Guess who has his computer back!
Of all the bridges in the Star Trek multiverse the bridge of the Galaxy Class is my favorite. The seats look comfortable, there’s room to walk around, the captain’s office is right there to get work done but isn’t the small dance hall Janeway has on Voyager (the thing’s practically a living room), and it just has a nice relaxing feel to it. If I were to design the bridge of a large spacecraft I’d go with that design. Of course, I’m not a military guy (although I have the highest respect for the military, be they veterans, currently active, or gave their lives) and at this point neither was Gene Roddenberry. He wanted to get all possible military influence out of the new ship as he could, and even added civilians to the mix.
In this section of the story bible we’ll be taking a look at the bridge set and the changes to the bridge between series. This starts a full examination of the new Enterprise-D, the fifth vessel to use the name and 1701 designation. According to the writer’s guide this ship is twice the length and approximately eight times the interior size. There will be a lot of ground to cover to see how the guide describes the ship to writers who have never seen it because this was the first season and the only images they’ll get is in this booklet. We’ll start with a brisk walk around the corridors first.
The general “what’s changed” section that the ship is designed to be “home in a very literal sense” to 1012 persons, but the Memory Alpha wiki on the Galaxy Class ships notes that it was shown to have an “evacuation capacity” of 15,000 and that 1,012 number was just the crew. Remember, the Galaxy Class ships like Enterprise-D also carried civilian personnel, like a crewmember’s spouse and children, plus the teachers and other caretakers who may or may not have also been Starfleet personnel. Memory Alpha’s entry on the Enterprise-D itself also notes the following:
Comparing the Enterprise-D (a Galaxy) with a Constitution using a 3D modeling program shows that the former had over 25 times the internal volume than the latter. The claimed “eight times” may refer only to the regularly accessible habitable volume.
That link is for those of you like heavy reading and a whole lot of thinking about the internal volume of fictional space vehicles. But I think the guidelines given to first season writers sufficed for their needs. Specifics would come later on. The guide goes on (yes, we’re finally getting past the elbow room) to say that they were getting rid of the “metallic sterility” of the original ship, although most of the ships even in the 24th century of different classes seems to have their own metallic sterility. The Defiant was meant to be a warship against the Borg, but Voyager was part of the Intrepid class designed for longer range voyages than the Galaxy Class and it seems less relaxing, especially the bridge. (As mentioned, Janeway’s ready room could be used as living space it was so large in comparison.) They called it “technology unchained”, because the feng shui craze hadn’t caught on when the guide was written. Just blame it on some alien tongues not being able to say it or something. Part of “tech unchained” (and this is the only time I have ever heard this term being used FYI) is that they stopped worrying about making things smaller and focused on improving the quality of life…which for some things I would think would mean making things smaller, but considering my cheap cellphone is probably more powerful than their standard tricorder sometimes science trumps science fiction.
Speaking of tech then and now and then, the guide mentions the combination of touchscreens and voice-activated, which again a cellphone or tablet can do. That didn’t exist or was still in early stages throughout the show’s entire run, not just season 1. I wonder if this is another example of Star Trek influencing actual technology? I wonder if combadges are coming or if they’re satisfied with those bluetooth earpieces that make you look like a crazy person talking to yourself? Although I think they stopped using some of the features mentioned rather quickly. For example it mentions that you can ask where someone is and it will use the panels in the hallways to direct you there with arrows. Was this ever used past “Encounter At Farpoint”? I’m not even sure when they stopped using “show me…” commands but I don’t remember them used on anything other than dedicated monitors.
Then we get to the bridge, which includes a black and white version of Andrew Probert’s concept art sketch for the bridge. I imagine it’s the final one since it’s fully accurate. However, the image in this PDF file I’m using is from a photocopy that isn’t quite readable. It gives descriptions of the various areas but you can’t read them. While I couldn’t fit the detailed descriptions I used the actual sketch to at least show off the layouts as pointed to in the sketch. If you care anything about this article series I probably don’t have to tell you what each section does because you saw them in action for seven years.
I hope it’s easy to understand but at least you can read it. I mean, look at this thing.
Now I don’t know what the original story bible looked like but if this is the photocopy they gave to the writers and directors it was pointless. I’m kind of hoping someone else made photocopies for themselves for whatever reason and that’s what ended up on the internet.
The design is part of that “technology unchained feng shui” idea. According to the bible the ability to control the ship was simplified. You don’t need as many stations on the bridge as you did on the old Constitution class Enterprise. It was just controlled by the CON (command and vessel control, with helm and navigation as one system…guess Chekov’s out of work) and OPS (vessel operations, including the stuff Scotty used to do on the bridge so the new Chief Engineer doesn’t get to leave the engine room and interact with the bridge crew) stations. The guide says it the same level of efficiency, but more like an airliner than a military ship. Roddenberry was trying to push out as much “military” as he could at this time, which is why the phasers now resemble TV remotes more than guns.
From the moment the starship’s destination is selected and the journey begun, every detail of the voyage is guided and monitored by sophisticated 24th century sensor/computer combinations. “Routine” emergencies are sensed and analyzed with counter-measures already underway long before human help is possible or even desirable.
That’s their emphasis, not mine. I guess that’s supposed to be more efficient but there’s a part of me remembering Captain Kirk’s fight with the M5 computer when it says “or even desirable”. From there it goes into detail about the bridge set. It points out and further describes the images above but also points out that the door I didn’t label (because I couldn’t tell they did with that picture) is the back door, leading to the “head and washroom”. So now you know where the bathroom is on the bridge. (Meanwhile the ready room is supposed to have it’s own bathroom, which I guess must have been along the “fourth wall” because I don’t remember seeing a door to it.) I think that’s also the door they used to go to the conference room, or “bridge lounge” as the guide calls it. It also talks about the improved “holographic” main viewer compared to the bridge of the unlettered NCC-1701, because of course the bigger the TV is the better it is.
Based on what I can tell after seven seasons of show and the movie that modified the set before smashing the thing into a planet, the guide does give a proper description of the bridge we all know and at least I love. In our next installment we’ll conclude our tour of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D with all the new toys that was brought to the Galaxy class ship. And thanks to my friend Tim I’ll hopefully still be doing it on my own computer!