These are the unsung heroes of art. Those men and women behind our laughs, our tears; behind making us sit at ease or sit at the edge of our seats. Cleverly using skillful devices and reinterpreted formulas, they cast a shadow of feeling and emotion over us to which we owe a debt of gratitude. But for the most part, all of the gold, gifts and grandeur (classic device) go to the directors, the producers, the actors, the editors, the publishers, the singers, and even sometimes, to people completely unrelated to the project. But not here. This is about the real heroes, the orators of oration (lame) if you will: The writer. Each week here on Nerd Monkey, I’ll feature a writer that has either inspired me or has inspired one of you, should you send me ideas, and we’ll explore their past and maybe even their future. So, welcome to the other side. This week’s notable writer is none other than Mr. Brannon Braga.
Whether you love or hate his activism outside of the screen, there is no denying the creative talents of Mr. Brannon Braga. Braga is best known for working on four of the seven Star Trek series. I say “seven” because I also count The Animated Series. Braga started on the esteemed and critically acclaimed Star Trek: The Next Generation, and went on to work for three of the next four extensions to the franchise, even being the co-creator of Star Trek: Enterprise, the prequel series to the Star Trek: The Original Series (also of note, one of the first shows to popularize the episodic television style back in the 90’s – a style that has gone on to be the industry standard in weekly television shows outside of sitcoms).
Braga was essentially the right hand man to Mr. Gene Roddenberry, having shared many personal beliefs and opinions with Roddenberry about society, the future of earth, history and even religion (or lack thereof).
Braga’s list of credits is extensive and impressive:
Terra Nova (co-creator): “Instinct” (written by); “Genesis: Part 1” and “Genesis Part 2” (written by/teleplay)
Flash Forward: See all 22 Episodes
24 (2009-2012): See all 16 Episodes
Treshold (co-creator): “The Burning” (written by); “Trees Made of Glass: Part 2” (written by)
Star Trek: Enterprise (writer/co-creator): See all 98 episodes
Star Trek: Voyager: See all 49 episodes
Mission Impossible II (story)
Star Trek: First Contact (screenplay/story)
Star Trek: Generations (screenplay/story)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: See all 25 episodes
On top of all of these credits, Braga has also worked as a producer, executive producer, and showrunner for many of these titles are more.
Braga has faced much criticism in his career, including one I personally find rather unfair: The accusation that he single-handedly killed the Star Trek series. I find this illogical first and foremost because as we can see from the box office numbers, the series is still alive and well. And as we can see from the syndicated Star Trek: The Next Generation’s ratings, as well as DVD and Blu Ray sales related to the series, the fandom is as strong as ever. Braga merely played a small part in taking the series in a different, and more serious and dramatic direction – one that I was not alone in appreciating. In other words: Star Trek grew up with me.
Braga, however, is never one to be the smaller man, and responded to these criticisms in saying the following:
“It’s not a pleasant thing to think of yourself to blame. There are other factors involved with Star Trek losing its audience appeal over the years, but I will take my share of the blame creatively. It’s almost impossible for me to sit here and say ‘yes, I did this, that, and this wrong’ and I’m certainly not going to get on the internet and look at what the fans think, because that would be too painful. But give it a little more time – I’m sure I can look back and figure out what the fuck I did wrong.”
Braga will always be remembered by Trekkies and Trekkers alike, whether for better or worse. As of this writing, there is no word yet as to whether or not Terra Nova will see a second season. However, I would personally love to see where it’s going.