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Justin Snead

Thread for helping us cope with how different Discovery will be

47 posts in this topic

36 minutes ago, maneth said:

Pretty much all of TOS is linear storytelling. Most Trek episodes since have at least an A and a B story, and possibly C and occasionally D (maybe just a scene or two) as well. I don't think DSC is going to do completely linear storytelling over a whole season, but rather, episodes where the main story is interleaved with more episode specific scenes, or vice versa. DS9 and Babylon 5 did this really well.

And (new) Doctor Who does the same, but leans even more towards good old episodic stories.

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1 hour ago, maneth said:

Pretty much all of TOS is linear storytelling. Most Trek episodes since have at least an A and a B story, and possibly C and occasionally D (maybe just a scene or two) as well. I don't think DSC is going to do completely linear storytelling over a whole season, but rather, episodes where the main story is interleaved with more episode specific scenes, or vice versa. DS9 and Babylon 5 did this really well.

This is my sense as well. We'll see.

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It's possible to combine both in an ongoing series. The best storytellers and showrunners do. Buffy, at its best, was comprised of both one-offs and arc-led episodes. Doctor Who is - though of course it has the advantage of its much-vaunted "infinitely flexible" format. DS9 at its best was.

I hope Discovery is, too.

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7 hours ago, Robin Bland said:

It's possible to combine both in an ongoing series. The best storytellers and showrunners do. Buffy, at its best, was comprised of both one-offs and arc-led episodes. Doctor Who is - though of course it has the advantage of its much-vaunted "infinitely flexible" format. DS9 at its best was.

I hope Discovery is, too.

But you just named three old shows. I know Doctor Who is still on but is its episodic format that different than it was 20 or 40 years ago? (I don't know that series at all). 

I think maybe that networks have different preferences. HBO shows that I am familiar with are pure serialization, no stand alone episodes at all. But some Netflix shows are more self contained. 

Maybe DSC will combine serialization and stand alones. Maybe there won't be any stand alone episodes at all. We just don't know. But I bring it up because the writers have to have discussed and debated this question and come up with their own answer. Thinking about it now will help us understand and enjoy the show better.  

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Posted (edited)

7 minutes ago, Justin Snead said:

But you just named three old shows. I know Doctor Who is still on but is its episodic format that different than it was 20 or 40 years ago? (I don't know that series at all). 

I think maybe that networks have different preferences. HBO shows that I am familiar with are pure serialization, no stand alone episodes at all. But some Netflix shows are more self contained. 

Maybe DSC will combine serialization and stand alones. Maybe there won't be any stand alone episodes at all. We just don't know. But I bring it up because the writers have to have discussed and debated this question and come up with their own answer. Thinking about it now will help us understand and enjoy the show better.  

Doctor Who tends to have a mostly episodic format. Back in the day it had short serials, so it would be like Four 25-minute episodes that are all within the same story, then a new Four-part story would begin (sometimes the amount of episodes within a story varied longer or shorter).  When the show was revived in 2005, it went with a more modern approach in that it has 45-minute episodes comprising of a single story, episodic...new setting for each story, with the occasional 2 or (in rare cases usually reserved for the end of a series) a 3 parter.  The classic show was very much about cliffhangers in the classic serial sense.  Nowadays it is mostly episodic like old Trek, but there is also a modern twist of a running thread for each season (much like Buffy had done), often something that slowly builds up in the background of standalone episodes and then pays off in the finale. 

And that show is going very strong in this format and has for over 10 years now. In fact the format is a key to it's success, because new fans can jump in on almost any random episode, get the gist and manage to get sucked in, and coming back for another episode the next week if they enjoyed it.  It's one of the reasons the show was able to celebrate its 50th Anniversary by simulcasting the anniversary episode in 94 countries in theaters. So it can still be done and successfully so. 

Edited by kenman

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12 hours ago, Mr.Picard said:

Someone recently wrote a good article on the whole hate-for-new-Trek thing, with references to the Discovery hate: The internet would have hated Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm not exactly making this all up. The comparison between TNG and Discovery is particularly vaild because, just like then, Discovery comes after a longer break TV series wise, just as TNG came after a longer break from TOS (I know the movies were still being made but I'm talking about television series).

I'd also say the TOS fans then certainly felt like as if they had a reason to be disgruntled. ESPECIALLY since the TOS actors back then ALSO actively hated on TNG when it was announced and were like "what are they doing, they want to replace us, never gonna happen". (Never mind that DeForest Kelley, who also added his voice to the naysayers then actually appeared in TNG's pilot episode.)

Just because TNG proved its worth after a while for many fans (NOT all of them, there are STILL rabid TOS fans to this day who will not accept ANY Trek other than TOS) does not mean Discovery will be able to do the same, not in today's climate of "the internet does not want". I look at this from an outsider's point of view, and to me it looks like as if the old fights are back, between those who embrace changes and those who don't. We had this very same fight with Enterprise, and since that one was also a prequel, we're going to hear the same arguments and the same yelling all over again with Discovery, only this time probably even more vicious because this is the SECOND time they're making a prequel without listening to the majority of the fans who keep telling them to GO FORWARD in the timeline.

Every Trek show had its haters. TNG was hated because it wasn't TOS and because Jean-Luc wasn't Kirk, DS9 was hated because it didn't bother too much with exploration, VOY was hated because it was seen as TNG Light, ENT was hated because it was a prequel whose premise wasn't seen as sound by many fans. It's something that re-occurs every single time, the same old thing, only this time it's more vicious because the internet exists.

And Sehlat is right, in order to see how Discovery is going to be different and how to cope with it, some folks choose the negative aspects and say why they find it difficult to cope with it and also try to explain why there is so much hate by referring to the hate that happened whenever a new series was announced. It's a perfectly reasonable approach to the topic. Some folks cope by explaining why the show gets hate already and how this isn't a new phenomenon, and maybe this is even something GOOD - if you get the reasoning behind the hate, you also get a chance to not fall into it, too.

 

All good points. I get the idea of fans preferring their own chosen Trek, and how the internet amplifies negative voices. However, I will argue forever that haters of VOY and ENT did not hate those shows because they were not TNG or TOS. We hated them because they were terribly written, wasted potential, with characters the equivalent of fingernails on chalkboard, and the writers who refused to respect the audience's intelligence, and the sexploitation, and the rehashed plots, and on and on.... 

But about DSC. I haven't been around much lately on the message boards. Are many fans really gunning for this show? I mean, Ive been ranting about bad Trek for 15 years on the internet and I have nothing but love for the new show. 

So when I say "help us cope" Im not really talking about haters. I'm talking about us long time fans who are about to sit down and watch "not your father's Star Trek." In my line of work some of us talk about coping with loss when there is a change to our model. We all may like the change, but that doesn't mean we don't feel a sense of loss about the things that will be no more because of the change. And everyone is better off when we talk about that loss and process it. So one of the losses I am trying to process is that future Trek TV may not have stand alone episodes. No more perfect little tightly wound Swiftian/Roddenberrian allegories. No more episodes just about the doctor, or the first officer or the alien. Maybe I won't care in the end. Or maybe this prediction will turn out to be completely wrong. But in any case I will be ready whenever this show finally airs.       

 

12 minutes ago, kenman said:

In fact the format is a key to it's success, because new fans can jump in on almost any random episode, get the gist and manage to get sucked in, and coming back for another episode the next week if they enjoyed it.  

Here's the rub. What viewing experience does CBS want? Do they want anybody to tune in at any point? Then it will be more episodic and formulaic like TOS/TNG, etc. Do they want a binge-worthy show, then it will be more serialized. 

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5 minutes ago, Justin Snead said:

Here's the rub. What viewing experience does CBS want? Do they want anybody to tune in at any point? Then it will be more episodic and formulaic like TOS/TNG, etc. Do they want a binge-worthy show, then it will be more serialized. 

Oh I think they are going for bingeworthy, build a loyal following and fully serialized, I was only saying that it can be done these days, and quite successfully too.  I've long felt that Doctor Who has showcased the exact way Trek should be revived. Set in in the future of the past shows, respect the past but move forward and modernize, and do episodic with standalones but a running thread that pays off at the end of the year.  I think from things I've gathered they aren't doing that.  They want to be a Game of Thrones kind of hit, which is also highly successful, heavily serialized, but still has that old format of releasing one episode a week. It can work too, it isn't probably the path I would've chosen, but I do think that Trek could use a whole new bag of tricks to stay relevant and reinvent itself for a new age.  DS9 proved what serializing can do for Trek...if they want to take it a step further?  I can't really argue with that. 

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1 hour ago, kenman said:

Doctor Who tends to have a mostly episodic format. Back in the day it had short serials, so it would be like Four 25-minute episodes that are all within the same story, then a new Four-part story would begin (sometimes the amount of episodes within a story varied longer or shorter).  When the show was revived in 2005, it went with a more modern approach in that it has 45-minute episodes comprising of a single story, episodic...new setting for each story, with the occasional 2 or (in rare cases usually reserved for the end of a series) a 3 parter.  The classic show was very much about cliffhangers in the classic serial sense.  Nowadays it is mostly episodic like old Trek, but there is also a modern twist of a running thread for each season (much like Buffy had done), often something that slowly builds up in the background of standalone episodes and then pays off in the finale. 

And that show is going very strong in this format and has for over 10 years now. In fact the format is a key to it's success, because new fans can jump in on almost any random episode, get the gist and manage to get sucked in, and coming back for another episode the next week if they enjoyed it.  It's one of the reasons the show was able to celebrate its 50th Anniversary by simulcasting the anniversary episode in 94 countries in theaters. So it can still be done and successfully so. 

I would like that format for Discovery. Have stand alone stories at first with a second or third plot geared towards the series arc. Then have a three or four part arc at the end devoted to the series arc. That way you would have the best of both worlds. 

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9 minutes ago, scenario said:

I would like that format for Discovery. Have stand alone stories at first with a second or third plot geared towards the series arc. Then have a three or four part arc at the end devoted to the series arc. That way you would have the best of both worlds. 

^
Yep. 

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Given the fact that Discovery isn't going to be broadcast anywhere, a new fan can jump in at any time and then go back to watch the show from the beginning on the streaming service. So I expect that they'll lean heavily towards serialization, with binge watchers as the ideal long-term audience. That said, they need something to pull in viewers in the first place.

As a Trek fan living outside the US, I have no idea what else NBC is going to offer on its streaming service except Discovery and how much they have invested in the show as a way to get people to sign up for the service.

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22 minutes ago, maneth said:

Given the fact that Discovery isn't going to be broadcast anywhere, a new fan can jump in at any time and then go back to watch the show from the beginning on the streaming service. So I expect that they'll lean heavily towards serialization, with binge watchers as the ideal long-term audience. That said, they need something to pull in viewers in the first place.

As a Trek fan living outside the US, I have no idea what else NBC is going to offer on its streaming service except Discovery and how much they have invested in the show as a way to get people to sign up for the service.

Just for clarity; it's CBS-All Access streaming, not NBC.   

But yes, a very good point: modern streaming viewers don't have to wait week to week if they jump into the show late.  They can just stream the whole thing from the beginning to end.   Mr. Picard also noted that audience's viewing habits have adapted quite a bit over the last 20 years, and ST has to deal with that new reality.  

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47 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

Just for clarity; it's CBS-All Access streaming, not NBC.   

But yes, a very good point: modern streaming viewers don't have to wait week to week if they jump into the show late.  They can just stream the whole thing from the beginning to end.   Mr. Picard also noted that audience's viewing habits have adapted quite a bit over the last 20 years, and ST has to deal with that new reality.  

 If they have to have one season long story, there's no reason why they couldn't have two or three story lines going. One story line is the season story which starts small but gets more and more important. The second and third story lines only last a few episodes, some of them only one. Luke Cage had multiple stories going. There's no reason that some of them couldn't be told in just one episode. I think Star Trek would be well served with a more complicated story line. 

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10 hours ago, Justin Snead said:

But you just named three old shows. I know Doctor Who is still on but is its episodic format that different than it was 20 or 40 years ago? (I don't know that series at all).   

I named two genuinely influential, widely-recognized classics and a third outstanding show that is the longest-lived genre vehicle on TV in the world. All three are regularly held up as examples of how to combine different storytelling approaches successfully. There is a reason why all three "old shows" are remembered so well. 

9 hours ago, scenario said:

I would like that format for Discovery. Have stand alone stories at first with a second or third plot geared towards the series arc. Then have a three or four part arc at the end devoted to the series arc. That way you would have the best of both worlds. 

Yup, something like this. 

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2 hours ago, Robin Bland said:

I named two genuinely influential, widely-recognized classics and a third outstanding show that is the longest-lived genre vehicle on TV in the world. All three are regularly held up as examples of how to combine different storytelling approaches successfully. There is a reason why all three "old shows" are remembered so well. 

Yup, something like this. 

The show Buffy always had a season long arc. But the first third of the season were generally stand alone episodes where there were hints about what the arc would be in every episode. The middle third had a mix of stand alone with a fair amount of time dedicated to the main story line as well as main arc stories. The stories weren't strictly season arc stories until the near the end of the season. There's no reason why Discovery has to follow the trend of one 14 hour story. 

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45 minutes ago, scenario said:

The show Buffy always had a season long arc. But the first third of the season were generally stand alone episodes where there were hints about what the arc would be in every episode. The middle third had a mix of stand alone with a fair amount of time dedicated to the main story line as well as main arc stories. The stories weren't strictly season arc stories until the near the end of the season. There's no reason why Discovery has to follow the trend of one 14 hour story. 

I agree - I think a story structure like that can work really well.

I think there are a projected 13 eps per season of Discovery...? (I may have got that wrong, but I recall reading that somewhere.) Long enough for them to approach it this way, I guess. I hope they do.

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22 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

Just for clarity; it's CBS-All Access streaming, not NBC.   

But yes, a very good point: modern streaming viewers don't have to wait week to week if they jump into the show late.  They can just stream the whole thing from the beginning to end.   Mr. Picard also noted that audience's viewing habits have adapted quite a bit over the last 20 years, and ST has to deal with that new reality.  

D'oh! Thanks for the clarification.

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45 minutes ago, maneth said:

D'oh! Thanks for the clarification.

It's not like I haven't made a mistake or two... thousand.  :giggle:

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One thought. One hour network shows generally run for 42 minutes with 18 minutes of commercials. But hour long shows made by Netflix sometimes last the whole hour. Do we know what the running time for Discovery will be? 13 one hour episodes has about the same amount of time as 18 42 minute episodes. 

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52 minutes ago, scenario said:

One thought. One hour network shows generally run for 42 minutes with 18 minutes of commercials. But hour long shows made by Netflix sometimes last the whole hour. Do we know what the running time for Discovery will be? 13 one hour episodes has about the same amount of time as 18 42 minute episodes. 

They have said it will be a bit fluid.  They have a sort of guideline to follow, like it has to be at least so long, and maybe even can't go over this other length of time...but there is no set "it must be 42 minutes long" on this one.  If an episode needs to be a bit longer to tell the story it wants to tell, it is allowed. I am sure the only reason they have a guideline or at least a suggestion that things not go too long is purely budgetary...the longer the episode the more it costs to make.  But I like that freedom it allows shows in online platforms (or other platforms with less rigid structures due to commercial demands).  Even Doctor Who has occasionally varied from it's usual time of 45 minutes when a story needs a bit more or a little less to tell the story it wants to tell.  I would rather that than great bits ending up on the cutting room for to make way for an extra Charmin commercial.

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People seem to be a fan of serialized stuff. Not me. Im tired or dragged out arcs. It worked out for Ds9 because it would inject one off stories with he arc. Modern tv today, you just can't tell one episode from another. The more episodes, the better for me. variety!!!

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7 hours ago, Sherlock Holmes said:

People seem to be a fan of serialized stuff. Not me. Im tired or dragged out arcs. It worked out for Ds9 because it would inject one off stories with he arc. Modern tv today, you just can't tell one episode from another. The more episodes, the better for me. variety!!!

While I'm not against arcs, I will continue to point out that the best DS9 episodes happened outside of its tightly serialized arcs. 

However, the fact that the series as a whole was glued together by its larger arcs made the whole series stronger and more meaningful. 

Anyway, a lot of TV shows today you just have to watch the entire season to fully appreciate the story. It's not bad or good, but I can get how it can wear some people down who just want to tune in for one episode. Bing watching is a lot of pressure. I don't do it. Not my style. Im still on episode 4 of West World for example, and god knows when I will finish. 

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Ok let's map this out: (some minor spoilers, but I really don't know anything but hints about the series plot)

13 Episodes

1: Intro to the principals and the conflict (planetary health crisis; Klingon politics) 

2: Deepening of the conflict

3: First Stand Alone (explores Number One)

4: Second Stand Alone (explores Klingon characters)

5: Return of the Running Story (introduces Sarek)  

6: Third Stand Alone

7: Merges elements of the Running story (the two ships meet; Vulcan and Klingons; diseased planet, etc) 

8: Fourth Stand Alone

9: Sixth Stand Alone

10: Convergence of Story Lines & Build Up

11: Build Up

12: Build Up

13: Climax and finale

When you look at it this way, 13 is a lot of episodes. There can be many opportunities for contained allegorical episodes. In this way, maybe they will take the approach of the recent X-Files revival (and old X-Files, Buffy, DS9 and a lot of other old shows that partially serialized): A couple main story lines woven through a series of episodes some of which are dedicated to the major arc and some of which are stand alines. 

On the other hand, if they go the HBO model, all 13 episodes will tell the same couple stories. Time will tell.   

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