For the better part of two decades, Rick Berman oversaw the Star Trek universe, having taken over after the passing of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in 1991. Since exiting the franchise after the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, Berman has kept mostly quiet about new Trek projects, and he has not commented at all on Star Trek: Discovery, the first Trek TV series since Enterprise. But yesterday (and unprompted) the former producer did weigh in on the next Star Trek series
Berman gives Chabon on Picard series the thumbs-up
As announced at Star Trek Las Vegas last month, the next Star Trek series will feature Patrick Stewart returning to the role of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Jean-Luc Picard. Rick Berman took to Twitter to give praise to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, who is one of the executive producers of the unnamed Picard series. Berman said of the author:
“Michael Chabon is one of America’s greatest writers. Having him involved with Star Trek is beyond amazing!.”
Akiva Goldsman, who was an executive producer on the first season of Discovery and is one of the executive producers for the new Picard show, chimed in following Berman’s tweet with “Amen brother.”
— Akiva Goldsman (@AkivaGoldsman) September 3, 2018
Michael Chabon joining Star Trek was a surprise. It was first revealed in a TrekMovie.com interview from SDCC in July, when executive producer Heather Kadin spoke about how plans to extend the Star Trek universe on TV has attracted a variety of talent:
What’s amazing about Star Trek is that it’s such a beloved franchise that we have writers calling – I mean, Michael Chabon, who wrote one of the shorts that Aldis Hodge is starring in – Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is like “Hey, I want to write a short for you for $2.55”. So we get people from all different tones – comedy writers, animation writers, who just want so desperately to be a part of Trek.
As noted by Kadin, Chabon wrote one of the Star Trek: Short Treks mini-episode “Calypso,” which will air this fall. Not much is known about the Picard Star Trek series except that it takes place 20 years after Star Trek: Nemesis. Chabon did reveal a galactic sketch from the writers’ room a few days ago, and news of that may have led to Berman chiming in on Chabon’s involvement with Star Trek.
Berman helped Patrick Stewart become Captain Picard
Rick Berman knows something about Patrick Stewart and Jean Luc-Picard. He was involved from the beginning with the development of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and was there for the casting of Patrick Stewart. Star Trek: The Next Generation creator Gene Roddenberry was against the idea of Patrick Stewart, and he took some convincing. In the clip below from his 2011 interview with the Television Academy, Berman talks about how he and fellow producer Robert Justman conspired to convince Roddenberry to choose Stewart.
Berman remained producer and executive producer for the entire run of The Next Generation and went on to produce four TNG feature films starring Patrick Stewart as Picard. Stewart and Berman have kept in touch in the years since as well, so perhaps Rick knows a little something about the show, as we suspect the TNG cast does now that they all got together for dinner over the weekend.
Keep up with all the news about upcoming Star Trek TV series at TrekMovie.com.
No one who has worked on the Trek franchise has had anything like Michael Chabon’s mainstream literary cred. Harlan Ellison was a superstar in the SF and fantasy genres (and a recognized talent outside of them), but much of that came after his association with Trek.
Getting Chabon onboard was quite the coup, beyond any doubt.
What you say about Chabon’s literary reputation is true. His involvement in cinema has a much more mixed record. He worked on Spider-Man 2, which many people admired. He was also heavily involved in John Carter apparently, which was a commercial and creative dud (although I’m sure that there are probably fans of it).
Right here! I’m a fan of John Carter, despite its flaws. Which I wouldn’t blame Chabon for. I think the main problem with that movie was too many cooks in the kitchen.
John Carter is an underrated gem.
Yep. I mean, who doesn’t like Woola?!
I truly loved John Carter.
John Carter was a commercial “dud”. But calling it a creative dud suggest you haven’t seen it. I happen to think it is very good and one of those movies that absolutely doesn’t warrant its bad reputation. People also forget the age of the source material as well I think and that it was one of the inspirations of much genre stuff in the years since, not least Star Wars.
I never saw “John Carter” but it just looked like a story I wouldn’t be interested in. The bad reviews and box office conspired to suggest I was correct in skipping it. That said, there are some movies that I don’t think deserve the reputation. Both good and bad.
Sorry, but that’s silly. You can’t decide you were right to skip it unless you’ve seen it.
I was already leaning towards skipping it anyway. The reputation it got certainly didn’t help tilt me the other way….
Not only that, it’s fracking Edgar Rice Burroughs…guess that dude never heard of him, which is pretty shocking and sad.
John Carter may have been a commercial disappointment but it was a very imaginative movie that presented a very unique world. I really think its problems stemmed more from its running time, the odd mix of western and fantasy/sci-fi motifs, the romanticized presentation and the fact that the movie took its time to tell its story, something that the ADD-addled generation has trouble with.
It was based on a series of novels written many decades ago, after all. Modern audiences may have had a difficult time connecting with the source material.
It was also marketed really weirdly. They played down the fun and goofiness — and refused to mention Mars anywhere.
Well, they DID take it out of the title….
They didn’t actually. Only in the marketing. At the end of the picture, when the credits roll, it says “John Carter of Mars”.
I heard the director, Andrew Stanton, give a radio interview around the time of John Carter’s release. When asked about the weird marketing, he said their research said people don’t like space movies, so they took Mars out of the title.
I… I don’t know where to begin with how bizarre a statement that was.
If all movies with MARS or MARTIAN fail, then PR is gonna figure you can’t use it (see MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and MISSION TO MARS and RED PLANET, in just one year.)
Also, change for weird luck’s sake rather than for reasons. Look at how Lew Archer became Lew Harper in the films HARPER and THE DROWNING POOL, apparently because when Paul Newman played a character whos names started with H, the movie did better (see HUD, but don’t think about BUTCH HASSIDY, okay?)
Yeah, except Stanton was speaking in much broader terms than that, as if people had little interest in fantasy and science fiction. He said this in the wake of Avatar… a story about a former military man on an alien world…
A horrid marketing campaign, like Star Trek Beyond’s.
There are definitely fans of it, though I can’t judge for myself, not having seen it. William Goldman would be the first to say that a 50% success rate is actually pretty decent for a new screenwriter (though, given its production costs, JOHN CARTER was a more notable failure than most). But in any case, point taken. Absolutely, Chabon’s participation is no guarantee of success. But it definitely bodes well.
He wasn’t the main screenwriter, I believe. He was brought in to fix the script.
It’s worth seeing. It’s pulpy fun. And, yeah, the 1912 stories shaped modern cinema scifi.
I’ve no issues with John Carter. A big part of the problem there was they got one movie for the price of three. I suspect the next Trek installment is crawling along at a snails pace for similar reasons, Paramount has told Bad Robot the next production gets 100MM, 120MM tops. Not the 200MM they are used to.
I’d say the biggest problem with John Carter is its opening sequence. Unlike the simple terms of ‘Rebels’ and ‘Empire’ that Star Wars used, JC immediately throws a bunch of alien names and tribal dynamics at the audience, which can be damn confusing for those unfamiliar with the source material.
If you can get past the opening, though, it’s a charming movie, much like a classic Disney adventure from way, way back.
Oh, so you’re saying it has the DUNE thing going on, okay (have never seen it myself.) When I saw the Lynch movie, people on either side of us were checking out audibly even during Virginia Madsen’s opening recitation.
Let’s not even mention the printed handouts–wish I still had mine; they were quite nice–that the studio felt audiences needed to parse before watching DUNE.
As to Madsen, I’d attentively sit through a long scene of her reading the phone book. But that’s just me.
CREATOR, man … CREATOR. She is so adorable in that movie … I didn’t know about printed handouts, was this just for press or pre-release stuff? We didn’t get anything like that in San Jose opening weekend.
Not sure, sorry. But I definitely got one when I went to see it on first run, as did everyone else in the audience. They reminded me a little of the APOCALYPSE NOW booklets that took the place of screen credits in the original 70mm roadshow release, which were just beautiful.
I had the APOCALYPSE booklet for years, that was nice, but have you seen the ‘widescreen’ program for Kubrick’s 2001? It has tissue paper between the pages and is just an awesome piece of art by itself. I tried to buy a backup copy a few years later and the studio sent me a square version that didn’t have the tissue and I think was maybe in B&W, which for 2001 is a travesty. I just looked it up on ebay and the original goes for between ten bucks (folded in half) and twenty-five hundred bucks.
Would look really nice next to the STANLEY KUBRICK ARCHIVES book, maybe when i win a lottery or sell a couple scripts …
Never saw that one, no, the original release of 2001 being a bit early for me to see it in first run (a phrase I get to use less and less frequently, more’s the pity). I did eventually get to see it in Cinerama projection at the Dome in L.A. when I was in high school, but that was about a decade later. That program sounds cool, though. I do plan to buy the Taschen (sp?) 2001 coffee table book based on your recommendation as a Christmas present to myself later this year.
If you do get one that has got a 70mm film frame in it, let me know what the scene is. Mine is from Floyd talking with the Russians on the space station, but I’d happily trade to get a moon scene, like the shot that the type b poster is based upon, with astronauts in foreground as the Aries descends toward Clavius in the distance.
Will do, thanks.
Pretty much, yeah, but it’s mostly down to the editing in JC. If they’d ditched the confusing opening sequence and the odd framing device with Burroughs, it would probably make for a cleaner narrative.
But kmart said yesterday that this still doesn’t count as bringing “a professional” on board???
Odd that you bring that up here rather than comment on my reply comment to you on that page. Ready when you are, BK …
kmart says a lot of false things. He’s the trump of this forum.
Wow, those would be fighting words — IF they were coming from a body with a valid informed opinion about anything at all.
I still love you kmart. You’re a good egg.
And you’re cracked. Too much caffeine lately? Cuz you’re hopping all over this board like a mexican jumping bean.
My dad is recovering from triple heart bypass surgery. I’m happy he made it through.
Best wishes to your dad and your family for his recovery!
Yes. I am quite hopeful for his involvement. The writing in Discovery has so far been mostly dumb and cliché and I am hoping he has what it takes to elevate the Kurtzman era beyond that and make it worthy of what Trek can be at its best and has been at its best in the past.
I don’t entirely agree with your assessment of the writing on DSC, which I would describe as very muddled but also far more intelligent than that of the Abrams films, and at least fitfully more interesting in terms of character than most of what we got in VOY or ENT. (Ironically, the episode that would get my vote for the dumbest, “Magic to Make the Sane go Mad,” also turned out to be the most popular.) But I do hope that Chabon’s involvement (and the staff changes on the DSC side) bode well for better things to come.
More intelligent than JJ Trek isn’t exactly a high bar…
I get that! :-)
If you are not excited about this Trek show you are not a Star Trek fan!!
Not really. Just somebody who is excited. And I love that buzz.
Ahhh, another arbiter of who is ans isn’t a fan…
Don’t much care for that myself, but in this case I don’t think it was meant to be taken very seriously.
Excited about what? All we know is Stewart will be in it and this bloke writing. Reserve your judgement will we know a *LOT* more
Why? If he’s not the arbiter of who is a fan, you’re surely not in a position to tell people when they should get excited.
There is very real potential here for this to be a dud. A very bureaucratic Federation in Picards time was taken to task by the Dominion and Borg, so what happens if Starfleet
Cruise Ships aren’t up to the task of defending the Federation anymore? Do the creative team ignore All Good Things, or not? Does this show embrace AI, which would probably put Picard out of a job? How do fans react if it’s not a reunion show? If it portrays Picard as anything other then someone giving inspired speeches and lectures from the bridge of a starship?
Been watching Trek since the mid 70’s, and having seen other misfires, have learned to temper enthusiasm a bit….
In other words, getting excited at this stage is an invitation to disappointment. I understand where you’re coming from–but hey, life is short. Nothing wrong with getting a little thrill from Stewart’s return or Chabon’s participation, so long as you keep those things in perspective–a whole ton of other things will also have to go right for the show to succeed–and can fairly evaluate the final product when the time comes to do so.
This is the most excited I been about a Trek production since Enterprise ended. But yes it can still turn out bad, but I am optimistic it will be decent at least. If it turns out better than DIS for me, that’s an automatically win.
But yes like anything it can still fail. But I have a feeling they are seeing what people didn’t like about DIS early on and trying to avoid those errors at least.
Star Trek Generations (the very next story in TNG) ignored ‘All Good Things’ the moment they destroyed the Enterprise-D, contradicting its events. Nemesis compounded that even more by killing off Data. So I think it’s fairly likely they will.
When it comes to Star Trek, you need the best of the best production crew and writers. Whoever it was that hired Michael Chabon should get a medal for understanding what this franchise needs. Of course Patrick Stewart can act out anything, but to have a writer of Cabon’s magnitude suggests that the studio is taking this project very seriously. Beyer’s alone brings a battery of creativity and knowledge to the franchise I haven’t seen since Piller was at the helm.
The big question for me remains: Can they pull off multiple series running consecutively like Berman did in the 90’s?
“Can they pull off multiple series running consecutively like Berman did in the 90’s?”
Good question. And I think they can and maybe BETTER than what they did in the 90s because these shows will be under the same handlers, CBS AA.
Even though Star Trek produced a lot of shows under Berman there are two main differences with this situation: A. No one at the time PLANNED to make so many shows, it just happened to be circumstance. TNG was going off the air, so DS9 replaced it. But then Paramount wanted their own network and of course thought of Star Trek so Voyager showed up two years later. And then Enterprise replaced that one. But there wasn’t some grand ‘vision’ for it.
B. As I said, it will be all be on one network. People thought TNG and DS9 were better products than Voyager and Enterprise and there were a lot of reasons for that. But the main one being that TNG and DS9 only had one boss to deal with, Paramount. Voyager and Enterprise had two, Paramount the studio and UPN the network. Thats partly why DS9 and Voyager felt so different from each other. Paramount gave DS9 more room to be what it was. Voyager had stricter handlers. SO I have faith we can get a Netflix style of Trek shows with one single vision. That would be AMAZING!
Not so sure you’re historically correct about all this—still, a fascinating take, thanks.
Well I just mean the old shows weren’t planned in advance the way the new shows are. DS9, Voyager and Enterprise weren’t being developed together like the Picard show and whatever else they are working on now (like the rumored Starfleet Academy or, ugh, Khan show). Those earlier shows were created in isolation because there was never any big plans to make Star Trek a wider universe like AA is doing. In fact I’m pretty sure if UPN never came around DS9 probably would’ve just stayed on air alone and then air Voyager (or something else entirely) after that. We may have gotten a steady stream of Star Trek but probably not multiple shows airing at once.
What AA is doing is much more ambitious and developed. Obviously we only know about the Picard currently but my guess is another show will be announced soon. MAYBE even at the next comic con. Or they may wait until the Picard show premieres. But anything is possible now that CBS has made it clear a lot of Trek shows are coming and it could be 3-4 on in the same year if they go big enough.
“Can they pull off multiple series running consecutively like Berman did in the 90’s?”
I think the secret to that will be refreshing the creative people behind the camera from time to time. I firmly believe that Berman Trek might still have been around today if Berman has been bolder in shaking things up the more years went by. Sadly I think having mostly the same people for 18 years meant creative burnout and repetition. As great as may of them were, such as Herman Zimmerman, Rick Sternbach, the Okudas, Dan Curry, Mike Westmore, the usual composers and so on, there comes a point where their work either needs augmenting with some new talent or they need to move on for someone new just so the tone of the show refreshes.
Thats actually a great point!
I think this happens in pretty much every franchise though, because people get comfortable or they know they can depend on them and they been there so long they know the inside and out of the franchise.
For example look at Law and Order.
Dick Wolf created that thing in 1990 and he’s STILL running it lol. And what’s crazy is pretty much a lot of the same writers, directors, producers etc have been there for decades as well. Since no one obsesses over Law and Order like we geeks do over Star Trek, there is probably not a single writer or director people can name off those shows. But yeah many have been there from the beginning and still there nearly 30 years later. And that franchise has burned out as well but it’s still going crazy enough.
But I agree I think Trek would’ve went longer if he switched people up sooner. At the very least Enterprise would’ve gone 7 years like the others. MAYBE another show after that, but who knows? But I think if Manny Coto was in charge with Enterprise from day one, that show would’ve went 7 seasons easily! I still wish he could work on one of the newer Trek shows.
“But I think if Manny Coto was in charge with Enterprise from day one, that show would’ve went 7 seasons easily! I still wish he could work on one of the newer Trek shows.”
This is certainly hindsight but I SO wish he was brought in to STD instead of Berg & Co to right the ship. Worse case scenario is I feel his failure would not have been NEARLY as spectacular as what we got. best case scenario we would have gotten an AWESOME prequel show.
Yeah I wish a lot of Berman era writers came aboard DIS in general. Obviously we did get a few, including Bryan Fuller who created the whole thing. His first job with Star Trek was with Voyager that some people think is the worst Trek series to date.
Yes some of his decisions on DIS itself ended up being very questionable but I still wish he stuck around first season. I have a feeling the stories would’ve been a lot tighter and less crazy character twists like Voq and Lorca.
And another reason why I have more faith for season two. I know many people look at Alex Kurtzman as the devil as some do Berman but I trust him more than I trusted the former show runners who I don’t think really understood Star Trek and why the show felt closer to BSG than it did Star Trek.
I totally agree with you there. Hopefully if we are going to be getting different Star Trek shows throughout the year, then each show needs to be fresh and different.
Can they NOT try to pull off running multiple shows consecutively in the way that Berman did in the ’90s? If anything, Berman Trek should be a textbook example of how not to accomplish that.
Oh, thank GOD this has Rick Berman’s blessing … 🙄
I will never understand the Rick Berman hate? Yes they weren’t all winners but WHO has a record of producing so much and being all winners? TNG probably would’ve been cancelled in season 3 and we wouldn’t have gotten DS9 without him.
Every time Roddenberry had full control of his own franchise we got TMP and the first two seasons of TNG which nearly doomed the series. The last season of TOS was AWFUL as well. And yet people still treat that guy like a God and he didn’t do a quarter of what Berman did. I will never understand it.
And I still love Roddenberry as I do Berman. But you’re also talking to a guy that had no issue with Abram’s direction of Trek films and generally OK with Kurtzman taking over too. Because I recognize all these people are human. They do their best but it’s not going to always work out with everyone. That’s life.
I wish someone would remind the Star Wars fans of that too!
It is astounding to me that fans will gush over Next Generation or Deep Space Nine, and yet, give Rick zero credit, or even act as if these shows were done in spite of him. Rick is credited as a co-creator of Deep Space Nine, and that isn’t honorific, he was very involved in the creation of that show. There would be no Deep Space Nine without Rick.
Exactly! DS9 is my favorite show! I LOVED Berman trusted the fans and the franchise that Star Trek can be more than a bunch of people traveling together on a sleek star ship and went a different way. Sadly we haven’t gotten anything CLOSE to something that unique since. But it was actually DS9 that turned me into the fanatic I still am.
And of course when you mention DS9 people say, “Well it was it Ira Stephen Behr that made that show great.” Yes but it was RICK BERMAN who gave that guy the job and trusted him to DO the job. That’s his job as an overseer. And the fact he gave Behr the freedom do what he wanted spoke of the fact Berman didn’t micromanage everything. He even said he didn’t like the idea of the Dominion story arc. He felt it went too far away from Roddenberry’s vision. But he trusted Behr and was persuaded it should be done.
Same thing with Enterprise. That show definitely wasn’t great at the beginning but he recognized it and made a course correction by putting Manny Coto in charge that could give the show what fans wanted. A lesser man would’ve kept doubling down on his direction.
Its just amazing how he’s treated like some pariah who hated Trek and the fanbase. You can certainly hate things you didn’t like but give him the credit where it’s due!
Behr wasn’t even the showrunner of DS9 at first. It was Michael Piller for the first few years. Behr contribution is great but people act like he was DS9’s creator and it’s just plain false.
Well I’m talking about third season which is when most people thought the show improved and when the Dominion started. IIRC Piller was there until ’95 right? This was a loooong time ago now so I can’t remember it all lol.
But of course Piller gets credit. He and Berman shaped that universe and those characters. But his DS9 was very different from Behr’s and that’s the one most people talk about today since he created the bigger changes after Pillar left.
He did double down. It was only once self interest was taken out of the equation and he knew cancellation was coming no matter what after season 4 that he thought, ‘what the hell, let’s try to give the fans what they want’ and Coto came on board.
He clearly backed the wrong horse with Braga and whatever that shill was feeding him made him think he could even start writing episodes as well.
Manny Coto actually had a lot of input in third season as well. Clearly Berman liked his contributions in that season which convinced him he would be right to guide the show in the fourth season.
But actually I will say you’re mostly right and I realize I’m the one wrong on this one. I realize now it wasn’t Berman and Braga’s decisions themselves to step down in fourth season of the show but was forced down since reaction to the show got worse. At least according to this:
“At the end of the third season of Enterprise, Paramount Television and UPN indicated its cancellation and the apparent end of Rick Berman’s tenure as the overseer of Star Trek productions. Whether or not influenced by the vocal criticism and though retaining their official credit, franchise management indeed virtually relegated Berman and Braga to the role of figurehead (admitted as such by Braga in 2007),  and their places were de facto filled for the last season by Coto.”
They obviously believed in Coto to be the one to replace them but yes maybe if they weren’t forced out of the job he wouldn’t have had the influence he did.
Also agree Enterprise was definitely a mistake by Berman by giving Braga so much influence in an era he didn’t care much about either. Someone like Coto should’ve been there day one IMO. But I had no issue with Berman’s writing in general.
For the record I’m not getting on Curious Cadet case. If you honestly thought what he did mostly sucked, thats fine. But every time this man’s name even comes up I can just feel the vitriol coming and that’s truly a shame IMO. Especially when Star Trek is such a big franchise due to his involvement.
But he probably doesn’t get half the venom George Lucas got and that guy created Star Wars so everything is relative I guess.
Even the Lucas hate never made sense. It’s as if they forget the original Star Wars Trilogy.
Personally I think we may have more of Joseph Campbell to thank for the original Star Wars trilogy than we do of George Lucas (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell#Film_and_television). It seems that when Lucas was writing Star Wars without Campbell’s influence via his books, well, we know how that went with episodes 1-3.
I still hold with the idea that DS9 actually WAS done in spite of Berman.
His creative calls, as documented in CFQ, were almost entirely to that era’s detriment IMO. Just making the trains run on time is by no means good enough when it comes to TREK, and it shouldn’t ever be good enough, frankly. And when getting the trains to run on time also means no good dramatic underscore, it actually isn’t even worth the rail being laid beneath the locomotive, and that is ALL on Berman, to cite just one huge honking artistic miscue. Try tracking TIN MAN over other TNGs and see how much better the shows might have played if you weren’t stuck with his usual straightjacket restrictions, as enforced by Lauritson.
I probably put a lot more stock in the views of Melinda Snodgrass than I do most others who have weighed in with interviews about Berman and the early TNG seasons, and I realize that puts me against Piller as well, which makes me feel conflicted, because Piller did mucho good. But I think in alienating Snodgrass, he mad an error that weighs somewhat against all the good of hiring Moore and others who entered through the spec script program.
But regardless, if Berman didn’t want it to go that direction, he could’ve put his foot down. I mean we ALL heard of the stories of what Roddenberry did when he didn’t like something, even to the point of rewriting scripts behind people’s backs.
I’m not saying the man was perfect but he ran that franchise for almost 2 decades. Think of all the writers, producers, directors and actors who stayed through most of that time. Most stayed because they obviously felt they were being listened to. There was more staff overturn the first two seasons of TNG then there was ten years under Berman. Actors who QUIT TNG like Denise Crosby and Gates McFadden came back once he took over.
But yes I don’t pretend to know all the stories. I do know Terry Ferrell and Garret Want had issues with him. I have no idea who Melinda Snodgrass is. But I do know to this day I still watch an episode of TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT every so often. But I never had a problem with the general direction of the shows outside of Enterprise frankly. That was the only that I felt was a mistake. But even now I’ve grown to really like it and see it as an equal to all the others.
Snodgrass’ first TV sale was Trek’s only WGA nominated script that I know of, THE MEASURE OF A MAN. She had an awesome concept for THE HIGH GROUND that could have been a definitive ‘Picard challenged’ show is something Piller utterly quashed, which seems like one of the worst creative calls of his tenure that I’ve ever read about.
Her comments in the Ellison book about CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER along the lines of ‘beware men concerned with their place in history’ are hereby commended to your attention.
Oh OK thanks! Yes Measure of a Man was excellent. It’s still a great episode today! Piller wasn’t perfect either of course.
And I don’t envy women writers, ESPECIALLY in sci fi. It’s pretty sad how so many been treated or couldn’t even get hired for just being a woman. I heard that’s why people like D.C. Fontana and J.K. Rowling used initials in their work because publishers and studios told them men would be less inclined to read genre stories from women.
In all fairness, would you say that reading Norman Spinrad’s impressions of working with Gene L. Coon would be a fair way of assessing Coon’s overall abilities and contributions to Trek?
No, but there are a lot of specific question marks about Coon, such as whether he inadvertently pinched from George Clayton Johnson and/or Phil Farmer for THE DEVIL IN THE DARK.
And Spinrad wasn’t on staff either, so he wasn’t present for a lot of day-in/day-out experience of the production situation, whereas Snodgrass was on-staff for a full year, possibly slightly longer. And that period of time bridges Hurley and Piller.
Well, Ellison’s script was nominated, but I suppose the fact that he won tends to obscure that o’er the years?
Of course you know that the Ellison script which won the WGA award wasn’t the one that aired, which also muddles things.
Perhaps it unmuddles things somewhat to note that Snodgrass’ own personal copy of the episode is 20 minutes longer than what aired?:
Hmm, interesting. Didn’t the remastered TNG box set feature a recut longer version of the episode? I thought I remembered reading that somewhere. . .
Re: Measure of a Man on in the TNG S2 BD set
It does yes, thanks to Snodgrass. It’s an optional version you can select with the lower quality scenes from film trims and her VHS tape mixed in.
I referred to the Ellison book regarding Snodgrass. Not sure what your point is about him winning?
You said, “Snodgrass’ first TV sale was Trek’s only WGA nominated script that I know of…”
I was gently reminding you that you know of Harlan’s Trek script for THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER actually winning a WGA Award which, of course, means it was that other nominated Trek script.
Oh, gee, I totally missed on that! What a complete disconnect. Wonder why I thought she was the only one who ever got a WGA nom? Maybe I was just thinking TNG era, but whatever the reason, I apologize for screwing up on that.
“I still hold with the idea that DS9 actually WAS done in spite of Berman.”
I agree 100%
I had the privilege of attending Piller’s funeral. For my money, he’s at least as responsible for the fact that we’re all commenting on a Trek site all these years later as anyone else involved with the franchise. And I frankly don’t give much of a fig what Melinda Snodgrass has to say on the subject.
As someone who generally followed the behind the scenes stuff, I’m confused by the Snodgrass stuff. I don’t frankly remember any issue with her. Must’ve passed me by.
As for Piller, I didn’t always care for his direction, but his work on Trek is not to be undervalued.
You could look at the season 3 CFQ issue to get Snodgrass remarks too (Berman dismisses them as being sour grapes from someone who wasn’t invited back, which I don’t think is exactly the case.) But then again, look at how they alienated Torme the year before after he delivered a Peabody episode, I guess they didn’t care about the WGA that MEASURE earned, except to exploit it for publicity w/o mentioning the author wasn’t on staff anymore.
From what I recall of the CFQ issue, it was Snodgrass who chose to leave. A shame, as “Measure” was TNG’s first–and, until well into its third year, only–truly great episode. I don’t think all that highly of “The Big Goodbye,” Peabody or no.
Me neither, to be honest, but they did treat Torme badly in s2.
No I agree about Pillar obviously. He basically had just as much to do with creating modern day Trek as Berman since he was the show runner for TNG from season 3 on and helped create both DS9 and Voyager. Unlike Berman obviously he decided he had done enough of Trek and left when Voyager was still on. Of course he came back to do Insurrection but that was definitely a mixed bag.
But I think he and Berman made a great team although I don’t know how different things would be if he stayed on to the end but I’m guessing Enterprise would’ve been better from the jump. My opinion of course.
Rick stayed away from DS9 and let others run it — I will give him credit for making that great management decision. He was much more involved in Voyager and Enterprise, two shows which pretty much stunk up the franchise.
And regarding Enterprise, don’t believe the “Manny Coto improved Enterprise” urban legend nonsense, as we have the ratings data to show that more and more Trek fans kept dropping the show during the two years Coto was involved — a consistent downward trend with no stabilization of the ratings whatsoever like one would obviously expect from a series that was supposedly vastly improving.
Berman righted the ship on TNG and stayed away from DS9 — those are his two best accomplishments for the Trek franchise.
However, the “latter Berman era,” in which we got Voyager, Enterprise, Insurrection and Nemesis, was largely a failure, and nearly ended the Trek franchise for good.
So it’s a mixed bag — good early on, and later on an unmitigated disaster.
Coto DID improve the show. He improved the stories. But the people who had left the viewership just weren’t coming back. Enterprise though still enjoyed ratings better than most shows on today right up until the end. Had it been on today I have little doubt it would have made it to the end of its run because these days they’d kill for those level of ratings.
I also think that had Coto been involved with Enterprise from the beginning or there was a year or two break between shows that Enterprise for sure would have gone 7 seasons.
For my money, the final season of ENT is quite overrated. Just a lot of fan service, IMHO, and not particularly well done.
There was indeed some fan service. But one must admit it was much better than the first two seasons on its own merit.
I get the fan service complaint, but it made sense. One of the big complaints about the show was that it was meant to be a prequel but wasn’t really connecting with what was meant to follow it. Season Four provided a lot more connective tissue, and I liked the fact that it was serialised but on a limited based (two to three episodes at a time). I thought that was just right to tell some interesting stories but still leave room for variety. For me it was the best Trek had been since DS9 ended.
Yeah there probably was a bit too much fan service in season four and I agree with others who think he went too far with the Klingon virus story to explain the differences in their looks. That kind of proved they were trying to appease fans a bit too much lol.
But they were probably over compensating for the fact so many complained the show didn’t feel like it was connecting to TOS enough (sound familiar lol). And honestly I TRULY loved a lot of those stories. I still love the Augment and Vulcan story arcs in that season the most. The MU two parter is probably still my favorite MU episodes out of all the shows.
And of course now it looks like Discovery is going the same direction in season 2 making it more TOS related and even bringing in Section 31 which Enterprise did in it’s fourth season. Of course DIS has the advantage to bringing in actual TOS characters which ENT didn’t. But my guess is they are going to fanboy it up in a way ENT never could lol.
Maybe, but it all just felt very forced to me, a desperation move on the part of the producers in response to the justified criticism about that lack of connective tissue between ENT and TOS, not to mention the ever-declining ratings. I also had grave reservations about how some of that fan service was executed. The Vulcan arc was potentially interesting, but I wound up finding the notion of Vulcan civilization needing a human savior in the form of a Starship Captain to be pretty offensive.
Obviously, it’s all a matter of taste. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
It’s been a while but I don’t think he was saving the “civilization” per se — just an obscure Vulcan religion as I recall it being presented. Which, as we know from TOS, later became all the rage and Surak revering was born?
@ Michael Hall
I agree. The whole “Enterprise Coto Improvement thing” is just a wishful thinking rewrite of history.
Truth is, none of the seasons were very good.
Quoted for truth, seriously.
to elaborate, I actually tried watching several later ENT eps this year, and it was nearly all bad, except for parts of something with Peter Weller. Fist time since it went off the air I think, and all below my minimal expectations.
Cool that we agree on something for a change!
Yeah, though statistically I guess it is inevitable, unless we’re in the Senate or Congress. Bipartisanship!
Yeah, some parts of the Weller arc were pretty cool. I especially loved that it was set on Mars, a first for Trek. And Weller is just about always good, even when the material isn’t.
Weller is the reason STID wasn’t a total disaster. I really loved his character as Admiral Marcus. The focus of that film should’ve been his character instead of turning it into the Khan show in the end.
Agreed, definitely. Khan was a disaster.
Fact — during Coto’s involvement for those two seasons, their was a consistent episode to episode ratings drop across those two seasons…fans were watching the supposedly improving Coto episodes, but still bailing out week after week with a constant downward trend. There was NEVER any ratings stabilization effect such as we saw when Jeri Ryan was brought on to save Voyager with those silly sexy spandex outfits — the ratings continued to drop every week during the Coto years of Enterprise — FACT!
So the “Coto improved Enterprise” thing is just an urban legend…it just never happened, no matter how much you and others here want to make it so.
Again, I never claimed he improved the ratings. He didn’t. I claimed, as others have, that he improved the quality. He did, and you can’t argue with me on that because it’s subjective.
You saying it’s subjective kind of proves my point actually, because with the population of fans still watching the show in those last two seasons, I can chalk you in with the group who was still watching it at the end…and so what? Like, great for you that you are the small subset of fans who appreciate it, because obviously a much broader group did not. :-)
I’m not sure that subset could possibly be as small as you think there’s evidence to suggest. Clearly CBS must be in possession of numbers to the contrary, else there’s no explanation for their going to the expense of churning out blu-ray box set upgrades after what surely would have been disastrous ENTERPRISE DVD box sets sales if their subset were truly small?
At $75 a pop, even an initial run of say 10,000 Blu-Rays/DVD’s will make some decent change (plus long-term sales for years with additional minor production runs), so I don’t think you have much of a point since even a small niche market could support disc sales…and especially given my example as well as someone who does not like the show, but when I saw the entire series blu-ray set in a Best Buy bin for $30, I picked it up to have it in my Trek disc collection, simply because I want to have everything on Trek in my blu-ray collection.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that ENT suddenly improved under Coto either. I can’t get on the whole “Manny Coto saved Berman Trek, why can’t all ST have the sameness of Berman Trek” bandwagon. I don’t believe you can simply fix a Berman Trek show by addressing what fans assume was the problem with it, bringing in more TOS elements, desperately retconning any ideas that weren’t working out and slathering on layer after layer of fanservice. I can’t say they made the show any worse at all, but they didn’t make it better either.
EXACTLY! You get it!
Because dude, people can actually have a different opinion from you lol. This is just ridiculous. You didn’t like it, fine, but others DID. It’s not exactly surprising others could, right? I thought Enterprise sucked first season, but I ended up loving it in its last season. So yes, for *me* it worked. Not for you obviously, not for a lot of people. But this strange notion that the show just didn’t get better for anyone is just odd stubbornness at its core. ALL Trek shows has improved, ESPECIALLY with time. Enterprise seems to be liked a lot more now than when it was on.
Now you can still personally disagree with that but that does seem to be the consensus normally. It’s the SOLE reason why I have faith I will eventually love Discovery. But for me, it’s about as on par where Enterprise first season was. Better in some ways for sure, but still worse in others. None of it is ever going to be a true consensus because we’re all different.
But OK those elements didn’t make it better for *you*, fine. For others like *me*, they did. And why I like Enterprise more than I like Discovery now, but that can easily change as DIS goes on of course.
And some of us liked those ‘Berman shows’ hence why they lasted for 25 seasons lol. Not everyone thinks like you do.
You know, the ratings data may show a downward spiral but that was because people had already left the show before Coto joined to showrun it. So while he may not have improved the ratings, I think he did improve the quality of the show. Unfortunately people were gone by then and it is always difficult to get people back once they are gone, even if you do the absolute best show in the world.
You are missing the point. The ratings continued to drop during Coto’s two seasons — for the fans were watching the Coto shows, which you claim were improving in quality, less and less fans watched each succeeding episode across Cot’s two years (a continual downward trend if you graph it out) — they were not liking what they were seeing, obviously, or we would have seen a ratings stabilization at least.
Yeah, but the rating were dropping before that too, so while Coto did improve the show a little creatively, he still failed to manage a uptick in ratings. You have to look at the issue separate from the ratings or are you one of those guys who think Box Office data and empirical data is everything that makes something a quality product? Something popular is not always something good, in fact most of the time it is not good.
But obviously he didn’t improve the show enough, or even create a workable gimmick like Jerry Ryan in spandex, to stabilize the ratings.
If on a show that the ratings has been going down for several years on, you end up with the people left watching are the hardcore fan types who want to like the show. So then, if all of a sudden you have a new approach where the show dramatically improves in quality, one would expect to see a ratings stabilization or a least a slight improvement in the downward graph of the ratings decline to improve somewhat. But in looking at the data, the same rated of ratings decline (I have the graph) continued in seasons 3 and 4, illustrating that those remaining hardcore fans were still dropping show at the same rate that the less serious fans had been bailing from the show in Years 1 and 2.
Bringing Coto in had ZERO IMPACT in the success of the show — whatever slight improvement their might have been in quality was not being noticed by the hardcore fans still watching it, so I naturally question if there was much of an improvement at all in quality. You saying it’s subjective kind of proves my point actually, because with the population of fans still watching the show in those last two seasons, I can chalk you in with the group who was still watching it at the end…and so what? Like, great for you that you are the small subset of fans who appreciate it!
@alphatrion — another aspect of the ratings from this period is that they present an incomplete picture. This was a period when viewers were moving to time shifted viewings as TIVO was coming onto the scene. Networks argued for inclusion of that data in the ratings numbers for years before they were finally given live plus 3 & 7 interpolation of time shift viewings. I’ve read a number of articles which make good arguments for the public ratings being under represented from many cancelled shows at the time due to this phenomenon. Add to that The WB and UPN were both on life support in the face of a thriving cable market drawing away viewers from live broadcasts, driving this time shift behavior, not to mention a demographic shift in audience behaviors combined with a switch to a different night. In the end, it wasn’t the ratings that cancelled Trek anyway, but the split of Viacom and Paramount, and the merger of the CW and UPN. The cancellation of ENT rid CBS of Berman’s bloated and inflexible production entity, and controlling monopoly of a key franchise.
To be fair to Gene, he wasn’t that involved in TOS season three, and anyone who thinks TMP is bad Trek I think misses the point of it. I think it’s what TRek is truly all about. But it was too smart for the audience and lacked warmth.
It’s not that TMP is ‘bad’ per se, it’s more how he ran that film that went waaay over budget and that he wouldn’t compromise on a lot of his ideas. A lot of those things that probably would’ve made a ‘warmer’ film as you said.
He sounded like George Lucas, it’s his ‘vision’ or else. And we saw where that got Lucas too.
But the fact that they kicked him off his own franchise after one film really says it all lol. And TMP made money too. But I think they knew Roddenberry was just too difficult to deal with and I heard they had problems with his other ideas for sequels. I read somewhere (probably here lol) not that long ago he wanted a movie where Kirk fought Jesus? I can’t remember if that was suppose to be for TMP or another movie. Don’t know how true it is, but if it’s anything close to reality, it’s surprising they gave him another Trek show.
Agreed. TMP wasn’t a “bad” movie. It was very much in the vein of Star Trek. But as a feature film, it was kinda lacking. For a big screen you really need more than something THAT deep. It made for a good TV episode and it was ripped right from Phase II.
And yes, the film did make money but that was due to it being Star Trek on the big screen more than anything else. The overall reaction was disappointment critically. Paramount was willing to take a chance on a sequel but did not want Roddenberry involved as he proved to be a pain in the rear. They went to Harv Bennett who was accustomed to working with shoestring TV budgets to ensure the sequel would remain affordable. And the result was Wrath of Khan. What many feel is the best film of the franchise. And Roddenberry had NOTHING to do with it.
Yeah it proves over and over again that Roddenberry was probably his own worst enemy at times. I will say he probably did more good than bad for the franchise but that’s mostly because he was taken off things over and over again.
What’s funny is people are saying Berman ran Trek into the ground, which I agree but that took a long time to really happen. And even he wanted it to take a break after Voyager.
Roddenberry would’ve nose dived it by the fourth or fifth year left to his own devices and the film after TMP probably would’ve out right bombed. I highly doubt Star Trek would be as big as it is today because it probably would’ve crashed somewhere in the 80s. And if the Harve Bennet movies weren’t so successful I doubt they would’ve made another show.
But it’s telling Star Trek has mostly lived long and prospered by so many other people. Most of what people love about Star Trek today Roddenberry had little to no input in.
*L* Yeah, he only created the concept and all the major characters, not to mention produced on his own the first third of the best season Trek has ever had. I don’t think the word “little” means wh t you think it means.
I don’t understand it either. Sure, it’s not all golden, but he oversaw some of the best ‘Trek years in history.
@werwe — well, at a minimum I think we can agree he oversaw the most Trek years in history. I can’t speak for others, but I’m not trying to take anything away from Berman’s accomplishments. There were definitely some highlights over those years. My comment in particular was directed at the fact that I really couldn’t care less what he thinks about the new series and films that are deviating from his creative vision. The franchise grew stale, and stopped taking risks under his watch — which is my chief beef with him. I get the sense (some of which is based on insider info directly from the participants), that these guys were resting on their laurels and enjoying themselves personally at the expense of the product. I’d have a lot more respect for Berman now if he’d failed while taking chances, but instead he failed by playing it safe and choking the franchise with fan service and routine. So no, his opinion one way or the other has no bearing on anything the franchise is currently doing.
“Every time Roddenberry had full control of his own franchise we got TMP and the first two seasons of TNG which nearly doomed the series.”
And I’m in the camp that TOS didn’t really start to gel until Gene Coon really took over the day to day operation of the show. I appreciate Roddenberry for creating the thing to begin with but apart from that, I don’t think he really deserves much praise at all. It has always been others who made his concept work. For TOS it was Coon. For TNG it was Berman. For the features it was Bennett.
TOS didn’t “start to gel” until its fourteenth episode? Okay, sure, whatever.
Character-wise, I think he has a point. There were good early stories, and some of them taught us stuff about the characters, but the family feel, for good or bad, didn’t really settle in till Coon started shaping the material.
Oh, I agree. (Though if you look closely at those first pre-Coon shows you’d have to agree that he didn’t so much invent the McCoy/Spock dynamic as refine it). No question that the “Enterprise family” feeling blossomed under Coon’s tenure, and that’s much to his credit. Still, if that were your sole criteria for judging TOS you’d have to think that it peaked in its second year. Well, many fans may feel that way, but I don’t, and I suspect you don’t either.
I noticed sometime during the 1980s (perhaps when VHS tapes were available) that I seemed to be rewatching mostly season 2 shows. Then I found an old list that went back to jr high, probably 1974 or so, and I was amazed to see how many S2 shows were way up high on it.
What was really weird is that I actually had tried to rank all the episodes, which seems crazy to me now. I still remember that DOOMSDAY MACHINE was #1 and OBSESSION was #3, and for some reason RETURN OF THE ARCHONS was in the top 10. Also, that while FRIDAY’S CHILD and AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD came in near the bottom, — now get this! — SPACE SEED was actually ranked last (I remember being very disturbed by the Montalban/Rhue scene in her quarters.)
I actually happen to like the second season a great deal. There are a half-dozen or so shows that rank among the very best TOS produced, and the “Enterprise crew as family” concept cemented itself in that year, which I’m guessing may have been as big a factor in Trek’s longevity as the groundbreaking quality of the first season. But there were a fair number of mediocrities and outright clunkers that year as well; the overuse of “parallel earths” becomes a real distraction; and the first budget cuts resulted in no new miniatures (aside from K-7 and Norman Spinrad’s “windsock dipped in cement”) or the matte shots that had worked so well in giving the series a real sense of scope. For me, though, it’s mostly a matter of tone. In its first year, Trek was real (if inconsistent) SF, in line with Roddenberry’s vision of “an anthology series with continuing characters.” In its second, it’s a very well-produced space opera. The difference can be subtle, but for me that’s arguably a lesser thing, however entertaining and worthwhile.
(You were right to be disturbed by that scene in “Space Seed,” btw, which I’ve never regarded as anything more than a middling-quality show elevated mostly by Montalban’s charisma and some sharp writing. It was horribly sexist and demeaning to the McGivers character even by the standards of 1980, let alone 2018.)
The first third of TOS’ first season was in the can before Coon came onboard. No disrespect to him intended–his contributions to the show were enormous–but those episodes are a pretty good indicator to me that Roddenberry knew what he was doing.
1st third aired of first third produced?
Coon might have missed on the first 13 episodes (which are largely great). Star Trek probably wouldn’t have had Klingons, Khan, the Spock-McCoy banter everyone knows and loves, and so on. Roddenberry was also apparently against some of the more lighthearted moments of the show, and people involved with the show at the time are convinced episodes like “Trouble With Tribbles” would never have been approved by Roddenberry. ML31 is right in that the show didn’t really “gel” until Coon arrived.
I think Roddenberry was competent when it came to early Trek, but the deification of Roddenberry since the early 80s has been pretty insulting to the rest of the people who made Trek what everyone remembers. I think he even started to believe what everyone said about him by the time TNG came around.
The attitude is still prevalent in Trek fandom, with people providing any amount of weight to the speculation of V’Ger finding the “Borg homeworld” or that parts of Star Trek VI are “apocryphal” (which parts? who knows!). I can’t imagine that if George Lucas started to speculate with off-the-cuff statements about the new movies people would continue to talk about those theories with any sincerity for decades.
*Sigh* Not really. Roddenberry was in fact somewhat “deified” in fandom as Trek’s creator early on, but that came to an end decades ago with a series of “tell-all” books and magazine articles detaling the politics of the show’s production and Roddenberry’s personal failings. Nowadays you’re far more likely to read postings like yours that virtually give Coon billing as Trek’s co-creator, which for my money is every bit as egregiously wrong as giving Roddenberry credit for everything.
Roddenberry was definitely up to the task creatively, but I’d say evidence that he wasn’t up to managing the assembly line production of the episodes properly was the fact he had to resort to his originally filmed pilot to meet 2 of his episodic commitments.
Again, his creativity is without question with this one-off (two-off?) solution but it in no way addressed the larger problem he was having in producing the individual episodes.
No question that Roddenberry on his own turned out to be no match for the unprecedented rigors of Trek’s production, which of course is why Gene Coon was brought on in the first place. And, just to be clear, there’s no doubt that Coon brought a huge amount to the table for which fans should be grateful.
That said, that “two-off solution” remains the best two hours of Trek ever produced IMO.
The most terrible what-if for TREK for me still remains, what if Freiberger had taken GR’s offer to come in early 1st season and run things? I don’t think ANY if this exists if that is the case, because I don’t think there would even have been a season 2, even if they were selling a lot of color tv sets. Thank God and Greyhoudn that FF wanted a vacation after or during WWW instead of going to work on Trek s1.
A shudder went through me just reading that possibility, which I was completely unaware of. Yikes!
(Though I don’t consider Freiberger to be a villain, for all the inept job that he did. There were a lot of factors responsible for the third season’s huge drop-off in quality: the bad blood between NBC and Gene Roddenberry; Roddenberry’s decision to step away; the exit of Fontana, Justman, and Coon; not to mention the cut budget and reduced shooting schedule. It’s the old lament: everyone was at fault, so in a sense, no one was.)
I just want to say this regarding Roddenberry’s creative ability. I honestly do not think it as good as many think. Star Trek was an amazing creation but the rest of his work is largely pedestrian to downright bad. He was good enough to get some scripts sold, which is better than most. But I view Star Trek as a happy mistake from him.
Very little changed under Rick Berman, if at all. The style of storytelling didn’t change until it was too late, the production design rarely changed. Now 18 years is a VERY long time for one person to be in charge, and too long a time for almost nothing to have changed. TNG S5 is often cited as the point where the show became the well-oiled machine that steered the rest of the franchise. I would agree with this, but not as a complimentary observation. TNG was pretty much “over” by mid-S5. Berman Trek’s signature technobabble had already set in, and Berman’s preference for elevator music had set in. (This essentially means even TNG only got a few years at the top of its game) Ron Jones, the series’ best TV composer, was actually fired during late S4 because he couldn’t deliver the kind of musical wallpaper Berman wanted. He was fired. VERY early on, Berman walked out of a closed meeting and immediately disarmed Jones, completely out of the blue, by rhetorically asking if “emotional” was the only thing in his musical range — just to blindside Jones and put him on the defensive. Jones had only scored ‘The Naked Now’ by that point. I have zero trouble believing others’ comments on here as to what happened with Melinda Snodgrass; none at all. Music wasn’t the only thing Berman didn’t like. Under his direction, every show became more visually bland than the one before it. The low-key look actually WORKED for his and Roddenberry’s TNG. But Berman believed in consistency over artistry every time. If you couldn’t stand the “look” of STD, or couldn’t accept every ST series as a *reinterpretation* of the original, than Berman was the Trek for you! There was never any worry that Starfleet’s interiors might change because -god forbid- fans might want something new. There was literally no anticipation factor for VOY’s production design; we already had a 24th century “starship show” under Berman. ENT had a more original design (inevitably), however it managed to stay tacky and bland. Even TNG’s signature special effects (notably the warp fly-bys) managed to become somehow more bland with each new installment despite never actually having changed (that’s quite an accomplishment). The JJ Abrams movies and STD have nothing to “say”? Berman Trek didn’t have anything to say either (No time to reply directly to wherever that was commented, sorry). Every sanctimonious pseudo-intellectual moral argument on either VOY or ENT was predictable in how it would lean because it had already been seen on TNG. It didn’t matter if an episode’s “plot” was technically new; Berman Trek relied on its viewers being too literal-minded to be able to separate PLOT from theme. I have no time to waste arguing with anybody who insists stories like ‘Dear Doctor’ or ‘Progenitor’ were fresh and original when they really weren’t. Needless to say, it didn’t help that VOY and ENT both recycled TNG’s episodic formula until ENT was already as good as cancelled. Even DS9 wasn’t immune to recycling too many TNG ideas. Berman’s staff figured the spin-off shows needed more action, so they tried to deliver accordingly. Problem is they got stuck with nonsense like “Shields falling to 11 percent!” and “Attack pattern Kirk Omega” because they were still copying a show (TNG) that hadn’t been intended for a lot of action in the first place. Berman’s ST only knew how to reference itself. I agree the the best thing Berman did with DS9 was to (mostly) leave it alone. He still stepped in though whenever the writers tried to get “too” ambitious. Moore’s a very insightful witness in his willingness to speak honestly about his and Behr’s experiences working on DS9 under the Berman administration. When you look at Berman’s eighteen years, everything positive was at least already begun during the first nine. DS9 was already in better hands by the fall of 1996. First Contact (which is a decent movie, but overrated) was already finishing up. Berman really has almost nothing to show for the second half of his reign. Which finally brings me back to TNG, the show that Berman is credited for stabilizing. As if we haven’t taken enough credit away from him already, how much of TNG’s course-correcting was actually attributable to Berman? How will we ever know it wasn’t Piller instead? Piller was already contributing regularly to TNG a quarter of the way into S3. And DS9 we’ve already established didn’t “really” begin to evolved until Behr was promoted. There actually exists a “possible” narrative, within Berman’s history of ST, in which he gets all of the negative credit and none of the positive — IF one were mean-spirited enough (which, permit me the temerity to assert than I’m not, even after all I’ve just… Read more »
” If you couldn’t stand the “look” of STD, or couldn’t accept every ST series as a *reinterpretation* of the original, than Berman was the Trek for you! ”
This comment I find absolutely FALSE. I personally could not stand the “look” of STD yet I found TNG to be overall sub par. That said, the “look” of the Berman era not changing much makes perfect sense to me.
LOL. Yea, there is that.
If it weren’t for Rick Berman Trek would have fizzled out in the eighties and you likely wouldn’t have gotten anything beyond a few early seasons of TNG, if that. I don’t think you’d have JJ Trek or Discovery without the Berman era.
People continually insult Berman and I don’t get it. His only crime was not freshening up the creative team, which led to staleness and repetition. But people forget that he was also responsible for the Golden Age of Trek in the 90s. As a teenager and early twenty-something during those years I can’t remember a better time to be a fan. The franchise was huge then and it’s due in no small part to Berman.
Berman also, frankly, showed that he understands the cerebral side of Trek and Roddenberry’s values a lot better than Abrams or Kurtzman have. He deserves praise, not tiresome, unjustified insults.
The thing is I give both Roddenberry and Berman major credit for what they did for the franchise.
Obviously Roddenberry gets credit for making it. But it’s really TNG I give him the REAL credit for. Because he turned Star Trek from a product to a brand. I don’t think we would have DIS today if he didn’t make TNG. In fact, I’m almost certain Star Trek would feel about as dull and one note as the new Star Wars films do today. We would’ve gotten ENDLESS TOS stories for 50 years. A Scotty Spin off. A Captain Pike show. Maybe a Starfleet prequel show with Kirk and Spock. Just SHOOT ME already!
That is what STAR WARS is now! But Roddenberry diversified the franchise. Star Trek is multifaceted. That’s what a BRAND is. It’s not one SINGULAR thing anymore.
And then Berman came along and created DS9. But he proved that Star Trek can go even deeper tackling issues it never had. And creating more grey characters in different settings. That’s why I will forever be grateful for these guys.
Today, we have ‘Star Trek’ with Abrams, Kurtzman, Orci etc. And I’m generally fine with it. The Kelvin films are fun. Discovery is OK. It’s ‘different’ but not the way TNG and DS9 felt different. It’s trying to be ‘edgy’ to compete with current sci fi shows but it still rings hollow to me. They are both flashy, look great, solid productions but that’s it. They have nothing to say IMO!
I agree with El Chup’s assessment.
I agree with El Chup as well. Although I still think we would have gotten a reboot eventually. That’s just how Hollywood works.
Agree with el chup and tiger2. If we talk today about jj trek and disco is thanks to rick berman success on the 90s.
LOL Rick Berman was terrible for Star Trek. Thank jumpin jesus it’s out of his hands now. DS9 is actually a great example of what could be done without the interference of a washed up, lazy storyteller such as him.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think DS9 was way ahead of it’s time. That show seems more relative today than it did when it first aired. Like a good wine, it get’s better with age, and DS9 is like a vintage Chateau Picard.
More relevant, even.
No, DS9 didn’t get better, just times got worse.
Sometimes you do have to remind yourself the show ended a year before 911 happened. Most people would assume it came after it. Yes, it’s more relevant today than when it started. I love to DS9 to death!
Ds9 was not half the success that was tng under rick. Deal with it.
Commercial does not equal artistic, Atheul. TNG was very vanilla mainstream, and often quite unwatchable, though not actively godawful as much as ENT and VOY.
DS9 was rewatched for the first time by me a few years ago. That viewing reinforced to me how good the show really was. It was hardly dated like TNG has become. I appreciate TNG as it made DS9 possible. I fully agree. DS9 has aged perfectly well.
Patrick Stewart for me elevates TNG above DS9. He lead that show with prowess and vigour.
Avery Brooks is different that’s for sure. He wasn’t nearly as good as Stewart for me.
Having said that, DS9 is a very good tv series and good for those who find it their best of Star Trek.
@DataMat — Avery Brooks is a terrible actor as far as I’m concerned. He makes that show almost unwatchable for me. Everyone else on that series is golden, and when the episodes focus on the supporting characters it works well for me.
Which is perhaps why I’d prefer a DS9 revival over a TNG one.
Berman’s greatest achievement was taking a hands off approach to DS9 and letting ISB, RM, RE, RHW run the show, especially after the first two seasons. It’s why the show turned out to be so great.
His greatest mistake was pushing Braga to be the next leader of the franchise in terms of being a show runner. That decision ended both of their careers in terms of the Trek franchise, apart from retrospective interviews on TNG.
Why do you feel Star Trek needed to keep going on and on. It was going to have a break at some point, whether it be in 2001, 2005 or in 2010… these things go in cycles. Star Trek is not a soap opera that goes on for 60 years non stop; Thank god!
Star Trek took a break in 1969, and then came back in 1979. Star Trek really was more or less in constant live action production from 1979 until 2005! That’s 26 Years. And just one year later JJ Abrams was called in to direct the Star Trek film.
So Berman has little to be ashamed of except for Maybe his unwillingness to run away/Step Back after Voyager.
Rick Berman was part of Trek’s problem, turning the franchise into a sausage factory, cranking out batch after batch of plodding, dull repetitive, unimaginative sameness. His “stamp of approval” , thank goodness, is only symbolic and the man is not involved creatively.
So.. the guy that made tng the biggesr success in star trek history, “was part of the treks problem”????? Lol.. is this the mirror universe or something?
Read the thread, why don’t ya?
As the latter years of his reign proved, Berman couldn’t produce decent Star Trek by himself if his life depended on it. However, surrounded by people of reasonable talents (TNG, DS9, pre S5 Voyager) he seemed switched on enough to be able to recognise that, and mostly let them do what they wanted to. I’d therefore see his Chabon endorsement in the same light.
It sorta feels like Berman is subscribing to the concept of “if you can’t say anything good don’t say it at all”. Hence his silence on STD but approval of Chabon.
What makes you think that Berman wouldn’t have anything good to say about Discovery? It is a top-notch production, even if you personally may not like the stories they’ve told. Berman oversaw all of the TNG era productions so it makes perfect sense that he would be more emotionally invested in a show returning to that era than a show set more or less during TOS. It’s also possible that he’s a fan of Chabon’s.
Because the writing is terrible and Berman, as Gene’s hand picked successor, has a better clue about what Trek should, even if he didn’t always get it right, than anything I have seen from Kurtzman so far. Berman’s said nothing so far about Discovery, but now endorses a writer with a proven track record of intelligent work? It’s not hard to work out what his thoughts are…
It’s pure speculation. But there has been no reporting on this site about Berman’s reaction to STD but now we have a tweet on his approval of Chabon. So I just drew a logical conclusion. It could be very very wrong of course. But I don’t think the logic is invalid.
Not being funny, but why do you feel Berman needs to comment on Discovery? What makes you think Berman dislikes or hates Discovery?
It’s more likely he simply is just not that interested in it. He’s an old man, his Star Trek is TOS and TNG. TNG IS his baby, that’s the show he feels rightly proud of so obviously feels a certain fatherly feeling with TNG.
And as things stand, TNG is far superior to Discovery in terms of heart and how good the characters.
Discovery SO FAR, and we have only had 16 episodes, has been a bit underwhelming and confused. The characters haven’t really gelled as an ensemble yet, which isn’t surprising at this point, and TNG took a good 30 episodes to really ‘get good’.
Does anybody know why Alex kurtzman was hired by CBS? I’m just curious if it had anything to do with working for Paramount and Bad Robot. Was it a contract clause to hire somebody from the movie side of things or did CBS really think they were hiring the best person for the job?
I don’t think it had anything to do with any contract issues. Kurtzman has already had a long and successful history with CBS with producing shows like Hawaii 5-0 to Scorpion. And since he had already worked on the films he clearly proved he knew enough about Star Trek in general. So put them both together and why not?
Best person for the job is obviously always subjective but they probably felt he was the right fit in terms of knowing what their audience would watch.
I’m excited about Chabon being hired.
I couldn’t care any less about what Berman thinks. #gladhesgone
Let us hope that Chabon is treated better than Nicholas Meyer.
Unless I missed something there is no indication that Nicholas Meyer was treated badly. He was billed as a consulting producer on season 1. It is unclear what his contribution to the show was exactly. I think he once tweeted about giving notes on a script.
There has been no news from either Meyer or any of the other producers whether he is still involved in season 2. Earlier this year, I remember an interview with Meyer where he said he was working on another Trek project but that it was caught up in some legal problems between Paramount and CBS. I think people have been speculating about something Khan-related.
I have a feeling Meyer has left that show a while ago now. I don’t think he was treated badly either but it’s clear he doesn’t have any major influence on the show. He could’ve just left on his own when he realized he wasn’t going to have any direct role on developing the story or characters.
And yes it sounds like he was working on the Khan project but that sounds like he’s been off of that once they decided not to do it. But it’s still possible it may show up again.
I love that tweet from the guy who wrote batman and robin, welcoming the guy who wrote john carter.
KTLA’S Sam Rubin is reporting that the ink may be drying on Moonves’ severance package. He hasn’t confirmed it yet, but says Les may be divorced from CBS by the end of the day.
All I can say is he better not kill my boyfriend Jean-Luc Picard. So Rick Berman “claims” to have done thing right. What was so wrong with casting Nana Visitor as Captain Janeway.
I don’t get your last point? Why would Nana Visitor be cast as Janeway? That show didn’t start until a few years after DS9 did. She was already Kira.
I know this is kind of off topic, but I saw this post and it was such a great reminder why I am so happy we have the franchise we do:
That’s why for all our silly bickering about it, I’m reminded of all the NEW fans who finds it for the first time and sees it for it what it’s suppose to be and that it inspires hope!
And every show has done that to some degree! Even shows like DS9 and DIS! And why they ALL matter despite someone’s personal preferences to what show or movies they like. I give credit to everyone who has shaped the amazing franchise it is!
I would love to see more literary figures write episodes of Trek, as they do for Doctor Who. Imagine Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, Stephen King, G.R.R. Martin, and so on. And let directing auteurs run wild, too. We have an infinite sandbox – let’s play in it.
Dear Mr. Berman and Mr. Chabon,
May I please suggest in the next Star Trek Picard series that you consider including a character descended from the Hawaiians? In Voyager, Cmdr. Chakotay was descended from the Lakota tribes, and was a character who had access to the memories and spiritual experiences of his ancestors that enriched the storylines.
In the case of the Hawaiians, please research these people who are quite alive and strong in their culture today, and whose ancestors navigated the largest ocean on Earth, the Pacific, using the sun, stars and the elements to find small islands across thousands of miles, in voyaging canoes that bear an uncanny resemblance to the Enterprise. The Hawaiians possessed a pragmatic scientific understanding of the Earth and the heavens, as well as a rich cultural and spiritual belief system that is very compelling.
Please look into the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which recreated a traditional voyaging canoe and sailed to Tahiti and beyond, and whose navigator, Nainoa Thompson, used ancient navigation techniques without instruments that he had learned from one of the last Polynesian navigators.
One last thing…the Hawaiians, like the Lakota, also had elaborate tattoos, and they are quite cool.