During our coverage of the huge Destination London Star Trek convention last year, TrekCore organized an impromptu sit-down interview with well known Star Trek writer/producer Brannon Braga. Brannon has written more episodes of Star Trek than anyone else (over 100) and worked his way up from staff writer on The Next Generation to be executive producer of Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise, which he co-created with Rick Berman.
Brannon Braga: The London Interview, Part 2
Interviewed by Adam Walker and Chris Wales for TrekCore.com
TrekCore: What were the things on Enterprise that you really wanted to do in the fifth season? The biggest tragedy is when it got cut short. Where were you going to take it?
Brannon Braga: Well, Manny Coto had taken over the reins of Enterprise at that point, I was doing some other show for CBS, we were going to continue on with the Mirror Universe, in a major way, I think the Cold War thing would have continued, but Manny Coto, who's a great guy to interview, he had some big plans for the Mirror Universe.
The Mirror Universe episodes were very successful. The Mirror Universe of the movie First Contact where Zephram Cochrane blows away the Vulcan with a shotgun? I mean, when I saw that, it was like, "This should just be a whole season!" There were some pretty big things we discussed.
TrekCore: I know there's a large body of work on Voyager and Enterprise where we see the writers credited as 'Brannon Braga and Rick Berman'. When did that partnership develop between you guys? What was Rick's input; what was yours?
Brannon Braga: Rick was involved with the writing of every episode. He gave incredibly detailed notes on every episode, so his hand as the ultimate executive producer of the show, for better or worse, depending on who you talk to - I think for the better, there were ideas that he's not credited with, that would make episodes. It would just make them.
I don't know why we decided to write the pilot of Enterprise together, the first time we wrote together. We were working out the story; beating out the story, scene by scene, and one of us just said, "We're practically writing this together. Let's do it!" We had a great time, here's how it worked: we'd come up with the story, lay it out, and they we would sit in a room together. I would type, he'd sit on the couch, and we'd just write the episode.
TrekCore: At the end of Enterprise, I remember, I think, twice actually, a fan campaign to get the show on the air, to keep the show on the air, or something. Were you aware of that? Did you think it had any legs behind it? Was it always a done deal?
Brannon Braga: I was aware of the fan campaign to keep Enterprise alive, because I drove past it every morning on my way to work. I don't think it had a chance. I think the network had decided what it wanted to do, and there was even a fan campaign to raise money. You know, Enterprise cost millions of dollars an episode, and I think they raised $30,000 or something. It was a noble effort, but there was no way the fans were going to save it.
The best thing the fans could do, for those reading this, the best possible thing the fans could do is, if they want to see another season of Enterprise, is watch it on Netflix.
TrekCore: Watch it on Netflix?
Brannon Braga: My neighbor produces Arrested Development, and they're making a new season of Arrested Development. I recall him telling me that it's because for that show, they know they're gonna get... they have data! They know a certain number of people are going to watch that show. I've heard rumors in town that the CBS show Jericho might get another season, because the numbers on Netflix are big!
TrekCore: Brannon, I will go home and watch it five times through, but are you saying - and I know you can't commit - if everybody was watching it on Netflx, there's a chance the actors would get back involved?
Brannon Braga: I don't work at Netflix, but all I can tell you is, based on what I've seen, if a show is real popular, they take notice. It's a business model... I would love to see another season of Enterprise. Whether or not you could get the whole cast, I don't know. But this cast is young, vibrant... I see them here, a lot of the cast is here at this convention, and I miss these guys.
It wasn't too long ago... it would be fun to do something. Even if it was just a two-hour special.
TrekCore: Just a couple of hours?
Brannon Braga: Yeah. I think that people would check it out.
TrekCore: You've addressed one of the things have "against you", time travel. The other one is the Borg. A lot of fans say that "Braga de-fanged the Borg" in Voyager by making them less of a threat. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think there's anything behind that, or were they the same as they were in The Next Generation?
Brannon Braga: I think that, for the most part, the Borg were a very successful villain on Voyager. I don't think they were... They were "de-fanged" only in so much as they kept getting their asses kicked! Once the Borg lose enough times... which is why in this comic book that I'm going, I have them win. At least, from the beginning, they finally achieve their goals.
That's the danger when you keep bringing them back. I think we brought them back, maybe, twice too many. There were a couple Borg episodes I don't think were quite as successful. I don't remember the finale well enough... I think I have a story credit on it, so you'd think I'd remember it. I don't know that the Borg were super impactful there.
I think Seven of Nine should have bit the dust. I think there had to be a real sacrifice for this crew getting home; a real blood sacrifice. Seven of Nine was, for me, designed to be a character that was gonna die tragically. I planned that.
TrekCore: A Spock moment. Somebody who's not human, becomes human by making the ultimate sacrifice.
Brannon Braga: Right. There's an episode called "Human Error" that I wrote in the final season, where she experiments on the holodeck - it's actually quite an interesting episode - she tries to feel emotions. She actually succeeds, and she almost dies. She learns there's a Borg implant, that if she becomes too human, it will kill her. It was that moment in my mind that would set up the finale, where she realized she can't live here, can't live there...
She dies getting her family home. I think, then, you have a finale.
TrekCore: I actually think "Regeneration" from Enterprise was one of the high points. It brought a sense of menace to the Borg, because of course they didn't know what we know. It was like a horror film: they didn't see the danger, and we did. How much input did you have on that?
Brannon Braga: Now you're talking Enterprise. I was VERY hesitant to do Borg on Enterprise, unless we had exactly the right story. Mike Sussman and I wrote that episode. That was an homage to "The Thing", to John Carpenter's "The Thing".
We find a Borg in ice, whether it was literally in ice, I can't remember. But it's melting, and we know as an audience that it's going to come alive, and they have no clue what they've found. It was "The Thing". If you recall, you don't even see the Enterprise crew at first. It's these other characters on this planet.
Is it Earth?
Brannon Braga: I totally agree. "Regeneration" worked great. I thought it had a clever ending, it had a great musical score, by a guy named Brian Tyler who I would end up hiring on 'Terra Nova' and he does a lot of movies. I thought it was great, yeah.
TrekCore: It brought it full circle, didn't it? It ended up kicking up the events that led, ultimately, to The Next Generation.
Brannon Braga: The Borg became aware of us. It was cool.
Brannon Braga has high praise for the appearance of the Borg in the Enterprise episode "Regeneration". He describes how he was originally extremely hesitant to use them in the series.
TrekCore: '24'. Jack Bauer, an iconic character. You got onto that, it must have been a writer's dream. Which were the favorite bits you contributed to '24''s final season?
Brannon Braga: Well, I only did the last two seasons of '24', seasons seven and eight. It was, for some reason, a seamless transition for me. I could have written '24' for the rest of my career.
I loved '24'... I loved the show, I loved doing the show. It was... it felt a little like Star Trek in some ways. The dialogue's kind of timeless. It's indistinct. It's hard to describe. It's almost a science fiction show, because time's being compressed unnaturally. A lot of my time travel instincts were helpful in depicting events in 'real time' that were preposterous.
CTU was kind of like the bridge of the Enterprise, man! People are sitting at consoles, talkin' technobabble... really, we made that shit up. It was not based on anything. When Chloe's doing the webcams and streetcams and doing triangulating this... it's bullshit! None of this exists. We didn't have a technical advisor.
My favorite moments... I mean, I enjoyed bring back Tony Almeida, the Tony Almeida character. There's a great line of dialogue I remember Manny and I did, where Jack says to Tony, "I'll kill you again, and you'll stay dead this time!"
TrekCore: I remember that!
Brannon Braga: It was a blast. It was an honor to be a part of a final season of something again.
TrekCore: Just one last one, if I may. These conventions... this one is huge. I don't know how they can say there's no room for Star Trek on the air when this many people have come. What do they mean to you? Why do you come, what do you get from them?
Brannon Braga: Well, I came to this convention because I needed a vacation. (Laughs) I enjoy London, and because when I remember my last London Star Trek experience, which was eighteen years ago with two hundred people. I just remember that the English fans being particularly passionate about Star Trek.
The English and the Germans really like Star Trek. I just thought it would be... it's a big convention, I knew Kate Mulgrew was going to be here, I hadn't seen her in a long time. Behind the scenes, it's a little reunion for us. It's fun to interact with the fans. It's interesting. I only do one American convention a year, I knew that there would be people from all over Europe here, and there were.
TrekCore: All over the world!
Brannon Braga: ...and all over the world. So this is very unique in that regard. It's fun.
TrekCore: Mr. Braga, you're a gentleman and a talent.
TrekCore: Thank you very much for your time.
Brannon Braga: Sure thing. My pleasure.
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Our special thanks to Brannon Braga for his time. Feel free to leave your comments below and watch out for the first season of Star Trek Enterprise on Blu-ray which features extensive interviews with Braga alongside a unique one hour conversation piece he recorded with Enterprise co-creator Rick Berman.
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