Richard Keith "Rick" Berman (born December 25, 1945 in New York, New York, USA) is an American television producer. He is most famous for his work as the executive producer of the Star Trek series after Gene Roddenberry's death. He is very controversial among Star Trek fans, many of whom criticize his handling of the show, though he has some supporters as well.
Work in television
Berman graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967 with a B.A. in speech. From 1977 to 1982, he was the senior producer of The Big Blue Marble for PBS. His work won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series. Between 1982 and 1984 he was an independent producer. He worked on various projects, including What on Earth, an informational series for HBO, and The Primal Mind, a one-hour award-winning special for PBS.
Work in Star Trek
Berman was the executive producer and co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise. He is also responsible for the production and story behind the four TNG movies: Generations (1994), First Contact (1996), Insurrection (1998), and Nemesis (2002).
Criticism by Trekkies
As evidenced by numerous discussions held in popular fora (online, at hosted conventions, etc.), a substantial body of trekkies feel that Rick Berman (and, to a debatable extent, Brannon Braga) are personally responsible for the controversial creative and marketing decisions impacting the Star Trek franchise since the death of Gene Roddenberry:
- Deviation from Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek philosophy, tenor, and production sensibilities
- Corruption of the established Star Trek canon
- Attempt to enhance viewership with sexually-attractive female characters (e.g., the characters Seven of Nine of Star Trek: Voyager and T'Pol of Star Trek: Enterprise)
- Stories' increased reliance on action sequences and violence
- Derivative plotlines
- Flawed, unbelievable premises of science fiction supported by technobabble
Credit for Berman
Many contend that Berman was a successful and effective steward for the Star Trek franchise. Berman, along with Brannon Braga, wrote many of the popular Star Trek episodes. He shared a Hugo Award with Michael Piller for "The Inner Light". Berman authored or co-authored the acclaimed episodes "Brothers" and "Unification" for TNG. Berman's writing was even more prolific in the early seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. He wrote the premiere episode and pilot, "Broken Bow", along with the episodes "Shockwave", "Cogenitor", and "The Expanse", the last of which served as the second season finale; these episodes have been praised by many fans. Additionally, Berman was responsible for the story behind over 30 episodes from the various Star Trek series he has produced, and in his role as Executive Producer he was the principal editor for every script written for each of the series.
Moreover, The Next Generation, the Star Trek series that achieved the most mainstream success, was under the control of Berman though many fans attribute the success due to excellent writers on board such as Ronald D. Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Michael Piller, and Brannon Braga. Many controversial changes, such as the decision to sexualize the show on Voyager and Enterprise are thought to have been caused by pressure from the studio or network (although many suspect Brannon Braga initiated the creation of Seven of Nine and T'Pol).
Berman is one of the most prolific producers in the history of syndicated television. Under his guidance, TNG became an acclaimed science fiction series after the first two heavily criticized seasons under Roddenberry. His supporters contend that if it weren't for Berman the Star Trek franchise might not have survived into the 1990s and beyond. Others however, point to Michael Piller's role as head of the writing staff from the third season of the TNG onwards as the turning point for the TNG, while also connecting the departure of Michael Piller from Star Trek production to the decline in writing quality in subsequent years.
- Rick Berman — profile at startrek.com
- Rick Berman — profile at Global Episode Opinion Survey
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