Rick Berman On The Big ThreeBy Amy
March 30, 2001 - 7:17 PM
As part of their 'Behind The Scenes Special', UK magazine 'Star Trek Monthly' has published an interview with Rick Berman conducted by freelance writer Spelling in the interview, Berman tackles the tough issues on Voyager, looks briefly at Trek X and confirms the start of casting on Series V.
Of all the Trek, Voyager has perhaps most often been criticised for failing to develop a number of the main cast, and Berman has come out swinging to meet this criticism head-on. "I think that Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix and Harry Kim have probably gotten a little bit of a short shrift in terms of the amount of story material that has been focused on them," Berman acknowledges. "But I think they've gotten no less than any characters from any of the other series. In terms of the captain, Seven of Nine, the Doctor and, to some degree, B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris we have several characters who have had a very good balance in terms of stories and how the characters have developed."
However, this situation has not come without regrets. "You just wish that you could have done more," he admits. "You wish there were some relationships that you could have focused a little bit more time on in developing. But it goes in waves. I remember there were times when people would complain that we'd have a season of Star Trek: The Next Generation where, in a half-season, out of 13 shows, eight of them would be Data stories. Then, another year, people would say, 'We've gone a whole half a season and there's only been one Data story.' It's never intentional when one character doesn't get as developed as another. It just has to do with what material comes in, what material seems to work.
Another strong criticism of the show has been the lack of tension between the Star Fleet and Maqui crews, something which many thought should have been explored in much more detail. "As far as the Starfleet-Maquis issue," he explains, "very early in the series, in the first two years, Jeri and Michael and I concluded that to keep any kind of substantial conflict going between the Maquis and the Starfleet characters on the show was going to be too disruptive to the Star Trek family we were trying to cement on this ship, lost out there in the Delta Quadrant. We have, from time to time, certainly, and this season as well, revisited the whole Maquis question, but I don't think it was a mistake to have minimized the 'warring parties aboard the same ship' concept, so to speak. And it certainly was in keeping with Gene Roddenberry's feeling of trying to minimize conflicts between regular characters."
As per usual, he's not at all forthcoming on what will happen in the show's finale, and the topic of conversation moves on to the upcoming projects, rather than the one starting to wind down - the 10th Trek movie and fifth live-action TV series.
"For the film," Berman comments, "John Logan, Brent Spiner and I developed a story and we worked quite extensively on it. The studio was very enthusiastic and supportive. The first draft was written and John and I worked a great deal on that. We gave it to the studio and there are some revisions being made now. We are mid-second draft. John is a quick and speedy writer. He's back in Evansville, Illinois, and I'm expecting a second draft from him probably in the next two or three weeks. This will definitely be a post-strike picture. I would guess that the earliest this thing could start shooting would be October, and that would be assuming there is no strike. It's all up in the air now."
"Series V," on the other hand, he remarks, "is truly where my heart is right now, where my blood and toil have been. We're in pretty much full-gear. We are in prep on it. Brannon and I wrote the script. We've gotten a tremendous amount of positive reinforcement from everyone at Paramount who has read it. It's not exactly certain where it's going to end up, but it will most likely be UPN. We are in full pre-production. We've been working with Herman Zimmerman on both interior and exterior designs. In fact, I believe we will be hammering the first nails within the next few weeks on a stage that's currently being used for Vanilla Sky, a movie with Tom Cruise. We're starting to hire people. The casting process will be starting pretty soon. And I believe we will begin our two-hour premiere sometime in May."
And what about the effect of the increasingly expected writers and actor's strikes? "We'll certainly get the premiere done before the strike. We'll possibly get the premiere and one one-hour episode in before the strike. As far as what happens after that, we'll see. The way to look at it is if there's a strike, we'll have a premiere and possibly another episode that will be cut and finished and ready to air."
The full interview can be found in the May 2001 issue (#78) of 'Star Trek Monthly' or by following this link to a transcript over at the Trek Galaxy