For fans who like to learn about the inner workings of Star Trek, one of the more interesting panels at Star Trek Las Vegas was with veteran writer/producers Brannon Braga (TNG/VOY/ENT/TNG Movies) and André Bormanis (VOY & ENT). The pair spoke in detail about their writing process for Star Trek and also ended up talking a little bit about their current project, The Orville.
Young TNG writers breaking Roddenberry’s rules but not going Mirror
Braga began his career in Hollywood as a WGA intern for Star Trek: Next Generation, starting at the beginning of the fourth season or as he noted, right after when the show got “good.” Braga joked that it was an internship that lasted 15 years.
The writers’ room was young guys all terrified that they were going to be fired at any given moment. Ron [Moore], and myself and René [Echevarria] kind of stuck it out….To be placed on a show as incredible as the Next Generation, was the best learning experience anyone could hope for, it’s still my favorite Star Trek.
Braga noted that by the time he joined it was showrunner Michael Piller running the writing room and being a mentor as well. Braga’s exposure to TNG creator Gene Roddenberry was limited due to his failing health, but he described Roddenberry as being very encouraging to the young writers.
That being said, Brannon wasn’t too keen on many of the “Roddenberry rules” for TNG, stating:
There were some rules that you weren’t allowed to do certain things on the show, no dream sequences, no time travel, and several others… I broke all the rules.
However, there was a specific line they never crossed. In response to a question on why they never did a Next Generation mirror universe episode, Braga responded:
We were a little frightened at doing it, and doing it badly, and maybe never really figured out what the Next Generation take would have been on it.
Originally Kirk was to die on a different bridge
As Star Trek: The Next Generation came to a close it was Ron Moore and Braga who were tapped to write both the series finale (“All Good Things…”) and the first TNG movie (Star Trek Generations). Braga talked about getting that double duty:
It’s kind of a blur, it just worked. We wrote “All Good Things,” it was a pure piece of writing, it was beautifully made. Whereas Generations was a little more laborious and serving a lot of things and I think that shows.
Braga also spoke briefly about the original vision he and Moore had for Generations:
I think Ron and I envisioned the two Enterprises kinda locked in battle and somehow they would meet, but they would get together and fight the bad guy, and Kirk would go down on his bridge, instead of a bridge falling on him.
Being summoned by Patrick Stewart for First Contact change
Braga feels that things worked better with the second TNG feature film, which he and Moore also wrote, noting:
[Star Trek: First Contact] is a great initiation for what Star Trek’s all about… It had to be the Borg, there was no question what we were doing for first contact. It was fun to do from beginning to end, fun to make, fun to watch, and i think it shows up on screen.”
Of course like with all scripts, things go through changes. Braga explained that a switch was made between the characters of Picard and Riker where originally it was Riker battling the Borg on the ship and Picard dealing with Zefram Cochrane down in post-World War III Montana. But a certain someone wasn’t happy with that, as explained by Braga:
We were summoned to Patrick Stewart’s apartment in New York, where he said ‘I should be battling the Borg’… so we changed it.
Braga noted that somehow when MAD Magazine did their “Star Blecch: Worst Contact” parody they used that early draft and so their version didn’t really resemble the final movie.
Beginning Enterprise differently, ending with a ‘slap in the face’
André Bormanis came in during seventh season of TNG as the science advisor, which he also did for Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Onstage in Las Vegas he revealed that initially he interacted with writers from a distance. He worked from home faxing [look it up, kids!] his technical notes back to the writers room as they couriered new pages to him. He would only go in periodically to pitch show ideas, but that is where he and Braga clicked and so eventually Brannon brought him to write a few episodes for Voyager and into into the writers’ room as a proper staff writer and story editor for Enterprise.
The pair talked about how the original concept for Enterprise changed. The writers, along with Braga’s co-creator Rick Berman, wanted the first season of the show to be mostly set on Earth with the launch of the NX-01 at end of the season. Bormanis explained the reasoning:
One of the things that guided us was we wanted those characters to be like more people today, than the kind of larger than life heroes of Next Generation or The Original Series.
By the time the second season was over the show was running into ratings problems, and so once again Braga was summoned, this time by the head of Paramount:
We got called into the boss’ office, Johnathon Dolgen, he said, “Do something different, we need to shake things up.”
It was that directive that lead to the decision to make the third season of Enterprise into a single arc with the Xindi war. Braga described the creation process:
[Season 3 was] one of those rare cases where we got together with the staff, and talked about it, we worked out a lot, we had the framework, we knew how it was going to end.
The show went through another change for the fourth and final season with Manny Coto being brought in as showrunner and moving to more mini-arcs as well as more call-backs to the original Star Trek series. Braga admitted that this approach worked, noting:
I think Manny had finally found voice of the show, and season 4 should’ve been season 1, and I think that the show should have continued.
Of course no discussion of Star Trek: Enterprise is complete without talking about the often panned series finale “These Are the Voyages…” After being asked about it by a fan it was clearly still a bit of a sore subject for the the writer/producer:
I thought it was the coolest thing ever when we were writing it, the idea of doing a ‘lost episode’ of The Next Generation, but they’re going to the holodeck to look back at Enterprise, Rick and I thought was a great sendoff to Star Trek [the franchise as it existed in 2005], and it didn’t work out so well…It was a kind of a slap in the face to the Enterprise actors. I heard it from everybody, it was the only time Scott Bakula was ever mean to me. I regret it.
Enterprise season 5 would have explored Vulcan changes and Romulan War
Enterprise was cancelled after the fourth season and Braga says he thought maybe that was for the best for the franchise:
I thought it was time, it needed a break, it needed some time for people to want another show.
As for Bormanis, he was ready for more:
I’d hoped it’d go seven seasons, it was my first full time staff writing job, it was a great opportunity, and I had a great time doing it, and wanted it to continue. I quickly found out that the life of a TV writer is generally feast or famine. Star Trek was an amazing 12 year run for me.
Of course the topic of where season 5 would have gone came up, with Bormanis saying they would have explored more of the human/Vulcan relationship that had changed in season 4 and how it was becoming more like what was seen in TOS. Braga chimed in that he remembered there being an idea to explore the Romulan War mentioned in TOS.
A return to episodic sci-fi on The Orville
Both Braga and Bormanis are now writing on The Orville, so fans were excited to ask them about Seth MacFarlane’s sci-fi dramedy (and clear homage to Star Trek). Braga had quite a bit to say about the show and how it related to Star Trek: The Next Generation specifically. He explained how The Orville is more like classic Trek storytelling:
I missed the kind of storytelling that Star Trek did which are standalone parables, with beginning middle and end, I worked on 24 and I did serialized storytelling for the most part, and I really really missed it. We’re actually writing a show with that kind of storytelling called The Orville. I think I speak for André when I say we missed that kind of storytelling.
However he noted it isn’t a copy The Next Generation:
It’s kind of its own thing, it’s funny, at times very funny, but the stakes are real, its science-fiction ideas I think are really cool, it’s a good mix of comedy but also drama …it’s like M*A*S*H, you’ll be laughing one second and the next something very serious is going on. You have to be involved, you can’t do an hour long satire of the genre. It’s a loving tribute to this kind of [standalone] storytelling.
That hated Voyager episode and why Braga comes to STLV
Even though both Bormanis and Braga worked on Star Trek: Voyager for seven years, it really didn’t come up during their time on stage, except when Braga discussed what is considered by many to be the worst episode of the series:
There’s an episode of Voyager called “Threshold” which is considered to be [trails off], now when I was writing it I thought, “This is the coolest thing ever!” It was just awful at the end of the day, and everyone hates it.
One audience member asked Braga why, even in the face of such criticism, he keeps coming to Star Trek Las Vegas and engages with the fans online. Braga explained:
It’s the reason I’m here right now, the Star Trek fanbase, you’re great people, you’re intelligent, you’re thoughtful, some of you are mean, but I know it comes from a place of passion. It’s just fun to interact, Star Trek was a huge part of my life and I miss it, and it’s nice to reminisce about it with fans.
More Star Trek Las Vegas Coverage
Trek vets talk about Star Trek: Discovery
What We Left Behind Team Gives Details On DS9 Doc
Karl Urban talks Star Trek 4, Beyond, Judge Dredd and more
Marina Sirtis Says Paramount Threatened To Replace Her With Jeri Ryan In Star Trek Nemesis
Star Trek Film Academy At Original Series Set Tour Announcement
Patrick Stewart Talks About Gene Roddenberry Opposing His Casting As Picard And More
Denise Crosby talks about her plan for ‘Trekkies 3’
Full videos from ‘Discovery’ actors and writers panels
Star Trek Online announces LeVar Burton to reprise his role as Geordi LaForge for game
Panel: Details and covers for first ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ novel and comic revealed
Interview: Sam Vartholomeos and Wilson Cruz
Interview: Mary Chieffo And Kenneth Mitchell
Panel: Actors Discuss Different Klingon Houses In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ + First Image of Kol Revealed
Panel: Writers Talk Technobabble, Timelines And How ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Is Telling Our War Story
…and believe it or not we still have some stuff from STLV to cover.
Two Enterprises meeting in “Generations” with Kirk going down on the bridge of his ship would have been a much better ending! Too bad they couldn’t figure out how to make that work…
And you have to wonder if it wouldnt have got Nimoy and Kelley on board with that much more to do.
I recall hearing that one draft had Kirk on board the Enterprise-D and eventually taking command as well and going down with that ship.
The concept sounds fun but then it also sounds like too much of something out of fanfiction. Getting into the logic of two Enterprises fighting together…yeah
…and shame on them for not doing so. That is absolutely how Kirk should have gone out, on the bridge of the Enterprise. Such a wasted opportunity, and a wasted death of a franchise icon.
That ‘two Enterprise’ concept became the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” instead, actually, and as much as I love that episode, I would have loved that “Generations” so much more.
@Danpaine – Agreed, Generations should have been Yesterday’s Enterprise. They should have held on to that script and reworked it for a movie.
For me it doesn’t really matter WHERE Kirk died — I just think it needed to be the result of a clear decision to sacrifice himself rather than what was basically an accident.
He finally meets a true no-win situation and has to sacrifice himself in order to save everyone else.
And he dies alone.
He kinda did die alone. Picard was just some future starfleet guy to Kirk. Not a friend. Barely even a colleague.
For me the circumstances of Kirk’s death were not the best. But I really liked the “It was fun” line. It seemed very much like a KIrk thing to say nearing his demise and it doubled as something for Shatner to relay to the fans as his time player Kirk came to a close.
Imagine the impact of BOTH captains dying in that film. Kirk ends up piloting an evacuated D into the launch site of a much more powerful device than the rocket launcher we see, wiping out both Soran and Picard (who had been stalling him from launching something with much bigger consequences than one random planet – the whole of reality?), a la his father in ST 2009. We’d get to see both Picard’s intelligence, diplomacy, and courage in the face of death, and Kirk’s drive, doggedness, fearlessness in the face of certain doom. Imagine starting a film series in which your nominal heroic lead is killed. Much more for Riker, Data, Worf to do in stepping up to the plate – and (arguably) the TNG films may have done better with a Riker/Data/Worf dynamic recognisably similar to that of Kirk/Spock/McCoy to a general audience.
I have to admit, I get the idea of the final episode of Enterprise and had they done that “lost episode” of TNG in any other spot BUT the finale, I could have been fun.
I saw no problem with it.
Actually, this makes the final episode a bit more interesting.
As I recall, its just too bad the episode (along with many Enterprise episodes) was a bit boring.
I think a true “Lost TNG episode” would have worked better. Meaning no connection to Pegasus. That was always my issue with the finale. It should have been a whole new story set between All Good Things and Generations. Completely centered on learning about the NX 01 and the 22nd Century
It wasn’t all that bad. I get the logic that this might be the last we ever see of Star Trek, so wrap it all up. Unfortunately, it was very much not the last of ST and was kind of a kick in the face for the Enterprise crew. I’d categorize it as “honest mistake”
Respectfully, I’m glad they didn’t have the two Enterprises fighting somebody, with NCC-1701 (or the A) going down. Would only Kirk have died? There was just no reason for Kirk to have died at all. It was mistake, and it cost them enough audience to eventually end the TNG movies. Having Kirk was a gimmick, and it made it look like Picard couldn’t solve his own problems. But seriously, this is Star Trek — Kirk could have handled most of TNG’s villians without breaking a sweat, with time enough to zip down to the rec room for a chicken sandwich and coffee (23rd century healthy versions of those foods, folks).
I agree. No reason to have killed Kirk at all. The character was such that it should have been left open ended. I appreciate the idea of bridging the two crews. No problem there. But no reason to kill Kirk either.
Totally agree. A shitty end to a ST icon.
“But seriously, this is Star Trek — Kirk could have handled most of TNG’s villians without breaking a sweat…”
Ha, so true. And I agree. The way they left Kirk in TUC was perfect, riding off into the sunset. No need to kill him off.
Shatner was unwise taking that and agreeing to Kirk’s death. I’m sure he saw a “Resurrection of Kirk” movie in the future…
Shatner WROTE a “Resurrection of Kirk” novel. He had a cloned body and his consciousness /soul from Nexis.
Yes, I read it. Thank God it wasn’t made into a movie.
I think Shatner is a true icon, a great actor, and THE best Captain… but Shatner no more wrote that book than I did. Ron Goulart and the Reeves-Stevens ghost write for him. He may have some concepts, and is undoubtedly a critical editor. But does he sit and type the prose? No.
I was of the understanding that he dictated into recording devices a la Erle Stanley Gardner? Probably more stream of consciousness than actual writing (Thus the need for ghostwriters.) but a form of storytelling nonetheless.
Re: …agreeing to Kirk’s death.
It always puzzled me that Shatner never invoked his Nimoy parity CONTRACT clause to guarantee some hint of a chance for resurrection in the GENERATIONS’ script? Although he’s always been on record that he felt putting one in TWOK was a horrible cheat.
Good point; I don’t see the need to kill of our heroes; Kirk’s death struck me as a “stunt” event to garner curiosity. Why not just let our heroes ride off triumphantly into the sunset and let them go, leaving their final fate to our imagination.
Biggest mistake ever was screwing up the Enterprise concept. What Trek needed was more primitive tech and more practical people where space exploration is dangerous, filled with unknowns, conflict, danger, excitement while at the same time the romance of exploring some well thought out cultures. That was all there with primitive post WW3 Earth having to meet, cooperate and prove herself to the Vulcans and Andorians while facing off against the Romulans, with Warp 3 ships that could not contact Starfleet Command where the Captain basically represents/impacts all of humanity, ships armed with nuclear weapons, Avatar type situations with dilithum crystal shortages, no transporters for the easy save, colonists on the frontier needing food and security, no phasers on stun to solve every hostage situation with the Klingons and Romulans lurking and first contact missions gone wrong behind every corner. This would have built upon Wagon train to the Stars. Instead we keep moving away from that – perfect people, perfect ships, peace for all, humans are superior, nothing breaks down, free energy – and then everyone is so surprised when the stories end up so boring. I’ll give Braga one thing – only comedy could save post TNG TNG without throwing away the rule book (like DS9). Close second was not using Kirk effectively in Generations. You get to kill the ultimate hero – James T Kirk – send him out in a blaze of glory. Nope… him and the Federation flagship go down facing one dude and a 50 year old bird of prey.
“You get to kill the ultimate hero – James T Kirk – send him out in a blaze of glory. Nope… him and the Federation flagship go down facing one dude and a 50 year old bird of prey.”
Well put, Commander.
It was so stupid. Like even if the motivation was to get rid of Kirk so TNG could stand on its own. Picard came across like such a moron in Generations.
He can go anywhere, any time and he chooses to go right back to that very critical moment where he and Kirk STILL have to try and out smart Soren. Terrible.
And then two guys cant even take one guy out. Just idiotic.
And the older Kirk came across so much younger, stronger, smarter than Picard. Awful writing all the way around.
They should have used All Good Things for the film and substituted the old Enterprise for the past E-D.
Picard should have been demoted. Instead we get John McClane fighting the Borg in the next movie to make up for it.
I completely agree. Enterprise never came off as a proper prequel to TOS, mainly because the people who produced it were totally ensconced in the Berman-era of Trek, and never cared all that much for TOS anyhow. In retrospect Paramount really should have hired an entirely new production crew to helm Enterprise, though I can certainly understand why they didn’t.
It’s my great hope for Discovery that these showrunners bring an entirely new sensibility to Trek that’s more akin to the rough-and-tumble TOS than the placid TNG era, and that such an approach really pays-off dramatically.
The mistake started with calling it Enterprise to begin with. You want to have an early warp starship, fine, just call it something else. Don’t be cute and try to cash in on the name. And yes make the show gritty with real drama, instead of silly bumpy-headed alien of the week trope.
I just remember sitting there in the theater thinking: “I’m watching three old men having a fistfight.” It was painful to watch
That’s what ILM’s Bill George said about the original ending with Kirk getting shot in the back — which on paper, COULD have been as good as THE SHOOTIST, but instead was lame Lame LAME. He said that before anybody saw the reshot ending, which outside of being longer, isn’t much (any) better.
I think the original idea would have been brilliant, especially in the climate of serialised television that Enterprise was on the brink of. Season One on Earth, post Cochrane’s historic flight, with the various nation states coming together to find Earth’s place in the galaxy (obvious issues of paranoia concerning the Vulcan landing, and so on)>conflict with Vulcan (ideologically – Vulcan’s concern with allowing a violent culture interstellar flight vs the human drive for self-determination)>Earth’s tentative first missions, failures, deaths, Prime Directive defying mistakes>disastrous first contact with the Romulans>Earth/Romulan War in which the Romulans employ jamming technology so neither side sees the other and a losing Earth uses stealth technology for guerrilla attacks (prompting later prohibition on Federation cloaking devices)>the war spreads to Vulcan, Andoria, Tellar>The war ends. Founding of the Federation. Simple, really. So simple, I can’t believe they didn’t do it. No need for Suliban, Xindi, Temporal Cold Wars, and the rest.
Echo of Kirk is still to this day alive in the Nexus amazed even an intern screenwriter could not turn that into an epic Shatner Netflix only film! …or did the Echo Kirk leave the Nexus to die (Kirk tricked him) and the real Kirk is stuck in there…!!!
…maybe for a while in the late 90’s something like your idea *may* have worked, Paul. But sadly, that time has passed. As much as some things in Trek have disappointed me over the years, nothing comes close to how they wrote Kirk out. But, that was then and Shatner accepted the $$ to do it and here we are. I appreciate your enthusiasm, though.
Berman did not want Shatner around anymore he turned down his The Return novel which would have made a decent follow up. As you say Shatner took the money he said in one of his books he figured the character would never be used again so accepted the role. In hindsight he should have refused to die onscreen at all told Berman to beef up Spock & McCoy’s role & have the 3 of them ride of into the sunset together aboard the Enterprise – B!!
Kirk’s echo isn’t in the Nexus. Guinan only has an echo there because she was beamed out against her will. Kirk chose to leave the Nexus, so there isn’t anything left of him in it.
@Chancellor Gowron — we don’t know that at all …
No excuse for being rude to anyone, even if tyou hate what they did with your favorite franchise. I did my best not to get abusive with e in 2009, disappointed as I was in his work.
Bob Orci in 2009.
With all due respect Bob Orci, who I think did a fantastic job with ST:2009 (only to wreck it with ST:ID) was shown the door as a result of his ST:ID failure and I bet given the chance would learn from his failure (Kahn just a poor misunderstood used guy bad move). Braga though just keeps going over and over again, bad script after bad script even now it does not seem to end, no lessons learned at all even after studio directives (mix that up will you?)!!! Like a poor marksman he just keeps missing the target!
Well, as a result of STID, Orci was promoted. It was only when he turned in work for Trek 3 that the studio realised the monumental error it had made.
I thought Trek 2009 was just awful, even much worse than INTO DARKNESS. A minority view, I know.
Join the ‘elite’ club! 09 is for me far worse than NEMESIS or any other trek feature.
I liked the 09 film but I didn’t think it was that great either. I even saw it at the Sydney premiere with Abrams and the cast at the Opera House. It was great to see it that way but the film still lacked a bit. I think Beyond is easily my favorite out of the three.
STB was the only watchable film of the JJ trilogy, despite its many flaws. At least in BEYOND, there was some fun to be had and it didn’t take itself so damnably seriously as 09 and ID. The only people I knew here who liked STID were those who had never seen a ST film or episode before. Soon as they saw TWOK or TSFS, they wondered what else they’d missed. :)
kmart: Wish you were here. We’d make a helluva “used car budget” film, I’m sure. I’m finally shooting mine in January for $5k, all of it spent on equipment, with some for expenses, food and drinks for my cast of 5. Alas, no garage sets this go-round. We had great fun back in the day, didn’t we?
vokar: Yeah, that’s for sure. I see it as a glass half full at times, thinking if I’d pushed harder that I’d have more to show for it, but there are a lot of good memories. Kind of like McCoy in real TREK talking about love – “the glorious failures … and the glorious victories.”
vokar: did you see DIMENSION 5 is hitting blu-ray next month? Figured a Pierce fan might have some interest … vaguely TREK related, as Jeffrey Hunter stars with France Nguyen, and sf related, as this is probably another influence on THE TERMINATOR …
STID is the highest grossing Trek film ever. Thats ALL the studio care about. People are naive if they think anyone is shown the door for making a ‘bad’ movie if it makes a lot of money. And to be fair, STID was highly rated and liked by new fans. It was just the uberTrekgeeks who had problems with it.
But that had nothing to do with Orci leaving. I mean all you have to do is look at Michael Bay and the Transformers movies. This guy has directed all five of them (and Orci wrote two of them), the last four slaughtered by critics but Paramount begged him to come back every time. Why? Because those films makes around a billion dollars. They can be the worse films ever made and everyone keeps their jobs as long as they make money.
Forced to agree with your assessment that the bottom line is pretty much all the studios care about when it comes to the tent pole projects like Transformers and Trek.
TMP made at least $175 million worldwide and broke opening weekend records too, and yet, Roddenberry was shown the door. If someone is naive, I don’t think it’s “People”.
Very good read, I wish I could have been there for this panel.
I do agree with the TV execs on only one thing, I do believe it would be really hard to sell a star trek show with its first season taking place on earth.
That being said, maybe if they would have had a one season tv break from the end of Voyager for them to catch their breathe and take time to develop the show, maybe it would have taken off better.
In the current state of novelistic TV it totally would have worked. And been cool.
Hugh, I think the the real problem with Enterprise wasn’t the show itself… it was that it started right at the end of Voyager’s run. I’m a huge Trek guy but even I was thinking they should hold off a couple of years for the next show. I really felt the franchise needed a bit of a break.
Oh well… Can’t un-ring a bell….
As far as we know, you cannot change the past. It is done. We move on ans hope that Discovery turns out well!
I wanted more Enterprise if for nothing else than to retcon Tripp actually dying. Show him as a Sect31 operative or something and then bring him back. Wanted Tripp and T’Pol to grow old together
I believe Trip’s death waaretconned in the novels and that he did indeed become part of Section 31.
@PEB — The irony is that they might not have killed off Trip if they had gotten a 4th season, so you wouldn’t need to retcon anything.
If there was a 5th season they for sure wouldn’t have offed Trip.
I still think Enterprise was a missed opportunity and agree with Braga that season 4 should have been Season 1. I mean, if you’re going to go full out prequel, at least do it right.
They really dropped the ball. That whole creative team just seemed so tired. It was essentially TNG-lite in a new setting.
The Prequel idea was such a great concept.
“TNG-lite in a new setting.” Indeed.
Voyager was the bigger missed opportunity. It should have been a journey of attrition. Ship increasingly damaged, no regular character safe, every facet of the Federation ideal challenged in the face of the need for survival and the urge to get home. What we got was TNG-Electric Boogaloo. Arguably, the antipathy that Voyager (and Insurrection and Nemesis) is what killed Enterprise. For this fan, at least, Enterprise (alongside TOS and DS9) is one of the series I actually enjoy rewatching.
Another reason to support the concept that Enterprise ought to have been delayed a bit before airing.
Was totally the right call making Picard be on the ship with the Borg and Riker on the surface. Kudos to Patrick Stewart for making that happen.
Yes agreed with that as well. And putting Picard there gave the film a whole new layer of having Picard face his demons. It really was a smart move.
If I recall they had stated the problem was they couldn’t come up with a great way to have both crews come up looking like heroes. They had the movie poster all set up with the image of both Enterprises squaring off. They have had other opportunities to give Kirk a better send off and haven’t come through. Didn’t do it for Enterprise nor the JJ movies. Now they have it again with Discovery. I think Bryan Fuller was going to get Shatner involved although now that is probably out the window with him leaving.
Killing Kirk like they did was a huge slap in the face to TOS fans. It was done poorly and it was obvious they wanted to get rid of Kirk so Picard would be the main man.
Agree that Kirk’s death was certainly underwhelming and not worthy of his iconic stature but people also got to remember that Shatner had the clout to say “NO – you’re not killing me off in this weaselly way”. So Shatner is also somewhat responsible for what he let them do to his character.
@DPMcGuire — Shatner had every opportunity to say no and he didn’t. I find the Patrick Stewart story about FC particularly telling in that the actor made them change their story. Shatner could have just as easily told them the same thing … but he didn’t and he agreed to die under a collapsed bridge.
Shatner’s ego knew no limits. On the show he was stealing all the supporting cast’s lines and in the movies pushed for Kirk to be the solver of every problem. George Takei hates him for a reason.
not to mention Kirk cooking eggs.
Braga is mad his deal with the devil wasn’t as lucrative as Kurtzman and Orci’s deal for constantly getting work writing no talent mediocre scripts in mega-franchises.
Braga is multi-millionaire many times over and has 3 shows and 2 films under his Trek belt. Thats’ more than Roddenberry himself. And the guy has been working steadily since Trek ended. He’s produce, written and created quite a few shows since.
He is certainly a multi-millionaire. Of that I would have no doubt. Let’s examine for a moment though your assertions regarding his output. It either plays off the cachet he built up through his association with Star Trek – Cosmos and The Orville, was cancelled in its first year – Flash Forward, Threshold, Terra Nova, or was something he got through a personal relationship – 24, where Manny Coto was producing, and Mission Impossible 2, where Ron Moore’s talents had just prior delivered success for Paramount with First Contact.
About the only thing you could say he has ever done which achieved success based on its own merits was a Marilyn Manson video and the horror show Salem. And even then we don’t know the extent to which other producers were the ones responsible for making that a hit. Given all this and that we also know his first impulse is to churn out weird and horrible Star Trek, horror should be about the only thing he’s let within a million miles of.
Braga doing his usual routine of telling the fans what he thinks they want to hear, post the event of every one of his screw ups. What would have carried more weight, of course, would be if he had not made so many mistakes in the first place. Or, having made his first one or two shown some willingness to listen.
I remember when his influence was first properly felt on TNG’s season 7. Nearly every one its many bad, bizarre episode had his fingerprints on it, and its widely considered the worst season of Next Gen since the second one. He then followed that up by murdering Voyager when got his hands on it, overnight discarding every emotional thread that Jeri Taylor had previously carefully crafted. The writing got so bad they couldn’t even keep the cast quiet, with people like Robert Beltran in open mutiny over how dire it was. An unheard of situation previously. The final culmination of this utter awfulness being the mind numbing ‘Endgame’, which had most people literally agog at how anyone could think it was an acceptable conclusion to a 7 year story.
Did Braga listen at that point though? Did he geniunely reflect and take stock when news of Enterprise broke, and the internet was awash with the blindingly obvious good suggestion that the show should be a birth of the Federation type concept? Did he hell! What followed were drab retreads of Voyager episodes, pointless Xindi and Suliban, tedious time travel, and the ultimate in un-original sci-fi stories: aliens wanting to destroy Earth. Yes, Enterprise sort of came together in season 4 with Manny Coto, but this was in spite of, not because of Braga.
When the man had to work with geniunely talently writers there were only ever two outcomes: they either had to work around him and mask and compensate for his two dimensional scripts, or in the face of his rampant unearned ego, they walked like Ron Moore did on Voyager. This is why Braga now only has shills around him like Bormanis – originally a tech consultant – and Goodman – a writer for animation comedies like Futurama and Family Guy. A pretty fitting situation really, as most of Braga’s output feels like watching a cartoon with real people in it.
Him getting his big break on Next Generation really has been the gift that’s kept on giving. Given his actual real level of capability, I can understand why he attached himself to Star Trek like a limpet, and was more than happy to drive it off the edge of a cliff, so long as he kept getting a pay cheque out of it. Even today he’s still managing to get another gig out of it many years later.
Maybe now older and wiser, possibly more chastened by work on other shows, and year upon year of soaking up the critism of what he did wrong previously, Braga may finally produce something other than utter trash with The Orville. If he does though, it will have come at the cost of an illustrious, beloved and storied science fiction franchise having to be run into the ground along the way.
Sometimes, when I read/ear critics of Abrams/Discovery, I think people have forgotten how bad it got during the B&B era.
That’s not to say that Braga will never do anything good, but he thought the idea that the DNA of humans and arachnids shared some similarites was justification to turn Dwight Schultz into a spider (Genesis, my own personal low point in TNG’s seven year run).
I never understood why Kirk had to die at all, there was no good reason to do it. But then it was just one bad part of an overall bad movie.
I remember Braga and Berman being referred to years ago as the “Killer Bs” because of all the damage they did to Star Trek.
He could have easily found out about Admiral McCoy, Ambassador Spock, Captain Scott, who were all alive at that time, and rode off into the sunset to seek them out for new adventures in a new century.
Gah, thankfully I can watch Kirk’s missions end on the high of THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY movie, and just continue on with the Shatner-free ‘Kirless Generations’ fan edit if I ever feel like some TNG high-jinks with Soran – it’s a reasonably watchable flick when re-edited that way.
I’ll never be convinced that the iconic Kirk character should have been ‘killed off’ permanently by anyone in the first place…but I do know that he absolutely was poorly written to die on the WRONG bridge!
As far as some kind of NEXT GEN ‘mirror universe’ episode goes…it mighta been fun to see Picard with a ‘tash ‘n’ goatee and a new hairdo. On the other hand, I kinda lean towards that show as being set in an ‘alternate universe’ to the TOS show anyway…with the GENERATIONS ‘Kirk’ being a different version to the TOS character too. ;)
Typo alert – that should have said ‘Kirkless Generations’ fan edit.
One piece of ‘fanon’ I created post-Generations is that Bones continued in Starfleet – even though he wanted out more than anyone else in the crew – to find out what happened to his best mate, Jim. The books (The Encounter at Farpoint novelisation? Nominally by Gene Roddenberry – thus semi-canon at best, states McCoy served on three starships Enterprise: 1701, A, and – by natural extension – B). He even fought death to find that answer – continually repairing and augmenting his aging body to an unheard of age. I can imagine McCoy’s reaction (in this fanon scenario) upon learning of the Borg, and the realisation he was turning himself into Data.
Kirk vs. Picard, with the two ships slugging it out (before they make nice and fight the bad guy). Uh — I’ll pass. I didn’t like Batman vs. Superman either. Fanfic is fanfic. In general, I find it way too self-important and not very interesting.
I agree with you that the whole concept was too fanfic-like. But my understanding is that studio insisted on Kirk vs. Picard, not Braga. Given that constraint, I probably would have done something like Q bringing the crews together.
On another note: YESTERDAY’S ENTERPRISE with the TOS crew would not really have worked. It was a Yar story, and specifically mean as a counterpoint to her departure in “Skin of Evil.” Reworking it with the TOS cast would have shifted the focus away from that.
This is the second or third time I’ve read the comparisons between THE ORVILLE and M*A*S*H – If they can be as strong as those middle seasons, they’ll have a big hit on their hands. The Comedy-Drama balance.
Well, yes; that’s a mighty big “if,” though, and the trailers for THE ORVILLE don’t suggest M*A*S*H, but rather FAMILY GUY in space.
@Herb — here’s the difference, MASH had one of the greatest casts ever assembled for any TV show, comedy or drama, led by Alan Alda, one of the great actors of our time. What has The Orville got? Seth MacFarlane, and a cast of nobody’s hand picked not to show up his limited talent. Even if the writing turns out to have a MASH-like dramatic angle, they don’t have the cast to deliver it.
I can’t imagine Scott Bakula being mean to anyone, and he has a reputation for being sincerely nice to all, so he must have been REALLY pissed off if he was mean to Brannon. But I don’t blame him at all. Every time I watch TATV, it breaks my heart that such a great show and the great franchise was sent out with such a travesty. It was not only a betrayal of the cast and crew, but a betrayal of all the fans.
Yes, from my impression and understanding Scott Bakula is an all round nice guy. And, in my opinion, because of this the best person they could have chosen to play Earth’s first starship captain: down-to-Earth, optimistic, brave but self-conscious, and – yes – a screw up. Archer needed to be a screw up – nobody would have believed a perfect Picard as first captain. Even Kirk had his weaknesses and prejudices. If we look at the inspirations for our Starfleet captains (great men such as Cook and Bligh), none were perfect, but they were human and achieved great things.
Here was the problem with the character of Jean-Luc Picard. He was so perfect he was boring. This is a testament to Stewart’s acting chops that he was able to breathe a little life into such a desperately dull character. Picard was only not boring in First Contact. Where we saw him with a character flaw. It made him human.
@LJ — I have always thought Bakula was the absolutely wrong choice for Archer, and unfortunately set the tone for the rarest of the cast and the series. There was an overall lack of momentum in the series, and what Bakula lacked in inspiration and/or ability, he made up for by constantly pacing during his tiresome speeches. I never believed Archer was a very strong captain, much less one who would have survived as long as he did. Archer didn’t have to be perfect, but he did need to be more believable. The problem with Bakula, was that Braga hoped to ensure his first solo venture succeeded based on tapping into the fan base of Bakula, and forced a nervous Paramount into making an overall deal with him that cost Paramount a lot, since Bakula never delivered on any thing successful for them, including ENT.
@Sheryl — Bakula has a nice persona, but he can be just as unkind as anyone in the business if he doesn’t get his way. He was a member of my tennis club, and I saw his interaction change with people over time as he was either supported or not by them, yet he always managed to be charming in public regardless of his true feelings or tactics. This was also true on set from direct observation. He could be abrupt and severe if he disagreed with someone, though he was always friendly and charming in general.
Discussions of how badly Voyager ended seem to be missing from this. The decisions made about Chakotay and Seven to get together and the horrendous time travel plot of the finalé. Beltran complained about his boring character and Braga had just broken up with Ryan. So the fans got punished as they did. Is that how it went?
Robbing us of a Voyager touch down on the Presidio and a reunion of Janeway with Mollie.
There is a piece of music at the very end of the Heroes and Demons suite and I don’t think it made that episode. I like to imagine that it was originally intended for the series finalé’s final moments as it’s the most perfect arrived-home triumphant piece.
Time travel was always Braga’s go-to. A cheap and easy cop out for a poor writer.
I’m no TV writer, obviously, (I’m a school teacher – those who can’t traverse the stars…) but I always wondered what the impact would have been of – yes – having a triumphant return to Quadrant Zero…only for the Voyager to be met with a conquered Earth. Was this all really the Mirror Universe? Did the Dominion renege on their treaty and win? Did the Borg get there first? In any event, it’s all gone.
The whole series, to me, was a wasted opportunity anyway. A ship alone, on the brink, with dwindling resources, hounded by enemies…and it becomes reset button and alien-of-the-week. Instead of killing the First Officer in the pilot, it should have been the captain, so we had an untried Captain Janeway dealing with an antagonistic First Officer Chakotay and his crew (though this Fed/Maquis thing was always forced anyway since the Federation and Maquis were not enemies with entirely opposing world views – a combined Fed/Cardassian-Dominion crew would have been better).
@LJ — yup that would have been the way to do it. And aside from a core cast of characters, Janeway, the Doctor, maybe Tuvok, the rest should have been expendable, as they essentially were on TOS, and routinely killed them off from season to season. That would have made for a fantastic series with great drama.
my big problem with ‘generations’ was them getting picard so wrong on the big screen.
made him a wimp and disregarded how he felt about losing someone in ‘lessons’ and his experience from ‘the inner light’, his true nexus fantasy.
Funny. I thought Stewart did terrific with what he had in all the TNG films, and especially Generations. At least give some credit where due, man!
The damage done to Picard was fixed in the next film ‘first contact’
The loss of his family and him being the last did not feel earned like Kirk’s ageing felt in the TOS films (a weird thing to say, for sure). A general audience needed to get more time to know Picard and what he had sacrificed, in a similar way to the audience learning of Kirk’s loss (of freedom when he became a member of the bureaucracy), of the command of the Enterprise. There is a running theme through Trek that the Enterprise is both a blessing, and a curse – it is the greatest honour, privilege, and blessing to command her, but you sell her your soul. The TNG films never earned that. The writers never spent enough time making a real connection between Kirk and Picard – two completely different personalities (one the bookworm who became an action hero, the other a bar-room brawler who became an academic), who share one honour in common.
Why does Braga do this “apology tour” every year?
This just smacks of, “No, seriously, please like me.” And, I’m sorry, but Braga had his shot… and he blew it. Trek may be a big part of his life, but that doesn’t sugarcoat the problems that ultimately fall on HIM. HE is the reason why Voyager had major continuity problems. The network may have interfered with Enterprise’s development, but there are creative ways he could have had his cake and eat it too. And I don’t care about some vague anecdote about Generations, when said anecdote never came close to being filmed.
Move on, Braga. The Orville can have you.
Comments… absolutely the 4th saeaosn of Enterprise should have been the first. But I still think there should have been a short break before all that. Take two years off THEN come out with the prequel series.
These are the Voyages was pretty obviously the worst finale of the 4 spinoff series. I wouldn’t expect something as good as What You Leave Behind. But it wouldn’t be tough to do better than All Good Things (Yes, I know I’m in the minority in thinking AGT was abarely even a pedestrian TNG regular episode). Too many idiot moves in it. The mere fact that they considered it a “lost” TNG epeisode does a total disservice to the Enterprise case and crew. Trip sacrifices himself just so Archer can make a speech? And then the audience doesn’t get to hear that speech that was so very important Trip felt it was worth his own life?
One thing they didn’t get into was the thing in Generations that still irks me a bit to this day. The entire kitchen in the Nexus stuff. Not exactly the way we’d like to see the two captains interact. The writers did say in another venue that they wanted to do do something unexpected and different, but geez… and even they admitted it just didn’t work after the fact.
Braga’s talking about ‘breaking the rules’, but they were there for a reason. A writer of any merit would rise to the challenge. If I was producing a sci-fi drama I’d also stipulate ‘no time travel, no dream sequences’. There is enough drama to be found in life without that. And no holodeck mishaps, either. I’ve never seen VR taken apart better than it was in Red Dwarf. The Matrix included. I always felt Braga used time-travel as a crutch. Anything Braga invariably involved it. He was writing for the wrong franchise – he should have been on Doctor Who.
There were a few plot devices on TNG where you could be assured before even seeing the episode it would be bad. “Something happens on the holodeck” was one of them.
No film, not even The Phantom Menace has ever disappointed me as much as Generations did.
Is there video of this panel? Wanna watch the whole thing.
I really appreciate his honesty. I’ve been pretty tough on him and Moore for their overall output, but no doubt they love Trek and gave it all they had. They had real passion and care for the property, no denying that.
I thought Generations was an ok movie, except for how Kirk died. I thought at the beginning when he died saving the Enterprise-B was fine. He died saving the Enterprise, that’s what you’d expect. But his “final” death was a definite miss. They were killing off the lead character of the original series. The way they killed him off may have been fine for a supporting character in the story, but not Captain Kirk. The rest of the movie was average for me. The Nexus was an interesting plot device, a little unusual, but different at least. Data’s exploration of his emotions got a bit trying at times. I was a little bummed about the destruction of the Enterprise D, I hated the ship at first, but I came to like it in later seasons of TNG.
Enterprise is a show of missed potential. I really liked season 4. The show finally found it’s place and Coto did an excellent job looking for tie ins to the original series, something season 1 and 2 were missing a lot of. TATV though was a huge miss. So much so that the novels that continued the story retconned elements of the story with CBS-Paramount’s approval.
I give Braga credit. He’s a big enough guy to admit areas where he screwed up. He also explains where some ideas came from and how he initially thought it may have been a good idea but ended up not.
Let’s face it, the rise of super cheaply produced “reality” TV is what killed off quality programming like Enterprise. Considering how abruptly they halted the series, I thought the last episode was very clever. They tied everything up in one episode that would have otherwise taken many. Enterprise was the best Trek series of them all, in my humble opinion. The acting, production values, and story surpassed the other series, by a wide margin in some cases. It was a real shame they killed it just as so many interesting character interactions were developing so nicely. Sadly, the only thing that is important in television is profit…….and it shows.
I really don’t understand why people hate Enterprise so much considering it was the closest to TOS than all the other shows. Enterprise was amazing and had so many great qualities with the exception of the last episode. Not only did we get to see what things were like pre-Federation, but it also really felt like they were pioneers and the first to explore which is a feeling that hasn’t been present since TOS. The fact that Enterprise only lasted 4 seasons and DS9 lasted 7 makes my blood boil cause in my opinion DS9 was trash and was the least Trek of them all. Also none of the legendary and iconic main characters in Star Trek should have their fates sealed, killing Kirk off was the worst mistake they ever made.
Kirk’s death so should have been on the bridge during battle in some great sacrifice. Missed opp. Picard had to be the one to fight the Borg in the second TNG movie, since he was the one who had been Borgified during the series. The thing that spoiled that movie for me was Worf’s, “If you were any other man I would kill you where you stand,” which no way in he!! would he ever say to Picard. And Picard’s killing that crewman. I understand the point of his doing that, but it was still too out of character.
To me the, “It was fun” line basically trivialized all of TOS. An anti-climactic death. I was glad when those novels resurrected him staring with Return. Usually pressing the reset button to undo something major like that feels cheap, but in this case it undid a bad move.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I like Braga and a lot of his work. Of course he was going to have missteps and get creative fatigue – he did Star Trek for 15 years. I don’t think any of us could go 15 years at our job without some misfires and fudge ups.