Saturday, August 11, 2007

What do you do when you meet the man who ruined your life?

First, Rene Auberjonois and Nana Visitor were on, and they were hilarious. All the questions were for Rene, and you could tell they were just having an awesome time. Nana is doing her show and Rene is working on his art.

Marc Alaimo, Andy Robinson, and Casey Biggs were also wonderful. My question didn't stand a chance, but that's okay. They were friendly and amusing, and Casey did his death scene again, collapsing into Andy's arms and damaging Andy's mike. Andy talked about doing Dirty Harry and they said there are no plans for a movie, dammit. Casey said we'll still be there in fifty years. He thinks Trek is eternal. Pretty cool. Nana and Rene came onstage briefly to give them each a hug and say hi.

I took an interlude at this point, because I knew what was coming and I didn't want to miss out. I went to see Wil Wheaton and got him to pose for a photo. He was wonderful, very warm and funny, when I told him what I was going to do, and he even thanked me for doing it.

So, as for what I was going to do, here we go. First, some clarification on the title. My life, of course, revolves around Star Trek. I have tried and failed to change this and eventually I decided that Star Trek is the medium in which I work. I'm stuck with it and it's stuck with me. So if Star Trek is my life, what is Brannon Braga?

Because he was here today.

I considered missing that part of the show, but I just couldn't. I had to know. I considered several questions, among them, "If I asked nicely would you fall on your head and drown in your own barf?" and "How do you sleep at night?" but I settled for "What would you change?"

Simple question, really. He had to know it was coming.

To be fair, I should add that Brannon didn't ruin my life singlehandedly. He had help. I have divided the responsibility between him, Rick Berman, the studio/network, and various random factors that can impact a show, and decided that he was precisely one-quarter of the problem which means he owes me one-quarter of an apology. His lame answer to my question was not one quarter of an apology, but what preceeded it was like, three sixteenths. He said, "I know some of you are here because you're very upset, or you want answers."

He said that because he knows we have a right to them. Not because he was willing to provide.

I'm ten minutes from Avery Brooks/Cirroc Lofton/Penny Jerald, so this post will be updated later.

Okay, it's later.

So then he turns to the left and says, "I'm going to start with this angry-looking young woman here." Drat. I'd tried so hard to hide my fury. Not easy. I was shaking with rage. I've never shaken with rage before.

"Mr. Braga," I asked in what I think was a very calm and reasonable voice considering who I was speaking to, "I just wanted to know that in all your long history with Star Trek is there anything that, looking back now, you wish that you had done, hadn't done, or done differently?"

I wasn't really expecting any kind of apology or statement of wrongdoing, but I so badly wanted him to say, "I'm really sorry for Seven of Nine dressed like she was, I'm sorry for Enterprise being so crappy, I'm sorry for this, I'm sorry for that, I'm sorry for All Good Things, I'm sorry for These Are The Voyages, I'm sorry sorry sorry."

Instead he said, "No."

Actually, it was longer than that. But it could be boiled down to "No." It was more like, "Well, I guess I thought we had some great epsiodes we thought were crap and some crappy episodes we thought were great and so I can't go back and say I wish I'd done this or that because I don't know what would happen."

I'd like to stop and analyze that answer for a minute.

So what he's saying is that in fifteen years he never regretted a script, a decision, an episode? This can't have been an unexpected question. There has to have been a moment where he said, "You know, maybe not my best idea." I'll give him some. Gladly.

Okay, I'd better get off this now. If you want to know I'll give you a few dozen.

Two questions later he said he regretted how the final episode turned out. Lie number one, I guess, is buried somewhere in between those two answers. And you know, if he had thought about my question, he wouldn't have had to think very far because that was the last Trek we ever saw.

Then he said he was involved, in a more supervisory way, with Season 4, which just makes me think he must have been lying to me because he followed that up with a variation on "Gosh, I could have been doing that!" Season 4: Enterprise finally living up to its potential when no one was left to watch. And then he said that the cast hated These are the Voyages also, so why did we have to have it? Maybe, you know, if you're realizing that Enterprise does better without you, and you've noticed that reactions to things you do tend to be the exact opposite of what you thought, and the whole cast hates the script, you might, I don't know, not write the thing yourself?

Okay, I'm breathing, I'm calm, I'm stable, I'm not going to kill anyone.

On to the issues raised in Rick Berman's book, which I already blogged about, but simply stated - Rick seems to think that it's all UPN's fault. The network wanted this, the network wanted that, we were just powerless, blah, blah, blah.

Leaving the issues raised by that little beauty aside for the moment (trust me, they will be addressed) I would like to talk about Brannon's response when this topic was raised (and express my love to the person who raised it).

"The studio wasn't involved. They stayed out of it. They got involved when we had a controversial script." That's paraphrased, by the way.

Why do I doubt that? The lying sack of--

Okay, moving on! Really, we'll just

"But," said the fan who asked the question, "didn't you say on the Enterprise DVD's that the studio was involved with the decision making?"

Can I marry this guy? Is he available? Because right then I would have married him in a second. What's his name? Anyone know?

Lie number two. And this time it's on the record in a million homes across America.

"Star Trek was about looking forward, and the studio preferred the 29th century." So they pitched the prequel and the studio didn't like that, so then he said, "Well, I have this temporal cold war idea for a series, let's just throw that in there!"

Explains a lot, doesn't it?

My dad arrived at this time and started asking me a question, I glanced over at him and he jumped back about five feet. I think my glare may have actually scalded his skin.

The topic had moved on to Trip's death. Wanna know why Trip died? Because he was Brannon's favorite character. Read into that one all you want, I don't really feel like psychoanalysing Brannon Freaking Braga right now. Actually, he'd always wanted to do a story with a lot of emotional impact (like a well-loved character dying for no reason? This is not the first season of TNG and Connor is not Denise Crosby you lying sack of--- okay, I'm over it). Okay, so he'd always wanted to do a story with more emotional impact, but he was never allowed to.

Never allowed to? By who? The studio? The network? I thought they weren't involved. At this point I actually heard myself growl. Not just a grunt, but we're talking full-on Worf. Dad jumped a little bit and edged slightly away.

Why did he go to Voyager and not DS9? Well, thank heaven for small favors. Actually, Michael Piller asked him along, which is all kinds of disturbing. He referred to Michael as the Late, Great Michael Piller, by the way, for which I give him kudos even if he was just trying to score points. Anyway, he wanted to see NextGen through and then it was a natural transition to Voyager. So, yay. He didn't wreck DS9.

And then the topic of the anachoronisms in Enterprise was raised, and thankfully he didn't say that we should get a life or any variation thereof because I might have escalated to a full Klingon roar. Instead I contented myself with scribbling furiously in my notebook the words, "Contrary to opinions we payed attention to continuity." He continued to the Vulcan stuff, about the changes in Vulcan culture. He tried to soothe us with the words "Cultures evolve. That was 100 years before Kirk!"

Vulcans live for 200 years you idiot.

Lie number three. Some attention to continuity.

I know that cultures change between lifetimes. Biology and the ability to mind-meld (physical ability which T'Pol did not posess) do not. By the time Tuvok was born, mind-melds were universal on Vulcan. Everyone could do it and it was accepted in the culture. The words "mind-meld community college" were spoken, but luckily my dad was trying to ask me a question right then and I wasn't paying attention. I just caught the phrase.

Lucky for Brannon, that is. And for me, because I'm pretty sure they'd throw me out if I punched a guest.

And all of a sudden, it's all UPN's fault. They hurt Voyager. They hurt Enterprise. Hey, didn't you just say they weren't involved at all?

I started seeing red spots.

And then they vanished when he said, "I am not mentally capable." Of course, that's taken out of context. I couldn't hear the context because of the red spots and the buzzing in my ears, but I plan to misuse that quote for the rest of my life.

He said that if the show had looked like it was before classic Trek, it would have looked cheesy. "It's probably a little more important to make the show look cool," he said. I wonder if he's seen Star Wars Episode III. Because that was brilliant.

By this point I was shaking with rage. I sat through Larry Nemecek, still quaking. Mom got there and asked how it went and I couldn't say anything. Dad said, "I could see smoke coming out of her ears."

I hope Brannon Braga got scalded.

I'm shaking with anger again. I'll finish my post when I'm not.

My Creepy Middle School Crush

This blog was written in pieces throughout the day. Tenses may be a little off. Don't blame me for that - I tried.

George Takei was wonderful. He took a lot of questions and was very patient with his fans. One thing I noticed was that everything seems to be about Japanese internment with him, which is understandable, if irritating. People asked why he took so long to come out, but he says he already was out, he just hadn't talked to the press. He didn't talk to the press because he was worried about what would happen to his career. I think it's just made him more popular, and forced a lot of trekkies to confront their feelings about homosexuality.

Walter Koenig was also wonderful and very funny. He spent a lot of time teasing George, who was backstage, yelling, "George, I can hear you out here!"
The state of Star Trek is pretty damn shitty, if you ask me. He talked a lot about InAlienable, and showed us some world premiere clips of the new movie, which looks awesome. Walter cast his daughter, who is a stand-up comic, in one role, and Marina is playing a role that originally was going to Bob Picardo but that didn't work out because Walter was suppossed to go on the cruise, but then he didn't so he could film the movie, so then Bob replaced him. That's in case you care and I'm just realizing now how insane that sounds and how much you probably do not care one bitty bit.

And then I walked myself up to the room, and I left my notebook and my keycard. My Nichelle Nichols encounter was next. No notebook. Very sad.

Lucky for me, the front of my program was completely blank. Well, not blank, but it just had pictures on it, so I figured I'd take notes on that. Nichelle was very nice to everyone, and started with the questions right away, pretty much, and they asked about everything. They asked about her son's reaction to her being on Star Trek (positive) and about Uhura's relationship with Scotty (if you've seen V recently, you get that) and she actually told a very funny story about where that came from.

See, the joke on the set was that Nichelle and Jimmy were the "old married couple". They would friendly snipe at each other and tease each other and Jimmy was the crochety old man and when he had a heart attack Nichelle rushed to his side and said, "If you'd died on me I would have killed you." Stuff like that. So naturally, when Harve Bennett learned about this, it was worked into the script for V.

She talked about being in Are We There Yet? as a favor to Ice Cube. Some favor. She also shared details of "Of Gods and Men". The set, she said, is so realistic that when she walked onto it in the movie and said her line "As I live and breathe..." she didn't even have to act. That set is amazing. She told the Martin Luther King story. I love that story.

And then they did the State of Star Trek. And I decided to kill J.J.

Ten minutes before, I wouldn't have said that. I was happy with the new movie, J.J. Abrams, the works, right. Especially the part of M:I3 where they tell Tom Cruise he has an explosive in his head...

But I digress.

It's all over now. Kid gloves off, and if J.J. wants my loyalty back in any measure, he's gonna have to work his ass off.

See, J.J. didn't show up.

He's suppossed to be here, right now, as I write this. He's suppossed to be sitting in the sixth chair of the State of Star Trek panel, waiting for his turn (last, of course, for the movie publicity).

He didn't show.

He's not here.

It's a lack of respect for the fans, for the world into which he's entering. Now, if I see on the net tonight that his mother died today, I will forgive him. If his house burned down, if his dog got ran over, if Tom Cruise showed up and demanded surgery to remove the explosive from his brain, appendicitis, a really bad cold, the works. There is someone from CBS joking about James Van Der Beek as Kirk. They're doing some new marketing, there's manga, there's comics, there's some new books (including Captain Kirk's Guide to Women), but J.J. was suppossed to be here. He didn't show.

I want him to have appendicitis, or be held hostage by Tom Cruise. I want these things because I don't enjoy being let down, and I REALLY don't like being let down by Star Trek. I wish right now that I don't care so much as I do. Sometimes, you know, I wonder if I'm still a fan or I'm just used to it. Now I know. Definitely a fan.

They just announced that they're making a Martok action figure and an Ezri figure. Happy happy.

Okay, and then there was D.C. Fontana. Adam totally hogged her, but I got the first question - how did she feel about having established so much of the canon? She said she just made it up, and they had someone whose job it was to keep the continuity going. I think that position may have fallen victim to budget cuts before Enterprise came along. She was amazingly patient and had tons of information and real-world knowledge of the very beginning of, well, my life, as odd as it may sound.

And then they announced she was gonna do autographs. For everyone.

Well, wait a minute. I didn't have anything for her to autograph. I'd just written all over my program! Well, I could just run out and get one -

But then, right then, came Dominic Keating and Connor Trineer. These were half the reason Enterprise was tolerable! (T'Pol, as much as it pains me to say it, and various random decent moments are the other half.) This was tragic!

Just then my parents got back from wherever they'd gone, bearing a program. I managed to pry the program away from my dad and happily got in line when they called my row, able to listen to Dominic's repeated requests for more beer, Connor's constant being cut off, the insults, the laughter, and the story about Dominic signing the knickers (british word for panties) worn by Connor in one epsiode of season 1 for a transvestite at a previous convention. I should mention that the woman was wearing them at the time.

Some people...

Terry Farrell was up right away afterwards, and we finally learned the truth about why she left. She asked for more money, Rick Berman said no, and you know what that means in showbiz. The ax. Or the mystical energy to the stomach, whatever. She talked about her son, Max, and her husband. She seems very happy and I think she had a good time. It's been years since she did a con, so we were lucky to be able to see her. They showed a Jadzia music video that made me tear up - I really loved the character and it was hard to lose her.

I skipped the Okudas and went to Borg War. Big. Damn. Mistake. That's all I'll say.

Okay, plot holes the size of Jupiter. Now I'm done.

And then it was time for... The Party.

I missed meeting Connor, but I did meet Garrett Wang, who was not supposed to be here, but there he was. Ohmigod! I ran up to meet him. "I have to tell you," I said, "you were my creepy middle school crush!" I think that was way better than some generic "I love you!" or "You should have been promoted." He laughed and thanked me and posed for a picture with me. God, I love him! Still!

I met some Trekkies and we went for a drink afterward. I explained my Nemesis theory to a guy from Illinois. Sometime I'll detail it here, probably adjacent to a Nemesis viewing.

I'll post this tomorrow. Please comment if you're reading!