In 1973 Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry responded to a fan letter. What I think Roddenberry talks about below is a real key in terms of success of any story. That is to focus on the people in the story and the drama and conflict surrounding them and not the technology that might be able to catch people’s eye in the short term, but to make viewers stick around you have to have a good story which is where good characters come in. If you click on over to the link their are a few other good parts from the letter.
STAR TREK had no ‘magic formula’ unless you consider respect for the audience and hard work a formula. It has been my opinion for years that science fiction, like any other story, should be mainly about people with hardware being secondary. It seems to me the networks and stations have wasted a lot of money seeking some mysterious formula in STAR TREK when really you make your science fiction the same way you make any other good story and there are no shortcuts.
The quote below echoes quite well what Roddenberry was talking about in the terms of focusing on the characters and the story before the technology. How the author makes the case about what a possible new Star Trek TV show should be about. That it should focus on questions that make the viewer think and when Star Trek was at its best I think that is what it did.
“A new series would need to address timely, relevant questions. How does the Utopia-esque Federation of Planets incorporate its globes and colonies? How do you balance innate cultures with the Federation’s lofty ideals? “Star Trek is all about finding new cultures and, when possible, adding them to the Federation,” wondered my friend Teelin…..The crew and viewer are then forced to address a moral, possibly even serialized, dilemma decorated in top-notch Sci-Fi accoutrements. What could be better?”