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The Trek Nation - Seasonal Development

Seasonal Development

By Fred Shedian
Posted at June 16, 2000 - 11:53 PM GMT

As I have stated in previous editions of this column, I truly love reader feedback and reaction. I have also stated I am more than happy to take ideas for an edition of A Take on Trek. I am pleased to state that this edition of the column comes after a suggestion from a reader, raising some interesting questions I believe should be addressed.

With most incarnations of Star Trek, it is clear that the cast and their characters do not seem to "gel" until the show reaches the second or third season. Normally, this means that fans can look forward to four/five years of excellent story telling...but two/three of b-plot episodes. The question raised by the above mentioned reader was this, why does it take so long for casts to gel together? Today, let us take a look at this issue.

Using my personal theatre technical background, I believe I hold a unique perspective on this issue. Many people seem to think that it is the writer's fault, placing the entire problem on these men/women's shoulders. However, although some of the blame can be placed with these individuals, half of the problem is with the actors we come to adore. Allow me to explain this in more detail...

In the world of theatre, the location most actor's start their careers, the time of rehearsal is immense. The thespians normally receive their scripts with some time to spare before the first actual rehearsals, allowing them to focus on characterization (development of the "tone /soul / character" behind the lines) for the rest of the production. In some cases, this entire process can take up to two months. By the time the cast is on stage, they know each other, the script and who they are trying to portray inside and out. They know where there character's mental state is supposed to be at the beginning and at the end, knowing who they like, dislike, love, hate, etc.

However, this is something which cannot be found on television. Here, actors spend a week in rehearsal/production of an episode. They do not know what "the ending" of the story will be, as an episode is just another page in a novel not yet completed. Their relationship with their fellow actors is not as deep as one would expect, as time has not taken it's toll.

This situation exists with writers as well. At the beginning of a show, they have the basic structure and plot. However, in the case of TNG, they do not know in 1987 that the character of Picard will be assimilated by the Borg, suffer mental pain/sufferring, get deep respect within the Klingon Empire, become closer to Data than he is with Riker, etc. All they know is what is on the casting sheet...and from that they start to build. Once again, time must take it's toll.

In the end, the situation of not having what some consider "quality" writing the first several years is a problem all shows will continue to suffer with. From ER, to NYPD Blue, to The West Wing, to even Star Trek...it takes time for actors and writers to develop a sense of direction. Once they have determined which way is north, south, east and west...the show is off for the races. In the future, I sincerely hope fans will give the writers and actors more credit during the first two years. Although often times we find excellent story telling, it is not completely fair to judge Season 1 of a show to Season 7.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome. They can either be submitted directly to shedian@treknation.com or to feedback@treknation.com.

Until next time....

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.