Should current Trek drop the serialized format?

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by Sim, Dec 25, 2022.

  1. Sim

    Sim Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Tv shows have changed a lot during the past 20 years, with the rise of "premium" shows. One of the most important changes is that most shows that want to be taken seriously, feature a serialized format that tells a story over an entire season or even several seasons, these days.

    At first, I was intrigued by the prospect of serialized Star Trek shows: With a format of shows like "Game of Thrones" or "The Expanse", it would be possible to add so much more depth to Star Trek, I assumed.

    But after four seasons of DSC and 2 seasons of PIC, I feel the by far best new Star Trek is SNW, which goes back to the episodic format of standalone episodes. Imo, all season arcs on DSC and PIC were crap -- instead of adding depth, they became badly written storylines full of pointless cliffhangers, absurd detours and deus ex machina slaughterfests.

    When you cannot write arcs, don't try writing arcs. Imo, it's obvious the showrunners of current Trek can't write arcs.

    So should future new Star Trek shows return to the episodic format?
     
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  2. Jinn

    Jinn Mistress of the Chaotic Energies Rear Admiral

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    I think Prodigy is doing pretty well with the serialization. The beauty of having five Trek series at the same time is that we can have some serialized and some non-serialized. No need to go all in on just one.
     
  3. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Commodore Commodore

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    Nope. Trek is just fine the way it is.
     
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  4. Yorick

    Yorick Ensign Red Shirt

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    Or a combination. I’m old enough to remember the introduction of serialisation in television shows, notably in the form of Hill Street Blues and St Elsewhere. They had an excellent balance in that shows would have elements that were the feature of the individual episodes, plus important carry-overs into subsequent episodes, as well as ongoing character development. The carried-over elements were usually four episodes in length, not unlike old Dr Who (!) and told a complete story, with character relationships evolving throughout the season. This 1:4:10 (or what a season is now) might work for Star Trek to allow for edgier storytelling.
     
  5. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Commodore Commodore

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    I don’t think that the issue is that its serialized. Its that its trying to connect the universe together. But when looking at solely the live action Kurtzman era, its confusing in a way previous eras weren’t.

    The Roddenberry era would be described as about the adventures of Kirk and his crew on the Enterprise, and then the adventures of the Ent-D a hundred years later. It represents an optimistic future

    The Berman era would be described as the adventures of Starfleet in the 24th century, and how it all began in the 21st and 22nd centuries. Optimism is tested over and over, but Starfleet shows strong resolve.

    With Kurtzman era, I don’t know how to describe the story when bringing the three live action shows together, as its very disjointed.

    DIS S1 – Federation-Klingon War/Mirror Universe/family drama after Burnham is adopted by Ambassador Sarek and Amanda Grayson; spore drive & Kelpians introduced; Discovery has LCARS like touchscreen panels and holographic communication 100 years early for some reason; Harry Mudd; Archer, Pike and April references

    DIS S2 – Red Angel, Control, Section 31, intro to Pike/Spock/Una, Discovery jumps to the future

    SNW S1 - introduced to Robert April; 1/6 leads to Second U.S. Civil War, Eugenics Wars and WWIII; The Gorn; Captain Angel; various adventures; alternate timeline where Federation and Romulans go to war if Spock dies; Una arrested; Pike wrestles with fate; young Kirk introduced

    SNW S2 – planned to be a continuation of S1

    PIC S1 – Utopia Planetia and Romulus destroyed; Federation synth ban; less optimistic Starfleet & Federation; intro to Qowat Milat, Zhat Vash, & Fenris Rangers; Picard gets a synth body; extragalactic synths; 3D panels

    PIC S2 – Q returns; Confederation of Earth; 2024 Los Angeles; Europa mission is key to dealing with climate change; Arik Soong; Borg-Federation alliance against a transwarp conduit; Watchers; young Guinan; Admiral Janeway stood up for Seven years ago and got denied by Starfleet; Rios stays behind in the 21st century to hang out with a hot doctor and her kid

    PIC S3 – reunion of TNG crew, and story is connected to DS9: Moriarty, the Titan, and Ent-F will appear.

    DIS S3 – Discovery arrives in the 32nd century; The Burn; Federation gone; Spock’s role in reunification results in Ni’Var; Emerald Chain rises; United Earth broke away from the Federation; Terran Empire falls centuries earlier; Mirror Georgiou dropped off in the past somewhere by Carl: Voyager-J; programmable matter, advanced holography, and transporter combadges

    DIS S4 – Archer spacedock unveiled, extragalactic aliens destroying planets, Qowat Milat presence; Grey gets a synth body like Picard, United Earth becomes part of the Federation again

    DIS S5 – from what we know so far, they are done rebuilding the Federation and are going on a treasure hunt

    What coherent story is here? The events depicted in Kurztman's 23rd century doesn’t matter to the 25th century and is skipped over entirely. And the 32nd century barely cares about the 25th century and cares even less about the 23rd century, despite a crew actually being from the 23rd century.

    Is the Kurtzman era about the rise, fall and rebirth of civilizations (Federation, Romulans)? As that’s the only thing I can think of.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2022
  6. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Admiral Admiral

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    This.

    Anyone who hasn't given Prodigy a look yet because "it's a kids' show!" should go into it with an open mind. You'll be surprised. Yeah, there are certain parts where it's very obvious "it's a kids' show!" but the serialization is very good.

    The only thing I agree with you on here is that it's your opinion. ;)

    Between those six seasons, the only case where I think it had serious problems was PIC Season 2. Granted, I also wasn't too thrilled with what caused The Burn in DSC Season 3, but that has nothing to do with it being serialized; I just wish they went with something else.

    If you don't like Serialized Trek, then you don't have to watch it. No one's holding a gun to your head and forcing you to watch. If you don't want to see any Serialized Trek, just stick to SNW. Problem solved. It's easy and allows those of us who do enjoy the serialized format to continue to enjoy it and wait to see what happens next. There's room for both. The days of "it has to be this!" or "it has to be that!" are over.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2022
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  7. Sim

    Sim Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I see your point. And I agree, serialization has not always been bad since 2017. You are right, Prodigy so far has done it well (guess I forgot about that, because Prodigy is not what enters my mind first, because it's a non-life action kids show, albeit a good one) ... and I found the arc in PIC season 1 okay.

    Guess my main problem is with DSC. The season arcs so far always boil down to a huge galactic catastrophe/entity that threatens the universe ... which I find repetetive. Plus there are many other reasons why DSC doesn't really work for me. But naturally, other people feel differently.

    It's just my impression that so far, the "NuTrek" makers don't handle serialization as well as shows such as "Game of Thrones" or "The Expanse" (just examples). I feel there are pointless cliffhangers between episodes for the sake of it and unnecessary detours ... but maybe that is more a problem of "NuTrek" writing in general, and it's less a problem because of the serialized format. Or maybe just I feel like that.
     
  8. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Commodore Commodore

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    I did. It doesn’t work for me. :shrug:

    The last few seasons pretty definitively demonstrated that “Game of Thrones” didn’t handle serialization well, from the moment they ran out of source material. “The Expanse” did great, but it ran out of show before it ran out of books. Maybe the lesson is that great serialized TV needs to know where it’s going right from the very start.

    I’m still waiting for a modern Trek season that shows even a glimmer of sticking the landing on even a 10-episode season, mostly because “making it up as we go” is a failed production model for serialized TV.
     
  9. shapeshifter

    shapeshifter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    :techman:

    Season 4 of ENT nailed serialization of Trek imo. 3 or 4 episode mini-arcs gave the story's breathing room without taking all damn season to tell them.
     
  10. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Admiral Admiral

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    Good God no !
    I could live with that I suppose.
     
  11. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Nope.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think that, as with most things, it's a bad idea to reduce it to a binary choice. Episodic and serial storytelling are not mutually exclusive options, but ingredients in the mix. I like it when shows have a good balance of the two, making each episode worthwhile on its own while still having a larger continuity and growth.

    I think the first half of DSC season 4 handled its serial element very well. The threat of the anomalies was not a single story so much as a catalyst for a set of standalone stories about the various impacts of the crisis. Once it became a single serialized story in the second half-season, it just felt padded and dragged out. Season 3 was similar -- in the first half, the arc was just discovering the new era one piece at a time, with the Burn thread and the Emerald Chain thread becoming more central toward the end. So they've almost got it, but not quite.

    Prodigy has a good balance, as mentioned -- it has an evolving arc from episode to episode, but aside from the past few endgame episodes, each installment has been a complete story of its own. Lower Decks and SNW are both pretty good at being episodic with continuing character and story threads surfacing periodically, much like TNG and the majority of DS9. Picard is the most serialized show and essentially the weakest. Season 1 wasn't bad at telling a single coherent story, but it felt like it changed course from its more character-driven beginnings and overemphasized blockbuster action toward the end. And season 2 was a mess, padding out a story that could've been told in 2-4 hours with endless digressions and continuity porn.
     
  13. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The problem with Star Trek's serialized seasons is that they're only ever about two subjects: war or the galactic apocalypse. Maybe do a story arc for a season that doesn't involve either subject.
     
  14. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know about dropping it altogether, but I wouldn't mind more of a mix.
     
  15. Mage

    Mage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    No.

    We have serialized, non serialized, semi-serialized, cartoon, live action and 'children' Star Trek.
    Meaning, Star Trek has finally evolved beyond the Berman-era where they made-believe it was something new with each show but it was the same formula with a different coating. By the way, I'm still a Niner.

    But the current era of Star Trek is actually diverse. Sure, you don't have to love all or even like all of it. But there's something for everyone.

    Holy shit..... Star Trek finally did IDIC!!!! Whodathunkit!!!
     
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  16. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which is my preference. Stop trying to make it all the same and be unique and different and Trek unlike we've seen before. Otherwise, reruns suffice.
     
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  17. HarpistforHim

    HarpistforHim Ensign Newbie

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    I love the episodic nature of SNW and the way it also ties everything together somehow. That's peak storytelling in my opinion. But I also love longer arcs, if they're done well, and think Trek shouldn't be confined to one method or the other. That's the beauty of Trek, it's all so different and I think it should continue to be varying and unique. :)
     
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  18. Nombrecomun

    Nombrecomun Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That's the key right there. You gotta know where you're heading and what you want each episode to convey. DS9 had a relatively good combination of episodic while still continuing an overarching story. B5 is probably the better example from that time.

    LOST had a great premise.....and lost it halfway through. You could feel they were making it up as they went.

    STD and STP are poor examples of storytelling.

    To your question, I suppose the answer is no. They just have to come up with a better plan.....and better story.
     
  19. StarMan

    StarMan Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They don't appear to think beyond the current season they're producing. The only season of serialized NuTrek that wasn't a rejig / reset was Disco S4.

    It's a lazy formula. Each season is plug 'n play and largely cut off from the preceding season. It's why NuTrek feels so underdeveloped; there's no substantive continuation between seasons.

    It's the worst of all worlds; you lose out on those individual episodic classics that light up a season - think Duet, The Offspring, The Defector, Death Wish. But then, they're not putting any effort into telling a story on a larger canvas, so keep falling back on these half-baked mystery boxes. For example, look at The Expanse, Better Call Saul & Battlestar Galactica. They all used serialization to varying degrees. Each season of those shows had character and story arcs that were born and resolved within the confines of individual seasons, but also served wider arcs that developed over the course of the series.

    Unfortunately, the answer is not scrapping serialization. If you're someone who doesn't like much of anything coming off the Trek production line, the problem is the custodians of the franchise.
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's because DSC seasons 3 & 4 were the only seasons of the highly serialized shows (i.e. DSC and Picard) to have the same showrunner. DSC's season 1 showrunners were fired early in season 2, and Alex Kurtzman stepped in to run the rest of season 2 until Michelle Paradise took over from season 3 onward. And PIC's Michael Chabon didn't return after season 1; Terry Matalas was nominally showrunner of season 2, but Akiva Goldsman was effectively the one in charge of its storyline, so season 3 will be the first one really run by Matalas.

    So the problem isn't serialization, the problem is the showrunner changes. The other shows like Lower Decks and SNW have had/will have consistent showrunners throughout, and they've managed to tell more unified narratives. Assuming Prodigy keeps its showrunner, the same will probably be true there.