Saturday, January 3, 2009

Star Trek: The Enterprise C

That design to me, is everything the Galaxy class was supposed to be and failed to accomplish. It took everything from the Connie Refit and Excelsior and advanced that design aesthetic to the 24th century, but with the proper proportions that the Galaxy lacked. The only flaw I can think of is how they forgot to include a photon torp launcher on the neck.

The Galaxy just looks grossly misproportioned though. Saucer's too big. Oval. Engineering section's got that hideous deflector that looked like a bullseye. Stubby and insubstantial nacelles. The one thing I felt the Galaxy did get right was the main shuttlebay on the saucer. That looked good and made sense, given the immense size of the ship. Unfortunately, they did away with the traditional shuttlebay on the engineering section, which I felt was a mistake. Another thing the Ambassador class did right, it had both.

Oh yea, the Galaxy also started the tradition of giving the bottom of the saucer a "Captain's yacht" which was completely unnecessary and offensive. Why would you design a special pleasure boat for the Captain to use? He's too good for a shuttle? It was ridiculous. Once you start making Captain's yachts, what's next? Making the bridge detachable and calling it a Captain's Command Craft?

The central problem of the Galaxy? It looks like a cruise liner. Which is completely what I DON'T want my Federation starships to look like. I like my Fed starships to look like hardcore warships. I wasn't asking for a dystopian look either. I mean, I'm not asking for the Sulaco here. But you look at the Connie Refit, and that neck photon torp launcher is big and prominent and menacing while also quite stylish and beautiful. That's what I mean.

I really feel that the Ent D went too far in the opposite direction. The thing looks like fully half of its surface is composed of windows. That's what makes it look like a cruise liner. And I can't help but feel like that looks structurally weak. Like, if it look a photon torp, it'd just hit windows and collapse a large part of the hull. Sure, it's scifi and technology means it's probably just fine, but the abundance of windows makes it look weak. The other starship designs had windows too, but never as many proportionally as the Galaxy.

You know what, that whole tone of the more peaceful time just didn't work for me. It made for some of TNG's worst episodes. It was responsible for the low points. And by that, I mean Holodeck episodes. As opposed to the highs of TNG, which were all pretty much the gritty hardcore episodes: Best of Both Worlds, Yesterday's Enterprise.

Were you ever let down that they never ever followed through on Picard and Crusher? And that episode Attached didn't fit the bill. Too little, too late. What can I say, guess I'm just an ol romantic.

But yea, Holodecks... hate em hate em hate em. Holodeck malfunctions, wacky hijinks ensue. With some sort of Sherlock Holmes or Gangster theme. What were they smoking back then? But I guess what's silliest is how they ever get access to the holodeck in the first place, considering there are 4 holodecks and they have to share it with a thousand other people on the ship. So you shouldn't ever have enough time to get holoaddiction or screw stuff up.

I just rewatched Best of Both Worlds Part 2 yesterday and this exchange really struck me as embodying what was great about the episode, and what was great about the best episodes in general.

Guinan: "I've heard a lot of people talking down in Ten-Forward. They expect to be dead in the next day or so. They trust you. They like you. But they don't believe anyone can save them."

Riker: "I'm not sure anyone can."

The entire dark tone is just something so refreshing and exciting after the mellow meandering of the first two seasons. That exchange, full of despair, fear, and solemn resolve, really showed what the best kind of Star Trek storytelling could achieve.

All the best Star Trek episodes have moments like that. Sure, we've also got to deal with holodeck hijinks, microfractures in the dilithium recalibration chamber, remodulating the deflector array to emit a graviton pulse, stuff like that... technobabble that makes no sense. That's also a part of Trek, and it can't ever fully leave, because we need that stuff too. But the decline in the later Trek series is, I think, due to the fact that that latter stuff completely took over, and we weren't given any of the former.

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