The story arc is a tool that both writers and diehard fans of a project really enjoy. It provides the opportunity for a deeper story to be told, while providing for adequate consequences to the characters over the decisions they make.
Yet, the battle between story arcs and standalone episodes continues today between producers and networks. Critics like to have bold stories told over a long time -- like Syfy did with "Battlestar Galactica" -- but networks and studios find this problematic because it doesn't invite new viewers to join in after a show has started, and it could hurt potential syndication packages.
Story arcs have become much more common in television lately, thanks to the success of shows like "Battlestar" as well as Fox's "24" and AMC's "Breaking Bad." But then again, today is a different world, where new viewers have a chance to binge watch through resources like Netflix or Hulu Plus, and join a show once it started.
But back in the early 2000s, that was not the case, and "Star Trek: Enterprise" became the front lines.
"We were in trouble," said "Enterprise" showrunner and executive producer Brannon Braga. "I think we were in trouble. We had some great episodes, but because we were walking ... this fine line -- which was bullshit, quite frankly. ... And I'm not blaming the studio completely. I will blame them a lot for not letting us go all the way."
Braga shared his thoughts as part of the special features of the "Enterprise" Season 2 DVD release, which comes out Aug. 20. He was joined with many of the cast members of the show in the discussion, and part of that video was shared by Ain't It Cool News.
After more than a season of doing primarily standalone episodes, Braga said he went to UPN with an ultimatum.
"By the middle of the second season, let's either stop, or let's do something else," he said. "They wanted a standalone weekly episode on a ship, (but) it gets hard to constantly do 26 episodes that fully exploit the potential of the show."
Yet doing a serialized show -- even though "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" had proven some success with it -- was still a "radical" concept, Braga said. But "Enterprise" simply could not continue the way it was.
It was an argument that Braga eventually won. By the end of the second season, "Enterprise" was setting up what would become its season-long Xindi arc for Season 3. That gave the Enterprise a big mission -- save Earth from a group of aliens never-before-seen on Star Trek before.
And while moving to the arc may have been a strong creative move, it didn't hold in viewers. "Enterprise" received a reluctant renewal for the fourth season, but with a new showrunner, Manny Coto, who would use three-episode arcs instead.
"Enterprise," however, never recovered -- even as some fans called the fourth season the show's strongest -- and UPN pulled the plug on "Enterprise" after four seasons in 2004.
To see the complete interview, pick up the Season 2 DVD set of "Star Trek: Enterprise" when it's released Tuesday.
About the Author
Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.