Jonathan Frakes' views on filler episodes will change your perception of them

Jonathan Frakes dismisses that Star Trek had filler episodes, and he may be right.
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Ever since Alex Kurtzman spoke about how the current slate of Star Terk shows was great because they didn't have to worry about "filler episodes" across a 10-episode season, fans have sounded off. Many, ourselves included, would like to see Strange New Worlds get more episodes while cutting back on the number of shows that the franchise is attempting to churn out. More effort into one show is better than less effort on more shows.

Kurtzman, never able to read the fandom, took that to mean if Strange New Worlds had more episodes (or any Star Trek series in the modern era), that we'd be besieged by filler episodes, like the older series in the franchise. This caused a minor pushback online as fans started posting their favorite "filler" episodes fo each series.

Now for a point of reference, filler episodes have essentially taken to mean episodes that don't support, move along, or support the major seasonal arc of a show. This has become an issue ever since more and more shows started to serialize their content. This means that instead of watching 20+ stories in a season, you're watching 20+ parts of a movie.

As we've moved on in time, serializing your show becomes less desirable for someone who wants to pop in and out of a show, but more desirable for people who run streaming services and want to hook people to binge-watch hours upon hours of content in a row. Serializing ruins a show's flow, however and handcuffs you into forcing everything into a major narrative while keeping your show episodic allowing you to treat the show and the characters more like a slice of life experience. Things change, people come and go, and usually by the end of the run-time, you have a satisfying enough conclusion to the story of the episode.

Both have their merits, but in the world of Star Trek, keeping things episodic has allowed for far greater exploration of characters, relationships, and interpersonal dynamics that get lost in grander tales.

So when Frakes weighed in on the discussion, he seemingly cut the conversation in half and made his own conclusion; episodic or serialized, every episode matters for Star Trek. When speaking about The Next Generation, he dismissed the concept that most of the season was filler episodes, and said that in his time on the show, they only ever did one, a clip show, telling's podcast, All Access Star Trek;

"“The only filler I thought was real was when they clearly did a clip show [“Shades of Gray”]. That was a piece of shit.”"

And honestly, he's right. It's hard to argue that Star Trek had a lot of episodes that didn't advance or cater to something. While it may not have always served the grander narrative, Star Trek has usually never been about that narrative. It's worked best when the show could wrap up the story in 40-odd minutes and then start again next week. Yet, each episodes further explored the characters, the dynamics of the ship, and further explored its way of life.

So in that sense, Frakes is right.