Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the upcoming Paramount+ series set on Captain Pike’s USS Enterprise, spun off from Star Trek: Discovery. And now the star of the new show is talking about why it’s going to be a different (and yet more familiar) kind of Trek.
Mount says Strange New Worlds returns to classic Trek
Anson Mount made such a splash as Captain Pike in season two of Discovery – along with Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number One – that CBS gave the trio their own show set on the USS Enterprise. However even though the actors first appeared on the highly serialized Discovery, it has been telegraphed that the new series will feel more like Star Trek: The Original Series, where their characters originated. Now speaking to Collider, Anson Mount explains why they are going old school with SNW:
“Well, I think that Star Trek is, by nature, episodic. Now, that doesn’t mean that Star Trek can’t be other things. Star Trek can be a lot of things, as we’ve seen in every iteration of it. But classic Trek is really founded on the big idea of the week, and the big idea of the week needs room to breathe. In serialized structure, you’re trying to take care of so many relationships that there doesn’t tend to be a lot of room for that. Now with that said, I think Discovery does a phenomenal job with that structure and I was very fortunate to be a part of it. Normally, serialized is my taste, as an actor, but this really felt like it needed to be episodic.”
This is yet more confirmation that Strange New Worlds will be different than Picard and Discovery and more of a return to earlier Trek shows in terms of story structure. Anson Mount himself is a Trek fan and when his new series was first announced he proclaimed his excitement “to get to work on a classic Star Trek show that deals with optimism and the future.”
Last week co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman – who was the driving force behind the scenes to sell CBS on the idea of a Pike-focused series – also talked about how the show is “really episodic” and “very much adventure-of-the-week.” The key difference from TOS Goldsman has pointed to is how the new show will have “serialized character arcs.”
The captains are talking
Speaking of keeping it old school, Mount took to Twitter last Friday to express his views on leadership by quoting the late Army General Douglas MacArthur but adding a #startrek hashtag. Perhaps he is indicating an influence for his portrayal of Pike.
On the same day, Mount had a fun exchange with the original Captain Kirk on Twitter, after William Shatner tweeted out a simple “Miss me?”
Shatner replied to Mount’s “space” tweet with a Trekified version of an old John Lennon song.
“I'm sick to death of seeing things from tight-lipped, condescending, mama's little aliens…
All I want is my space…
Just give me some space, now…”🎶 (apologies to John Lennon 😉) https://t.co/r6T8Jk0xnu
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) April 17, 2021
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is expected to arrive on Paramount+ in 2022.
Find more news and analysis for Strange New Worlds.
This is why I am completely optimistic. He wouldn’t be doing this for any other reason.
He seems the rare incoming Trek actor who understands the peaks and valleys of the franchise. I was excited for his performance as an actor, but now there’s a tiny hint of “writer’s room” in his head to look forward to as well.
Serialization tends to be my preference, but there’s room for both.
This is perfect. Episodic television has been missed. Lets get this show on the road!
Gotta be careful here. I’m starting to get positive about an upcoming Trek show again…
Cautious optimism is the big idea of this week’s episode.
Yeah. They are saying all the right things. No alarm bells are going off as yet for me. We shall see.
Seriously, I kind of have no idea what to do with this feeling.
Sounds very promising! I just hope they have some decent writers. I still miss Gene Coon (“The Devil in the Dark,” among others) and Dorothy Fontana (“Journey to Babel,” among others).
I see what you did there.
Better than Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins. :-)
Of the five Treks that are coming in the next couple of years, this is probably the one I’m least excited for. I’m still looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but we already have three shows about the Enterprise exploring strange new worlds. I’m more excited for the other shows, that are all exploring new territory.
A good sign of the times when it’s something you’re looking forward to (and sure you’ll enjoy) but actually the LEAST exciting of the FIVE new shows in production…and a movie now in the pipeline too.
Would you have imagined that just a few years ago..?
Personally, SNW is probably the one I’m looking forward to the most, but it’s really good to know we have a lot of different options heading our way.
I’m certainly not complaining. It wasn’t long ago that I was excited to just get a movie in the JJ verse every now and again. Now we’ve got more Trek than ever.
I think Mount should give his own version of the infamous “Space, The Final Frontier” monologue for the intro sequence, followed by a version of Alexander Courage original theme song. Would be a nice throwback to the original overall, and sets the tone for the episodic show that follows.
By far, Mount was the best thing out of Discovery Season 2 (maybe even the entire series). I was overjoyed when they finally greenlit a spinoff centering on his portrayal of Christopher Pike, and his years leading up to him handing over command to a very green, young Captain James. T Kirk. I hope that Strange New Worlds will portray this encounter, for whatever final season/final episode may come.
When Jim Kirk gets command of the Enterpise he should not be green. That is the JJ-verse mistake. A reason why Trek worked in The 60s and forever is because Kirk could lead, a viewer could imagine being a crewmember on his ship. It would be a nice if when we meet Kirk in SNW – that same spirit is in evidence.
Kirk was “the youngest Captain in Starfleet”, even in TOS. He may not be as green experience-wise as the JJ version was, but as a Captain he should still be fairly new to the rank.
Doesn’t get much more official than that. Though, that would be inconsistent since TOS began in 2266 and he would be 33 and it’s always been assumed that the show started when they were already about a year into their 5-year mission. So that would make him 32 at the start of the mission (and as Captain).
However old he is, what I am saying is that there is no need for any narrative about Kirk to show that he was ever much less than exactly the person we know. I really want to see absolutely no character growth. His thought process already is relatable.
In case it wasn’t blatantly obvious, what I meant is that the series finale of Strange New Worlds would be fitting if it ended with Pike handing over command to Kirk. The End!
In that episode where they all got old (“The Deadly Years”), Kirk said he was thirty-four years old.
Sorta think it would be a mistake for Mount to be reading the “Final Frontier” lead. I didn’t like it when Stewart read it for TNG. Sorta feel like it should belong solely to TOS. But that’s just me.
And really don’t want to see Kirk show up on SNW. I know they are looking for eyeballs and they probably aren’t wrong. Look how positive many felt about Riker’s episode on STP. Nostalgia sells. But I’d rather they just try and limit bringing in legacy characters.
And if we ever see Kirk it should not be until the very end of the show (if it reaches that far) to when Pike gets the promotion Kirk referenced in The Menagerie.
The idea of Kirk showing up, is merely for the final moments of the final episode of the series. Not as a recurring guest character.
Wasn’t Kirk’s father (in the *real* timeline) a Starfleet officer? Maybe we could see him, and Pike could say, “How’s Jimmy doing?”
I don’t recall Kirk’s father ever being mentioned in TOS or the subsequent movies. It was a part of the JJ films, however. And since his father was in Star Fleet before the time incursion I guess it’s now canon.
Good point. Thank you.
I thought it was a shame they didn’t include the narration in ENT, frankly. When the Enterprise is the lead ship, the narration belongs. Bring it on. TOS should not be the sole proprietor of anything.,
That’s an interesting point about the opening narration. I hadn’t actually considered whether we’d get to hear that on SNW….which is really surprising now I type it!
I agree with you, it’s a trait associated with ‘the voyages of the starship Enterprise’ and so hearing Pike (Mount) deliver those iconic lines seems only right.
Whether that’s the plan from the showrunners though, I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
I’m rewatching the entire franchise chronologically from the 22nd to the 32nd century and just finished up the TOS shows and now watching the movies. I bring it up because I really realized watching Enterprise, then Discovery and TOS all back to back to each other is how much more exciting Star Trek is when the stories are all so different and diverse within a season.
That’s the problem I had rewatching DIS first two seasons is that when you don’t love the story it tells, it even drags down some of the better episodes. I’m not saying there weren’t good ones, there are for sure, but when it’s all tied to the same story that you feel is either drab or just plain bad (like I really felt in season 1 of DIS) then it almost feels like a chore to sit through at times. Again, only if you didn’t like the season as a whole. If others did, then I imagine it’s the opposite. Sadly it wasn’t for me. And DIS had way less episodes than both those shows.
But with episodic TV, even when you have truly bad episodes and both ENT and TOS had their truly bad ones for sure, it just doesn’t weigh the season down like a serialize story does. ENT was mostly mediocre its first season for me BUT there are still episodes I happily watched and enjoyed a lot (and I do like the season much more today than I did when it first came on). But the third season is serialized as we all know and because I mostly liked it, it was a breeze to rewatch (skipping a few of the truly bad ones that season.) I watched EVERY freaking episode of TOS third season because I haven’t watched most of those in probably 20 years if I’m being honest. And it was a chore lol, but YET there were still a few decent ones I could rewatch easily.
But when a show is so tied to one story and you’re just not enjoying it, the rewatch value is so much lower and probably why I don’t have the same pull I have rewatching DIS even though I do feel each season was stronger than the last.
But this is great news with SNW. And until these writers can prove they can just write ONE strong serialized season from beginning to end, it’s definitely for the better.
That has been said a lot. The risk with a full on seasonal story arc with no stand alones is if the overall story is bad, then the ENTIRE SEASON is bad. As you said with stand alones, bad episode? Shake it off and try again next week. With a full season story… Bad episode? Not going to get any better. It’s like a bad movie. There might be a good moment in it. (There are a couple of good ones even in TFF!) But overall the experience is a let down.
Watching all these shows back to back in the last few months really brought it home for me. Before I would just watch episodes from different shows and in any random way. But watching them all straight through (for the most part) made it really obvious just how much DIS was harder to watch versus the other two even though it was less episodes and clearly a much bigger production overall. But yeah, once you know where the story is going and not loving it, it’s just hard to invest episode after episode.
And then the OTHER problem with serialized stories is that you CAN’T just skip around because you’ll feel pretty lost if you jump too many times. There’s never that problem with episodic TV, at least not a major one.
Now I DID like season 2 much more than season 1 bar none, so it wasn’t as much of an issue and the first half is really fun IMO (minus episode 3…which I skipped lol). But it still had the same issues by the time I got to the last third of the season. I just think Star Trek works better in a looser format. Either that OR just have more episodes in the season to still do more standalone stuff along with serialization like DS9 and ENT got to do in their later seasons. When you only have 10-13, it’s just no room for much of that.
I asked you this earlier and I guess you missed it. I was curious how you watched TOS. Did you watch the shows in production order or by air date? When I’ve watched them I’ve always gone by air date but I think I’d like to try production order next time.
With the exception of ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before’ which I watched first, I just watched the others in order of their air dates on Amazon Prime. It’s hard enough trying to figure out to watch 800 hours in order, I’m not going to think THAT hard about it lol. And again, it’s episodic, so there isn’t a real need to watch a certain story wise.
Now when I get to TNG/DS9/VOY…..
I think production order would probably work best for the first season only. But next time I sit down for them I’m going by production order.
As much as I enjoy and defend Discovery, I’ve found what you have… it’s not as re-watchable as TOS or the 90s Trek shows. I’ve rewatched the Short Treks a few times, and I’ve re-watched a few of the more episodic entries more than once (“Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” and “New Eden” for example), but I’ve not re-watched a single entire season.
The funny thing is those two episodes you named, ‘Sanest Man’ and ‘New Eden’ are my favorite episodes from each season. And yes both of those are some of the few I rewatched on their own. I think New Eden I’ve seen the most out of any Discovery episode so far. Maybe a half a dozen times now. And it ironically proves the least serialized episodes seem to be the more popular ones in the fanbase. They certainly are for me. Third season wasn’t as serialized like the first two and the episodes did feel a little more isolated as well but not sure which one is my favorite out of that season. It could be between Die Trying or Unification III. Again, both feel pretty episodic.
I assume you will continue to have the same feeling when you get around to Picard (in 3-4 years ;) ). I just did a rewatch of PIC, and I feel exactly the way you do re: serialized Trek. A bad/mediocre premise puts a downer on a whole season of these serialized shows, despite good character beats, action, production values, and individually good/great episodes. Whereas bad episodes in an episodic show are just one-offs.
As much as I love JL Picard and the TNG crew, I found my Picard rewatch to be slow (but not hard) going. It basically comes across as a mediocre TNG show plot, with terrible villains, great character moments for the good guys, and some really good emotional bits. But overall, outside of maybe hitting “Nepenthe” again, I don’t know if I would ever rewatch an episode of season 1 again. Though I might rewatch the season the whole again before season 2 airs, if it looks like there might be enough direct connections (but based on formation so far, I don’t think this will be needed). But here’s to hoping they have figured our season 2’s plot and have improved their serialized writing – based on what Goldman said, they might have.
Long live episodic Trek!
The funny thing about PIC is when it aired, I watched every episode at least twice. Some three times in fact. But when I got to the actual finale, I could only watch those once since they felt so bad. But yes I’m curious about how I will feel about that show since I never watched it straight through. I don’t feel it’s the worst first season show or anything but again being so serialized I’m not sure how interesting it will feel knowing how bad it got by the end. But I’m actually curious to watch it again. I’m trying to watch the entire franchise all in this year so MAYBE I’ll get there by the end of the year…maybe. ;)
This may be a bit off topic but SNW has been on location for at least two eps. I think this was partly done to entice Anson to sign up. He’s been on record stating that he doesn’t like spending hours on a soundstage.
I’m looking forward to watching episodic Trek once again, but make no mistake, serialized Star Trek could be compelling and well thought out. It’s simply that the powers that be have not been able to execute effectively on this plan. Look at what Naren Shankar has been able to do with The Expanse for five seasons. It’s masterpiece storytelling. I feel that it’s a case of the tail wagging the dog at this point with holding to the notion that episodic Trek is the ideal Trek, when in actuality, we haven’t been provided with GOOD serialized Trek (since DS9). While I’m hopeful for SNW, I’m also a bit weary at this point.
But we have seen that it can be done decently. Enterprise season 3 was a season long arc. Although the first 2/3 of the season were pretty stand alone-ish but each episode propelled the overall story forward. Then the final third was all out serial. I gotta say that Azati Prime was the 2nd best cliffhanger episode (there was an in-season multiweek break after that one so I think it counts) in all of Trek to date.
And of course, there were the DS9 multi-episode arcs that were done tremendously well. They didn’t eat up the entire season with it but I think the DS9 arcs would have worked with the mini-seasons they have in today’s streaming world.
My mind draws a blank but what was the Azati Prime cliffhanger about?
Well, put as simply as possible… Archer goes off to destroy the Xindi weapon thinking it’s a suicide mission. T’Pol ended up having to destroy some Xindi detection station or ship? I forget which. That gives them away and the episode ends with the Enterprise just getting severely pounded. The closing shot slowly moves in on T’Pol maintaining her Vulcan stoicism fully aware the most logical outcome at that point is destruction.
Like Best of Both Worlds, I was so engrossed in the story that I was completely unaware of the time and did not know the episode was closing. So that ending was extremely effective to me.
Yeah, I vaguely remember that. Not really a fan of Enterprise so thanks for the little recap.
Yeah those episodes were amazing. The pounding the NX-01 gets at the end and seeing all hope is lost left you speechless. Then the next episode was even better seeing what Archer did to keep the mission alive. That was a great reminder that the ship truly was all alone and how desperate the crew felt.
That’s right… In “Damage” Archer felt forced to cross an ethical line. One of the things I really liked about the Xindi arc was what that experience did to Archer. How it forced him to do things he just never imagined he was capable of doing. He was a very different man after that experience.
Yeah Archer was very positive, optimistic and enthusiastic about exploration, even when the guy ran into a lot of major issues, up to even being tried by the Klingons for murder. Even up to that point, he still seem like exploration was worth it. But the Xindi arc definitely changed him for the worst from that point on. He still believed that Starfleet should explore but he saw the ugliness of it and things he had to do which he would’ve never done before. I think that’s why ‘Home’ is such a great episode because you see how much he’s lost by being a Starfleet captain and all the regret over it even though he’s seen as a hero by everyone else.
That’s why I don’t get why the character doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Archer had a really rich arc throughout the four seasons and I loved watching him. I really realized it watching the entire series a few months back. Archer went from someone jolly to almost bitter by the end. Of course by Terra Prime, you saw that optimism returning to him when he saw the alien alliances forming and everyone working together.
Enterprise was just turning into an amazing show all around and I really loved watching Archer because he went through so much and because he was the first Starfleet captain to go through it, it weighed on him a lot.
The thing is though I personally don’t think episodic format really works with shorter 10 episode seasons. If they wanted to go episodic, I think they had to make at least 20 episode seasons. The other thing is that for the earlier Treks, especially TOS, they got some solid science-fiction and horror writers on board to write episodes. I wish they could so something like this for SNW as well, get some more accomplished writers.
If they create episodes in the same 90 minute vein as Sherlock, it won’t matter how many episodes there are. I just watched Season 2 and there were three episodes.
To me, that’s even worse than the 10 episode mini-seasons. When I watched Sherlock I was surprised not only the episodes were 90 minutes but that there were only 3 or 4 of them. It’s almost as if the writers feel that writing Sherlock is such a chore they simply can’t come up with more than 3 or for stories in a year or two for him.
I always viewed Sherlock as a series of mini-movies.
If each story had been split into two parts (45 mins each) then that would have made for a 6-part series, which is about the average length for a British TV show.
I guess. I recall MI-5 (or as it is known in the UK, Spooks) having 10 episodes. But The Office only had 6 in it’s two seasons. Back then I found that odd. Now it’s becoming more the norm. At least for streaming shows. So Britain started a trend I guess. IMHO a bad one.
There are certainly some exceptions: when Dr. WHO returned in the mid-00’s, that typically ran for 13 episodes each series. Likewise Torchwood (S1 & S2) and also Merlin…all BBC productions.
Generally speaking though, homemade shows that air on prime-time slots in the UK (9pm) have always been MUCH shorter than the 20+ episode seasons that are common in the US.
I don’t know enough about the production process to be able to say whether shorter seasons will soon become the norm (we do still get things like NCIS and the ‘Arrowverse’ show after all) but it certainly seems to be the case for Star Trek.
Personally, I’ll be more than happy with a 10 episode season, if the quality is good. Especially with plenty of other shows to fill the gap between seasons :)
moffat was also working on ‘dr who’ at the time but it was standard on UK tv to do shows like that as short run, minimum of 3 eps like ‘prime suspect’ or ‘midsomer murder,
I think get some episodes in, eventually consider a couple arcs.
TOS had it both ways – the Genesis Arc in the movies was fantastic but really only worked after you got this crew had served a Five Year Mission full of episodes.
More important I think is focusing on the frontier in “final frontier” – Enterprise alone, the lone capital ship defending colonies, exploring the galaxy. Throw out everything beyond that post TOS.
Stick to the TOS writers guide and make your writers read that again and again. Burn the TNG writers guide, if they want to write TNG there is Lower Decks, Discovery, Picard, etc.
“ON PATROL OF A SECTION OF OUR GALAXY – our vessel representing Earth and the Federation (assisting colonists, aiding in scientific exploration, putting down conflicts, helping those in distress, regulating trade, engaging in diplomatic missions., and so on.)
Action-adventure frame work. We must reach out, hold and entertain a mass audience.
Remember always that STAR TREK is never fantasy; whatever happens, no matter how unusual or bizarre, must have some basis in either fact or theory and stay true to that premise.”
“The mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise? Isn’t it something like that of, say, English warships at the turn of’ the century? Very close. As you recall, in those days vessels of the major powers were assigned to sectors of various oceans, where they represented their government there. Out of contact with the Admiralty for long periods, the captains of such vessels had broad discretionary powers in regulating trade, bush wars, putting down slavery, assisting scientific investigations and geological surveys, even to becoming involved in relatively minor items like searching for a lost explorer or school mistress”
“Then must the starship crew be perfect humans? NO, you can project too optimistically. We want characters with a reasonable mixture of strength, weaknesses, and foibles. Again, believability is the key here. What kind of men would logically and believably man a vessel of this type? Obviously, they’d be better selected and trained than the wild enlisted shore leave group in “MISTER ROBERTS.” On the other hand, they have not gotten too stuffy to enjoy themselves and their senses on liberty in an exotic alien city filled with unique pleasures.
But what about Earth men on other planets? We’ll find them in colonies, scientific bases, mining claims, trading posts, diplomatic posts, and so on. These space colonies and activities can be anything which results in an entertaining, believable story, practical to photograph. Don’t ask us to create whole cities or alien landscapes– we can suggest them only. However, do keep in mind the possibility of aiming your story toward unusual local locations.”
How much science fiction terminology do you want?
The less you use, the better. We limit complex terminology as much as possible, use it only where necessary to maintain the flavor of the show and encourage believability.”
Pass the “”GUNSMOKE-KILDARE-NAKED CITY Rule” — that is, would the basic story, stripped of science fiction aspects, make an entertaining episode for one of those shows? Don’t laugh, try it.”
Don’t have them phone home or get help, help is light years away.
Don’t have them play holodeck, there is too many challenges, unknown and danger to have time for anything like that (even if it was available which it is NOT).
DO have the Enterprise last in combat. She might be facing the unknown but she is a ship of the line built just for that purpose. Have her take a beating but keep going (save the lasting 20 seconds in combat for TNG shows).
DO finally let a Connie face a D-7. Let’s see the rivalry play out, something high stakes. Don’t resolve it in seconds, don’t you want an hour long show full of action/adventure/strategy/drama?
DO avoid technobattle as the solution. Make the people have to solve the problem with strategy, tactics or learning.
Firstly, wasn’t Star Trek cancelled for being episodic? The last two seasons of ENT tried to be serialised – the final season only partially, and still had standalone episodes, likely contributing to its demise.
Secondly, can’t we chalk the wild success of DSC and PIC up to the fact that they *are* serialised? Let’s not forget that PIC was viewed as a 10-hour movie split into sections, and PIC was renewed for a second season.
I think that SNW should follow what’s made DSC and PIC successful: a mysterious threat to the whole galaxy (or multiverse), conflict between the characters on the show, shifting loyalties, and a story where you have to watch the whole season to follow what’s going on with a payoff at the end where there’s an awesome space battle (we had this teased with the Enterprise at the end of DSC s2 – let’s see more of that at the end of SNW s1).
The CW have the right idea with this – look at Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, etc. They all have a similar cast of characters with similar personalities and abilities, and they also have a single threat running through the season with a payoff at the end. And most of those shows have run to multiple seasons.
To paraphrase the 45th Rule of Acquisition: “adapt or die”
Yeah, but wouldn’t it be better if Star Trek didn’t follow the norms but create its own “norms”. I don’t believe in the black and white approach you take here and no I don’t really think Trek was cancelled because it was “episodic”. It was cancelled because both the people making it and the people watching it were tired. Even the example you give of the CW shows, they still do manage to do episodic shows in the middle of all the arc stuff. I also think a single, big threat usually ends up being lame. They built up to it and they can almost never manage to show that threat effectively. In fact this has been one of the big problems of Discovery and Picard, they did manage to build up their “single threats” but they could never manage the payoff. Also I think making it episodic gives more opportunity for the writers to be more “imaginative” and “creative” in their writing processes.
Tired is absolutely correct, Alpha. The brand had become stale. They hadn’t had a successful film (critically or financially) in a decade. As good as they were, Voyager and DS9 limped to their conclusions, ratings-wise. They were so eager to move on from the Trek “brand” that they tried dropping it when the series premiered.
Franchise fatigue IS a thing if the stories aren’t top notch, and Enterprise was not.
When you just repeat the formula, you get what David Gerrold called (back in the 70!) format becomes formula, a creative hardening of arteries. The notion that you hang a whole season on one main story like a novel suggests you better have a really good deep story or you’re just padding out a two-parter, which is how all of this recent TREK has played out to me.
It being serialized or episodic was NOT the issue– many top shows in 2005 were episodic, including House, Cold Case, CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace– episodic crime dramas were a HUGE genre at the time. PErhaps they should have reformatted the show into a “mystery of the week” series, which would be kind of cool; Trek has often done stories centered around solving a mystery (the 4th season episode “Daedelus” was excellent)– with a few tweaks they could have marketed it as “CSI in space.”
The fact is, Enterprise just wasn’t very good. I enjoy it, and I enjoy the episodic seasons and standalone episodes far more than the awful Xindi arc, but I recognize it’s not exactly an Emmy Award Winning series.
I do wish they had shopped it around to a cable network where a few million viewers would have allowed it to continue a couple more seasons. I could see USA, Sci-Fi, or TNT picking it up at the time, or even SPIKE. There were rumors at the time of such a movie, but seems like Paramount was eager to just move on from it.
“Firstly, wasn’t Star Trek cancelled for being episodic?”
Literally every show that wasn’t a soap opera on American television was episodic back then, so no, it sure wasn’t.
No, Star Trek wasn’t cancelled for being episodic. It was cancelled because of low overall ratings and demographics were looked at very differently in those days. Enterprise was never fully accepted and made the change to an overall season long arc for season 3 after the first two seasons never really worked out. The show was already teetering on the edge of cancelation. Season 3 was an improvement. That combined with a push from fans got them 1 more season. And even though the show did improve the ratings didn’t and it was canned.
I would hesitate to refer to Star Trek Discovery and Picard as a “wild” success. They are likely doing well compared to other Paramount+ fare. But it is hardly transcending into the popular culture beyond the service and the fans like other streaming shows have. Therefore I would argue that the success of those shows is very subjective.
Having SNW be different from the other current Trek fare also falls in to the philosophy that Kurtzman laid out. That he have different kinds of Trek shows out there. So putting out yet another show of the same type as Star Trek Discovery or Picard just repeats what they are already doing. That is one of the very few things that Kurtzman does I think is a good thing.
When you look at the Arrow-verse, you still get stand alone episodes. They are following the format Buffy set back in the 90’s. Create a season long story. Have stand alone episodes that also push the overall story forward. Towards the end you can start to completely focus on the overall story arc. Enterprise S3 did the same. I do agree that the shows, although they are using different DC heroes and characters are essentially the same kind of show. Nothing apart from the characters really separates them. Legends of Tomorrow is the one that is actually different. It’s far more light hearted and silly than the others.
I would argue that it was Star Trek Discovery and Picard that adapted to the short season story arc. And there are a lot of fans who have missed the episodic nature of Trek. SNW is designed to fill that void. That’s adapting, too.
Your arguments doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I have no idea how you equate Star Trek being episodic is why it got cancelled?? And if that was the case, how did TNG and VOY stay on for 7 seasons, since they were both episodic throughout their entire runs too? And TNG is the most popular Trek show ratings wise when it was on.
And we have no idea how successful the new shows are. Obviously they are to some degree, but without any hard numbers it’s hard to say if they are ‘wild’ or not.
And Lower Decks is also episodic…and didn’t it just get renewed for another season as well? In fact the reason why others seem to like it because it did go back to that format.
Lastly, some of the longest running TV shows on right now are still episodic in nature: Law and Order, The Simpsons, NCIS, Family Guy, etc.
The format itself doesn’t really make a show successful or not, just how well it tells its stories in that format.
I suspect if DSC was a better show, those who criticize the serialized format would not pick on the season-long arcs so much. If SNW is well written and well performed, it will be popular at the very least among sci-fi fans.
That said, I think by its nature, an episodically formatted show is easier to get right: if one episode doesn’t satisfy, maybe the next one does. Whereas if a serialized story doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion, it often negates any good work done throughout the rest of the season. Series-long arcs are even worse. Look how the poorly-received final seasons to shows like GOT and LOST cast a huge pall over their entire shows.
True about Discovery. And for the record, I had no issues it was going to be serialized, because it is the more popular format today and the most popular shows that I watch are serialized. And streaming sites particularly seems to love this format because binging is more popular now. And pretty much every sci fi show is today. I think The Orville (man when is that coming back???) is the only one I watch that is mostly episodic, which of course is just following what classic Trek did.
But yes that is the main issue with serialize shows, if the story is not good, then it feels like the entire season is shot. And like Picard, even if most of the season is actually decent but if the ending itself doesn’t really close the story better then people are still REALLY disappointed. I think after four seasons of these new shows, it’s just becoming evident how this format is hurting the shows instead of elevating them because the rewatch factor is just much lower compared to the other shows. I’m only talking about myself but it sounds like MANY fans have this same issue now.
By the way, I am curious about when Orville is coming back too. These long hiatuses have been the doom of that show I think. It was a solid show but if only they could have kept the momentum going it would have been more successful. Now I think it’ll probably get cancelled after this season.
Trekmovie recently retweeted Seth MacFarlane who promised that the new season would be worth the wait…
Discovery was lucky in that it finished shooting its 3rd season before the pandemic broke out, so COVID “only” made post-production harder. As far as I know, The Orville actually had to shut down filming on its 3rd season for many months.
When he says “worth the wait” does he mean the show will lean back to the comedy side of things? That’s the only way it would be.
But it doesn’t matter. I won’t be seeing it until the discs become available on Netflix anyway. The show just wasn’t good enough to follow it to a streaming service that has nothing worth watching.
I haven’t even seen season 2. I watched the first season a long time ago but I don’t even remember if I finished the whole season. No idea where the show is headed in season 3.
By the way: Didn’t you once argue that no show is ever “worth the wait” when a Discovery producer may a similar comment while they were trying to finish season 3 during the pandemic?
From my point of view, season 2 just turned into TNG season 8. They dropped pretty much 99% of the comedy. The part that made the show unique. And went straight TNG homage.
I think I mentioned something about how Star Trek Discovery itself was never “worth the wait”. Not “no show ever”. But I barely recall the conversation.
Not planning on repeating the obvious plusses and minuses of serialized vs episodic. We all seem to know them. But for some reason it is pretty difficult to stick the landing. But myself, if the has been good throughout the set up, a perfect landing is not necessarily required. Just an adequate one. For Star Trek Discovery I really didn’t care about how they stuck their landings because their entire routine leading up to it wasn’t good to begin with. In those cases, even a perfect ending wouldn’t have been enough to save the show. Not in any of their seasons. Picard fared a tad better but even there a perfect finale would not have saved the shortcomings of the other 9 episodes.
I guess what I am saying is that the lead up to the ending is at least as important as the ending itself. But if that lead up is spectacular, I will not be put off by a less impressive end. The problem with SH Trek has been that none of their lead ups have been any good whatsoever. Hence the flat endings haven’t stood out as big failures to me. The entirety of the season has been.
Yep. As much as I loved BSG, for example, so much of the enjoyment of that series hinged on the mysteries and not knowing what would happen next, that I have never gone back to rewatch it beyond a few key clips on youtube. Rewatch value was VERY low on that one, as good as it was.
I have however, rewatched LOST– last year, at the start of quarantine. But I had to wait quite a while so that the twists and turns were… well, not surprising necessarily, but at least not totally fresh in my mind. That show was just SO good though, the performances so strong, the story so intense, that the rewatch value is a bit higher even if there are no surprises and the ending was a clunker.
There are probably pros and cons of writing a serialized vs. episodic show.
With a serialized show you can pad out an idea over more time. Hopefully, the writers will actually do stories that need more time to play out. As you say, there is a risk that a whole season (or even a whole show) is “ruined” by a disappointing resolution.
With an episodic show you generally need more story ideas. These story ideas must not only be simple enough to set up and resolve within an episode, they should also not repeat themselves. One of the criticisms of the late Berman era was that the stories got too repetitive.
There are definitely huge pros to a serialized story. You can spend a lot more time getting into the nuances of a story or plot point, and how it affects the characters. Episodic tv tends to just reset at the end of every episode. But serialized drama really hinges on a well constructed story AND execution of that story, or the entire serial is a bust.
So far, sadly. DSC and PIC have been more miss than hit. though I wouldn’t say they are a complete bust. I am very disappointed mostly that DSC has failed to improve. It started OK, and instead of building on what strengths existed, they just kept making the same mistakes. All eyes are on PIC S2: can they take what worked and build on it? Or will they– like DSC– fall back into the same problems that dragged down an otherwise promising first season?
This makes me more excited to see this – “the big idea of the week”. That’s what it was always about to me.
My main concern is that they don’t have big ideas that haven’t already been done before. I don’t mean it as a criticism but with so many awesome episodes of Trek covering so many topics, its going to be hard to find some new ground.
There is always new ground. New characters with new points of view. New historical, political, and geographical settings in-universe and new real world concerns and trends to comment on. Would Kira’s former terrorist character fly in a post-2001 series? Raffi, Stamets, Culber, Adira, Gray contain aspects of humanity that are overdue to representing in Trek.
There are even always new ways to retread old ground. Think of “Author, Author” – that touched on a lot of familiar ground as “Measure of a Man” did, and in my opinion they missed out on a huge opportunity to directly reference the TNG episode and build upon it. What about the apparently non-sentient synths on Mars from Picard, shouldn’t there be some commentary about whether they are treated properly? There is always more to mine.
Similarly, while I appreciate all that they revisited in Picard season 1, I was a little flabbergasted that they didn’t mention Lal or Lore. How can you have a whole season about Soong-type androids, and synth evolution and procreation and not mention Lal and Lore? (Probably because they didn’t plan ahead much, based on recent comments by Goldsman.)
I reiterate that Strange New Worlds will still suffer from the same “problems” people had with Discovery, mainly, one, that it is a prequel, two, that technology is far beyond what was possible to depict using the production values of the 1960s (regardless of the removal of the holograms), and, three, Klingons are not played by white actors in blackface like they were in TOS and ENT after they were changed by the Augment virus (and I have no doubt that we will see Klingons in SNW sooner rather than latter).
We don’t know that all Klingons ended up being afflicted with the Augment virus.
I believe it has been stated that there are three types of Klingons now; those unaffected, those affected, and the Discovery type. I don’t expect us to ever see any affected Klingons, at least none played by white actors in blackface.
I consider the Discovery type to be in-between the two, as the Klingons work toward undoing the effect of the virus to restore themselves to their true selves, which they will achieve by the time of The Motion Picture.
They were playing in brownface, not blackface.
A distinction without a difference.
Blackface comes from a vaudevillian tradition of mocking and degrading black people, whereas brownface in the vast majority of cases was due to the lack of availability of actors of specific ethnicities to portray certain roles. So yeah, there’s a difference.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how they handle Klingons on this show.
I don’t understand how any of these are problems.
Prequel: just write good stories that adhere to known history. Not all prequels are bad, just some are poorly written. Just because you know two of the heroes of SNW (Pike and Spock) will survive to the end of the show, doesn’t meant hat can’t be non-death stakes or character growth. There is a whole galaxy out there and TOS, DIS (seasons 1-2) touched less than 0.01% of it.
Technology: While I would have appreciated more of the DIS sets and props looking a little more like TOS, they don’t. But that doesn’t mean then can’t function in a little more modern way. There is no way they should still be carrying around clipboards with paper for Pike to sign just because that is how it was depicted in TOS – we have had tablets in the real world since the late 1980s and good, modern ones since the late 2000s. Some thing with all the other Trek tech. Just update their capabilities to what TOS/DIS/SNW should have had in the 2250-60s without making it incompatible with TOS. Ex: elimination of the “artificial” sounding computer voice of TOS.
Klingons: Who cares about the actors used? Just cast Black actors as black Klingons, Asian actors as asian Klingons, and White actors as white Klingons. Use modern makeup that looks like Berman-era/Late-Discovery-era and call it a day.
I would think that if SNW suffers from the same “problems” that Star Trek Discovery had it would be because the bulk of the people who are responsible for creating and running the show are the same people are responsible for creating and running Star Trek Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks. All of which turned out to be…. Disappointing at best. The problem wasn’t when the show’s were set or the tech or what actors were playing Klingons. The problem was uninteresting stories, weak characters and bad writing. If we got the opposite of that then the advanced tech and such would not nearly be any kind of big issue. It would be relegated to a nit pick. Like the small errors that appear in WoK.
I am very much looking forward to this series. When we saw Spock (Ethan Peck) walk onto the bridge of the Enterprise, I said to my wife that I hope CBS/Paramount does not waste that bridge set and they create a Pike series after seeing him in action over the course of Season 2 of Disco. It seems we are going to get what some fans wanted again. This may or may not be everyone’s cup of Earl Grey tea but it will be a welcome addition to the franchise to be sure.
I wish them all good fortune and many years of seasons for us to enjoy for years to come. Just as much as I do now, even after seeing TOS in first run, I still watch those episodes with enthusiasm. May the wind be always at your back Capt Pike!
Week to week episodic tv is greatly missed and it will be good to have that again through Strange New Worlds.
I think serialised storytelling certainly has it’s merits, but I am definitely looking forward to the idea of having an episodic-focused Star Trek series again.
That was always part of the appeal for me: never knowing where the ship was going to be each week, what sort of mission (story) would play out and which character(s) would be the focus each time around.
It worked well in other shows too, ‘monster of the week’ in the original run of the X-Files for example.
The idea that a SNW episode could air without the specific need for a ‘previously on’ segment would be quite unique…and potentially make it more enticing for a first-time viewer.
I do like the idea of the “serialised character arcs” though, as it suggests that there will be a focus on proper character development, beyond their role/function in a particular story.
All said, I’m certainly very excited and optimistic for this show to begin.
From a purely business standpoint, standalone episodic fare holds up better repeated viewings and thus better sales after the first run on DVDs and other media. Long form story arcs typically have limited replay value and once they finish their first run they typically fade away pretty quickly. Hopefully they get some good writers for the show as, for me at least, that has been the biggest failing of Kurtztrek to this point.
Agreed, I hope they could use some real science-fiction or horror writers for some of their stories like they used to do back in TOS days. There are guys like Andy Weir, John Scalzi and other science-fiction/fantasy writers out there they could use.
My sweet spot is slightly more serialized than Deep Space Nine. At the very least, episodes should get a revision pass with an eye toward where in the season they fit so they not only pace the season well but make room for what used to be handled with the first-scene “here’s what’s been going on the last month that you didn’t know about” (e.g. “Data’s been locked in his lab every off-duty moment for weeks and now he’s inviting us to see his project”. My preferred format would allude to this for an episode or two in advance and possibly give Brent a week or two off.)
The twelve-part movie format is rather exhausting, and as we saw with Picard season 1, has the potential for its own pacing issues if you have a story that is neither as long as the number of episodes ordered nor has room for “throw something in and we’ll connect it to the season arc later” episodes like “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” and “New Eden”.
Mount’s Pike is the main reason I’m not dreading another Boldly Retread. The only Star Trek installments from 2001 to 2020 set after Where No Man Has Gone Before were Nemesis, Beyond, and the short Calypso, despite fans clamoring for the franchise to look forward, not backward since at least 2013. Now that Discovery has made the leap forward, SNW comes in to perhaps continue the strip-mining of 23rd century callbacks. But at least with Mount at the center, it’ll be fun to watch. And it’s much less disheartening to have one STU show set in the 23rd century out of five than one out of one.
With so many other positive things being addressed about this new show in the “original series vein”, here’s the one remaining thing I’m still reeeally hoping to hear: Those goofy-looking “Discovery” uniform collars will get ditched into something more natural looking that doesn’t look like it came from the Gordon Gartrell shirt that Denise Huxtable made for Theo once on “The Cosby Show.”
For me at least sartorial criticisms of the show are the LEAST of the problems. If the style of uniform they are wearing on SNW is the top problem with the show then I think we will be dealing with a pretty darn good show.
i don’t mind a return to standalone for a show like SWN but there must also be some character arcs as well.
it annoyed me that Voy had characters go through some pretty tough experiences that were forgotten by the next ep.
Agreed. Stories can be episodic, but characters must have arcs and growth that track through the entire season. DS9 did that quite well.
I’m always a ‘have your cake and eat it too’ kinda guy, but I think combined episodic and serial is best and what most of these types of shows go for now; some event that starts and finishes within the episode, or two, but with a longer story arc always in play.
Star Trek needs enterprise