In a new multi-part interview, TrekCore talks to Roger Lay, Jr. who is producing the bonus features on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Enterprise's new Blu-Ray releases. Roger was keen to discuss the new found appreciation he has for Enterprise after being involved so closely in the new Season 1 Blu-Ray release and spending time with both the staff and actors who worked on the show.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Enterprise Season 1 Blu-Ray Interview, Part 2
Interviewed by Adam Walker for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: I know the cast reunion on the Next Generation second season Blu-ray was very popular among fans, they loved it! Is there anything similar planned for the cast of Enterprise, or are they slightly different, in terms of their relationship to each other?
Roger Lay, Jr.: I do want to do something with them – as many as possible – for Enterprise. I’m hoping we do more of that with the cast together; my plan is to get all of them together, or as many of them together for an upcoming piece, but I’m also getting the writers together for Season Three, for this piece which will be similar to "Inside the Writer’s Room" – the Next Gen writing staff reunion hosted by Seth MacFarlane – but this one will be very unique.
At the end of the Next Gen piece, Seth was asking the guys, "What are some of the stories you didn’t tell?" The answer was none, you know? They did everything they wanted to do; by year seven, they were drained. That’s why there’s episodes like "Emergence" and "Masks", because it was like, "What else do we do?" Where in that one, there’s no sort of ‘missing storyline’ that they never could do, on Enterprise, there are a lot of ideas and concepts they never got to.
TrekCore: Three seasons’ worth, potentially.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah. For Season Three, we’re planning to get all of them together for this piece called "Temporal Cold War: Declassified", opening up where the Temporal Cold War was headed, who Future Guy was going to be… which is a really interesting answer.
TrekCore: Brannon Braga was tweeting about this; a lot of people don’t believe him.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah – I don’t know if you know the answer, but it’s pretty amazing the idea he had for Future Guy. So, the writing staff will get together and reveal everything they had cooked up for the Temporal Cold War, then they’ll go into what would have happened on Season Five and beyond. They’ll fill in the gaps of everything they were never able to explore on the show. So I’m excited about that one too.
TrekCore: You’re talking about Season Three already. Do you have an overall plan in mind –
Roger Lay, Jr.: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! The first thing I do when I sit down with CBS is, I give them an overall plan on everything. Even on Next Gen – that was two and a half years ago, I think – I gave them a six-page proposal on everything I was going to do for all seven seasons; on the top of that list was the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. That was the big one for me. We had to get the gang back together on camera. God bless Ken Ross and Phil Bishop over there, who got behind it – I could not ask for a better team of executives. I love Ken Ross; every crazy idea we’ve had, he’s gone for, and he gets just as excited about them -- he’s made it his mission to get all these things to come together. It’s just amazing, just unbelievable how lucky you are when you get an executive like that.
TrekCore: Tell us a bit about how you’re limited by actor availability. I know that, unfortunately, Jolene Blalock, Anthony Montgomery, and John Billingsley weren’t able to be interviewed for the first season…
Roger Lay, Jr.: Oh, John is coming in!
TrekCore: Will he make it on the first season set?
Roger Lay, Jr.: No, he won’t make the first season; it’s already in authoring, so he’ll be on Season Two and beyond.
Here’s the thing I wasn’t too happy about with Season One – the delivery schedule. To make the spring launch date… and it’s not like we’ve known we were going to do Enterprise for months and months. It was kind of like, we may do Enterprise, we may not do Enterprise, we had a couple of meetings – then it was like, we’re going to do it, and here’s the street date! I was like, "What? We have a street date already?!" That kind of put us in a bit of a difficult situation where we didn’t have time to get the entire cast in. We’re working to get all of them, and we’re going to get supporting players as well, but due to time constraints Season One does not have the entire cast.
But, again, the story on Season One is so rooted on the launch of the show and the complexity of creating another spin-off and what the landscape was for television and the franchise at that time, and why that dictated a lot of the decisions – you don’t need a lot of the cast for that, but we have some of the cast. We have Scott Bakula, we have Connor, we have Dominic, and they really fill in the gaps. But, when the Season One documentary ends, it puts you in a perfect place to meet the rest of the cast – now the stage has been set, the show has been launched, and now we’re going to go into the day-to-day operations of the show.
Due to scheduling, Roger was unable to interview the entire cast in time for the Season 1 deadline. Thankfully, he turned this into a positive and planned out a gradual introduction of the actors which will be split over the first two seasons.
TrekCore: When you speak to someone like Scott Bakula, and you sit him down for two or three hours, is that all the material used for the four seasons, or will you revisit with him later?
Roger Lay, Jr.: No, we’ll revisit him. With the Next Gen cast, we’ve already started doing our second round of interviews. They’re all willing to come back and do more. The first round of interviews really focused heavily on Seasons One and Two, so we’ll do another set for Seasons Three and Four – and it’s better, because by then, we will have released two sets, two documentaries will be in place, the story will be running, and we’ll know what we’re missing – what parts of the production story are missing – and we can have them fill in the gaps.
Which has worked beautifully on Next Gen. I think that’s why these documentaries have felt so fresh and insightful – we’re working on Season Three of Next Gen right now, and we just shot four more hours of stuff with Marina [Sirtis] and LeVar [Burton] a few days ago, going into Season Three, and it’s fresh and new now. And again, it helps fill in those blanks when you’re editing and you’re missing stuff. In December, we shot another great interview with Brent Spiner, which is perfect timing for Season Three, because in Season Three you have "The Offspring" and you have "[The] Best of Both Worlds", and we had him specifically talk about where he was at during the making of those episodes. So it’s great to be able to bring them back; we’ve structured it in a way that we get them at least twice.
This week, we’re filming John Billingsley; we’re filming Anthony Montgomery; Matt Winston, who was Daniels, the temporal agent; John Fleck, who was Silik. Those four are happening this week.
TrekCore: The first season, as a package, is overflowing with audio commentaries already, which is fantastic to hear, because they’ve been quite sparse on previous season sets, on the DVDs.
Roger Lay, Jr.: I really made it my mission here to do as many audio commentaries as possible – especially group commentaries, because there’s something magical that happens when you put these people together. I’ve done a lot of commentaries over the years, and of all the ones I’ve produced, my favorites have to be "Broken Bow" and "Shuttlepod One".
TrekCore: "Shuttlepod One" sounds awesome – you’ve got actors (Dominic Keating and Connor Trinneer), and you’ve got the producer (Brannon Braga) on there.
Roger Lay, Jr.: And the director [David Livingston].
TrekCore: And the director!
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, that one was amazing! It was just great to see them all together again, functioning as a unit, because that’s the thing – the Star Trek shows worked so well because all those people worked together as a perfect unit, you know. It’s great to see them reminiscing, it’s like that same feeling you get in the "Reunification" piece for Next Gen, or what you get on "Inside the Writers’ Room" – you get the family together again, and it works beautifully.
TrekCore: When we listen to those commentaries, are they watching the episodes for the first time in however many years, or have they prepped before-hand?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Brannon is watching them for the first time – he didn’t prep. The actors were watching it for the first time; David Livingston did prep – as the director that he is – which is good, because he brings a very specific perspective of how he shot it, he put it all together. So it’s a combination of both, which creates this great energy in the room where it goes from a sudden realization that you’ve remembered some incredible detail about the making of the episode to David Livingston giving these very specific details about how he shot a scene in "Shuttlepod One", where you had this cramped space, two cameras, two actors, how do you do it? So I love that, and I love "Broken Bow".
You have [director] Jim Conway, who I frickin’ love – I hope to work with him again on the Phoenix Rising show – he’s one of my favorite sci-fi TV directors, and to have him there was awesome. Jim came very prepared; Jim came with a notebook full of notes – even his production diary. Brannon was there, watching it fresh; he hadn’t watched it since it originally aired. We had Dominic and Connor there; we had Dan Curry, who was the effects maestro… so these commentary tracks are really great. They’re group efforts, you know.
TrekCore: Do you have a wish list of which episodes you want to do commentaries on?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, yeah, it’s very well thought out. I have a wish list; sometimes, it doesn’t come together – "The Andorian Incident" was one that I really wanted to do on Season One, with [director] Roxann Dawson and Jeffrey Combs, but because of schedule issues, it didn’t come together. But now, Jeff – who, by the way, we just filmed on Friday, will be there on Season Two and beyond. Like I said, we’re filming every week, so if I forget to tell you about anyone, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to be on the Blu-rays. We’re working to get everyone.
Many fans have contacted TrekCore to ask whether or not Roxann Dawson would contribute to the Enterprise Season 1 set. While Roger and CBS were unable to schedule her in time for the first season deadline, they fully intend to arrange for her to provide her insight for future seasons.
TrekCore: You mention Roxann Dawson. Enterprise had the benefit of some really wonderful guest directors; actors who had previously been in other Star Trek shows. Do you plan to include their views, and perhaps enlist them for these commentaries?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah – we’ve had Jim Conway, who’s one of my favorite directors ever do the pilot, and he’s going to do "Judgment" on Season Two…
TrekCore: More specifically, people like Roxann Dawson, who acted in a Star Trek show before directing –
Roger Lay, Jr.: The plan was to have Roxann, do a commentary for "The Andorian Incident" and "Vox Sola" but our schedule was so tight and it didn’t work out, so we’ll work towards having her for Season Two. Definitely. I’m going to see if I can get LeVar to do "First Flight", that would be a great one that he directed – and Rick [Berman] and Brannon wrote – so my dream is to get Rick, Brannon, and LeVar together. We’ll see if it happens. I have a very well thought-out, detailed plan of how I’m going to do all of these things, and how to make them come together. There’s been times where it didn’t work – like with "[The] Andorian Incident" – but then, everything else has worked. The cast reunion worked, the writers’ reunion worked; the "In Conversation" piece with Rick and Brannon… I have to tell you, we put that piece together and delivered it in three days.
TrekCore: That’s one of the things everyone is most looking forward to seeing. That’s incredible that you shot it so quickly.
Roger Lay, Jr.: We filmed it on a Wednesday, right before we all left for the holidays – we were going to shut down for Christmas; Rick was flying out of town; Brannon was flying out, too – so we had to film it on a Wednesday, the week before Christmas; Thursday, we edited; Friday, we got legal notes and made edits to the legal notes; we delivered it on Saturday. So that was three days, for a ninety-minute piece!
TrekCore: With The Next Generation, one of the most popular pieces was the "Energized!" documentary on the first season, about working with all the models and scanning the reels of film. Were you able – or do you plan to do that for Enterprise, about working with the CGI effects, maybe talking about the whole 720p vs. 1080p debate?
Roger Lay, Jr.: I want to do that; you’ll see some of that in the Season One documentary. I have a lot of stuff with Doug Drexler, talking about the ship – you’ll see the first flyby, the first render of the NX-01; you’ll see it. Doug Drexler gave me the original file, and it’s in there, so you’ll see how they moved it around, trying all the different lighting elements – at Doug Drexler’s house, just he and Herman [Zimmerman].
We don’t talk in the Season One documentary about the 720p thing; that’s something that will probably go into the Season Two documentary, but we do spend a lot of time talking about the design of the ship… basically, this was the first show that didn’t have a physical model of the Enterprise.
TrekCore: Having seen the transfer, you can probably help settle a debate that’s raging at the moment on the Internet – tell us if the upconverted 720p effects look good against the native, live-action 1080p footage.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Yeah, it looks great! So far, it looks fantastic – you know, there’s stuff that holds up better than other elements, obviously; that happens on every show, even if you were doing 1080. When you’re doing weekly television, sometimes some shows kind of have to move quickly, but it looks great – "Broken Bow" looks beautiful; the digital matte paintings look great. I was just looking at "Dear Doctor", and that digital matte of the planet looks beautiful. Even "Silent Enemy", which we did a commentary on with Dan Curry and Andre Bormanis – those aliens look really awesome.
I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. Even if they’d gone 1080p, this was all CG, and it’s not like now – this was 2001, 2002, where, you know, it wasn’t as far advanced as now – but it still looks great.
Roger describes how upscaled visual effects hold up - for the most part - very well indeed. One of the more striking scenes that stands out to him is the digital matte of the planet from "Dear Doctor"
TrekCore: One of the special things that I think are admired a lot in the TNG documentaries, especially by me, is the choice of music and how it varies with the season and progresses, whereas with Enterprise you’re kind of limited because most of it hasn’t been released on CD – I think only the pilot from Season One was released. How do you go about using background music for your documentaries?
Roger Lay, Jr.: Oh, no – I have everything. I don’t go off of CDs, I go off of the media files that CBS has in their library.
TrekCore: Oh, awesome – so you have like a full Season One soundtrack, essentially?
Roger Lay, Jr.: I essentially have everything by Dennis McCarthy. It’s by composer – with Next Gen, we’ve been focusing on Ron Jones; on Enterprise, we’re using all of the Dennis McCarthy stuff. I have all of Dennis’ music for Season One, I’ll get everything for Season Two, and so forth. I get these big folders with all of the cues – I get like five gigabytes worth of music for each season.
I’m not using that soundtrack album that came out with "Broken Bow" music – which, by the way, is incomplete, because there’s like sixty cues here – I’m using stuff from episodes three, four, eleven, eighteen, twenty-three, one, two, six – yeah, I’m using stuff from pretty much all throughout Season One.
TrekCore: That’s really great to hear.
Roger Lay, Jr.: I’ve found some unused cues, by the way. I have a ton of unused cues – they give me the whole session, a folder that has the digital recording session for each episode, with everything. You even hear the click at the beginning, with the composer going, "Cue M1, 23! Take one!"
TrekCore: Oh, beautiful. I mean, we can only dream that those are going to come to CD one day, but it seems doubtful with something like Enterprise.
Roger Lay, Jr.: Well, you never know; hopefully that would happen. With that great Ron Jones set, and the great classic TOS complete collection, you never know. I know La-La Land; those guys are obsessive about this kind of stuff. You know how it is with these things – if people buy them, they will put more stuff out. All you have to do is make sure that everyone who visits TrekCore buys it!
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Star Trek: Enterprise Season 1 is released on Blu-Ray on March 26 in North America and soon after in other territories worldwide by CBS/Paramount. Be sure to lock in your Pre-Order for the set today!