Star Trek would be wise to retire the period piece episodes.
Star Trek has always been a unique franchise. They’ve been able to tackle so many different concepts and different ideas through the concept of “movie magic’ (or television magic if you will). Some of these concepts include going back in time, but not really. Sometimes the show would take you to the time of Robin Hood, the wild west, or some other weird look back at Earth’s past.
And to get there, you only needed a malfunctioning holodeck program, or worst of all, a planet that is seemingly stuck in this time period for centuries. Just about every series have these types of episodes and just about every series make them as boring as can be.
From the original series Spectre of the Gun, to the Next Generation’s QPid, to Voyager’s The Killing Game 1 & 2, and Enterprise’s North Start, each of these episodes remain among the least popular, least liked episodes from the franchise. And the reason is simple, no one wants a Western-themed Star Trek episode.
Some of these types of episodes are fan favorites, like Deep Space Nine’s look back at 1950’s America in Far Beyond the Stars, but even then I found that to be very plodding. It had an important message, sure, but it could’ve been told in a much more exciting way.
It’s time to retire the period piece episodes
The issue isn’t the message in these episodes, it’s the execution. There’s a reason why just about all of these episodes are among the least favorable among Trek fans, and its’ because of the time period.
Fans want to see the future with Star Trek, not get caught up in the past. Sure, some episodes like Far Beyond the Stars can buck the narrative traps of a period piece episode, but those are few and far between.
Hopefully, the Nu Trek era of the franchise can avoid the trappings of the alien planet that all talk like 1800s-era Irish people because it’s just too hokey to defend anymore.