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EDITORIAL: Why I Embraced Brannon Braga’s Star Trek After Years of Unfairly Blaming Him

During the last golden age of Star Trek on television from 1993-2005, fans became ever more connected due to the internet, and specifically fan sites dedicated to Trek and message boards. While this was wonderful in bringing us together, every episode and series was analyzed, criticized, and the writers sometimes vilified. Of the many who faced the ire of Trek fans during the respective runs of Voyager and Enterprise, none received as much vitriol as Brannon Braga despite him being responsible for some of the most celebrated Star Trek episodes in the entire franchise.

Like many of you, I was part of this internet community back then, often posting on the now-defunct Trekweb.com about the latest episodes, and specifically my gripes with VOY and ENT. In my opinion, both series failed to live up to TNG and DS9, and my newfound-love for Babylon 5 made me yearn for serialized storytelling that was absent in VOY and ENT. With the perceived decline in the quality of Trek on television and in the cinema, many of us (myself included) directed our ire at the so-called “powers that be,” which became synonymous with Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, who would become known as B&B.

Over the years, as Star Trek began to suffer from so-called “franchise fatigue,” many fans blamed B&B for the decline of the franchise and, unfortunately, the comments directed at both men were vitriolic and hateful. Fans blamed Berman and Braga for running what we held so dear into the ground. I was one of these fans, as I would often post on Trekweb.com how I could not stand the two men and wanted them to have nothing to do with the franchise. I viewed everything they touched in a negative light, and was one of the many posters who viewed them not as people trying their best, but as scapegoats for not producing the type of Trek I was looking for.

Now that we are roughly eleven years since the cancellation of ENT, and twenty years since VOY premiered, I decided, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary, to revisit both shows for the first time. While neither show was perfect, much to my amazement, I found numerous episodes to be incredibly enjoyable and thought-provoking. I appreciated VOY and ENT much more the second time around with the maturity of my 30s, whereas when they first aired I was a teenager with intractable views of what each show should be.

After watching both shows again this year, I can not believe how wrong I was and how ashamed I am for acting the way I did.

Following the Writer’s Room panel on the final day of the 50th anniversary convention, Ronald D. Moore, Naren Shankar, and Brannon Braga signed autographs on a complementary basis. Being a massive fan of Battlestar Galactica, I was prepared with something for Moore to sign. However, I had nothing for Shankar or Braga to sign. Initially, I did not plan on approaching either. However, I went up to Shankar first and we chatted about The Expanse, an intriguing show that he runs.

Next was Braga, and I decided to do something that I had not planned to do: apologize.

I told him how, during his time working on VOY and ENT, I was one of the many who had vilified him. I said that it was completely unfair and immature of me to do so, and that I had recently revisited VOY and ENT and found that there was so much to love in both series. I told him that, had I been in his shoes, I did not think I could have handled such intense, and unwarranted, criticism. I told him that I felt terrible for being one of the cacophony of voices on the internet who had blamed him for everything, and that it made me feel terrible looking back on my behavior. I thanked him for his involvement in the Trek franchise, and pointed out that he had so much to be proud of. Braga seemed genuinely touched by my comments, and he stood up and shook my hand, telling me how much my words meant to him.

If we were to objectively look at Braga’s contributions to the Trek franchise, it is difficult to overlook episodes like VOY’s “Threshold” and ENT’s “These Are The Voyages” as examples of his obvious failures. However, it is easy to overlook how many fantastic episodes and films he brought to the franchise. Here is a list of but a few that stand out to me:

TNG: “Reunion,” “Cause and Effect,” “A Fistful of Datas,” “Frame of Mind,” “Timescape,” “Parallels,” and “All Good Things…”

VOY: “The 37’s,” “Flashback,” “Future’s End,” “Scorpion,” “Year of Hell,” “Prey,” “The Killing Game,” “Living Witness,” “Timeless,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Equinox.”

ENT: “Broken Bow,” “The Andorian Incident,” “Shadows of P’Jem,” “Shuttlepod One,” “Carbon Creek,” “Shockwave,” “A Night in Sickbay,” “Cogenitor,” and “Azati Prime.”

Let us not forget that Braga and Moore penned Star Trek: Generations simultaneously as they were writing “All Good Things…” I have found Braga to be an introspective man who knows his mistakes, rather than stubbornly sticking to every decision he made so many years ago. At the 50th anniversary convention, he conceded that “All Good Things…” should have been the first TNG film instead of Generations.

It is of note that Braga first joined TNG as an intern at the age of 25. Three years later, he was simultaneously writing the series finale and first TNG film. He co-wrote the beloved Star Trek: First Contact at the age of 31 and then took over showrunning duties on VOY that same year. He helped conceive ENT at 35 and parted with the Star Trek franchise before he was even 40. Moore, commenting at the 50th anniversary convention, believed that perhaps they were too young for the responsibilities that he and Braga were given during TNG’s final season.

Following Star Trek, Braga became executive producer for 24‘s seventh and eighth seasons, co-created Threshold and Terra Nova, and helped revived Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, where he earned an Emmy for his efforts. His latest creation, Salem, was WGN’s first scripted show and was nominated for a coveted Saturn Award in 2015.

Whatever you may think of the direction both VOY and ENT took from season to season, there is no doubt that there are standout episodes whose stories were created by Braga. He brought us the best TNG film in First Contact, and some of the most memorable TNG episodes such as “Frame of Mind” and the series finale. Looking back on how I treated him all those years ago, it simply was not fair. As I am now the same age he was when he ran VOY, I cannot imagine the pressure involved in running a Star Trek series. I also cannot fathom continuing in such a role when fans are ripping me apart on the internet.

There can be no doubt that Braga is, and always shall be, a Star Trek fan. He sought to do the best he could as showrunner, storyteller, and writer, and more times than not, he hit it out of the park. There are times when he failed, just as we all do in our professions. As a writer myself, there are many pieces that I cannot stand to look back on because of their poor quality by my current standards. However, my reflection upon his work shows me that he succeeded far more often than he failed, and that we have him to thank for countless hours of some of the best Trek ever written.

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Of course you mean 1987-2005. Ha ha!

No I measured the years beginning with DS9’s premiere, which coincided with the mid-90s internet explosion.

I just hope that it’s 1987-2005 and we don’t see a resurrection / repeat of mistakes. The reboot movies are golden compared to everything from that era and that includes the subpar Into Darkness.

The last golden age of Star Trek on TV ran from 1987 to 1999, if one wasn’t too bothered with being precise you could say it was during the nineties.

Wrong.

Disagree. The first two reboot movies were explosions, fights, no drama, just action and flashing lights. Beyond was much better, action, comedy, human drama in equal measures, almost as good as Wrath of Khan. Now if 64 ounces of flavored fizzy sugar water and a 10 gallon hat full of popcorn is what you go to movies for, any old thing with the name Star Trek will do. I am a little more discerning.
As for 1996- 2005, Voyager was up and down, but Enterprise’s last 2 seasons had much merit, so much so that Enterprise is the only canon to the Kelvinverse. The real complaint I have about Enterprise is that Paramount wouldn’t pony up the $ to Ted Sturgeon’s estate and let T’Pol be T’Pau as originally planned.
BTW, I’d love to see T’Pol on a Star Trek reboot movie. She’d only be in her mid- 100s.

If you consider “The 37’s”, “Broken Bow” or “Shockwave” to be good episodes, that explains a lot of things in this article. ;)

While I agree Brannon Braga is not at all the clueless hack people make him to be, he was definitely one of the top people responsible for Voyager and Enterprise being so lackluster, tired and ultimately, disappointing. First three seasons of Voyager feel very much like unused second season TNG scripts. The original premise of the show is barely even used for anything of consequence. There is no sense of great adventure, no sense of wonder; it feels stale and tired. Instead of “where no one has gone before”, it feels like “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” way. And sadly, the same goes for Enterprise. And for last two seasons of TNG, really.

Would I be happier if those shows haven’t been made? No. But they should’ve been made differently. And while “the killer B’s” are often blamed unfairly, their later Trek work is really nothing to cheer at, either.

Could you have done better?

He probably couldn’t. But then, he isn’t a professional screenwriter and no-one’s paying him to try, are they?

“Could you have done better?”

That is one of the most pointless rhetoric ever. You don’t have to excel at something to be able to criticize it, for crying out loud.

You think it is maybe possible someone *maybe* would have thought that the Klingon Empire and the Federation were adversaries before TOS and that it might possibly be more dramatic and add some action to a series to have that conflict play out at least before the show opening credits. Just asking the question should confirm to you that Braga was useless with respect to the Trek franchise.

In fact yes, I *did* write better stories than Shockwave or the 37s. I likely wouldn’t be able to write the whole show worth of consistently good stories, but then again, neither did B&Bs. ;)

I’m sorry, but I will NEVER be able to forgive Braga for the terrible way in which the franchise killed off James T Kirk. His “death” on the Enterprise B would’ve been fine, but bringing him back so he could fall off a cliff was just embarrassingly awful.

ST:VOY was garbage until they essentially replaced the dreadful Jennifer Lien with Jeri Ryan. Suddenly, Kate Mulgrew had someone of real talent to play off of and Janeway became a legend in Trek fandom.

ST:ENT was promising, but ultimately unimpressive. That final episode made me want to throw something at the TV.

This, to me, isn’t a story about Brannon Braga or the Star Trek he produced. It’s a story about the author of the article experiencing personal growth and becoming more mature with age.

Don’t get me wrong. That’s a good thing. It’s a good story. I’m glad these two men had a human moment together. I hope it meant something for both of them. But I don’t think we should confuse realizing that you were a jerk earlier in life with Voyager and Enterprise somehow being better than they were. On my own rewatches, I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Yep. My own standards have changed over the years. And I do think I had unrealistic expectations for later Trek but still understood then thst it was part of a machine (and was frustrated by the assembly-line stories and lack of risks). Now I watch with ‘that wasn’t as bad as I remember’ (sometimes its worse) and with some nostalgia (I remember watching this in college!”)

Trek got stale and selfconscious – V and Enterprise were really seasons 8-18 (did Ent have four seasons?) of TNG – with less interesting characters – and even TNG really only had one or two really good seasons of its own.

….and becoming more mature with age…. or getting ready to be responsible for some serious writing and doesn’t want the same treatment.

But it’s still OK to blame Berman, right? :)

I feel like anyone responsible for running any incarnation of Trek faces a Kobayashi Maru. If they charge things up too much, they face criticism of not respecting the franchise. If they stick to formula, it’s “tired” and “stale”. We want something different, but not TOO different. Lord knows I’ve had issues with B&B over the years, but I respect them and the effort they put in.

Well, if effort were enough, we’d all be running Star Trek! lol. But Berman and the studio effectively ran Star Trek into the ground via over saturation and tired stories. Some were told well, but most were retread.

Berman would actually have preferred a year rest between VOY and ENT, but CBS demanded it right away, and if he had said no they would just have gotten someone else. Berman felt (and to a large degree rightly) that he wanted to protect Gene’s legacy and was worried other people would just run completely roughshod over the show. So he took the job. He even suggested the first season to be Earth-based leading up to the launch of the NX-01 which would have been interesting to see and a good change of pace.

This was well before the Viacom split up, no CBS involvement yet. It was UPN leadership and Paramount corporate who forced the team to lauch ENT without a break, and insisted that well known Trek tech be worked into the show, even though it was a prequel.

Matt Wright,

Re: split

Wasn’t Chris-Craft an early player in UPN? I recall some wacky memos regarding Trek shows (VOY and early rumblings of what would become ENT) before Paramount just seemed to magically make them go away?

And you did need to set the record straight, but let’s not go overboard making it seem as if Mr. CBS, Les Moonvies wasn’t right there, before the first episode aired, kibitzing in an attempt to jockey for power which directly resulted in him personally ending up with the power to pull the plug on ENT.

I agree, last night watching him on the 50 Years of Star Trek what struck me is that he looked very sad when he spoke of Trek.

I am afraid that braga’s work, especially as show runner on Voy and Ent, favoured high concepts and spectacle over decent character development.

the re set button ever eagerly pressed and any substance in many of those scripts wasted.

Braga’s work on Enterprise is the prime example of why Trek was not working. The source material had the pre-TOS era no transporters (landing parties stranded without a quick get away), nuclear missiles/lasers (no phasers on stun for a quick solution to many problems), Earth just recovering from a nuclear war, the need to mine/obtain dilithium, little to no communication with Starfleet Command (the Captain is representing all of humanity), and a bunch of situations gone wrong (Klingon first contact disaster, war with the Romulans, first contacts gone wrong leading to prime directive). All of these things make for MORE EXCITING STORIES. The only thing hinted on gone right was the humans getting the logical Vulcans and the passionate Andorians to work together… sort of. And even then it was too late. Instead we got lazy comfy Trek – phasers, transporters, little to no major conflict or mistakes. Oh wait, that boring Trek wasn’t bringing in ratings so let’s jam in the Xindi Arc which actually sort of was exciting… but could have done far better far more logically if they had used the source material for you know, Star Trek TOS (the spirit of the Wagon Train to the Stars your boring Trek continues to come up short against?).

100% disagree! Luv’d ENT (Luv’d them ALL!)

I still don’t get the ENT “hate” … to me it was a much better show than VOY [in VOY’s first three seasons. Did it improve in Season 4?]. I liked that the engineer couldn’t come up with solutions to problems within five minutes using technobabble. I liked the “new frontier” aspect [which, admittedly, was not always as it should have been]. I did not like “T’Pol as a sex object,” and Hoshi and Merriwether being underused to the extreme.

Yes, transporters came in too quickly, but I don’t recall being bored or irritated by most of ENT. I found most of it pretty good. I disliked the time travel business [for me a constant bugaboo of Trek], and Section 31 [sigh].

Overall, I found ENT quite enjoyable and was disappointed that it only lasted four seasons.

VOY has always been my least favorite series, but I’ve always liked ENT. Could it have been better? Absolutely. But it just seemed to get off on the wrong foot and many fans punched out early and never came back. By the time they were finally firing on all cylinders under Manny Coto, it was too late. But I’ll put season 4 of ENT up against any season of any series since season 2 of TOS. Over the years I’ve pestered some of my friends to go back and give it another chance. And they’ve almost all told me they regret not watching when it was on.

ENT worked under Manny Coto because he got the concept! Romulan wars, eliminate transporters, eliminate the ability to call on , have military guys with machine guns in a rough and tumble universe. Throw in interesting races and locales(Andoria) – he even had the Kzinti coming. What’s more dramatic – landing party surrounded and can’t beam out and can’t stun the enemies or landing party opens communicator and beams out, problem solved? Avatar dilithium mine situation, questions over how to respond to Romulan invasion (do we nuke them? TOS says they were firing nukes at us and we fired them back). Human Klingon first contact gone wrong, etc. If ENT had Manny Coto at the helm from day one – would have been the best Trek ever. That’s not “hate”, that’s reality.

I agree with this–if ENT had done what they did in Season 4 perhaps it would have lasted longer. I always thought the whole Xindi stuff was a bit of a distraction.

I’m with you regarding the ENT hate. I did consider it better than VOY. VOY did have some stand out episodes. I do plan on rewatching the show soon as I only saw each episode the once. It’s in my Netflix cue as we speak. I want to give it another change. But I did enjoy Enterprise. I agree they started with a healthy distrust of the transporter and become too comfortable with it too fast. The temporal cold war idea did leave me cold. And I was never ever a fan of section 31 going back to when it was introduced years before. Yes, Hoshi and Merriweather were underused but let’s face it. It is an ensemble cast. How often did Uhura and Sulu get used on TOS? Ent got WAY better in season 4 when Coto took over. And I think would have continued getting better if they had a 5th season. In fact, Coto said that Shran was slated to become a member of the ENT bridge crew had they gotten a 5th season. THAT would have had real potential, I think. Too bad it did not come to pass.

Hoshi and Mayweather drove me nuts. It was as if they’d started to develop them and then just dropped it. Very little was ever made out of Mayweather being the most experienced spacefarer in the crew. At the beginning, Hoshi was pretty much afraid of her own shadow, but rather than showing her learning to overcome her fears, they just dropped it, and all of a sudden she was fine.

I suspect no on really knew what to do with either of them. They started with some basic backstories but as the show progressed those backstories really didn’t matter much. It felt like when those two did get involved it was more often than not just a way to shoehorn something about that character in.

The show was mostly about Archer, Trip and T’Pol anyway. And I was fine with that.

Come on, the pilot writers were so lazy they couldn’t last an episode (ONE EPISODE!!) without phasers on stun and transporters. And how about the Klingons? TOS had them basically at war, the Klingons the Soviet Union of the galaxy conquering other races. Day one the ENT writers were so lazy they pretty much ended the episode singing kumbya let alone facing the threat of Klingon invasion. And the Romulans / nuclear war… well, so outside their comfort zone they don’t even meet the Romulans until the end (and even then, no Romulan war)!!

Enterprise is my favorite of the new series…but, ultimately, it was the same old song and dance cranked out of the Berman-Trek sausage mill. The cast was good…outside of Archer, the “aw, shucks” attitude of Bakula just didn’t work for me…espeically not for a startship captain. The others were engaging, good actors and had a real natural chemistry together on-screen. The aesthetics were jarring at first, but when I reconciled the difference in tech being due to Daystrom creating a whole new, revolutionary comupting system, not available in Enterprises’ time, the look and feel of the show, and it’s differences with TOS, made perfect sense. The writing and ultimate inability to break free of the Berman mold is what failed the series…just more of the same. The only hope I have for Discovery is that the people behind it are not from the Berman era and I don’t feel they are trying to distance themselves from TOS as Roddenberry so desperately wanted to do with TNG…and sadly, succeeded. It is my hope that Fuller and company can get on with the adventure aspects of the original series and not bog down, too much, in the self-important, serialized soap-opera theatrics that seem to be a prerequisite for televised “drama” these days. The percieved “need” for Trek to babble on about the “human condition” has infected the franchise since the new and enlightened Majarishi Roddenberry brought it to the table in The Motion Picture, where it took stage, front and center. It… Read more »

I don’t blame him for doing his job. It was the nature of the beast. It’s the entire re-imagining and execution of Star Trek (THE Star Trek…circa 1966), that is embodied by all of Roddenberry/Bermans TNG era, that I blame for creating a false expectation of what “Star Trek” is, simply by saturating the airwaves with the “new coke” formula for almost 20 years. I know people love it. I know they grew up with it. But I also know it is a complete about-face from the original series. TOS laid the concrete foundation and TNG built a tree house. From that, 3 more treehouses were built on the branches above…continuously moving farther and farther from that solid foundation way below on the ground…until finally, the tree fell over. No, I don’t blame Braga for anything. He had severely restrictive parameters set by Roddenberry and Berman…restrictions that were not there during the TOS years. The best chef in the world can only do so much his hands tied behind his back. Braga did the best his could. I can’t blame a man for that.

One of the biggest factors in the perceived staleness of the later series, I’m my opinion, was the music. TOS had music that was front and center. You can listen to the music today and visualize the scene in your head. It was totally unique and unforgettable. From about the third season of TNG right through ENT, it was generic, forgettable wallpaper music. In my mind it made every meal seem like leftovers. I hope DSC puts more emphasis on music.

You are SO RIGHT about the music… Berman’s obsession with that “sonic wallpaper” approach was such a nuissance. That’s what I adore about the Kelvin Timeline… Giacchino’s scores have brought themes, movements and melodies back to Star Trek whereas even the last two Goldsmith scores felt lame and uninspired… The scores on DS9, VOY and ENT (first two seasons) felt exactly the same as late NextGen… the only exceptions were a really, really strong theme for Species 8472 (still not available on OST) in Scorpion and Brian Tyler’s short stint during ENT’s second season’s Borg episode…

Music can be a double edge sword. For a feature film the score I think is WAY more important than a series and is also way more noticeable. The score for TOS was like the show itself. There were a few cues that were used time and time again by the shows main two composers. (like the sets) This was a necessity as it cost money to record new cues.
TNG did the same thing although on occasion they did new stuff. I happen to think that Ron Jones’ Best of Both Worlds score was the best of TNG. But we all have our opinions for these things.

While I agree that the music in TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT is not memorable, some of the best shows on television sometimes use a minimal amount of music. If the story and characters are engaging, music only enhances the experience…rather than creates it. I’m currently rewatching The Wire, a show that only uses music in the final scenes of each season, and it’s one of the best shows ever made.

However, I’m also a fan of amazing scores that allow me to close my eyes and remember the exact scene they’re from. Before speaking with Brannon, I was talking to Ron Moore about Bear McCreary’s score on BSG. That’s the last show I can remember where I was in a rush to buy the soundtracks.

Here’s to hoping Discovery brings in a great composer.

It depends on the material. No County for Old Men was brilliant with a very minimal score. But that wouldn’t work for Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the score was just as vital as Indy himself. I think music is too much a part of Trek’s DNA to go without. I just want it to be memorable

I think the music for BSG miniseries was better. In fact I think it was down right special.

Redshirt Rosie,

Re:was the music

According to McCarthy, in a LISTSERV response to my questions about the music, TPTB in charge decreed that the “dialog” was the most important sound on the shows and no other sound effects or music should be “interesting” enough to distract the audience from focusing on the dialog.

They literally requested that the music be nothing more than walls of sound. Could not conceive of how a good composition could enhance a scene.

Spot on with your comments on music. In fact, the only 2 TNG pieces that remind me specifically of the episode are “The Inner Light” flute piece and the fantastic tune from the 3rd Season “Booby Trap” episode with the centuries old battle cruiser!

I must confess a liking to the music from Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis however concede that they are very similar. Giacchino’s scores are more vibrant.

God, YES. The music in TNG was so generic. You can, however, listen to the scores for TOS repeatedly. Yes, there are themes that were repeated over and over in each season [Season One had its distinctive “themes,” Season Two, and Three — each season had a different composer’s themes used for various dramatic moments or situations]. TNG and VOY had that awful generic music; I think DS9’s was a bit better, but haven’t compared them recently … and I don’t remember ENT’s music so well except for that theme song!

TNG/DS9/VOY had music?!? Pretty forgettable eh, ironically minus the ORIGINAL Star Trek motion picture theme which even they they did a poor job on.

I agree so much. the music was so bland and abysmal. Probably my biggest problem with the last few series. Music helps the emotions so much.

I have been a Brannon Braga defender for a long time. While he’s not without his clunkers, and he’s not the greatest Trek writer, I don’t think the harsh criticism levied his way was at all warranted. He was an important part of the (very young) team that essentially saved TNG after the atrocious first two seasons, and if nothing else I credit him for having the balls to push the envelope with stories, even if not all of them worked. The Beckett quote, “Ever Tried? Ever failed?” comes to mind…

My biggest criticism is that his formula for writing seemed to be coming up with a “wow” visual image and working backwards to create a story around it (you can see this in the behind-the-scenes descriptions of his episodes on Memory Alpha). The best storytelling typically comes from creating a strong character arc first, or at least, a strong narrative arc.

That said, his style has its place, and was the impetus for many fine episodes.

He’s not a bad writer, but he’s not a great one either. I’m sure he’s not a bad guy, but you’d be hard pressed to call me a fan of his work. I would put more blame on Berman than Braga. Star Trek had become an episode factory with very little new ideas. It needed shaking up, not new series to explore the same themes over and over. So it’s not that it was outright bad, it was stale. It was repetitive and not fresh. That’s the fault of those that pushed the franchise beyond it’s limits and into over saturation. In simpler terms.. I fault the production team a lot more than the writing team.. and I think my criticism of Braga is more on the producer front than on the writing front, but in that way, I fault his boss a whole lot more than him.

Considering Berman was forced by the execs to make another show immediately, set it on a spaceship rather than on Earth like he wanted to and was basically told “make another Star Trek or we’ll find someone else who will”, I’d say your anger towards Berman is misplaced too.

Well, first, I’m not angry at anybody, and I think my response was fair and measured. But Berman could have moved on if he disagreed.. he didn’t. He kept taking the money, and as the head of the efforts, he’s responsible for the output. Does the studio deserve more blame? That’s an insider question I can’t answer, but Berman was out of new ideas well before Enterprise debuted. I don’t think delaying it a year would have changed a thing. They needed fresh perspectives and that wasn’t going to happen under Berman and Braga. Doesn’t mean they didn’t produce some quality television sometimes, but I think Voyager and Enterprise suffered from a lack of excitement and quality.

Read this after I’d replied and you’re spot on.

Thanks, I just caught your replay on another comment, and you’ve said it a lot more succinctly than I did.

When you watch the extra’s and bonus features (like the Rick Berman/Brannan Braga feature) on the Enterprise blu-rays, you learn that that they did want to shake things up a bit but that the studio (by that time) was a lot more “hands on”, the result being that they could not do anything “too different’. After I heard what they wanted to do, I felt that their approach could have been interesting. When you consider that, by the time Enterprise came along, they had produced 3 shows that each ran for 7 years…that is 21 years of TV. I just thought they probably needed a break after producing that many shows. It is nice to see someone give Braga the props he earned.

When you consider how formulaic and repetitive Voyager was, it’s not surprising the studio was more involved. Sounds like the studio should have cleaned house and let someone else run with the ball. But if that’s something Berman said, I’m not sure I buy it. I’d want to hear some other unbiased account of what happened.. assuming one would exist, but whatever. He’s had a prickly relationship with fandom for a long time, so I just don’t buy it.

I used to post on the Ask Ron Moore boards on AOL back in the 90s. Braga would sometimes post on there to mess with Moore. Good times.

You are right, but under the line DS9 was the logical improvement of TNG – superior in storytelling, SFX and all. VOY and ENT went backwards, and so did the TNG movies.

Excellent article. I always felt Berman and Braga were treated pretty unfairly. Berman produced an astonishing amount of Star Trek. Braga wrote a lot of good episodes. Cause and Effect came out in ’92. The movie Ground Hog Day came out in ’93 so he beat that movie to the punch when it came to reliving the same day over and over and over. Thank you for the article –

I think the fact that Bernan produced so much Trek was the problem. His staying in reminds me so much of how Michael Eisner stayed on way too long at Disney, just churning out the same boring stuff and calling it a day.

I think a “success formula” leads to mediocrity. Seeing it in Marvel movies and some Pixar too.

I honestly think that TNG on it’s own would have died off in a season; people were just desperate for Trek… any Star Trek after 30 years of waiting for more.

I had a similar experience. Brannon Braga joined TNG when I was 13 or 14 years old and just beginning to pay attention to the credits that appeared over the episodes’ opening scene. I quickly learned that a “Written by Brannon Braga” writing credit meant that we were most likely in for a good episode. But my attitude toward him soured as Voyager failed to live up to expectations and it really cratered with Enterprise. I figured since most of those TNG episodes I’d enjoyed were written with Ron Moore, that Moore must have been responsible for all the good stuff I liked. I viewed Braga as a high-functioning idiot who most likely got his job by sucking up to the right people.

And then I listened to the Generations DVD commentary. And here was this very funny, self-aware guy named Brannon Braga being extremely candid about all the stuff that was wrong with that movie. I realized that I had gotten it all wrong, that Braga was not to blame for everything I didn’t like about Voyager and Enterprise and that there were definitely other factors at play that I wasn’t aware of because I didn’t work there.

TV is a collaborative effort. Braga can’t take credit for anything he wasn’t the creator or show runner of, and he’s not been the creator or show runner of anything worth watching on TV. I’m hard pressed to think of any TV he’s been involved with in any significant way that is. He’s not a very nice guy in my personal experience with him, nor from other people and industry reports. He’s got to be one of the luckiest people in Hollywood to have had the career he’s had.

Interesting! I remember when he was on 24 for the end of that series. That was a favorite and it started to deteriorate around the same time he was on it as well.

Interesting…as a counterpoint, Brannon Braga is, by far, the Trek Personality I’ve interacted with that was the NICEST to me. Was basically on his way out the door at a convention meet and greet but saw I was approaching and sat back down, signed an autograph, took a picture, chatted about Enterprise, was very honest and forthright about what he thought he did right and what he had messed up. Cant say that about some other BIG Trek Personalities who would look at their watches while signing autographs, or grill me about whether I would just go sell their autograph on eBay etc…

at least, he was genuine and courteous when I interacted with him even if that has not been other people’s experiences w/ him

Gosh, do I vividly remember those days… Like you I posted a lot over at Trekweb but I was in the other team so to speak. I was one of the few defending B&B almost all the time. Now, 15 years later, I understand why people had been so angry at the two of them. So with me, it’s somewhat vice versa… I used to like their Trek but I see why it had to fail on the long run…

TV has evolved. And while I’m not the biggest fan of serialized TV, there have been some outstanding shows based on that format: NuBSG, Lost, GoT, Walking Dead, American Horror Story, the entire Arrowverse, you name it… For some reason Trek failed to adapt to that formula in time and failed to be ahead of its time as it had been in the 60s. This is why B&B had to fail. They played it safe instead of riding the top wave to a new era of TV.

While I would – personally – so much like to have a weekly daventure show aboard a starship called Enterprise with great standalone episodes, I understand it’s not what most people are used to these days. Great TV comes in serialzed format, chapters of bigger stories, not short stories of the week. I had to adapt to that and so has Star Trek…It’s been a long road, but Discovery is finally here…

It’s hard to know what any of us would achieve if handed the reins to one of our favorite franchises, be it Trek, DC, MU, Bond, or whatever. It’s all fine and well to say, “I’ll make gold!!” Then you realize you’re just grabbing pieces of your favorites eps and tossing ’em in the blender. Trek thrives when it brings in good writers. After that, the machine (and there’s always got to be a machine) can do its job. This has been true from The Cage thru STB and will undoubtedly hold true in STDSC.

Horrible news. Hollywood white washing years of bland, boring, uninspiring non-nonsensical Trek that brought the franchise to the brink of irrelevance does no one a favor. Let’s not repeat it – it’s bad for investors (Braga Trek devalued the Trek franchise), bad for those who want a good story (oh boy, maybe if they re calibrate the nav deflector to generate non-sensium particles they’ll save the day, as if they had to when they could have just beamed out or sang kumbaya with these as-human-as-you-can-get-aliens) while generally dumbing down the franchise to the point of boredom (the final frontier is so progressive, everyone buys the philosophy, let’s head to the holodeck because it pretty much all looks the same). Let’s get back to some real stories, some real debate, “wagon train to the stars” where the final frontier can be exciting and dangerous and our warp cores both take a beating but have been built where they can take a beating without a warp core breach in a minute. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein. Please Hollywood – STOP with the boring Trek!!! Trek 2009 had a larger audience because it appeared to go back to the roots of Trek as an action/adventure exploration show with some characters overcoming conflict; stop throwing that away because you want to go back to your comfy boring holodeck stories.

Cmd.Bremmon, there for a minute you almost sounded like lyrics from Voltaire’s the song called “The USS Make S**t Up”! Funny stuff, if you haven’t heard it before, there are versions of it on the internet you can find. . .

BTW: Does anybody still remember the rumor that Ron D. Moore actually based his version of Gaius Balthar on Braga and that Number Six was actually a homage / spoof of his then-girlfriend Jeri Ryan / Seven of Nine?

No.

I never had an issue with Braga. I lived Voyager. I think Enterprise’s problems were first and foremost about over saturation, and secondly, I didn’t like how some of the actors portrayed their characters.

I still blame Rick Befman for many things, and his words in interviews have cemented how I feel. Unthinking is problem, much like Micharl Eisner at Disney, was he stayed on way past his spoil date.

I think ST09 was a decent movie that, had the studio not interfered, could have been a little better with the intended opening sequence.

Into Darkness should have been better and not a Kahn ripoff. I remember Karl Urban saying something about Gary Mitchell. I’m not sure if he was deflecting, but I do know that they changed the villain when Cumberbatch took the roll as the original planned actor did not. I think Gary Mitchell would have been a MUCH better choice than Kahn.

Beyond was a return to form and I’m excited about Discovery so maybe Trek is going to be Trek again.

Oh god, don’t get me started on ST Into Darkness!!! lol.

What was the “intended opening sequence” for ST09?

I have to say, I never much cared for “Frame of Mind” (though a better actor than Frakes might have saved it, so probably not Braga’s fault), and I thought “A Night in Sickbay” was mediocre at best (I know many fans who outright despise that episode.)

Paramount really needed to clean house after the disastrous first season of Enterprise. Berman and Braga should have been politely thanked for their service, and then shown the door. The studio/network has done this with countless other troubled TV shows, but seemed blind to the real problem behind Enterprise: burned-out producers/writers. Enterprise Season 1 came off way too often as “Voyager, Season 8” with the names changed to protect the creatively bankrupt.

Thorny August 15, 2016 8:23 am

I’m actually running through ENT now, and Season 1 is actually better than Season 2. Granted, Season 1 is not great, but at least it’s got a fresh, new concept, look and feel. Go back and watch the ENT pilot after watching a Season 7 VOY episode—they’re very different in terms of look and tone. But, I agree with you that B&B were burned out by that point and should have been replaced after ENT Season 1. I remember when ENT originally aired that I found Season 1 less than satisfying, but was still hopeful for Season 2. But, when Season 2 not only failed to markedly improve over Season 1, but actually declined, that’s when I lost hope for the show and resigned to watching only sporadically. One of the main problems with ENT is that B&B kept trying to go bigger, farther, more extreme with the episodic premises. The whole Temporal Cold War and Daniels coming from the 30th Century are examples of this shark-jumping tendency. I suppose the whole Xindi War arc falls into that category as well—a massive attack on Earth, by a totally unheard of culture, comprising 5 distinct species, all of which had never before referenced in any previous Star Trek episodes or movies. It smacks of desperation, trying to make up for creative deficits by redoing old concepts in more extreme fashion.

*…all of which had never before been referenced in any previous Star Trek episodes or movies.*

At least he didn’t introduce a gay character.

And to you that’s a good thing? Take your bigotry somewhere else, please. There’s no room for it in Star Trek.

IDIC to you too PaulB. . .

I love Star Trek: TOS and Enterprise, I hate with a passion all the other so called Treks. I didn’t watch Enterprise at first because I thought it was going to be the same boring, stultifying shows that Next Gen, Deep Steal 9(which stole from B5) and Voyager were. I saw enough of them to know that they just totally sat there like a bad rug. But, Enterprise was wonderful, I love Archer and the crew. I loved TOS and Kirk of course. I also love the Abrams films. I wish that Pine and Quinto were doing the reboot series right now. But, the show that he said he liked Babylon 5 is better then all of them. It is richer, deeper and more amazing on all levels. Amazing. Totally blew me away and I it is my passion to this day. I also think Farscape was a great show and was better then Next Gen, DS9 and voyager by a country mile. But B5, is incredible.

DS9 absolutely didn’t steal from B5. Were there similarities? Absolutely. However, DS9’s writers weren’t watching B5 episodes and stealing material.

I thought the first season of ENT was bland and uninteresting but after that it improved steadily. Kind of like TNG except it took TNG longer to get off the schneid. Also it suffered from cardboard-stiff Hollywood D-list wannabe actors appearing in guest roles for the first two seasons, all with grating southern California accents and minimal acting skills, some poor choices in the main cast (valley girl Hoshi, ham actor Malcolm and non-actor Merriweather), and from lack of budget where it counted most (the Xindi probe? 7 million died and they spent a buck fifty on “special” effects?) In Seasons 3 and 4 they had some excellent guest actors and much better effects, fun and tense stories, and a lot less of the crew sitting around and practicing their fake chewing.

Well, I thought ENT season 2 was even worse than season 1. It got better with 3 and 4.

I loved all the Star Trek series. They are the only reason I keep my Netflix subscription.

Me too, I loved TOS as a kid, TNG got better with each season, I adored Janeway in VOY and I enjoyed ENT. Even DS9 was good, I missed it at the time at watched it this year for the first time. Everyone I know who likes Star Trek likes all of them essentially, but reading some of these comments is utterly depressing, the bunch of ungrateful whining c**ts. I bet you’re all waiting to put down Discovery too. Everyone is freakin critic and expert these days, nobody knows how to just enjoy a TV show for what it is.

YOU LOT are the reason we’ve been without Star Trek for so long, saddled with nothing but JJ’s nu-Treks.

OK. I do not rag on B&B as much as some others. I do understand their contributions and Trek would not be where it was were it not for their involvement.

That said… I STILL do not see why people consider “All Good Things” to be a great. As a series finale it was just plain awful and as a series episode it was rather pedestrian. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I know series finales can be tricky and most fail to deliver than do. But I just was expecting more than a mediocre at best episode where no one learns anything or moves on. The feature Generations would have been a far better finale for TNG. At least SOMETHING happened in it.

If they were writing both the finale and Generations at the same time you can easily tell that both scripts suffered for it. I did enjoy Brannon on the Generations commentary admitting they thought it would be fun to put the Captains in an unexpected environment like Kirk’s kitchen but in the end it just didn’t work. So at least they owned up to that.

The biggest problem was that Kirk’s nexus looked a lot like Shatner’s nexus. We all know in Kirk’s nexus he’d be in the captain’s chair of the Big E.

Really? Kirk may actually want to be away for action, and ships, and danger once in a while. Maybe at the backs of Kirk’s mind, he would love to finish with a quiet life back on Earth, whiling away time outdoors in the sunshine, with a lovely wife, house and just being surrounded by nature. I mean we know that he loves mountain climbing and the outdoors. I think that part of the nexus was dead on Kirk for me..

I’m kinda with you there. I suspected that deep down after a lifetime of “saving the universe” he just longed for something quiet with a woman he loved in an environment he relished. He got a lot out of being in the Captain’s chair but that was reality and the Nexus was fantasy. He lived the reality. This was his fantasy.

Agreed, look at his reflection in Star Trek II with David. “my life that could have been”. I don’t think he would have changed anything, but I think Kirk was always wondering if he would have been happier going down that path instead. The grass is always greener on the other side – except for Generations which, like most of TNG, was just awful.

I thought it was made fairly obvious over the years that Kirk could never love a woman as much as he loved the Enterprise. The look on his face during the travel pod inspection in TMP was that of a man seeing his true love again for the first time in years. He even tells Picard not to let them do anything that takes him off the bridge of that ship.

I think Kirk would mean that don’t let the admirals force you away from the captains chair, like Kirk had been before..

I think every man, and woman, deep down, would want to live in a lovely house in the middle of mother nature after a dedicated and hard life such as kirk would experience. Of course he will ultimately always be intimately attached to the Enterprise.

Meh. Who knows? Then again, Picard’s Dickensian Stepford children Christmas nexus didn’t make any sense to me either.

But a part of that was Picard’s concern for his family continuing. He had a brother who had children. So in his view and in his words, the family would go on. Then came word of their deaths. And he was crushed. Because of his state of mind, in his nexus fantasy not only is his brother’s family still there but he has his own on top of that.

I do not understand why people say VOY and ENT failed. VOY had 7 seasons, ENT 4, more than most other scifi oder drama shows have. They still sell well on DVD/Bluray and are present on TV every day. People just were a little tired of the TNG-timeline after 12, 15 years. That’s normal. We had 25 seasons of Star Trek in 18 years. No other show (and Star Trek is “one” show) had such a long run in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.

Only 10-20% of the ca. 700 episodes were brilliant/iconic. Another 20-30% were o.k., the whole rest was crap, to be honest. Anyhow, a franchise with 100 iconic episodes is an outstanding phenomenon without precedent in TV history.

I do not have the exact numbers so I cannot back it up using those figures… But it just felt like the ratio of good to bad episodes of TNG was really low while the ratio of good to bad in TOS was pretty high. Maybe that was a function of the larger sample size TNG had but still… There were a LOT of crap TNG episodes. Not nearly enough good ones to make purchasing a TNG season on BD even worth thinking about.

ML31,

Re:ratio of good to bad

More like it was a function of the totally uninterested in STAR TREK Paramount run 3rd season of the first series, with Fontanna, Coon and Roddenberry gone.

In my opinion, and it is probably an unpopular one, apart from creating the show itself (yes, I know that is huge) Roddenberry brought next to nothing to Trek. TOS didn’t really gel until he let the bulk of the producing reigns to Coon. And TNG didn’t really improve until he let Berman take over. I’ve seen other Roddenberry scripts and have come to the conclusion that Star Trek was a mistake for him. The one good concept among a sea of garbage.

ML31, Re:Roddenberry brought next to nothing to Trek STAR TREK was a collaborative effort. I doubt seriously that any one person could have pulled off. The problem for Roddenberry’s image is he pulled it off in at a time when the industry was male dominated and the males that persevered in it do so by blowing their own horn. Unfortunately, people don’t find that quality very endearing after the fact in decades hence, and tend to go overboard in the opposite direction compensating in an attempt to get at the truth which lies somewhere in the middle of each of their self-promoted professional portraits. The truth is Gen Roddenberry, Herbert Solow, and Gene L. Coon worked well enough together to produce some dynamite story-telling on television that most people were absolutely convinced was a boob tube, the likes of which such stories would never see the light of day. There is evidence all three men could each be seen as blow-hards at times who stepped on toes being less than fair as to where the credit belonged. Does that mean that they contributed absolutely nothing to STAR TREK? Of course not, it just means the truth likely lies somewhere more to the middle of the extreme views both positive and negative people hold on each of them. Take Braga and Berman. I’ve have long held that their professional partnership suffered from quite the opposite of dynamite in their collaborative attempts. Each, by their self, seem talented competent professionals, but pair… Read more »

ML31 August 15, 2016 11:21 am

Yeah, I couldn’t disagree more with your assessment.

Season 1 of TNG is a bit rough, but Season 2 showed marked improvement, and from Season 3 onward, most of the episodes in each season were good or great, with not all that many stinkers in there. Season 7 dropped off a bit, but it’s still as good or better than any season of any other Trek series, with the exception of TOS Seasons 1 & 2. Though, it’s hard to compare DS9 with any other Trek series, being that DS9 is much more serialized and many of its episodes can’t be judged episodically without taking into account what comes before and after them. But, TNG was a phenomenal TV series, and has the ratings to show for it. In its day, there was no TV series—certainly no sci-fi series—more thought-provoking than TNG. And maybe not since. Nobody has done science-concept episodes better than TNG, before or since. That much I can say with certainty. Whether or not science-concept fiction is up your alley or not is something I cannot speak to.

I bet TNG, VOY, ENT, DS9 all would have been cancelled mid-first season were it not for the TOS base fans that will watch anything with “Star Trek” on it after waiting so long for some thing that comes even 10% of TOS after a 3 decade long absence. That was pretty much me at 15 (and having loved TOS, TAS and the first four movies). It took another 15 years for me to realize that everything they were putting out was pretty much $#@$, not even getting within 10% of TOS and finally giving up (as I think a lot of the base did). Ironically the reboot came along, that’s why I am here.

Thomas W August 15, 2016 10:53 am Only 10-20% of the ca. 700 episodes were brilliant/iconic. Another 20-30% were o.k., the whole rest was crap, to be honest. I’d introduce a “good” category between your “brilliant/iconic” and “OK” categories. “Brilliant/iconic” seems self-explanatory. “Good” is better than mediocre—the episode is memorable and you particularly want to see it again, but it’s not top-notch. “OK” is mediocre, just barely watchable. And “crap” means you can’t sit through it. You don’t feel the need to skip past it, but it’s not satisfying in the end, and you don’t particularly want to see it again. So, with respect to the above classifications, I’d say there are are very, very few VOY episodes that fall into the brilliant/iconic tier—far less than 10-20% of them. Many fans wouldn’t put any VOY episodes into that tier. I’d put maybe 2 or 3. One thing that VOY did that was unique was the Tuvok/Neelix social dynamic. The kind of antagonism, the love/hate relationship between those two characters cannot be found in any of the other Trek series. There are two episodes involving Tuvok and Neelix that come to mind: “Tuvix” and “Riddles.” “Tuvix” is a touching story with a compelling human condition theme, but its premise is also laughably bad science-wise. So, I’m not sure that “Tuvix” makes it into the top tier, but it definitely merits the “good” tier. “Riddles” I’d put in the top tier. The “Year of Hell” two-parter I’d put into the “good” tier.… Read more »

P.S. I mixed up sentences in the above post. It should read:

“OK” is mediocre, just barely watchable. You don’t feel the need to skip past it, but it’s not satisfying in the end, and you don’t particularly want to see it again. And “crap” means you can’t sit through it.

Maybe nobody was to blame… just Star trek ran out of steam and was put to bed… nobody seriously believes that Star Trek can stay on TV indefinitely do they?

The only mistake was perhaps not calling it a day on the right terms. Voyager should have been the end of Star trek on TV for a few years and then it could have come back a bit sooner than it did, in my opinion.

Great article, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I kinda directed my online anger at Bob Orci after Into Darkness, which I hated at the time. Now, in hindsight, appreciate the film alot more- especially after this new one disappointed me so. I now appreciate Orci’s writing, his dedication and love for the franchise- despite his faults.

About 5 years ago I went on my own quest to watch all of Trek back to back. TOS forwards. I hadn’t watched much of DS9 but I knew I was going to enjoy it (and did) but I definitely had preconceived notions about VOY and ENT: they were supposed to be sub-par.
Boy, was I wrong.
I found Voyager to have as many up and down eps of DS9, just not quite the number of great episodes. But it made more than up for it with pure fun and bat-shi**edness. And Enterprise was very enjoyable, just not great enough. We all know where it started to take off. Would have enjoyed seeing where it would have gone.
My point being I urge EVERY Trek fan to revisit the series’ with fresh eyes and an open mind. What a treat to open up so many fresh (to my eyes) Star Trek series and have so many more stories to enjoy; even the less than steller ones.

I’ve just started watching ENT, never watched it at the time, seen the odd episode here and there.
I’ve watched the first 16 episodes so far and enjoyed the majority of them.

I learned to dismiss an entire series out of hand is to miss out on some truly great performances. Just last night my wife and I finished off Fringe. I didn’t watch it at the time because I was being an idiot about JJ Abrams and Orci and my perception that they ruined Star Trek, and that I thought it was going to be a cheap X-Files rip off. The first season it was clear that Fringe was trying to figure out what it was going to be but it hit it’s stride as the second season went on and was cooking through the 3rd and 4th season. I also came to realize that John Noble is even more amazing than I thought he was and that the rest of the cast were fantastic. A really lovely little series that I was sad to have finished.

The times I’ve heard Brannon Braga speak, he certainly sounds regrettable and often depressed about his time on STAR TREK, speaking reticently and humbly. There was one moment in particular when he was on-stage with Manny Coto at a Convention, and Coto was doing his best to try to credit some of the positive fan-response of ENT Season 4 to him. This was in-response to a fan asking Manny the question: “How does it feel to be the guy who saved Enterprise?” This was not-so-subtle slight at Braga on stage, which Coto graciously picked up on and tried to deflect. Braga started with TNG at age 25 under the tutelage of Michael Piller — who arguably is the one responsible for the golden age of STAR TREK, show-running TNG, while conceiving DS9 and VOY. Under Piller, Braga was able to channel his weird, fantastical, high-concept stories into an established universe with already well-developed characters. It’s OK, for example, to throw Worf into weird situations like “Parallels” when we already know his character from episodes like “Sins of the Father” “Reunion” and “Redemption” for instance. It’s okay to throw Picard into “All Good Things”, after seeing him captured and tortured by the Borg and Cardassians throughout the series. We cared about these characters, so the moments they were thrown into these crazy sci-fi situations actually mattered to us. These underrated character beats of TNG were never present in ENTERPRISE and latter seasons of VOYAGER, and it was because Braga just didn’t… Read more »
I Khan Believe It An\'t Butter

Seems more like feeling nostalgia for barely OK series doesn’t change much for me.

“A Night in Sickbay” as a standout?! REALLY?!! That’s one of the worst pieces of entertainment with the Star Trek name on it, in the sewers with episodes such as Voyager’s “Spirit Folk” and “Threshold” (glad the latter wasn’t mentioned as a standout). This was the episode that ultimately turned my parents away from ENT.

To this day, I have no idea why there is such gross contempt for “Enterprise”. I’ve watched the series twice all the way through, and continue to be impressed with it overall. Yes, it has it’s duds like any of the other series, but the Xindi storyline in particular really work! I mean, it really was Trek for the Post-9/11 world. The best sci-fi has always been a mirror into our own world, and in that harsh climate following the Twin Towers and the Patriot Act, some of the moral dilemmas that Archer found himself in really echoed the times. Is the show flawless? No, of course not. But the ongoing bashing of “Enterprise” is really a bit unfair. It wasn’t Gene’s utopia. But I will continue to maintain that Archer was a far more culturally relevant captain, a man very much of *our* world.

“Voyager” on the other hand….meh.

I watch Voyager with a slightly different eye. It has a lot of the bat-sh*t elements that make TOS endearing. Don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be lofty, preachy, or high brow and look at it as a sci-fi romp and you may enjoy it more.

The contempt is because it was a psuedo-prequel that failed to be a prequel. And it was more mediocre than Voyager.

Great article, but I could not disagree with you more.

Sure, it’s easy to cherry-pick episodes of his that are great, but what you’re forgetting is that, as the show-runner for VOY and ENT, he was responsible for the overall direction of both shows, and I think that’s where his failure’s lie. VOY was TNG v2.0, but not updated for the times and with fewer interesting characters. ENT, while promising initially, ended up being more of the same until the Xindi arc, which was intriguing if poorly executed.

For proof of this, look no further than DS9 and Season 4 of ENT. DS9, which Braga did not work on and had limited involvement from Berman, pushed the boundaries of what franchise could be in ways that still hold up today and resonate perhaps even better now. When B&B stepped down at the end of Season 3 of ENT, an influx of new writers with fresh ideas for the series made something truly memorable.

Obviously, I wish no ill-will towards either of them and thank them for their involvement in the Trek that they did that was great, but I think they should’ve realized that the franchise need new blood long before they eventually did. If anything, that was probably their biggest mistake.

Nice article. I feel this mirrors the current opinions of Steven Moffat as show runner for Doctor Who. While he has written some great Doctor Who episodes, a lot of fans don’t seem to appreciate his show runner abilities. I feel the same towards Braga. Show runner is a very different role and maybe some people aren’t up for the task even though they can write brilliant stand alone episodes. I too used to hop on the B&B-hate band wagon but have since grown to appreciate all that they have done to try and keep Star Trek alive so we fans can crap on them at the first chance we get. It’s like whipping the doctor when they’re tring to perform open heart surgery. They have indeed failed at many things but have succeeded also, none of which would cause me to hate them at this point in my development. And to those who think Voyager should have been like BSG and serialized or something in that vain of thought, here’s a history/reality lesson. TV in the 90’s was rarely serialized due to syndication (reruns of the show are easier to market when you dont have to see episodes 1-14 in order). DS9 fought that trend and thankfully succeeded in a small capacity. X-Files did the same only they did it while still being episodic in nature. Overarching mythology is all they could get away with (which is different than serialized). Even though DS9 succeeded in a small capacity the… Read more »
Interesting essay. As someone who has literally grown up with Star Trek starting with TOS, I have enjoyed all the series and movies, with their flaws. With any series, there are the good and the bad and everything in between. What genuinely gets me going is the broad opinion of an entire series as entirely bad by just a handful of episodes. You see it in the posted comments on this article alone. As far as the Berman, Braga and Moore bashing, I could never understand why there was this group who would blame them for bad Trek be it a movie or movies or one of the Trek tv series. These posters would say things with broad strokes that were totally unfair. It would get so bad that I would read posts about Braga boinking Jeri Ryan on the show so she’d get more character exposure..true or not, its unnecessary to talk about other than to trash people behind the anonymity of the internet. Then I realized that this group were made up of a bunch of immature teens, 20somethings, who were post TNG viewers or post TOS movie goers having seen things either on video or on on the internet. They read things posted by others, or on Facebook, or in a newsgroup that the perpetuity of it eventually becomes some kind of ‘fact.’ There is a reason why Trek has and will continue to continue in some form. These guys had to have some kind of talent.… Read more »

Disagree. The team relied too much on time travel. It became a crutch. Instead if a fun novelty, it became a predictable bore.

You know, 20 years from now I genuinely believe that people will fondly look back on the Abrams era of Trek. And some young, hip incarnation of Trek in 2036 will be getting all the venom.

Because time and nostalgia makes everything good, no matter how seemingly “bad” it is in the present.

Perspectives people…

In 2036 I’ll be busy trying to avoid the Observers and hoping that Walter’s plan with Donald works.

For as long and endearing of a franchise as Star Trek is, I am utterly shocked at how different everyone’s opinions are regarding the “best” and “worst” of Star Trek. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with differences of opinions, but for something like Star Trek that we all know what the heart and core of it is you would think we would all mostly be on the same page. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were never to blame, the FANS and the STUDIO are to blame! The issue is this, fans are the reason why Star Trek has lasted this long but at the same time they’re also part of the reason why it declined. The fans can’t decide on what they want and they constantly change their opinions and contradict themselves, so how the heck are we gonna get good Star Trek when we can’t even agree on what good Star Trek even is? Not to mention unfairly blaming people like in the article above. The studio is also to blame whenever they focus solely on money and ratings instead of quality work (cough cough B.R. films cough cough). Berman and Braga did a good job at carrying the Star Trek torch after Gene Roddenberry passed. I don’t understand the hate for them nor do I understand the hate for Voyager and Enterprise. Enterprise was absolutely great and the most in line with The Original Series than all the other series (besides The Animated Series of course),… Read more »
I was actually thinking along the same lines as this article two days ago, when we were touting “Cause and Effect” as one of the best and definitively TNG episodes. I looked it up and saw that it was written by Braga. All of the TNG episodes mentioned above are great. The VOY and ENT episodes mentioned are good relative to those series, but I’d put them in a tier below the TNG episodes. I appreciate the sentiment expressed in this article, and Braga’s body of work in Trek does speak well of him. Though, it also seems clear that, by the time of ENT Season 3, bringing in Manny Coto—as co-executive producer, and then replacing Braga as showrunner for Season 4—was a good idea. And, while VOY did improve somewhat when Braga took it over from Jeri Taylor, the show never got as good as its predecessors had gotten. Neither can I give Braga any reprieve for the abysmal TNG movies that he co-wrote (yes, FIRST CONTACT, too). These movies are so riddled with plot holes and story problems (especially FIRST CONTACT) that they simply leave me wondering how the scripts were ever approved. So, I guess the moral of the story here is to take a balanced view of Braga. Looking at his body of Trek work, an easy conclusion to draw is that he was promoted too quickly, given too much responsibility. Braga’s best Trek work is his first Trek work—writing episodes for TNG. He shouldn’t have… Read more »
However, ENT did give us one of the best episodes in all of Trekdom, an episode which is rarely mentioned: Season 3 “Similitude,” written by Manny Coto, while Braga was still running the show. I’ve watched “Similitude” four times now, and it’s gotten better with each viewing. Most recently, I watched it a few days ago and found myself holding back tears. Every scene in this episode has a clear, strong purpose, and there’s not a second of screen-time wasted. The performances by Bakula, Trinneer and Blalock are pitch-perfect, and I can’t imagine any other actors doing a better job with those parts in this story. “Similitude” has an overarching theme that is classic Star Trek and as meaningful and thoughtful as any central theme of any Star Trek episode ever made: What is the value of human life, and how is it determined? If “Similitude” had been an episode of TOS, TNG or DS9, I’ve no doubt that it would be hailed as one of the greatest Trek episodes ever made. But, because ENT is an “inconsistent” series, which the consensus fan opinion holds did not get good until Season 4, “Similitude,” being tucked away in the middle of Season 3, does not get nearly the praise and attention that it deserves. And, I still maintain that ENT Season 3 is a substantial improvement over the first two seasons of that series (especially Season 2, which actually declined from Season 1). A common complaint that I’ve seen expressed about… Read more »

Season 3 should have been the Earth-Romulan War. The whole concept of the Xindi War was spectacularly flawed. It is another of those Rick Berman “What the hell was he thinking?” moments of which Enterprise had so many (Alien Nazi, Trip and T’Pol oiling each other up in Decon, Porthos causing an interplanetary incident, the list goes on…) Too often, it seemed that Enterprise went OUT OF ITS WAY to ignore its premise/setting. The Romulan War is well within the realm of when Enterprise takes place (we can fudge the year a little, Trek has done that before), yet when the show needed a big war to tell its 9/11 analog, they came up with the never-mentioned-before Xindi? Had they started the Earth-Romulan War at the end of Season 2 and started setting up the Federation in Season 3, Enterprise would have gone seven seasons. I firmly believe that.

Thorny Today 8:00 am

Season 3 should have been the Earth-Romulan War. The whole concept of the Xindi War was spectacularly flawed.

The Romulan War could have worked well, and I seem to recall reading that Season 5 would have introduced the Romulan War. But, what was so flawed about the Xindi arc? Just that the Xindi had never before been mentioned in other Trek series? I agree that it seemed a bit odd at the time, introducing a totally new set of species in relation to an event as catastrophic and important as the Earth being attacked and nearly destroyed. But, putting that (kind of) implicit canon violation aside, why do you say that the concept is so flawed?

Cygnus-X1… I consider it to be the equivalent of the “Year of Hell” episodes of Voyager. It was entertaining but in the end, hollow. It epitomizes everything that was wrong with the show. So many opportunities for telling stories most fans wanted to be told (the Earth-Romulan War, leading to the UFP) instead we got a whole new war that ultimately had no repercussions (it wasn’t mentioned at all after episode 1 of Season 4 if I recall correctly) and led to nothing. The Xindi War was an unnecessary sidetrack, a diversion from the stories Star Trek: Enterprise should have been telling. The episodes of Season 4 that did start to lead to the Federation were completely unrelated to the Xindi Arc. Instead this was more Temporal Cold War idiocy and Future Guy stuff, that was basically Audience Repellent.

I say this as a fan of Enterprise. I did like the show. But it could have been so much more.

Thorny Today 2:13 pm I find the whole Xindi arc compelling in that it gives the crew of the NX-01 a well-defined purpose and mission, beyond the loosey-goosey one of “seeing what’s out there,” which had already been done twice previously (in TOS and in TNG). But, you do make valid points about the conclusion of the Xindi War arc ultimately having no bearing upon anything before or after it. I defend it, however, on the grounds that it served as a strong premise for the best episodes of that season, including “Similitude.” Without the urgent necessity imposed upon the crew by the impending Xindi attack, episodes like “Similitude,” “The Shipment” and “Stratagem” just wouldn’t work. I suppose a Romulan War story could have substituted for the Xindi War, but the weakness there is that the Romulans were very familiar to the audience already, and as such, not as mysterious or menacing as the Xindi. The Reptilian Xindi in particular were very effective villains—evil to their cold-blooded core. So, the Xindi War premise has strengths and weaknesses—fair enough. I also can’t disagree with you about the Temporal Cold War and Future Guy premises. They don’t make all that much sense if you stop to think about them, but I find them entertaining nevertheless. I guess the strong points of ENT have given me a fondness for the show that helps me to overlook its sillier elements. Truth be told, I actually enjoy the Space Nazi two-parter. I don’t dispute that… Read more »

Cygnus-X1,

I agree with your ENT observations. And how refreshing it is being able to say such without having Mr. PoSitive raining all over it. I enjoyed it.

The Xindi arc was fine in and of itself. “Similitude” is indeed an excellent episode. But when you have an opportunity to tell the story of the famous Earth-Romulan War (“Similitude” could just as easily have been told here), and almost every fan is expecting that story to be told in your show, why bother with the Xindi? The well defined purpose could have been the Earth-Romulan War (or at least its prelude) and served even better. Were Berman & Braga really planning to have TWO different war arcs on Enterprise? Xindi in S3 and Romulans in S5+? That would have been war fatigue after a while, I think. So again, the Xindi War represents a colossal missed opportunity. It was okay for what it was, but it could have been the high water mark of post-DS9 Star Trek. I really don’t understand Berman & Braga’s reasoning for the Xindi.

Thorny Today 10:42 am

I really don’t understand Berman & Braga’s reasoning for the Xindi.

It’s a fair question, and someone should ask B and/or B.

The only reason I can think of is that Erik Jendresen would submit his Trek screenplay, a three-movie arc about the Romulan War, entitled “Star Trek: The Beginning,” a few years after ENT Season 3 began. So, maybe there were already plans to do a movie about the Romulan War? This could well be wrong, but it’s the only rationale that comes to mind.

Thorny Today 10:42 am

I overstated in the last post. It could well be that B&B didn’t think that the a conflict with the Romulans would serve all of the story arc elements that they wanted for Season 3. It had to be a species that would directly threaten the Earth, thereby providing the extreme urgency of Enterprise’s mission. Why would the Romulans want to destroy the Earth? That’s not their M.O. They’d try to conquer and annex the Earth into their Empire. And, the mystery and intrigue of the Delphic Expanse required the “Sphere-builders.” Maybe it didn’t seem right to have Romulus isolated by the Delphic Expanse. Also, as I mentioned previously, the Romulans just aren’t all that menacing—not like the Xindi Reptilians—which weakens the threat, which weakens the moral dilemmas faced by Archer and his crew. I’m sure ways could be thought of to do a Romulan War, but B&B might have concluded that it wouldn’t serve the story arc and themes that they wanted for Season 3.

Excellent article. Glad you were able to revisit those series and make an honest evaluation with a few more years of life under your belt.

John — Beautifully written and you’re a class act for not only writing these words here but speaking to Brannon in person and apologizing. I cannot imagine the pressure of running something like Star Trek with all the people watching every move and you’re right — the criticism was pretty bad back then. I remember quitting Trekweb because it seemed every comment was negative — it wasn’t just you good sir; everyone had something bad to say! THANK YOU for writing this and speaking to Brannon. I think he got more right than he got wrong, and he did give us many memorable episodes and also “First Contact!” Thank you for sharing :)

John, it takes a big man to apologize like you did. I really respect that. I’m not sure I’d have done the same. So, really, good for you. I feel the same way you do about Braga. I don’t think he was as enamored with TOS as I was. I seem to remember he was more of a Twilight Zone fan, like JJ Abrams. In any case, I didn’t care as much for VOY when it was on as I did for TNG and DS9, the same as you. I wanted something more like TOS, or, really, like Moore’s BSG. I couldn’t understand why VOY, in the predicament the crew were in, seemed almost identical to TNG. The fact of the matter was, that was what Paramount and Berman (I think) wanted. They wanted a replacement for TNG and that’s what VOY became. So, I don’t think Braga can be blamed for that. There was some other stuff too, that I criticized Braga for too. In particular, his treatment of religion. Now, with some years passed, I can see, as an atheist, he just couldn’t really wrap his head around that subject well. I don’t think I can blame him for that. He just doesn’t get it and he probably didn’t mean to offend at all. After a few episodes of ENT, which, again, seemed to resemble TNG against all logic, I just felt that I was done with B & B (!) ST. I didn’t think ENT or VOY… Read more »

I agree. Braga and Berman receive way to much hatred. They’ve both given us tons of great trek and I enjoy re-watching to this day.

It’s easy to step back in after so many years & enjoy some episodes of both series and there is no doubt about the amazing contributions of Braga to each. However, no matter how you look at both series, there is no denying that Braga was just as much responsible, if not more so (along with Berman), for the ‘demise’ of Trek at the time. There was a terrible tendency to ‘play it safe’, often writing a plot that offered major changes to a particular character which could have been exploited in later episodes, offering a fresh take on the material, only to ‘bandage’ it all back up so that by the end of whatever episode, everything was back the way it was at the beginning. Although not from either show, the TNG episode Bloodlines comes to mind…an episode that could have significantly altered Picard’s personal life & could have provided a wealth of new stories.

As far as Enterprise is concerned, the final episode of the series is a perfect example of the poor decision making that was going on behind the scenes. That episode was an incredible disservice to fans of that show and especially to the cast.

@ Numenosium
You are partially right about about Braga but lets not forget that the nameless suits at Paramount really have final say at the end of the day. Talk about control freaks. They are probably the worst of all the studio suits. Of course that’s just my opinion.

Cory,

Re:nameless suits at Paramount

Yours and the opinion of the majority of Marvel that was partnered with them before the jump to Disney.

This ties into the nearly endless stream of vitriol aimed at Bad Robot – most people don’t realize the pressure involved in producing episodic television, forgetting how badly they froze when asked to produce a two page term paper, yet complaining about why writers for their favorite show can’t produce Emmy winning material day in, day out. Likewise with BR, they’ve produced about seven hours of (fairly decent) content, yet are criticized that it isn’t all instant classics. As I’ve mentioned before, there isn’t Berman Trek, or BR Trek, or even Roddenberry Trek, it’s just Trek, that will always be more then the sum of its parts. Drilling in on a few people for real or imagined shortfalls is counterproductive, and as Mr. Duchak discovered, misplaced. There are people behind these productions doing their best, and accountability works both ways, if someone is going to criticize, then please praise where praise is due.

Amen

What I do know is that i am not a fan of Braga’s writing. Many fan will disagree but thats fine. What was the episode of Voyager where Janeway and Paris transformed into Iguana’s?? ‘Enough said.’

Giant Lungfish, not Iguanas

Still a stinker though!

Iguana’s, lungfish… who cares? you get my point.

Here’s the problem with this, you’re judging an entire body of work on a negative episode (or a few) – while ignoring the jems he was also responsible for. Ron Moore wrote Generations, in my opinion still the worst Trek movie ever, and his BSG reboot became an instant classic. Braga himself has stated Threshold was a stinker of an episode, so it’s safe to say that judging a body of work based on it’s worst example isn’t fair.

Phil,

Re:Ron Moore wrote Generations

You have an even bigger problem when both the credits and the very article you are attempting to comment on both point out that Moore was only part of pair which also included Braga on GENERATIONS. Using the same criteria that you claim blames Moore for GENERATIONS also blames Braga. At which point you are reduced to merely holding up two of Braga’s negative works and claiming nonsensically that somehow it demonstrates that it wasn’t fair to claim that a negative pattern emerged from a sample of one.

Says the person who’s work is flawless I’m sure.

I look at it as no different than any bat-sh*t episode of TOS. Voyager was a sci-fi romp. If TOS can have “And The Children Shall Lead”, “Spock’s Brain” and “Way To Eden” then Voyager can have Paris and Janeway turn into horny salamanders.

I have always said it: Rick Berman and his team were the best Star Trek producers ever. Many trekkers were very unfair with them. They and his fans – people as me-were very ill treated in the ST forums for years and years.
So, thanks for your words, John.

i respectfully disagree Oscar

The problem is that there are not enough real science fiction writers asked to contribute to Star Trek. Roddenberry certainly got that right. They fought, but he got it right.

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