified this. DS9 did not do serial TV, with each episode linked to tell a singular story,in the manner of cable series these days. On the other hand, three issues--Sisko as emissary, relations between Bajor and the Federation, and the conflict with the Dominion--were subject to constant discussion and plotting. Real objectives for the development of these subjects were planned in advance, sometimes beyond the season they were working on, such as the increasing complexity of the role of the emissary. "Far Beyond the Stars," which was apart of neither arc, was originally pitched as a different kind of episode; it was retooled in order to continue the story of Sisko's relationship with the Prophets, as in Accession and Rapture. These objectives affected the outlay of the entire season, balancing out serious, plot heavy episodes with character pieces and light-hearted fare. There were unintended consequences of long term planning: studio objectives got in the way of the Dominion War, for instances, delaying what was believed to be the planned resolution for a whole season while Klingon themes were introduced. And when they did get around to it, the writers found they could not resolve the Dominion War during season 6 as quickly as they anticipated. I will admit that some things could have been resolved in one episode, rather than drawn out, like the capture of Dax and Worf. Nonetheless, if DS9 was not as serialized as is usually said, it was far from being as episodic as TNG. (Many of these points can be gleaned from Memory Alpha, which heavily quotes the DS9 Companion, describing how individual episodes were written and how they fit into each season's production.)

    Perhaps it should be put differently: would characters like Garak and Winn have been developed so extensively if they had been on TNG? How about Nog? He had no preset story, yet his development was woven into the overall story of how the Federation dealt with the Dominion. Moreover, his best episodes weren't part of the either long arc.
     
  13. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Just as TNG was building on the foundation of TOS, I think that TNG deserves a lot of credit for being the foundation upon which DS9 was built.
     
  14. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Having never watched Farscape, I trust you can't expect me to comment intelligently on any similarities or differences from TNG.
     
  15. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah, but I would recommend watching Farscape. It's a great series.
     
  16. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Very much agree.
     
  17. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly. This is the kind of TV I like best; you can easily dip in and out of it, making rewatching a random episode perenially enjoyable but it also rewards sequential viewing. TNG did it very well.

    Full on intensive serials may be more immersive in marathons, but I never feel like rewatching them again.

    Something like Buffy, where each season has fairly robust internal storyline, but the seasons are more loosely related to each other is a reasonable compromise. But I do find the TNG formula of "layering" characters lives the most satisfying, personally.

    Also, and this is more controversial, I happen to think it's the most realistic model in some ways; our own lives & identities tend to build syncretically in this episodic fashion rather than in grand, overarching dramatic arc. For most of us, life is more of a punctuated series of key events that define us with periods of relative stability in between.