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Old 11-05-2009, 01:48 AM
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Default Episodic or serialized Trek?

I think we've had a bit of both, definately more episodic Trek. I Think the best series to study this is DS9. Which do you prefer and why? If we get another Trek TV Series, I bet it won't be episodic, it'll be serialized like most shows, including sci-fi shows these days. Would you be for it?
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:48 AM
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DS9 was almost like a soap opera, this is great in that you can develop more complex storylines and characters and meant it could do justice to the full extent of the war, Dukats descent into madness, the romantic relationships etc. But as a casual viewer watching it on-off it can be very confusing and some people don't want to follow a show week in week out, preferring to watch the odd one when they feel like it.

ENT seasons 1 and 2 got it right I feel in that they had episodic episodes, but there was a definite continuity you could follow, though you didn't have to watch continuously to keep up with it. That doesn't necessarily make it the best way as seasons 3 and 4 were generally seen as better and they had more of a serialised feel, I feel there's a correlation.

To answer your question, I'd prefer serialised to episodic personally.
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Old 11-05-2009, 03:11 AM
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Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
There are follow-ups like in TNG (e.g. Elementary, Dear Data -> Ship in a Bottle), entirely serialized shows like DS9 and the more thematic serialization in ENT.

I think that DS9 was a bit too much serialized, I prefer a good mixture between both elements.
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Old 11-05-2009, 09:48 AM
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There are plusses and minuses in both.

I think sometimes the concept behind the series affects which it ends up as. The scenario of DS9 meant it couldn't possibly be a purely episodic series because it would make no sense.

However, TOS/TNG are perfect for episodic TV because the ship is in motion all the time.

My own preference these days for most shows is serialised. It's more rewarding to watch, and a lot of shows these days can mix the two well (The X-Files/Supernatural etc).

An episodic show just becomes less compelling and easier to drop, I find.

But then, there is the pleasure of a short term commitment to just the odd 25/45 minutes instead of a full season.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chator View Post
I think we've had a bit of both, definately more episodic Trek. I Think the best series to study this is DS9. Which do you prefer and why? If we get another Trek TV Series, I bet it won't be episodic, it'll be serialized like most shows, including sci-fi shows these days. Would you be for it?
Serialized, without any doubt.

Episodic TV is only better for the "casual viewers", but those shows can not hook the viewer the way that the serialized shows do. Who cares if you can get "casual viewers", if you have a number of dedicated viewers who can't wait to see the new episode? And in this day and age, when so many people watch shows on DVDs, online or downloaded, the issue of "casual viewers" becomes almost insignificant, since anyone can just go online or download or borrow episodes from friends and watch the entire series in order, or catch up with any episodes they've missed.
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Old 11-05-2009, 01:48 PM
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when so many people watch shows on DVDs, online or downloaded, the issue of "casual viewers" becomes almost insignificant, since anyone can just go online or download or borrow episodes from friends and watch the entire series in order, or catch up with any episodes they've missed.
One of the original cons of serialised series was that if you missed an episode then it was hard to get back into and audience interest can wane (I found this when Lost was first released, miss a couple of those and you don't have a clue what's going on!),

The ability now to watch whatever you want whenever you want thanks to DVDs and internet streaming has removed this con and like Devileyes said, the casual viewer issue is lessened, as if they want to catch up with a story, they can.

That said sometimes stories can be dragged out unnecessarily and sometimes you need one offs in a run of continuing episodes to change the pace, great examples in DS9 are Badda Bing and Take me out to the holosuite.
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
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One of the original cons of serialised series was that if you missed an episode then it was hard to get back into and audience interest can wane (I found this when Lost was first released, miss a couple of those and you don't have a clue what's going on!),

The ability now to watch whatever you want whenever you want thanks to DVDs and internet streaming has removed this con and like Devileyes said, the casual viewer issue is lessened, as if they want to catch up with a story, they can.

That said sometimes stories can be dragged out unnecessarily and sometimes you need one offs in a run of continuing episodes to change the pace, great examples in DS9 are Badda Bing and Take me out to the holosuite.
Aye, there's the rub. There are no outstanding episodes among the continue-the-main-story-arc ones, stories like "In the Pale Moonlight" or "Similitude" play in front of the 'larger-story' background.
That's why I prefer a looser form of serialization.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:05 PM
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I don't think it's a question of personal preference, but rather one of quality... which story ultimately factors into (along with acting, dialogue, cinematography, music, production design, etc). And each series has its own fit.

Certainly Heroes and LOST could not be anything other than serialized. Whereas Star Trek has traditionally been episodic.

Now whether the episodic format "still works" for Trek, is debatable. It is true that the general trend of TV has become serialized, as evidenced by the virtual extinction of the broadcast re-run over just the last couple years. I think it's fair to say what killed Star Trek was that TV "grew up" and Trek didn't. However I think that remained the case even after Trek played with the serialized format, likely because all other aforementioned aspects of production seemed to remain hopelessly grounded in the all-too-familiar TNG template.

Case in point, DS9 arguably had the highest batting average (for quality episodes) of all the Second Generation Trek series. And it was certainly more serialized. Yet I think the more episodic TNG still feels fresher, for lack of a better word, whenever I pop it into my DVD player.

Perhaps TNG still feels right for the time when it was made, whereas DS9 never seemed quite ambitious enough when it was on the air (how am I to forget that I was watching Babylon 5 by then?). To be honest, the serialized aspects of DS9 felt rather superficial to me at the time: (Rick Berman: "We're going to kick off Season 6 with this really kewl six-part serialized act, it's really great and we got permission from the studio and they're really proud of the work we do and it's totally fab." Me: "Six parts? Now you've spoiled it. I'll already know we're back to status quo by episode 607. And why are you openly admitting you had to get permission?").

I'm finally re-watching the latter seasons now; maybe I'll at last understand what the Dominion War was all 'about' besides switching the series to a serialized format. My impression though was that DS9 mostly qualified as episodic television, with more 'serialized' story threads brought to the forefront during season breaks or sweeps months.

I do think Star Trek has been around for so long, that a new TV series would have to do more than just exist in order to justify itself. It needs to be 'about' something, needs to have a story that's organic, and that probably does imply a serialized story. But not necessarily. Firefly was mostly episodic (at least for how many episodes were made before cancellation), and it's still my favorite Star Trek that was not called Star Trek.

BTW, I got into Heroes mid first season, and just had to gradually learn the characters and piece together what I had missed (I gave up on the show last year, but hey). Same with LOST. People offered me their season sets and insisted I needed to go back and catch up, but I really didn't. I think even the most complicated shows are easier to jump into than most people estimate.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:13 PM
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I agree that while there can be an "overall" story arc, go episodic to break up the flow, and then have a few serialized episodes which focus on the greater narrative.

That's why I loved DS9 and Babylon 5.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:41 PM
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I'd definitely be for a new trek and I'd hope it'd be episodic depending on if it's the same sort of formula as TOS, TNG, VOY and ENT. DS9 lent itself well to serialized storylines IMO.

There's something to be said for visiting a new planet every week and exploring the stories that come out of that planet. Thing is it requires good writing to keep it alive and independent, stand-alone episodes are much more difficult to write than simply continuing the story arc so to speak. But my bet is, it will be more serialized if we see a new trek show anytime soon because that is the fashion in tv right now. Everything is serialized.
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