Braga on 'Threshold' Of Moving OnBy Michelle
August 30, 2005 - 5:01 PM
Former executive producer Brannon Braga spoke about mistakes he thinks he made on Star Trek and his hopes for his new series Threshold. Having just turned 40, a milestone about which he said he was insecure - "Don't call me sir. Call me dude. It makes me feel more useful" - the longtime Star Trek writer said that there are things he would change about everything from the death of Captain Kirk to the last minutes of Enterprise. However, he assured fans that he believed in what he was doing at the time he was working on them and said he could only take so much of the blame when there were other factors involved in the franchise's fortunes.
Speaking to Chase Masterson at TheFandom.com (which Braga had to look up on the internet, not recalling the name of the site, and complaining that the photo of him there was "horrendous"), Braga spoke first about Threshold, which will debut on CBS on Friday, September 16th. "It's a great cast," he said, calling the actors "really high-end" and describing the series as CSI meets The X-Files. "We're filming episode four right now and we're very excited. It's a science fiction thriller about a woman who works in a think tank, who wrote a contingency plan for what if aliens made first contact. She never thought it would really happen."
But on the show, the alien contact - in fact, an invasion - seems to be happening. So the woman, played by Carla Gugino, "has to go out with her hand-picked team to investigate this stuff." Braga describes the concept as "grounded in the real world, real science, real contemporary people", adding that "in some ways it's very refreshing to me because it's so different from being on a spaceship 400 years in the future." The show has high production values and feels like a movie, he added, so "Hopefully we won't screw it up."
Fans, however, were more interested in talking about Braga's last series, particularly its finale, "These Are the Voyages..." "Why do it?" asked one viewer of having The Next Generation's Riker and Troi dominate the storyline. Braga insisted that he loved the episode while writing it, though he could not speak for his partner and fellow executive producer Rick Berman. Still, he said, he understood that it was controversial, not only with fans but with many of the series stars, with the ironic exception of Connor Trinneer whose character died a hero's death. Even Jonathan Frakes (Riker) had expressed sympathy to Scott Bakula (Archer) about his lack of screen time.
"We did consider the previous two episodes to be climactic storylines that dealt with Enterprise specifically," explained Braga. "We made the creative decision to do a final episode that was a nod to all the Star Treks." Final episodes, he added, "are tough...it was not a happy finale. We did not want to be writing this. Rick and I were coming to a time where Star Trek was ending a long 18 year run" and felt that they would better serve the fans by producing an episode to represent the whole franchise.
"I still stand by the concept. It was a good idea. But I can understand why the fans were upset...perhaps we were misguided," he admitted. "The whole thing had a little bit of a stink behind it because nobody really wanted the show to be cancelled...it was purely a Paramount and UPN decision." Braga said that he had an emotional and financial stake in the show's success, "but what could I do? I could go out and protest with the fans outside Paramount, [that] was about the most I could do about it."
Asked by Masterson whether there is indeed a new Star Trek concept in the works, Braga said that he had read on the internet that William Shatner (Kirk) had said something was in the works, but personally he knows only as much as any fan does. And would Braga like to be involved if it is in the works? "If it happened right now, no," he said. "I am busy with other stuff and I think I have given all that I can to Star Trek at the moment. But, in the future, I don't know...if they even came to me at all. I am not sure that they would."
As to whether a "reboot" would work for Star Trek as it has for Battlestar Galactica, which Braga's former writing partner Ron Moore has suggested might be necessary, Braga said he did not believe it could be done. The original Battlestar Galactica, he noted, "was relatively - relatively speaking to Star Trek - very short lived, and did not have anywhere near the fan base that Star Trek has." Moreover, he thinks that the darker themes of the new Galactica would not necessarily appeal to fans, noting that many people believed Enterprise should have been similarly dark and gritty, but "I personally feel that one of the things that distinguishes Star Trek is its positive outlook, so I happen to disagree with that."
The complete audio interview is at TheFandom.com.