RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

TrekToday title image

The Trek Nation - Mo(o)re Braga

Mo(o)re Braga

By Christian Höhne Sparborth
Posted at July 8, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT

Welcome to the first special edition of the Trek Nation mailbag! Here, you'll find all the letters you sent us about Valentine Winter's Defending Braga article, which seems to have caused quite a stir in the online Trek community. Unfortunately Valentine wasn't able to respond to the mails himself, so you'll just have to make do with my (Christian's) commentary. A regular edition of the mailbag will appear on Sunday again!

Defending Braga

From: Robin (aka 'Recook77')
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: From "recook77"

As the person who originally posted [one of the reports mentioned about Bragain the article], I would like to mention some things:

1. My source was an LA writer who's pitched to DS9 and Voyager in the past, and who is friendly with the staff. He's a pretty good source, IMO.

2. My version of events has been confirmed by Steve Krutzler, who actually is *in* LA and has talked to people out there.

3. Many of the quotes that Valentine mentions were taken from earlier posts, not from the post I made to the ng regarding Berman and Braga. Many of the statements (that Braga doesn't care about Voyager; that he's sexist) have been confirmed in the press and interviews he's given. He mentions many times that he dislikes SF; he's been condescending to the fans; his sexism was outlined in an interview with Details. To be fair, his sexism never is evident in his scripts.

As far as the quote that Braga must own kinky snapshots of executives, that was a joke. The quote is as follows: "I have a question: How did Braga get as far as he did? Does he own kinky snapshots of Paramount executives?" The post, BTW, is dated June 1998. . .LONG before the Moore debacle.

I would like to emphasize that In the past, I defended him as having the potential for good work. However, he doesn't seem to apply that potential.

Personally, I think Braga was handed too much power too soon, and he wasn't ready for it. Other insiders have suggested the same thing (notably "Dangermouse").

4. I occasionally lurk in the alt.gossip.royalty newsgroups, and I occasionally post. I also have frequented newsgroups relating to SF, gender issues, and music. Since Valentine studied my Usenet posting history, this should be apparent to him or her.

What do my newsgroups tastes have to do with my opinions or sources?

5. Last but not least, I am female.

Thanks for the chance to clear that up.

Let me just add to this that the fact that we at the Trek Nation published the article of Valentine (who is male, btw), does not necessarily mean that we also agree with it. Thanks for sending us your side of the story!

From: Richard Rafter
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: Valentine Winter's Defense of Brannon Braga

Mr. Winter makes a good case in his defense of Mr. Braga's reputation. And he's correct in his assessment that no matter what statements are made at this point, the whole thing is going to be hard for the Paramount spin doctors to defuse. All in all it is a very compelling article. However, in the spirit of fairness I must include the following; Mr. Braga has always been his own worst enemy. I attended a large convention a few years back were both Mr. Moore and Braga were in attendence. Mr. Moore was warm and funny, spoke to all the fans with a natural ease and obvious affection. Braga on the other hand was cold and aloof, he really projected that he would rather be anywhere else but there. Take that performance a amplify it over several conventions and one can see were Mr. Braga has gone wrong. Mr. Moore understands and utilizes PR, Braga was nowhere to be found when that lesson was taught. He need only look in the mirror to see why Trek fans dislike him. These are indeed trying times for the franchise and I'm in full agreement with Mr. Winter that the next few months are critical, I to am sorry that this sordid story has surfaced.

From: Kamen
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: Valentine's article comments

I agree what Valentine said about Brannon, Ron and Star Trek as a whole. I've seen a lot of postings where the fans think Brannon writes only very good or only very bad stories. Personally I have no idea what they don't like in Braga's writing. I've seen a couple of times TNG and VOY episodes written from him and have to admit he's very very good. Sometimes when I haven't read the synopses, when I see his name I'm sure the show will be worth for watching. Unfortunately many fans want Trek to move as how they see it. In the chats with Ron Moore few weeks before the DS9 finale the fans were still asking if Kai Opaka will return. I knew the producers woun't let this happend. She did her job in the first season and that's it. It was OK with me. Actually very few episodes (DS9 or VOY) can make you bored. Star Trek's writing as a whole has improved. If they keep up the good work, Voyager will hold the attention of the public and will take its place in the franchise. And I think since Brannon took the helm of Voyager, the show improved a lot.

Unfortunately many fans get too upset when they see Trek is not going where they want. If the rumors about a new Academy Trek series got something true in it, Ron is the man who can make the show interesting and exciting. After year and a half surfing the net I don't believe the rumors anymore. I believe only the official sources.

Judging by the mails I've received and the comments I've seen on various message boards, you're certainly not the only one to stop believing in rumours. This is actually a very dangerous aspect which the people spreading false rumours may not have realized - many fans may stop believing all the rumours, even the legitimate ones.

From: Atkin Faye
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: Comments on Valentine Winter's Article

I would just like to say a big thank you to Valentine for the most sensible comments about Star Trek in quite a while. I have also been surfing the net and have come across these idiots who have nothing better to do than to blow their own trumpet about what they know but they can't possibly tell us. I have got news for you - most people outgrew that when they were ten years old and were at school. All you are really saying is 'Look at me. Aren't I clever? I am so much better than you are because I know something that you don't'.

As for the personal attacks on Brannon Braga - if you have a disagreement with the man, why don't you have the good manners to tell him to his face? Why are you hiding behind names and posting irrelevant, cowardly attacks that Brannon cannot defend himself against?

As I am sure many of you are aware, Star Trek fans are perceived as geeks and morons, obsessed with details and dressing up as their favourite characters. I have lost count of the number of shows that have reinforced this image. Who will forget the 'Saturday Night Live' sketch with William Shatner pleading with fans to 'get a life'? Star Trek fans have enough to put up with, without these people spreading these damaging rumours about what may or may not be happening behind the scenes at Star Trek. When you decide to send an E-mail you are letting thousands of people see just what fans think. I think I speak for everyone when I would rather have a constructive, reasonable argument rather than the 'you suck' attitude that seems to be sweeping the net at the moment. If you don't have the intelligence to form coherent sentences then don't send the E-mail!

Finally I would just like to point out something that seems obvious. The fans do not rule Star Trek. If Gene Roddenberry listened to the fans, then STNG would never have been made! Please let the production staff get on with what they do and trust them to do the best they can. I am not saying that all episodes are perfect, but leave them to get on with making the episodes. If you think the fans are getting pessimistic about the future of Star Trek - can you imagine what it is doing to the staff? I am sure that if the production staff turned round tomorrow and said that due to fan reaction they were going to cancel the show and films there would be an uproar! Remember they are only human and can only take so much!

Your last point is very interesting, and may well be true. If the producers would have listened to the fans, DS9 wouldn't have been set on a space station either, and Kathryn Janeway might have been Kyle Janeway. What does everyone else think about this? Would it be best for Star Trek if the producers didn't listen to the fans? Let us know at feedback@treknation.com!

From: Jonathan Soohoo
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: Braga/Moore conflict

From what I see, I think the conflict is about Brannon Braga arriving as Voyager's executive producer, not the actual "people". Since his arrival, new episodes(at least most of them) have been rehashed, thus crummy. Some don't have a moral, or plot, e.g. The Fight, and 11:59. Ratings have also plunged to oblivion since Braga's arrival. Personally, I liked Voyager, until the 5th season with the arrival, since then episodes and ratings have gone downhill. It's not the person that's the problem, it's what he does from Voyager. That's why I think Ron Moore is getting more support then Braga on the internet. Sometimes I say to myself "Is Rick Berman blind? Does he care about Voyager? Look at the ratings and stories".

Unfortunately if this is indeed the case, I think the criticisms directed at Braga should focus on the stories the man has written, and not on supposedly sexually harrassing behaviour from him - that has nothing to do with Star Trek at all.

From: Kheris
To: feedback@treknation.com
Subject: re: Defending Braga

I don't know whether or not the accusations made about Mr. Braga are true. I would tend to agree that they are stuff and nonsense with no purpose other than to smear the man. That said, I am not impressed with Mr. Braga's overall participation in Voyager.

I too have followed Star Trek beginning with TOS. I think that DS9 is far and away the best of the four series. It had well developed characters and wonderful stories. It was the series I was most skeptical about. And I say that with a heavy heart because I started out liking Voyager immensely. It had a fabulous premise and I was specifically interested in the Native American character, Chakotay. Here was an opportunity to portray someone whose outlook on life and spirituality was beyond what most people encountered. The premise promised much but has never delivered, and Chakotay has been reduced to the background, with occasional glimpses of what he could have been.

The truth is that now I don't even look for a reason to watch the first run shows. I don't care much about the characters, they come across too often as cardboard cutouts. And there has been an acknowledgement (by the Star Trek poobahs, it was Braga or Berman) that Chakotay is suffering from 'First Officer Syndrome,' whatever in the world that is. Many viewers, including diehard Voyager fans, have concluded that the series has become the Seven and Janeway show. That is not a healthy development for the rest of the characters.

In assessing Winter's article I considered the claim that this season is viewed by some as the best ever. Not having sufficient firsthand experience, I turned to the reviewers. I settled on Jammer since he is not a dyed in the wool fan of Voyager, is not captivated by the Star Trek mystique, and yet appears to be evenhanded in his assessment. Yes, I looked at 2 others, one of whom is an unabashed Voyager fan. The second was Jim Wright (Delta Blues) and he appears incapable of really being tough on the series or individual episodes. After looking at Jammer's writeups, I have to take issue with any assertion that Season 5 was the best ever. I must ask: Compared to what?

When I analyzed Jammer's reviews, Season 1 (2.73) and Season 4 (2.61) prove to be Voyager's best seasons. Assuming "Equinox" gets 4 stars, one would rank Season 3 (2.57) ahead of Season 5 (est. 2.55). Season 2 came in at a 2.53. So, if Jammer can be considered reliable, the rankings would be: 1, 4, 3, 5, and 2. That hardly qualifies Season 5 as the best ever, or as an improvement over anything but Season 2. The bottom line (based on Jammer's scoring) is that Voyager is average, at best, and seems destined to remain so. I can forgive average if there is character development and continuity. In my opinion, Voyager does not have sufficient quantities of either. This is my opinion, but I know it is shared by many others who are far kinder to the series than myself.

What does this have to do with Braga? He is the guy at whose desk the buck stops. At least that is what I am led to believe. Perhaps my wrath should be targeted to Berman and Fuller. Nonetheless, is Braga capable of good stories? Yes, I agree he is. Is he consistently delivering good stories? No, I don't think so. Were we promised improvements in Season 5? Yes. Did we get them? I tend to doubt it. At best, the delivery is uneven and Voyager deserves better. I have no expectation that Season 6 will see dramatic improvements.

I had high hopes that Ron Moore would write to Voyager's strengths, develop the characters more fully, and generally help it along. If he is gone, then my hopes are dashed. Since Mr. Braga is the 'suit' heavily connected to Voyager, my expectation would be that he either delivers a series that rises above average, or he will cede the field to someone more capable. The sad truth is, I don't think either alternative will occur and Voyager will remain average, with occasional flashes of brilliance. Not a happy thought.

Unfortunately I'm not sure if it really is practical to get rid of all the producers so soon - Brannon Braga has, after all, only had one year to improve the series. Before him, people such as Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor also tried it, and they were able to change the series a lot more (by co-creating it and by introducing Seven of Nine). Frankly, I'm not sure if anyone would still be able to save the series.

Read our Ron & Brannon Feature for more on this!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Christian Höhne Sparborth is webmaster of the Trek Nation.