Recounting the events that lead to the driving force behind Star Trek television series becoming war rather than the human journey.
The original series never touched on a war that lasted beyond an episode, sure there were aggressions with the Klingons and Romulans, but they more often served as a statement on the Cold War as opposed to actual shooting.
The next generation and Voyager also were series less of conflict and more of resolution, the closest thing they had to an ongoing war was with the Borg, and even then they wouldn’t commit to it being a war, they mostly just wanted to be left alone or catch an improbable ride through a trans warp corridor.
It was Deep Space Nine that finally landed on a war arc, with a planned six episode war that eventually consumed the show and became the remaining two seasons.
The initial thinking was that we would end Season 5 on a cliff-hanger with the Federation plunged into war, and then we would come back and do a multi-episode arc, and the war would last that long.
Originally, the arc was going to be four episodes, but Ira Steven Behr extended it to five, and eventually to six.
According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion
Next was Enterprise, it isn’t the most beloved show, it certainly has its flaws, and obviously left a massive part of its story (The Temporal Cold War) untold, but the interesting thing about its timing is that it was just about to reach the Earth-Romulan war which, barring a time jump would have taken four years to complete.
I know what you’re thinking, no I didn’t forget the Xindi, a season long war arc, while it was more of an infiltration then a war it still represented a state of war for the crew.
Discovering a whole new war
Next we have Discovery dropping us right into a season of Klingon war, that may have ended with Season one, time will tell, but we do know it will expand into the Cold War of the Original series at some point.
What is it good for?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means against a good war story, in fact I have quite the collection of war movies and documentaries, when traveling I enjoy visiting the settings of the world wars I believe there’s a lot we can learn from war history.
I loved that Deep Space Nine took on the Dominion war they did, it was great to see the, break into more serialized storytelling. Truth be told I enjoyed Enterprise for the most part.
I just always had this feeling that the ‘franchise fatigue’ that caused Star Trek to go dormant for as long as it did was more to do with this shift towards wars then it was about the feelings of the fans for what the show could (should?) be.
Is it Star Trek Wars?
With the second season of Discovery looking like it’s going to move away from the Klingon war, and the Picard series unlikely to follow the pattern with an aging star in command hopefully we’ve seen an end to the days of All Out Star Trek Wars. Maybe there’s a place for it in another series, mini-series or even movies, but I’d just like to see another series about the journey….