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Old August 7th, 2002, 10:38 AM   #1
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Star Trek: What's the basic formula?

What's the basic formula for a Star Trek show? Especially any of the more recent series? Love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Our take on it:
My friends and I love to analyze the show. Our basic theory is that each Star Trek show has 2 story plots, major and minor, that are linked to a central episode theme which is then linked to the overarching themes for the series.

For example:
If it's a Next Generation episode and the theme is "Duty" then the major plot might be a crisis on the bridge where the crew has to decide whether to follow or disobey orders in order to do "the right thing". At the same time, there is usually a minor story going on exploring the same subject, for example, you might see Dr. Crusher having a similar dilemma with a patient of hers or maybe with her son Wesley.

What do you think ... ? :-)
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Old August 7th, 2002, 07:37 PM   #2
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The Original shows had the better stories, IMHO, that tied in to the social and political events of the time. All of this, written as a futuristic wagontrain to new worlds. Most of what they saw was new to Humankind. Just like early pioneers.

These are also what made Voyager and now Enterprise appealing. Then, you have the close relationships that are formed between the crew, almost like they were family. On top of that, you have the interaction with new species, and cultural/racial differences that are similar to our own.

Of course, there is also the scantily clad alien women, and Yeomans in short skirts...
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Old August 8th, 2002, 12:57 PM   #3
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It's all about the next generation. Hands down, best writing and stories. DS9 was good, Voyager, not so much.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 02:30 PM   #4
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Early in Next Generation you had a shift from self-contained single episode stories to stories that took place in a story arc or against a background of continuity that made it difficult to get into a given series if you hadn't already been watching it.

I admire the original Star Trek because the writers (some of whom were well-known SF authors) had to write interesting, meaningful plots that relied only on the most basic of Star Trek conventions but had to tell a solid story. Hence, you could sit down and watch any original Star Trek episode knowing only who the crew was and they were on a ship called the Enterprise. Both Voyager and Enterprise started out with the promise that each episode would be self-contained but each precipitously became more reliant on cumbersome backstory, politics and recurring characters.

A good example of a series that is very self-contained, yet has memorable characters and conventions that its fans love is "Law and Order". There is almost zero backstory to the characters. Everything is realized in the character's actions in each episode. It leaves everything to the details of the story which can be very dense.

I'm not against story arcs but I do think that the Star Treks have suffered overall in the quality of the writing because you get these weird bastard episodes where half of the episode is slaved to pushing along the story arc and the other half seems unrelated or involves totally different characters. Also, a lot of the way the episodes were structured almost defied you to have schedule that wasn't glued to the TV. The words: "to be continued" really made me groan. "Buffy the Vampire" slayer is a good example of writing continuity but not making the episodes submit to the arc.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 02:59 PM   #5
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SPACE 1999!!!!!!
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Old August 8th, 2002, 03:11 PM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by matthew s : SPACE 1999!!!!!! -->>>

I loved that series! Man that brings back memories...
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Old August 8th, 2002, 03:19 PM   #7
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I don't remember that at all from Next Generation. I know the first and last episodes were related. . .but as licensed dork, having watched many episodes of that show, they all seemed self-contained to me. DS9 was the really guilty one where that's concerned.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 03:43 PM   #8
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Okay, I was talking about Star Trek as a whole (and we've had lots of it). From season three onwards (which marked the rise of Brannon Braga and cohorts) Next Generation had lots of arcs including the never ending Worf / Klingon ascendancy babble, each season seemed to have a big Borg blowout and various Romulan intrigues. I agree, it was worse in DS9 and later series.

On the whole, because there have been three series since then, it has very much been weighted toward story arcs and weighty backstory.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 04:00 PM   #9
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Hmm. Maybe I've just seen all the wrong episodes.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 07:28 PM   #10
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Keith,
your hate of "to be continued" is greatly felt by me. They were showing DS9 here and at the end of season 5 they ended the series, the following week they started showing Voyager.

Now Voyager ended 3 weeks ago after showing the entire series and they returned back to earth, and the following week they started showing DS9 at the start of season 6. I'm guessing that when DS9 ends in about a year they will start showing Enterprise. But I'm not waitin that long, my friend and I have already downloaded about 15 episodes.

On our last trip back I stopped in Vegas and checked out the Star Trek Tour at the Hilton, very cool. still have the photo of my wife and I with a Ferengi on our wall.

BTW, any of you guys seen the movie, Trekkies. I should order it, I know my mom would love it, she's a trekkie like me.

The writing has changed from series to series, sometimes a little too PC and it seems more like a lecture instead of entertainment. But still, I'll take it good or bad, as long as I get my regular fix of Star Trek.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 08:08 PM   #11
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I think Voyager was the worst offender, but only because of their episode A Year in Hell being a complete alternate reality mind-screw. I don't mind having a background story throughout a series, as long as I don't start missing any episodes. Then you lose track of what happened, and finally give up on the show.

That is what happened to me with Lexx and Farscape.
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Old August 8th, 2002, 10:01 PM   #12
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Trekkies is excellent.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 10:07 AM   #13
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Voyager was definitely the low point in Star Trek writing.

I think the problem at the time was that the "good" writers/production people were stretched too thin (DS9 + Next Generation) so they hired soap opera writers to get the story plots going. I really hated the dumb romantic fights, especially between B'lanna and Paris which you could have plopped into any daytime soap opera.

There are 2 funny episodes when the "good" writers/production people came back

1. B'lanna gets dumped on a planet with a group trying to put on a play (the playwrite uses her as a muse). I remember the story because they'd go on about how to do a story correctly. "Just tell the story, stop adding all those fancy tricks like reversals plot twists etc." I thought it was a message to the original writers about how to just tell a good story again.

2. The new writers come on board and blammo no more stupid fights between Paris and B'lanna ... what happens? They just marry the two and get on with the story ... hilarious.

Unfortunately, the last few episodes of Voyager show what it could have been.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 04:25 PM   #14
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I remember a couple of good episodes besides the ones you mentioned. One was where a museum in the future had all the wrong impressions about Voyager, its crew, its mission, etc., and the other had something to do with clones of the entire crew believing they were the real crew.
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Old August 13th, 2002, 02:11 AM   #15
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I like the one with the green chick with the big knockers.

Just kidding, what I really want to say is...

STAR WARS RULES!
LUCAS KICKS RODDENDORKER'S ASS!
CHEWIE EATS WORF FOR BREAKFAST!
TAKE THAT FOOLZ!

Heh heh heh, I'm still just kidding. :)

Although I like Enterprise more than any other ST series except for TOS, I find it's stories all somewhat familliar, like they are just changing the names and places from old scripts. Is it just me or has anyone else felt this?

May the For...
err...
Live long and prosper!
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