In episodic television
parlance, a "bottle show" is an episode staged entirely on the show's standing
sets. By foregoing the use of location
shooting or purpose-built swing sets
, bottle shows can be filmed more quickly and inexpensively than less constrained episodes, and as such are often employed when a series has been running behind schedule or over budget. To further maximize savings, bottle shows often minimize the use of actors aside from the core cast (who must be paid anyway), CGI effects, intricate props, or other costly expenditures.
In terms of the conservation of time and money, bottle shows are not as efficient as the dreaded clip shows, but in return are not nearly as obviously low-budget or contrived. The nature of the form places limitations on the episode, but good writers can use the opportunity to craft quality, character-driven stories. Many of the best-loved episodes of the Star Trek franchise, for example, were bottle shows.