For my university project I’m writing a television pilot for a science fiction series. It started out as a film but I decided to make it into a pilot instead. Partly because I felt there was enough material to go further but also because I couldn’t think up a good ending.
Endings can be extremely tricky. There are no real endings, unless I blow up the star ship with all hands, there is always a new story to tell. A film can have an open ending but usually you want some sort of closure. With a television pilot an open ending is expected because it is introducing the story. Now that I’ve decided on a television pilot I have to complete another task – Episode synopses.
And instead of planning those episodes I’ve been procrastinating. My brain doesn’t seem willing to come up with ideas! Of course, unless you’re JMS, a series is usually written by several people.
Planning is going to be the key. Me and planning have a long an dubious relationship. Part of the problem is I’m not exactly sure what sort of series its going to be. The central story is of a ship trying to get home. It was influenced by Star Trek: Voyager but I believe it has become its own thing.
The Star Trek style of story telling general revolves around one main character. So you have: Worf episodes, Data episodes, Picard episodes, and God help us all, Troi episodes. Stargate episodes generally focus on the entire team but they cleverly placed different characters together. Of particular note is ‘Window of Opportunity‘ – where the problem has to be solved by Teal’c and O’Neill – who are normally the warriors.
Similarly TNG has Parallels in which Worf is switching between realities – which is a nice change from the Klingon stories – not that I don’t like those episodes.
So that route is useful. If done well (Duet) it can give an insight into a character but if done badly (Tattoo) it can be a disaster.
The other option is to follow the Battlestar Galactica model which is a true ensemble show. You don’t get episodes that focus on one character in quite the same way.
This brings me to an important point. I see this series as being somewhere between Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Voyager. It will not be as bleak as the former and not as light as the latter.
I figured that writing this might help generate some idea. It doesn’t seem to be working. Maybe I will just blow up the damn ship!