Discovery episode format and commercial breaks

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by DrCorby, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. DrCorby

    DrCorby Captain Captain

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    Something I haven't seen mentioned yet is how the episode structure of Discovery will be affected by the announced addition of commercials on the basic tier of CBS All Access. Instead of being able to have the story flow continuously during the hour, possibly ending in a cliffhanger at the end of the episode, the writers will now need to structure stories more like in traditional (American) broadcast series, depending on how commercials will be presented. I rather doubt they'll be clumped together before or after the episode, where they can be easily ignored. If they're grouped into a few clusters scattered throughout the episode, my assumption is that they'll end each segment with a climax to keep the viewer hooked into staying through the commercials.

    (David Gerrold had an interesting discussion of story structure around this requirement in one of his behind-the-scenes books, The Trouble With Tribbles or The World of Star Trek. Ten minutes of story, then BANG! a climax. He compared TV screenwriters to cheap hookers, climaxing every 10 minutes...)

    This very traditional (American) presentation will feel very familiar to fans of all the previous Star Trek series. But it's certainly a departure from the episode structure viewers of most on-line and streaming series have gotten used to the last few years. I know I certainly enjoy watching a story straight through, with no interruptions and no contrived-feeling climaxes breaking up the more immersive continuous story. And even overseas viewers, watching on Netflix with no commercials, will still experience the episodes structured for regular commercial breaks.

    Do you think this episode structure will be a good fit for a 21st century, modern Star Trek series? Will you find it annoying to have the story broken up into chunks? Or will it just feel like Star Trek has always felt?
     
  2. Spot's Meow

    Spot's Meow Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    I do want to point out that there isn't an addition of commercials to CBS All Access - it has always had commercials (except on their "CBS Classics" catalog of older shows). It's just that now a commercial-free second tier is also being added. So the announcement of the second tier shouldn't change anything in terms of plans that were already in place for the show.

    I'm not sure how they will deal with the breaks. At least the first episode is going to air on television, so I'm assuming that one will have the traditional commercial break format of most American television shows, but as for subsequent episodes I suspect the breaks won't have a big impact. I don't think the writers will write with the limitations of commercial breaks in mind. I think what's more likely is that if you are paying for the commercial version of All Access, you will see ads inserted in strange spots.
     
  3. Kevin Wolff

    Kevin Wolff Captain Captain

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    I'd say they'd have to be mindful of where the breaks occur, but it's not nearly as important as in the 60's when you had to almost have a cliffhanger at every commercial break, because if the viewer wasn't riveted to his seat, he might get up, walk across the room and change the channel. And chances are he wouldn't get up a second time to change back. Nowadays we're waiting in anticipation months prior to the start of production. That and the All access/Netflix fees lets them know we don't need a hard sell.
     
  4. trekfan_1

    trekfan_1 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I doubt they will structure the episodes with commercial breaks in mind. More likely they will just insert them after a given scene ends. Similar to how they insert commercials to theatrical movies that air on network TV.
     
  5. DrCorby

    DrCorby Captain Captain

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    I haven't checked out CBS All Access yet, and didn't know most shows already included commercials. The way it's been reported, it sounded like a new thing.

    I really hope that's not the case. Hulu used to do that, breaking into the show you were watching to subject you to an ad. Very annoying.

    Unless it's egregious, I imagine the ads won't be that big a deal for me. American TV has trained me for the past 50+ years to accept commercial breaks. Just something I'd thought of, and wondered how they'd handle.