Should current Trek drop the serialized format?

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    My recollection of LOST is that it was more coherent in the early episodes, advancing the character arcs nicely along their journeys of redemption, but then when the show became a hit, ABC asked them to slow their roll and stretch out the storyline longer, so the characters' growth suddenly stalled or regressed and it was just treading water for a while. That was when I started to lose interest. I think I gave up during season 2, or early 3.
     
  2. Uhura's Song

    Uhura's Song Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Good post. I agree with much of it.

    However, I thought the finale for both Disco S4 and Pic S2 were pretty darn good. The best in each series.
     
  3. gvn2fly

    gvn2fly Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think they should drop the "mystery box" format, not necessarily the serialized format.

    Discovery seaons 2, 3, 4 and Picards seasons 1, 2, 3 relied on "mystery box" storytelling. That's the type of storytelling I'm personally tired of and I don't think it works well for Trek.
     
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  4. gvn2fly

    gvn2fly Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I watched a lot of shows filmed during the pandemic that were a whole lot better than Picard season 2. The time travel plot also seems to have been pitched by Matalas before the pandemic (he came on board in late 2019 and said that and Q were the first things he pitched). The difference here might be where the cast demanded certain precautions be taken, especially Patrick Stewart who is elderly and has a heart condition, and is an executive producer so in a position to make such demands.

    I think COVID did impact season 2, but I don't think the writers were good enough at changing the story to fit the changes. Some of the plot issues I had likely had nothing to do with COVID.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2023
  5. Bornin1980something

    Bornin1980something Captain Captain

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    This may look silly, but, while I've heard the term "mystery box" a lot (and I know the Kung Fu Panda spoiler), can someone more knowledgeable than me basically define what 'mystery box' storytelling actually is? I mean, have any shows actually done it better? And what are the other forms of serialised storytelling?
     
  6. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The more go to example is "Lost" and what the nature of the Island was.

    Personally, I think the best example of a mystery box is Season 6 of Red Vs. Blue. Yes, it is an internet short form series, but it does such a good job with exposing what is the Alpha.
     
  7. Farscape One

    Farscape One Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed about LOST.

    My first time watching it was last year. I bought my wife the box sets many years ago because she loved that show. She got me to watch it with her. (Overall, I am very happy that I did. The character work is excellent.)

    Basically, LOST kept finding questions about the island without getting any answers. And this kept going for the first 3 seasons... at that point, a bare fraction of the questions were answered, but it was in favor of focusing on phenomenal character work. Then, they decided to start answering the questions, but veeeeery slowly, until it was really only the final season, the 6th, that was answering them.

    (Ironically, I think that strategy actually helped keep LOST on the air. What I mean is, the focus was very, very, VERY heavy on characters. At the end of the day, characters are the reason we watch a show. If they led in with answering riddles and focused less on the characters, I am not sure it would have lasted as long as it did because eventually, the show sort of collapsed on its own weight of the mythology. By that time, though, everyone was SO invested in the characters that you had to see the journey to the end. I don't think a strategy like that has ever been used quite that way before, or since. Don't know if it would work today. Based on what my wife said, at the time it aired, it was a HUGE phenomenon with endless speculations. But if the characters weren't central, the answers would never come because it wouldn't have lasted long enough to get to the answers.)
     
  8. gvn2fly

    gvn2fly Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A narrative that unfolds as a series of reveals and twists to unearth central mysteries. Sometimes there are multiple mystery boxes where answering one mystery leads to more questions? So for this season of Picard it's all the questions (many we still don't have answers to 6 episodes into the season). Who are the villains? What is their plan? Who are they taking orders from? Why do they want Jack? Why is he having visions? What do the villains want from Daystrom? Why do they want that? The season is 60 percent finished and I can only answer who the villains are (not even who they are taking orders from) and what they want from Daystrom (but not why).

    This is different than a straighforward serialized narrative (like DS9's latter seasons, even other drama shows I've been watching recently like The Bear, the Yellowstone universe shows, The Last of Us, etc...) where there is continuity and it's mainly about what is going to happen next in the story, rather than the story answering questions it has set up and leaving the audience in the dark as to what is really going on until the end.

    The problem is that the entire season hinges on answers that may not be satisfying or even thought out until the end. The Picard season 1 writers didn't know how their season of mysteries would end even when they started filming. Don't think the answers to Discovery's season long mysteries made sense? Then that ruins the season for you.
     
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  9. M'rk son of Mogh

    M'rk son of Mogh Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What's the difference between the terms "mystery box" and plain simple "mystery"?
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, the term "mystery" is already taken for the genre about investigators solving puzzling crimes or murders. "Mystery box" is a term that J.J. Abrams coined in 2007 TED Talk to refer to his philosophy of storytelling. Here's how ScreenRant explains it:

    https://screenrant.com/star-wars-rise-skywalker-abrams-mystery-box-bad/
    Basically, the two concepts are opposites. The mystery genre is about finding the answer to the mystery. Abrams's mystery-box approach is about not solving the mystery, but instead using it as a catalyst to advance character -- essentially a more elaborate, ongoing version of Hitchcock's "MacGuffin." While mystery is rooted in the idea that all things are knowable given the application of sufficient intelligence and diligence, Abrams-style mystery-box storytelling is rooted in the idea that some things are forever unknowable, or at least that knowing them would spoil the magic of the experience.

    So if anything, using the term "mystery box" for a series or season arc that eventually does explain the mystery is a misnomer, or at least a loosening of Abrams's definition. But the way it tends to be used is for a story arc that has a single overarching, complicated puzzle or enigma that the characters gradually uncover, with new discoveries often deepening the mystery or expanding it to a new layer.
     
  11. M'rk son of Mogh

    M'rk son of Mogh Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah, then there's my confusion.
    Most people are complaining about it when the term doesn't even seem to apply. Like when some call any ending to a movie they don't like a "deus ex machina" or any female protagonist they don't like a "Mary Sue".

    It's seemed to have become a negative on "I don't like not having the answers by end of episode one".

    Must be from the generation well after X-Files, Twin Peaks or, heck, Dallas (just off the top of my head).
     
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