Best structure for a Star Trek series

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Salinga, Jul 29, 2014.


How should a Star Trek season be structured for best story telling?

  1. Each story takes one 42 minute episode

    10 vote(s)
  2. Two parters

    5 vote(s)
  3. Three parters

    3 vote(s)
  4. Different multi episode arcs

    17 vote(s)
  5. One multi epsiode arc per season

    5 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Salinga

    Salinga Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 16, 2005
    As I am getting older I am watching Star Trek episodes more critically. Once too often I notice how the 42 minute time constraints of an episode, the lack of money for sets and effects and even a lack of ideas from the writers to create 26 episodes per season makes the story and behaviours of the characters appear to be forced into a certain path - even if that means, a character has to behave illogical or out-of-character, so he (or she) just gets from A to B in time without many complications. It takes me out of a story much more than it did years before. It always frustrates me when I see, what is happening on the screen is not happening to support the story but to support the production of the episode.

    Today I wish they would have gone much more with two- and three-parters, to give a story more time to evolve - and put more ideas into one single story instead to have to develop two or three 42 minute episodes with different stories. In that regard, ENT's season 4 set an example of how a next Star Trek show should be structured.

    What do you think? How should a Star Trek TV show be structured?
  2. Last Redshirt

    Last Redshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 21, 2014
    On the Starship Enterprise
    I would definitely prefer a multi-episodic arc that spans the season, with most of it devoted to said arc, but with the odd episode devoted to character or word building, or just having a little bit of fun.
  3. wulfio

    wulfio Captain Captain

    Jun 29, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    For Star Trek i think multi episode arcs are good. like 2-4. Because the 2 parters in tng for example, like unification, chain of command, all good things are among the best.

    I feel series or seasons arcs fall short most of the time. There aren't very many writers in the business who can pull it off. They always seem like character development is there to serve the plot rather than character development occurring because of the plot. It becomes very contrived. I can count on one hand the number of series I've watched in my life that I feel did it well.

    However 1 off episodes are important too to Star Trek. They give you breaks. And sometimes, they give you some of the greatest moments in tv. TNG for example, inner light and measure of a man works as 1 offs. Series arcs tend to hamstring writers, and episodic or mini arcs allows for creativity and fresh ideas.

    A mixture of episodic and arcs is my preference, and staying away from the series/season arcs.

    And yes I understand there is bad episodic tv, and there are some bad star trek episodes out there. but if I'm doing comparisons, my preference leans towards episodic/mini arcs.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014

    SPCTRE Badass Admiral

    Nov 26, 2008
    Basically, they should do Game of Stars. Breaking Trek. ENT, S3. You know. 24 in spaaaaaace.

    I'm only partly being facetious.
  5. Disco

    Disco Commodore Commodore

    Jul 24, 2014
    Multi-episode arcs are very important I think. For me Star Trek has always been about the characters and their relationships to each other. A multi-episode arc should allow for character development and which would only strengthen the series. Single one off episodes such the Q episodes in TNG are fun too though.
  6. VST

    VST Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jul 26, 2014
    Earth Spacedock
    As with all good storytelling, you need a balance I think, plus it depends on the nature of the show.

    Long-form arc storytelling suited DS9 & ultimately ENT but oddly enough I'm not sure it would have been as effective with TOS or TNG - the premise there suited more standalone storytelling given the exploration of new territory. VOY is a different kettle of fish of course because that exploration was tethered to a deeper idea about survival & family, and consequently that show suffered for not going down the long-form road. ENT worked I suspect because of the prequel, gap-filling nature of it - though admittedly the Xindi arc was all original.

    That's where it's also a sign of the times. We've now become accustomed to arc, character. & mythology in genre storytelling. Babylon-5 opened the gate, Lost walked through it & now Game of Thrones has planted firmly a flag. Trek doesn't necessarily need to become that though, or step away from solitary stories that explore issues & characters. It just needs an approach that suits the tone & texture of the show itself.
  7. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

    Mar 8, 2001
    Great Britain
    It's not a one size fits all, it's important to get the balance right. So perhaps a semi-serialised format. As VST mentions TOS and TNG lend themselves more towards an episodic format that doesn't mean however it couldn't have been more serialised. Similar VOY lent itself more towards a serialised format but they stuck with the more episodic format which I think hurt the show. But as the saying goes you can't please everyone all of the time. As for ENT whilst S1-2 did have some decengt episodes many don't feel the show became good until S3-4. in S4 some would say it became the true preqiuel it should have and began laying the foundations for the UFP etc... Which is what some of the core audiance expeected.

    But we the audiance have a part to play as well, how many shows have been cancelled due to audiances not giving shows time to establish themselves. So sure the fast half a season can be weak but the later have can be great but by then it's to late.
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

  9. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

    May 11, 2008
    San Francisco, CA
    Depends on the story. 42 minutes isn't much time, but most of the TOS eps I've seen have at least five minutes of scenes that either gratuitously repeat plot points, making them drag somewhat. As great as "Mirror, Mirror" is, I don't care much for the Marlena scenes.
  10. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    Best structure for a Trek series:

    Your living room, where you can watch it on TV.

  11. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 19, 2013

    While I loved nuBSG for example I didn't like being forced to watch every minute of an episode to know whats going on in the next. You know sometimes you get back from the toilet a minute late or the toast pops and then you didn't know why the heck so and so is doing what for the next couple of weeks.

    The occasional two parter is OK but I don't want to watch ep5 of a story arc and not be able to tell whats going on unless I've seen the first 4. If I don't get the nuances and full complexity of the plot and characters because I've missed the first 4 then thats my own fault but the episode shouldn't be unwatchable.
  12. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 13, 2012
    Location? What is this?
    In today's age of DVR and streaming, the days of serial being risky are dying. Serial worked quite well in Enterprise Season 3, and long story arcs worked well in DS9. I think DS9 would have been even more serial if it were produced today.

    I'm good with either way as long as it's good Trek. But serial or long story arcs make for a richer series, IMO.
  13. vulcan redshirt

    vulcan redshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jun 22, 2013
    I voted for multiple multi-episode arcs as I feel it allows better development of storylines, but it also means that if you miss one , it does not ruin the whole season. the 42 minute slot can be ideal for some storylines, but unfortunately may lend itself to easily to 'big fat reset button' territory or a deus-ex-machina ending if standalone episodes are preferred by production.

    Really clever multi episode arc storytelling could involve something introduced as a B plot, becoming the A plot in a later episode and so on, rather than ' right this month will be 'tight spot with alien of the month', and possibly woven into the background of an otherwise standalone story to assist continuity.

    that's my 2p anyway, and since DS9 and ENT were closest to this format, these are my favourites. VOY certainly should have been done this way but dropped the ball somewhat IMO. non-trek I know, but B5 used multi layered arcs of varying length, and I really loved that too.
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I don't know. Serials seem to have so much dead space where nothing is going on that I lose interest. I like episodic format because I get a beginning, a middle and a end during those 42-minutes and I'm not obligated to have watched the show before or watch it again.

    But I'm an old-timer: GET OFF MY LAWN!!! :lol:
  15. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 13, 2012
    Location? What is this?
    ^ Yeah I guess there's potential for weak writing/acting either way you go. Episodic stories don't always succeed in making me care about the plot/alien of the week. But I generally like both formats.
  16. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

    Aug 23, 2001
    Land of Enchantment
    Structure isn't nearly as important as the writer.
  17. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Ferguson, MO, USA
    A mix of everything.
  18. maneth

    maneth Captain Captain

    Feb 9, 2010
    I would agree with you on this. That said, I would much prefer 13 stories told in as many two-parters over 26 episodes...
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Feb 12, 2011
    Gene's office
  20. jazamul

    jazamul Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 19, 2002
    Brisbane, Australia
    I prefer episodic television with a bit of 2 or 3 parters mixed in. I generally prefer my television to be completely serialized. I find don't I tend to watch completely serialized shows for extended periods of time because I get bored and start thinking it is all too much effort.