VegasCon 07 – Braga Reflects On A Life With Trek August 12, 2007by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Conventions/Events/Attractions,ENT,TNG,VOY , trackback
Brannon Braga was one of the few Trek writer/producers to appear at this year’s Creation Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. Braga started off almost reticent, telling the crowd "it has been many years and so I am a little nervous." The veteran of Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise made it clear that although Trek was an ‘amazing experience’ which occupied most of his adult life, he was not involved with Trek anymore and saw the con as a ‘nostalgic experience.’ After that, the Trek veteran’s appearance took on the nature of an exit interview with Braga inviting the crowd to get it off their chests:
I wanted to stop by to say hi to you guys and to ask any last lingering questions you had. This may be the last one I do so this is your chance to get out you final gripes and questions.
Wouldn’t change a thing…well maybe some things
Braga’s time as a writer/producer with Trek goes all the way to 4th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and continued with 104 episode writing credits (more than any other Trek writer) for TNG, Voyager and Enterprise. He also co-wrote the first two TNG feature films (Generations and First Contact) along with Ron Moore. During his tenure there were certainly highs such as the finale of TNG ("All Good Things") and First Contact, as well as lows (who can forget Voyager’s Janeway and Paris evolve into lizard creatures episode "Threshold"). Braga was asked if he had any regrets and if he had a chance what would he do differently. His reply..
I honestly have to say that creatively probably nothing. There are certain episodes that are really stinky that I wish I hadn’t done, but how can I go back and change that. There were also episodes that turned out great that we thought were going to be terrible.
However, in subsequent questions the writer did seem to voice some regrets. For example when talking about the controversial season finale of Enterprise ("These Are The Voyages"), Braga seems to dislike it as much as most of the fans:
I do have some regrets about that final episode. It didn’t quite creatively align with the rest of the season. ….The final episode was very controversial and I do have some regrets about it. What we were trying to do was send a valentine to all the Star Trek shows. Enterprise just happened to be the show on at the time and it turns out the episode was a failure. It had some great stuff init and it was a cool concept, but it was languid. I don’t know if it fully delivered and it really pissed off the cast. It was a hybrid show. Rick [Berman] and I were involved in the franchise for years (Rick for 18 – me for 15). We felt like we wanted to send a valentine to the show, but I do concur it was not a complete success.
One controversial aspect of the finale however, Braga has no regrets for…
It was the final episode, we knew the series was over and we could do anything we wanted. Trip was always my favorite character on the show and I wanted to….I just wanted to kill him. I cant give you a coherent response. We wanted to do something that had emotional impact and had consequences which is something we were never allowed to do.
Braga also seems to agree with most fans regarding the direction Enterprise went once he handed over the show running reigns to Manny Coto in the 4th and final season, saying:
I thought Manny Coto did a great job. One could argue that Enterprise might have been that from the beginning. When I was seeing what Manny was doing it was like “you know what? Maybe this should have been the show from the start.”
Of course it wouldn’t have been a Trekkie gathering if someone didn’t ask Braga about canon and the perceived view that Enterprise violated canon by having the Vulcans appear differently than they did on The Original Series and subsequent series (and specifically having mind melds only being able to be performed by a minority of Vulcans). On this issue Braga was firm
Contrary to some people’s opinions we paid very close attention to continuity. There has always been a perception that we spit in the face of Star Trek canon and nothing could be further from the truth. One of the biggest beefs is that we violated the Vulcan culture, that we did things with Vulcans like the mind melds that clearly were not kosher with regards to the Original Series. But remember, cultures change. This show took place a long before the Original Series and Vulcan culture was different then. We got to explore that Vulcan culture was not like it was by the time of Kirk…in the same way that American culture is not the same as it was 200 years ago. Things change, technology changes…mind melds change.
[and how did thing's change to where all Vulcans could perform mind melds?]
They learned how…Community College!
Braga also defended the decision to have the prequel series appear more futuristic than the show it preceded (in story arc, but not in real time). However his explanation for the more advanced looking ship was more pragmatic.
It is a paradox. How to make the show look cool by today’s standards and yet not cheesy like some parts of the Original Series by nature of the 1960s designs. This is certainly something that J.J. Abrams is dealing with and his prequel. You just have to bite the bullet and say that is probably more important to make the show look cool than be completely accurate… We certainly tried to make it look more futuristic than we have today, but less than Kirk’s time. But look at the stuff they were using on that show. They got communicators that are bigger than any cell phone. The laptops they used on Voyager were gigantic…they were ridiculous.
Regarding how the last two Trek show’s were treated on the new UPN Network, Braga also found common ground with the fans…
I think it damaged the show. If you don’t mind booting Brent Spiner later on I could stay up here all day and talk about this one subject. I think it hurt Voyager and much more with Enterprise, to be on a constantly shifting fledgling network that in some parts it was on channel 92 if you could find it and you needed the foil rabbit ears. Here we were shooting this beautiful show and posting it in high def and people were watching it on the crappiest stations imaginable. Tons of problems being on that network. Also we didn’t have a lot of money to promote. So I don’ think it was a great thing for the franchise. I cant blame it all on that. There were other problems of course, but it was truly frustrating.
One of the stranger questions was from someone who clearly was reading too much slash fiction who asked why they never showed a romantic relationship between Seven of Nine and Captain Janeway on Voyager. But Braga seemingly somewhat endorsed the idea.
There is nothing I would love to see more…maybe with B’Ellana. The homosexuality issue was always one on the show, even since Roddenberry’s time. As we understood it, it was Roddenberry’s feeling that ‘how would you know if somebody was gay?’ It was so accepted in the future, that if you try and dramatize it you just call attention to it. However, I still wish we did something more overt. Regarding Seven and Janeway: no way. The studio would not have let us…not with the captain. Plus it would have been dangerous for Janeway…you don’t know what kind of borg implants are down there.
It was not all critiques and canon nitpicks for Braga. A very young fan came up to the mic to says “I just wanted to tell you I loved Enterprise – it was my favorite show” and Braga joked “you are actually the first person to say that…thanks.” But then thanked him sincerely and also seemed to be genuinely touched by the young fan.
Braga left the stage with what seemed to be a farewell to Trek
It has been an honor doing this work for you guys and I enjoyed it as much hopefully as you enjoyed and I appreciate you coming very much.
UPDATE: Braga continues his conversation with the fans
See the comments section below (starting at #63) where Brannon Braga responds to this article and begins to take questions from the other TrekMovie.com community members. Thanks for dropping by Brannon!
NOTE: I know that it seems to be some kind of accepted blood sport to rag on Brannon Braga and Rick Berman. However (as I have noted before), Braga was part of some of the best Trek ever. Besides the ‘highs’ mentioned above, Braga was behind what are sure to be top episodes in each of the three series he worked on such as TNG’s "Parallels," VOY’s "Year of Hell," or ENT’s "Zero Hour." I wish many things (especially with VOY and ENT) were different (and apparently he agrees), but I also try and look at his career with Trek in the context of the full body of work.