I think the bland lighting and terrible music that took hold once Berman was solidly in control really hurt Modern Trek.
Berman also dictated a shooting and editing style that was pretty conservative, too.
Rene Auberjonois wrote:
With Star Trek there was a specific style of shooting. Rick's approach to directing Star Trek was much more classical. You never cut on a moving shot. You had to have the right amount of close ups, medium shots and reverses. You had to tell the story, and directing Star Trek really taught me a lot about the basics of film making.
(Star Trek Magazine, No. 35, July/Aug 2011)
Compare the franchise to the shooting and editing styles being tried on Miami Vice
('84), Homicide: Life on the Street
('93) or The West Wing
('99) and you'll see what I mean.
Heck, compare the series to the look of Star Trek
('66) and you'll see what I mean.
By the time Berman was willing to take any aesthetic chances (on Enterprise
) the franchise was way behind the curve.
You're absolutely right. Trek definitely wasn't a trend setter the second time around.