Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Deciphering the logic behind Star Trek most rewatched episodes on Netflix

Renown streaming service Netflix officially opened access to Malaysia subscribers in January last year, offering STAR TREK content from the entire franchise comprising six television series and twelve movies; the 13th movie Star Trek Beyond has yet to join the Netflix roster. Excluding the movies, the 1970's Animated Series and Trek-related documentaries, that's a massive database of 695 episodes produced in half a century logging in over 536 hours of airtime.

Star Trek first aired on 8 September 1966, creating sci-fi icons Mr. Spock (left) and Captain Kirk.
In conjunction with the 51st Anniversary of Star Trek and pending launch of the next series, Discovery, Netflix has revealed some interesting statistics on viewership of the venerable sci-fi franchise from among its 104 million subscribers across 190 countries. Firstly, 12,000 fans have watched every episode of Star Trek on Netflix. We presume these are true fans, or Trekkies, to have dedicated the equivalent of 22 days to this endeavour. Yes, Outpost and our resident Vulcan Mr. Smock salutes you hardcore Trekkies. LLAP.

Source: Netflix

Secondly, Netflix revealed the ten most rewatched episodes of the saga, and the selection certainly raises Vulcan eyebrows from the fandom. Among Trekkies, our gut feel (as unVulcan-like as it sounds) of favourite episodes would lean towards some of these titles:
  • The Original Series (TOS): The City on the Edge of Forever, Balance of Terror, Mirror Miror, Space Seed.
  • The Next Generation (TNG): All Good Things, The Inner Light, Yesterday's Enterprise or Best of Both Worlds.
  • Deep Space Nine (DS9): Sacrifice of Angels, What You Leave Behind, Trials and Tribbleations, The Visitor.
  • Voyager: Scorpion, Timeless, Message in a Bottle, Endgame; this series tends to have short titles!
  • Enterprise: Similitude, Carbon Creek, In a Mirror Darkly, Twilight; some of the multi-episode arcs of Season 4 were also fascinating
Netflix's methodology omits the pilot episodes of each series, possibly since most viewers would logically watch the pilot first to sample the series before committing to its run.  So if pilot episodes were allowed as candidates, the top ten list may indeed comprise each pilot from the five series. "Rewatched" is defined as a subscriber returning to watch at least 6 minutes of a previously completed episode. Logical? Enough so.

Well the actual results did reflect some of the above picks but also contained some surprises:

Source: Netflix

To be fair, if each series were to be reflected equally in a top 10 list, that would only allow 2 episodes to be nominated from each series. TNG is no doubt a common fan favourite, hence having Best of Both Worlds and Q Who is no surprise as the most watched episodes. What does seem surprising among Trek fandom is the overwhelming popularity of Voyager taking 6 out of 10 slots in this list, and totally leaving TOS and DS9 in the dust! No Enterprise, no tears that's fine since it's often touted as the weakest series.

You must watch these: Resistance is Futile
Source: Netflix

A closer look at the selections point towards rewatching Borg-centric episodes from both TNG and Voyager: Q Who, Best of Both Worlds, Scorpion, Dark Frontier and Endgame (ranked no. 1). These episodes making up 70% of the list clearly shows continued fascination with the Delta Quadrant's most dangerous cybernetic species. Perhaps fans were selectively screening Borg episode marathons. Here's a Borg documentary which fans surely don't mind rewatching:

This is part 1 of 2 (pun intended).

One of the non-Borg episodes from Voyager The Gift is easily remembered when Kes departs the series immediately after the events of Scorpion allowing for recruitment of sexy Borg 7 of 9 as part of the main cast. The other two episodes comprise Time and Again from Voyager Season 1, and Clues from TNG Season 4. Er, what? Need a mindmeld to jog your memory? Maybe these 2 episode trailers could help:

Whilst the TNG episode trailer for Clues seems intriguing, the choice of Time and Again from Voyager's opening season defies logic when compared against so many better episodes from the saga. Perhaps if the 2-part episodes were merged to allow 2 more slots in this top ten, there would be some entries from other series and the better known episodes among the fan community.

On a global scale, Netflix reflects that TNG and TOS have bigger audiences, but Voyager and DS9 have more rewatches of favourite episodes. And despite well-known mixed emotions fans have towards the 7-year run of Voyager, many still return to rewatch the series.

Here's what American Trekkies had to say to Netflix on their favourite captain and episodes.

Now Netflix's data on the most rewatched episodes for subscribers in Malaysia are indeed more curious:

Source: Netflix

Voyager dominates unanimously on the top ten list ousting even TNG. Similarly with the global top ten, popular Borg episodes Endgame and Scorpion make the list together with The Gift and Time & Again (still why?). A selection of other Season 1 episodes come into play from Phage introducing the organ-stealing Vidiians, The Cloud and Eye of the Needle. Here's a more thoughtful hypothesis on why by our Mr. Smock: "Together with Time and Again, this cluster of the four first season Voyager episodes listed in sequence are simply reflecting a number of local Netflix viewers rewatching the series from start."

Here's revisiting the Voyager with the cast Kate Mulgrew, Garrett Wang, and Robert Picardo.

Indeed the devotion of Malaysian Trekkies to Voyager may be uncharacteristically high due to airing of the series on Hallmark channel on pay-TV broadcaster Astro during the previous decade. Hallmark aired every episode every day consistently plus reruns for an extended period thereby allowing many Malaysians to be exposed to Star Trek through Voyager. In contrast, TNG was broadcast weekly on public TV during the 1980's into the 1990's, whilst Enterprise may have only been available through one of Astro's subscription channels in the early Y2K era. Deep Space Nine was only broadcast for the first couple of seasons before the host channel went off air, hence never completing the series run in Malaysia.

Crew of the Voyager can toast towards being the most popular Star Trek on Netflix in Malaysia.

For Malaysian Voyager fans out here, Mr. Smock highly recommends sampling some of the other Star Trek series on Netflix, starting with the episodes mentioned near the start of this post. Kindly note later seasons of both DS9 and Enterprise became highly serialised, hence it may be more difficult to jump into these series which may form part of a wider story arc. For more standalone episodes, select from TOS and TNG.

Of course, Trekkies across the world are standing by for the next live-action series Star Trek Discovery releasing in under 2 weeks on Netflix come 25 September 2017. Discovery takes place in the Prime timeline  10 years prior to TOS. The series lead actress is Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) as Michael Burnham, First Officer of the USS Shenzhou. Michael Burnham has been revealed as Spock's half-sister through adoption by his Vulcan father Sarek, played by James Frain. Captain of the USS Shenzou is Malaysia's own Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, in the role of Captain Philippa Georgiou. The USS Discovery itself is captained by Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter). Much of the series appears centred around conflict with the Klingons. Let's start the countdown to Discovery!

Star Trek Discovery lead Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham (centre) and Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh as Captain Phillippa Georgiou (seated right).

Stay tuned for our special feature on Star Trek Discovery coming soon after premiere of this new series on 25 September 2017.


Thanks for the nice PR folks at Netflix who actually noticed this piece, we have some GOODIES to GIVEAWAY! Specially for 1 lucky Malaysia Trekkie, we will giving away a Netflix tote bag loaded with a notebook, lanyard, pen and 3-month subscription to Netflix.

Win this Netflix tote bag and goodies

Plus 2 consolation winners will also receive a Netflix Gift Card for 3-month subscription. Perfect for binge watching over 700 episodes of Star Trek which can be completed within 22 days of the 90-day subscription, provided no sleeping involved!

Win this complimentary subscription to Netflix and binge watch every single episode of Star Trek.

To stand a chance to win this Outpost Giveaway, just follow these few simple steps:
  1. Like  / Wow / Love this Facebook post.
  2. Share the Facebook post to your timeline (set privacy to public).
  3. Post under Comments in the Facebook post title of your favourite Star Trek episode from those mentioned in this blog post with your reasons for selection.
  4. Include in your comment hashtags #StarTrek #Netflix #TopTen #OutpostGiveaway.
  5. Join local Trekkies on Facebook Group Starbase MY - Star Trek Fans Malaysia
  6. Like our Facebook Page Outpost Productions
This contest will be closing on Tuesday 26 September 2017, 11.59pm. Notification of winners will be via Outpost Productions Facebook Page with instructions for prize redemption. So make sure to follow us and stay tuned!

Other Terms & Conditions:
a. Participants must be resident in Malaysia.
b. Giveaways comprise 1 tote bag with Netflix gift card (main prize), and 2 Netflix gift cards (consolation) for total 3 winners.
c. Winner of tote bag must be able to arrange self-collection of prize within 2 weeks of notification. Collection point will be in Klang Valley.
d. Only 1 entry per person.
e. Submission to Join the Facebook Group Starbase MY - Star Trek Fans Malaysia must be received before closing deadline.
f. Selection of winners are final
g. We reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions without prior notice.

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