From The Next Generation to Enterprise, BRANNON BRAGA fought to keep the Trek dream alive on TV. "We did so many they couldn't all be winners." he tells Tara Bennett
What he don’t know about Trek…
Writer and producer Brannon Braga can chart his professional career alongside the evolution of the Star Trek franchise. From an intern on Star Trek: The Next
Generation to co-writing two Trek films and then co-creating Star Trek:
Enterprise, Braga was a protector of the Roddenberry flame for 15 years and navigated the highs and lows of that experience. Talking to SFX he reflects on Trek, then and now…
Did you have any sense that Star Trek would dominate so much of your career as a writer?
If anyone would have told me on the first day of my eight-week internship that 15 years later I would be the last guy there, turning the lights off, I would not have believed them. By the time I realised I was going to be actually running a show, it was about eight years. It was like I went to college and grad school and residency.
What was it about the Trek mythology that appealed to you creatively?
It’s such a brilliant premise because you can do any kind of story you want or any kind of allegory you want. I viewed it almost like an anthology series in a way. I gravitated toward its underlying philosophy of acceptance and diversity and a world where humanity got its shit together. Some writers didn’t like that because they thought you couldn’t get conflict. I’m like, “Then go work on a different show because this is Roddenberry’s vision.” In my episodes, particularly early on, I gravitated towards the weird. My episodes often resembled Twilight Zone episodes, which would change and evolve as I matured.
How did it feel to inherit Gene Roddenberry’s legacy?
The hardest part of inheriting that mantle was the criticism that I ruined the franchise because it ended under my watch and I was personally responsible. I take responsibility for any of the bad episodes. We did so many they couldn’t all be winners. I am very proud of my work on Star Trek. People forget I was also there for its heyday. But that’s forgotten. It’s just “Enterprise sucks!” In my opinion, all TV shows come to an end. I was upset the network took the show off the air. It ran for four years but they didn’t get Star Trek and they didn’t like Star Trek.
Do you think TNG could ever get another shot at a movie franchise?
It’s very difficult for me to imagine. I would love it but unfortunately the last two
TNG movies were disappointments. I don’t think they worked creatively, in my humble opinion. One of my biggest career regrets was that I couldn’t do the next Star Trek movie after First Contact. I was offered it but I was taking over Voyager at the time and I didn’t feel I could do both. I wish I had. So I’m not sure there is an appetite for Next Gen things. Or they should do it on Netflix.
What do you think of the Abrams’ films?
I thought Star Trek was fantastic. It was beautifully directed and took Trek to a whole other level in terms of action. They had quadruple the budget when we did ours. But the casting was perfect and it was almost an impossible task. Into Darkness was slightly less successful in that I was pining for the allegory. It was feeling like a Star Trek flavoured action movie.
How can Trek thrive for 50 more years?
Star Trek in my mind is a TV show. Each generation has their Star Trek and I see this anecdotally over and over again. Hopefully with the new series they can get back to more meditative storytelling. It’s all about making sure the next television show is really good and finds a new generation of viewers to keep it going. It’s been ten years but it’s still very popular and could be without another show, but I believe it’s all about TV.
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