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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season Three

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Middlemiss, May 19, 2013.

  1. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I like shows that hit a balance between episodic elements and serialized ones, but I think it is an improvement that shows are allowed to have more continuity now.

    One of the other TNG bonus features had the writers talking about how they were forbidden from doing continuing storylines and that the studio and Roddenberry/Berman weren’t fans of the ongoing character development. I think from the studio’s point of view, they were thinking solely of syndication revenue and worrying the show would be less viable if it could only be seen in one order. While there’s some merit to that, it’s also equally crazy for them to expect a long running show to have every episode be equally interchangeable. And I think Roddenberry’s gripe was that in the 24th century, people were perfect so they didn’t need to have character arcs because no one needed to improve or change. Ron Moore spoke of almost sneaking in Sins Of The Father - and that Roddenberry objected to developing Worf because Roddenberry felt he wasn’t a main character.

    I think long term serialization can work, but it’s hard to pull off. I think it worked in a show like West Wing because it wasn’t really a mystery to solve but an ongoing process that was explored. I think it worked on Joss Whedon shows like Buffy because the heroes would battle a new evil henchman every week while working on a long term plan to beat the bad guy. 24 did serialization wonderfully but that’s lightning in a bottle.

    I personally hit a wall with the limitations of episodic TV when X-Files first aired. They’d do these mind blowing episodes about a government conspiracy with aliens and they’d be awesome and always end on some major cliffhanger. And then the following week, there’d be no mention of any of that as they’d go off and chase an unrelated swamp monster. And as a viewer, I just wouldn’t get how I was supposed to reconcile that last week ended with Mulder and Scully seeing proof of alien existence and discovering a conspiracy deep within the government, and then next week it wouldn’t even come up in conversation. Scully had episodic amnesia. At the beginning of each episode she didn’t believe in anything paranormal and then would see something indisputably paranormal by the end of the episode. Then, next week, back to paranormal couldn’t ever exist, even though we saw her see it like yesterday. That got really hard to take year after year; I felt it was insulting to me as a viewer that they didn’t think it mattered.

    Trek definitely got better at this as it went along.

    Naren Shankar from TNG would be the CSI showrunner for some time and I think he nailed the balance around the middle seasons of the show. There would be a big case that was ongoing and would come up intermittently throughout the season, but they’d also have weekly cases too. Character relationships were ongoing and continuously developed. You didn’t spend every moment on serialized elements, but if one character got shot in one episode, it wasn’t like it never got discussed again.

    Fringe also struck a good balance between an ongoing story in the background of everything, along with everyone’s normal day job in the foreground.

    I doubt we’ll ever see a 20+ episode season of mostly high quality TNG level standalones again, and I also doubt we’d get a full 20+ episode season of something like 24 either. I don’t mind well told shorter stories but I also miss what these really good shows could do with the extra hours.
     
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  2. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Lead Actor

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    I agree with you wholeheartedly on this. It saddens me when I hear a hardcore Trek fan badmouth the first two seasons. I love most of them. The Royale, and Home Soil are two of my favorites of the entire series. While not "fan favorties" They are comfort food to me, and IMO are solid Sci-Fi episodes that would play perfectly in TOS.
    Yes indeed. This too is a sad turn of events. Times change. Are the production costs of new series just too cost prohibitive to make that amount of episodes per season? All I can say is I'm thankful we got what we did, when we did!
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think there’s just less support for the old business model that made that system viable. Before everything got so fragmented in terms of more entertainment options and more technology options, TV viewership was much higher and that meant that ad revenue was much greater.

    In addition to that, the production companies making the shows had a vested interest in getting a show to 100 episodes or more, that was generally the magic number to have enough episodes to be able to sell to other stations for reruns. It used to be that the network didn’t pay the entirety of the cost of making a show; the studio paid a chunk of the cost and therefore needed a show to garner enough episodes that they could sell syndicates reruns to make back the rest of their investment.

    Nowadays, audiences are generally asking for programming that’s more serialized than stand-alone, which isn’t great for syndication. Discs and then streaming meant that when people were seeing reruns, they could watch it in order, which wasn’t guaranteed with a lot of syndication. And audiences are showing more of a preference for fewer episodes made at higher quality.

    It’s happened so quickly that when the show “24” got a revival season, the economics of television had changed so much that the cost of making 24 episodes couldn’t be guaranteed to be recouped, so it turned into a 12 episode show.
     
  4. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    I'm not sure why it's a sad thing. Doing 20+ episodes per season usually meant there were at least a few clunkers in there. I'd much rather see fewer, better episodes. And now there's just so much stuff out there that it's much more manageable to watch 6-12 episodes of a series, then move on to something else.

    The cast and crew does suffer under the new model, though. It used to be that you could make a comfortable living working on a series. That's much less true now, with shorter seasons. And with streaming, there are no residuals.
     
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  5. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Lead Actor

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    To each their own, but as Josh said even with an episode that may not be the greatest, it is still a chance to spend time with the characters on a show you really like. I will gladly take that over a 10, or 12 episode season. And something else, whoever said there are no misfires or lesser quality episodes is a shorter season? Not the case with any low episode count show I have seen. From shows I really enjoyed like Dexter, and The Sopranos, to GOT. I have always found a clunker or two in those low episode count shows.
     
  6. Blimpoy06

    Blimpoy06 Screenwriter

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    Scott Bakula had made his intentions clear to the producers and the network about not wanting to do a 26 episode season of Enterprise. He felt it was too much of a strain on the actor's personal lives.
     
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  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I get it from all angles. And I don’t think every show has to be built the same way. I like that the Twin Peaks revival was 18 episodes - it felt like it was as long as the story needed it to be.

    I think one of the things I miss, in addition to more episodes in terms of quantity, is just that idea that you get to know these characters and see more their everyday lives. Serialized storytelling tends to focus on specific incidents happening and how the characters deal with that situation. And there are times when that’s great. Would Jack Bauer be that interesting on a day off? And I’m certainly more interested in a Picard story that’s more about him than just a series of unconnected stories where he warps in, saves the day and leaves.

    But it also makes it less likely to get an episode like Hollow Pursuits or The Offspring or Lower Decks from future series, because those episodes don’t advance a general storyline and work so well because the cast has become a second family and the ship a second home to the viewer. In a more modern show, nearly everything has to fit into a singular story and push the narrative forward. You get a lot in exchange for doing that, but I think something can get lost too.
     
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  8. The Obsolete Man

    The Obsolete Man Cinematographer

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    IMO, the best option for modern Trek would be the season 4 of Enterprise model.... 2-3 episode arcs followed by a done in one or two. They could get a few cycles of those in a 13 episode season, and there could still be an overarching storyline in the background to be resolved in the last couple episodes.

    Doctor Who has been that was for the majority of its run, especially in the RTD days and those are the seasons everyone loves now.
     
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  9. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I’d definitely be interested in a Trek that could do those types of shorter arcs.

    At the same time, I think Discovery and Picard have chosen the right format for their shows. Since both shows revolve around Matters Of Extreme Urgency, it would have cheapened the stories they were telling if they rushed through it to get to another arc, or if they put the main storyline in the background of a few otherwise standalone episodes.
     
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  10. The Obsolete Man

    The Obsolete Man Cinematographer

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    When the inevitable 25th Century Trek show spins out of Picard, the Enterprise S4 model is what I'd hope to see happen with it.
     
  11. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    I'm not sure it needed to be 18 episodes. I find Lynch kind of infuriating lately. He alternates between brilliant and what just seems like trolling. I could have done with a lot less Dougie, for instance.
     
  12. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    To me that’s all part of the story; I don’t think you could really pull out anything without unbalancing the whole.

    But I think what’s key is that they said they needed more than 10 so they got more than 10 (with some effort). I think Kurtzman got Discovery two extra episodes in season one, and one extra in season two, because that’s what it seemed they needed once they got to work.

    If the 26 per season was an arbitrary choice, I don’t want to see 10 turn into its own arbitrary choice either.
     
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  13. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    Is there even a syndication market anymore? If there is, there won't be for long. Now, it seems the goal is to get Neflix or Amazon or one of the others to pick up your whole series to stream. And there, you simply have to list them in order and let the audience do the rest.

     
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  14. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    TNG currently syndicates on BBC America.

    I agree that it’s a market with little future. But I think it’s kept alive for the moment by several factors. One is all of the digital subnets that you can get with an over the air antenna now. They’re usually owned by local affiliates in addition to the main channel and they run a lot of syndicated material. As long as people still have channels to surf, those will be around. And then there are networks, like BBC America, that have very little original programming. They have a handful of short run series mostly imported from the UK and Canada, a talk show and that’s about it. They’re on 24/7 and I don’t know that they even average 7 new hours of content a week, much less 24. Syndication is an easy and cheap way to fill air time while they’re waiting to show a new episode of Doctor Who. I don’t think channels that offer so little will be able to survive indefinitely. They’re being propped up by carrier fees from cable companies that sell channels in bundles and that’s not sustainable long term either.

    Syndication has been wonderful for a lot of things but playing episodes in order has rarely been one. I remember one of the times WPIX rebroadcast TOS when I was a kid, they went out of their way to advertise it was going to show In Order. That’s how rare it was that shows would play in order. Heck, when they premiered TOS Remastered in syndication before discs came out, they didn’t put those out in order either.
     

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