The first season of Enterprise was released this week in The Netherlands and I finally got to sink my teeth into this set (not literally). Much has been said about the mediocre A/V presentation so I’m not going into that. From the reviews I read the VAM was the reason to get this set. Adam Walker of Trekcore wrote this about the “In Conversation” piece (and many other reviewers agreed with him):
"In Conversation" for me, is the pičce de résistance from this set. Producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga sit down together for a full hour to address some of the more contentious issues which fandom has debated for years. The piece starts off innocuously enough with the two discussing the ideas behind Enterprise and the cast, but quickly heats up as Braga turns to Berman and asks "Do you realize Rick, that some fans say we killed the franchise?" What follows is a fascinating insight into studio and network politics and the daily obstacles the producers had to overcome to keep Star Trek going. Rick Berman's story about the unnamed network executive's failure to understand what is meant by the ship's hull is hilarious, but also poignant as he recalls realizing that they were fighting a losing battle to keep Star Trek on the air.
Well I just watched it and I’d like to say that I can not disagree more with all the praise lavished on this feature. The piece starts off interesting all right even though it becomes clear quite early on that the genesis of Enterprise wasn’t as much of an uphill battle as B&B make it out to be. Berman wanted to set the first season on Earth and make it more contemporary and the network rightly called him out on that. The shows set in the 24th century were all huge successes (some more than others) so why would you wanna change that? Never does Berman in the conversation clarify why setting the show in more contemporary times would make it more interesting or compelling for the audience. Berman and Braga also neglect to discuss what the premise of the show was supposed to be and what they intended for the show to accomplish in the x amount of seasons they hoped it would be on the air. The reason for that is simple, they didn’t really have a defined path for the show and the prequel setting was just a gimmick that they didn’t exploit to its fullest potential. They even admit to this when they discuss certain aspects of the show like for example Travis being a boomer brought up on freighters.
After that the conversation quickly goes downhill when Berman and Braga go in full defense mode and start to blame everyone else besides themselves for the failure of the show. The network didn’t get the show and worked against the producers, the fans were too negative, the ratings had started to decline since DS9 and VOY, yada yada and so on and so forth. Followed by the denials; Four seasons IS pretty good for network show, the original Trek only got three, I still think the title song is pretty good! Never did they once just admit that after 18 years they were creatively exhausted and just didn’t have it in them to write another Trek show. The fact that the fans abandoned Enterprise had more to do with the unimaginative and rehashed scripts in the first 2 seasons than network politics. Even more cringeworthy are the annoying barbs made about Manny Coto (‘there’s no such thing as a bad Manny Coto episode Brannon”, quips Berman at one point) which made their closing remarks, about not being resentful towards anyone who would take over the Trek mantle, devoid of any meaning. To me it seemed that Berman and Braga felt that they never got the praise they think they deserved.
I don’t think Berman and Braga killed the franchise. In fact I know they didn’t because this month we will see the second part of a succesfull theatrical reboot. Every franchise needs a breather or a fresh perspective to reinvigorate the concept. This is what was missing on Enterprise and it was a shame that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga couldn’t see that and can’t to this day.