In what is becoming a new tradition for the annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, Manny Coto and Brannon Braga held a well-attended panel in the main ballroom to talk to the fans about their time as writers and producers on Star Trek, with a focus on Star Trek Enterprise, but also some discussion of the new movie, and their current series.
Coto and Braga at Vegas Con 2009
The panel started with an extended trailer for FlashForward (coming to ABC this Fall). The new genre show (loosely based on the book of the same name by Robert J. Sawyer) was created by Braga and David Goyer and is about everyone in the world suddenly ‘flashing forward’ with visions from six months in the future. Braga told the audience that if they liked his Star Trek episodes involving time travel, they would like FlashForward. Coto joked "isn’t FlashFoward a prequel to the temporal cold war?" After that, the pair, who work together on FOX’s 24, showed the Comic Con clip from season eight of 24, where we saw Jack Bauer in New York and out of the biz, but being pulled back in to stop a assassination attempt on the President of Iran amidst peace talks. The clip also featured BSG’s Katee Sackhoff, a new regular for the show.
The pair then opened it up to Q&A, making it clear they were there to answer questions about Trek and Braga noted he was ready for anything:
It is deeply moving and gratifying to actually interact with people, good and bad. I am happy to take the lumps.
Most of the questions were about Trek, but there were some on Flashfoward and 24, including how they used the names Rick Berman and Bob Justman as possible Secretary of State nominees on the show. Apparently the idea came after Justman passed away and it was an homage, they needed a second name and chose Rick Berman. Manny noted "it was quite surreal to watch it on film and have Rick Berman suggested as Secretary of State" with Brannon noting "I loved the line about how ‘Rick has too plenty of money, why would he want to take the job’ which is true in real life."
Much of the talk of the day focused on Star Trek Enterprise, which was co-created by Braga, who acted as show-runner for the first three seasons. Coto joined the show in the third season and became show-runner for the fourth. Although a Coto dismissed a fan’s comment that he "saved the show", with the writer noting "I didn’t think it needed saving, I liked the show." But Braga was not so kind to himself, saying to Coto "I did think your season was the best season" and going on to say "that is what Enterprise should have been from the beginning."
The topic of "The Are The Voyages", the controversial TNG tie-in finale of Enterprise, came up, and Braga again was very candid, saying:
Braga: I will take full blame for that episode, for those that didn’t like it. In retrospect, it was a very cool idea, that in the end was a mistake. The concept was was to have Manny do a final two-part finale, but then have a final final episode send a valentine to all of Star Trek over the last eighteen years. We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.
Here are some more Enterprise highlights gleaned from the Q&A
- Berman and Braga had not considered anyone else besides the studio choice of Scott Bakula as Archer for Enterprise, and he was the first role cast
- One of the "people we couldn’t get" prototypes in mind for Archer was Harrison Ford
- Coto suggested bringing in Judy and Gar Reeves-Season for season four to help pick up threads from TOS, which they had shown they could do with their novels. Originally as possibly story consultants, but turned out they could "do everything" and write screenplays as well
And specific highlights on what Season 5 could have brought
- Coto wanted to revisit the Mirror Universe on a regular basis with four or five episodes spread through the season as a "mini-series within a series." Mike Sussman and Coto had discussed places to go with it and it was "big regret" not getting chance
- The two main things they wanted to do with S5 was the "origins of the Federation" and the "begin whispers of the Romulan War", and tying those two together
- No other major villains were planned to be introduced, the Romulans were going to be the big villain, but would have new ones within new ‘mini-arcs’
- Rick and Brannon thought Future Guy was "probably going to be a Romulan" and would tie into the Romulan War with a future Romulan trying to "instigate" things
- They wanted to make Shran a regular character on the bridge of the NX-01 as an "auxiliary or an advisor…get Jeffrey [Combs] Somehow"
Star Trek 2009
The pair were asked how they would have approached ‘rebooting’ Star Trek in comparison to how the JJ Abrams team did with the new Star Trek movie.
Braga: To me that is an impossible question to answer because I did fifteen years on Star Trek and I don’t know if I would have done anything different because I had done everything I thought I would have done. And I loved the movie and I don’t think I would have changed anything, personally. I thought it was an incredible exciting re-exploration of the universe.
Coto: I think the right choice was made about where to start, with Kirk and Spock. I always thought thing to do. I would have probably taken it more towards a three-part Lord of the Rings style trilogy, more epic. The same general choices that were made, but I probably wouldn’t have had Kirk’s roommate be an Orion slavegirl. How does an Orion Slavegirl get into Starfleet….I think it is being set up for an epic run of films, and it is beautifully made, just spectacular. And the cast is great.
Braga and Coto weigh in on new Star Trek movie
The pair closed out by saying how much they appreciated people showing up for their panel, saying they were worried no one would show up.
It is great to see behind the camera people interacting with the fans. There is a lot of emphasis on celebrities and autographs and photos at these cons. One look at the lines and there is clearly a desire for this, but this Coto/Braga panel, the STO meet and greet (article coming later) and the Star Trek panel bring a little of the Comic Con style of getting into details on these shows.
More to come
The convention is over, but TrekMovie’s coverage continues. Coming up we have reports on:
Sunday with 3 Spocks & Shatner
Star Trek Online Preview
So check back for updates
I’d still like ot know why they killed off Tripp. Did anyone ask that of them?
as I said in previous posts, I’m not perfect. (grin)
Notice Manny Coto’s incorrect info, he says that Kirk’s roommate was an Orion Slavegirl, when she was Uhura’s roommate, and she wasn’t a slave at all.
I think Manny Coto was going off in the right direction with season 4. I would have liked to have seen his vision of Ent from day one.
No Braga bashing here. He did a good job over the years. It could not have been easy to work on the same project for 15 years + keep coming up with new ideas.
My only major issue with Mr. Braga was why did he kill of Kirk in such a silly manner?
Try figuring out a better way to kill kirk with the studio requirments they had. I dare you….well, anyways, one reason the movie sucked is because the movie had so many things it was required to have done to it. So, anyone out there write me a better death for kirk with the requirments we know that Braga was saddled with…
The last season of ENT was great! I wish they didn’t cancelled the series.
Enterprise Season 4, despite a drab cast, was really a lot of fun to watch. It was also a lot of disappoint though, as UPN scoffed at Shatner’s fee, and then canceled the show.
Meh, I don’t care what people think of Braga, I loved Enterprise. Yes, I do think Manny Coto’s season (4) was the absolute best, but all in all it wasn’t a bad series at all, in my opinion.
Season 5 sounds like it would’ve been just as amazing as 4, if not more! And I squeal every time I see Jeffrey Combs on screen, whether as Shran… Or the suck-up Weyoun… or the impeccable Brunt.. xDD More of him wouldn’t have been a bad thing. ;3
Indeed. I’m not ashamed to count myself among the ones that had been easily swayed by all the Braga bashing. This article helped but things back into perspective. You’re absolutely right: 15 years on the same project..
I’d love to see Berman at a convention, and I’d hope he gets some respect as well.
These are all great reports.
Wow, I’ve got it! Future Guy was Nero!
(Yes, I’m kidding. Don’t think there’s any good way to make the logistics on that make sense.)
Berman and Braga get dissed way too much. When you take into consideration the 24 years of Star Trek they were involved with in one way or another, it makes for a pretty fun sandbox to play in. Sure, sometimes the kitty leaves something that doesn’t quite get buried (Threshold! Looking For Par’mach! Shades of Gray!), but you scoop it out and keep having fun just the same.
Did I just compare my beloved Star Trek to a litterbox? Must be tired…
#5: What about that original idea? Where Kirk ends up on the battle bridge of the Enterprise-D fighting Klingons?
That’s Classic Kirk right there!!!! And it would be somewhat fitting too, since the battle bridge set was a redress of the Enterprise (refit)/Enterprise-A bridge set, he pretty much would have been on HIS bridge. Maybe not the iconic 60s bridge, but still the bridge of HIS Enterprise.
15 years is a long haul in show biz to be working at the same project, but it was the suits at Paramount that kept Braga [and Berman] in charge.
The first signs of things going awry were Voyager and ST:Insurrection, both around the same time. If you look at Voyager’s ratings over time, it started off gangbusters and began a slow and steady drop until 7 of 9 hit the decks, then more drop after her first season.
As I recall, Paramount kept tight reign on the franchise at this time, with a ‘take no chances and the ship should sail straight and true’ sort of attitude. In fact, as we have seen, they should have been scared spitless and looking for new blood. The hiatus would have never been necessary if the suits hadn’t blundered in the mid-late 90s.
Hopefully we now have a bright new Star Trek that will keep us [and the suits] happy for many years to come!
Yeah, its too bad Coto didnt have the reigns of Enterprise since the start, I think it could have gone a full 7 seasons if he had. Season 4 was with out question the best of Enterprise, and for that matter one of the best seasons of any Star Trek in my opinion. At least Braga was man enough to admit his screw up…as far as These Are The Voyages goes…
These guys were great at the Con. In addition to the panel they attended the Friday night Stratosphere party and talked it up with fans until the party ended at 1:00 a.m. Really a great pair. What an amazing event Creation put on.
I really enjoyed “Enterprise” and it was just gaining steam right when it was cancelled. I’m ever hopeful they give Jeffrey Combs a role in the second reboot Trek film. If I have my timeline right, Shran would fit perfectly into the chronology of the reboot as an older advisor to Starfleet. But Jeff would be amazing in any role, even as a Starfleet officer, one role he’s never had the chance to play!
Damn, Enterprise season 5 would have been AWESOME. DAMNNNN
Manny Coto and the Reeves-Stevenses did amazing work on Season 4. Much respect.
And no Braga bashing here. Berman bashing, however…. grr.
Total agreement here; season 4 of Enterprise was excellent Trek. It is what I was hoping I’d be getting when the show started.
I don’t agree with the comments that the cast was bland, I think they were just underused & often given mediocre character development.
I think putting Shran on the bridge of the Enterprise would have been a huge mistake & improbable at best. As much as I love Combs work, I think if they wanted him to be that regular, they could have started the Romulan war & had an armada of ships from different races, including the Andorians, furthering the “origins of the federation” story line.
Two of the biggest oversights they made on Enterprise were the music & the visual esthetic. After so many seasons, it WAS time to ditch the classical score a bit & move to a more exciting, action based sound… but not a 50 year old man style, soft rock theme song. Why?!
And the visual look of the show should have been more based on the original; the ship’s hull shouldn’t have had a spec of blue neon, as that was used in TMP to illustrate an advancement in technology from TOS, hence anything prior shouldn’t have that incorporated. The costumes & hairstyles should have been more designed around WWII to denote a sense of an era the predates TOS, like a mix of US navy submarine officer & RAF pilot with a futuristic spin on them. And the ship’s internals were to metallic & cold…where’s the heart, man?
LOL… all that being said, I loved that show & it sucks that it died such an unfair death, which I blame primarily on that awful theme song; if your audience can’t sit through the credits, they won’t tune back in for the rest of the show! i believe uncle Milty said that! :)
I think UPN pulled the plug way too early on Enterprise. NONE of the other series (post TOS) hit their stride until AFTER Season 3 and this shows Paramounts shortsightedness. I was really looking forward to a Season 4 after Manny’s season 3.
That Season 5 sounds like it could have been some of the best Trek ever. What might’ve been. :(
I give Brannon alot of credit; it says alot about his character that he would put himself out there so publicly after he’s savaged so often on the message boards. I never blamed him or Rick Berman for the collapse of Trek. I blame the studio for trying to continue to produce new Trek when it was clear after Voyager had been on for awhile that the franchise needed a break. If Rick and Brannon are guilty of anything it’s that they and many others stuck around too long and the series all began to feel the same.
# 20. All good stuff! “50 year old man style, soft rock theme song.” LOL!
I spent a lot of years during and after ENT as a Braga-basher, and I still think his vision (even moreso than Berman’s, but then who can tell who make what creative decisions at that level?) was deeply flawed.
But he’s shown himself since ENT’s ending to have a lot of class, repeatedly coming before fans and talking honestly about what worked and what didn’t. I might still not think much of his final years on Star Trek, but, now that I’ve seen this side of him, I think I’m going to give Flash Forward a chance.
When I was at the vegas creation con in 2006 i believe braga was scheduled to speak the last day of the con–went to the auditorium an waited an hour he never showed-the creation employees said he was there but no one knew why-oh well-i loved the 4th season of enterprise as well-to think there may have been more mirror episodes-sigh-they could have made a whole series just on that-imo those episodes had the best acting from bakula-he and linda park were awesome-bakula played evil and flawed great!I would have loved a 5th season-is also cool that they liked the new movie too-wasnt braga dating 7 of 9 then broke up?
‘ We just thought it would be a cool concept to show the Next Generation’s crew looking back, though the holodeck, at Archer’s crew. It is a high concept, but I am not sure it came together.’
Let me help you- it didn’t.
Brannon Braga here. Rarely post to these boards, but I wanted to thank all of the fans who attended the convention this weekend, especially those who came to our panel on Saturday, and a very special thanks to the good folks who came up to me to say hello. You’re an amazing group of people. Smart, thoughtful, honest, dedicated. I’d like to thank the “Braga-bashers”, as well. Even though I don’t always agree with your harsh criticisms (or the sheer harshness of the emotions behind them), I always appreciate the passion behind your opinions, and rarely ignore what you have to say. I celebrated when you liked what did; I grieved when you did not; and now, like you, I wait and watch to see what happens next in the Roddenberry universe. So far, so good: Abrams made a movie that I truly admired.
Anyway, I left this weekend with a good feeling and it’s thanks to you.
Thanks to Pascale, too, for his as-usual excellent coverage of the event.
Buzz, c’mon man, hindsight is 20/20, would you have created a better finale?
An absolute tragedy that ENT was cancelled, I never gave it a chance in the beginning and only discovered it in recent years. Now I love it.
#28 – Thanks for listening. We nitpick because we care. Hey, you were in a position that all of us cellar-dwellers (!) would give our left… eye… to be in – show runner of the best sci-fi franchise ever: Star Trek. For every “Threshold” (VOY) there were many good episodes and a few outright classics. Good for you and good luck – I’ll give “Flash Forward” a try.
Well said, Brannon.
Message to all the bashers, go and write, produce and even direct a new show yourself.
Then come back here and let people coment on it. Deal?
27. Buzz Cagney
As Garak might say with eyes opened wide:
“Your generosity knows no bounds!”
Ah that little tease of what could’ve been on Enterprise is a little unfair! It leaves me gasping for new, unseen episodes of ‘Trek on TV. Having Shran on the Enterprise would be a fantastic move. I’m sure he’d have quite a few tense moments with T’Pol. Jeffrey Combs was always a pleasure to watch as he chewed up every scene he appeared in in any guise on Star Trek, and spat it out.
I’m one of those people who always did enjoy Enterprise (Star Trek just works better when the ship’s got the right name, even if they are clutching at straws and re-writing history to a certain extent – I think a lot of it worked). And I agree with a lot of people in that season four was the stand-out. They’re doing re-runs of it on Sky 2 in the UK at the moment, which I get to watch on my lunchbreaks, and I’m really enjoying it. Getting to hear about these plans for season five really disappoints me – killing off a quality TV show just when it’s starting to find it’s own way when so much drivel manages to seep through to our TV screens every night. In saying that, there’s not many shows that would be given four years to get it right. Most would be given twelve episodes if they even get past the pilot stage. So as Star Trek fans, I suppose we should be thankful for that.
Season Four was excellent, but my favorite Enterprise episode was “Twilight” (I think that was the name), where Star Trek does Battlestar Galactica (from Season Three). If you thought about the story too much, it did not make too much sense, but THAT was a well-done and epic episode.
Season 5 does sound fun, and the mirror universe always works – the Enterprise eps were my favourites I think. I really disliked season 3 though, it felt like it wasn’t Trek, more a revenge movie in space. Marines were just not what it was all about, but hey, some nice concepts.
I do like Brannon’s openness though, it’s very gracious of him to give us insights into both the things we didn’t all like as well as the good stuff.
15 years though, there was a lot of good stuff there.
Heh, I just noticed the poll. Very good.
Maybe we could should start a petition. ;-)
Coto Rocks!! Braga Sucks!!
@37 – may I submit All Good Things and First Contact as evidence to the contrary?
I would agree that These Are the Voyages sucked, but I think BB agrees with that too.
Which they’d do an Enterprise spin off relaunch :) After all ENT fits into the new JJ Timeline or can do.
That is an awsome idea!! I would love to see DS9 season 8 or Enterprise season 5. Anything with Jeffrey Combs!!
Whish they’d do an Enterprise spin off relaunch :) After all ENT fits into the new JJ Timeline or can do.
Damn, season 5 would have been cool. I wish Enterprise had seven seasons. I’m rewatching the series right now actually. hehe.
#40 – Amen. Jeffrey Combs is groovy!
I’d have to say that Shran was my favorite of his Trek characters. Of course he was awesome as Weyoun, and Brunt was hilarious, but I always thought Shran was particularly interesting and would have liked to see more development.
All I know about Coto is that he did me a kindness once upon a time, and for that I’ll always thank him ;)
And eventually I’ll watch S4 of Enterprise :/ I keep meaning to.
#28 Brannon Braga … to my mind, your post here and the comments at the convention prove that you are a classy guy. Facing both fans and detractors with equal grace is no mean feat. And the simple truth is, none of us has accomplished what you have achieved in an *extremely* competitive industry. Thank you for your part in keeping Trek alive.
Very gracious of you Mr. Braga. For what it’s worth, there are large parts of Trek which you were responsible for that I admired a great deal and I remember a lot of your episodes with enormous fondness. There are some choices you made I was less than a fan of, but even those aspects were much better than most TV out there, and the criticism was down to a high curve on Trek and your own work. I for one appreciated your efforts and thank you for your work.
Hey thanks for all the great coverage Anthony I appreciate it. I was hard at work on the convention floor, and now I have the opportunity to see what I missed and what a convention it was.
Brannon I got to meet you on the con. floor and I truly do appreciate all your years of hard work as well, thanks for all the great work you produced.
As much as I had loved ENT Season 5, I don’t like the idea of bringing the Future Guy back. This Temporal Cold War story-arc didn’t work well and I was glad when it was finished for good by the beginning of season 4. I thought the Temporal Cold War episodes were usually the worst in the series run.
(But of course I’d prefer any ENT Temporal Cold War episode over ST09.)
But still, what a treasure of unrealized opportunities for ENTx5!
I’ve always blamed the hard-to-please Trek fans for the early demise of ENT. If they had supported the show, the ratings would have been good enough to keep it on the air and it would have gotten past the adolescent stage. Season 7 could’ve been downright exciting! And, the next series might’ve been even cooler and would still be in production now. How sad that millions of Trek fans are so fickle and picky and impossible!
#48 Dead wrong. The temporal cold war were some of the best episodes.