Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for destiny! Because Star Trek: The Next Generation was destined to be a great show despite it's ch-ch-ch-changes.

The success of the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986 convinced Paramount that a new Star Trek television series should be greenlit. To cut costs (Shatner and Nimoy had garnered mega-high salaries for STIV) and ensure that demand for the films was not harmed, the decision was made to set the show about 50 years in the futue and with an entirely new cast.

Unhappy with early conceptual work, Gene Roddenberry came aboard as creator. At first, Roddenberry said people would travel by intergalactic transporter rather than starship, but this idea was quickly rejected by Paramount execs.

The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D (again, using the same NCC registry and same numbering makes no sense) is a Galaxy-class starship, and the first of its kind. It was built at the Utopia Planetia Shipyard on Mars, and launched in 2363 AD. Its longest-serving captain was Jean-Luc Picard, although Edward Jellico also served briefly as captain. First officer William T. Riker served as brevet captain for a brief time as well. ("Brevet" means a battlefield promotion, one that is not permanent once hostilities cease.) The ship was destroyed in 2371 AD after a brief eight years in service. A renegade Klingon bird-of-prey caused the destruction of the warp nacelles and engineering section. Although the saucer section separated, it crashed on the planet Veridian III and was not salvageable.

Illustrator Andrew Probert was hired by Paramount to design ships, some interiors, and some props for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Probert worked on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but disliked the minimal Enterprise redesign used in that film. For himself, he came up with a redesign that he liked. While working on TNG, he hung this sketch in his office. Writer David Gerrold saw it and brought it to Gene Roddenberry's attention. Roddenberry immediately approved the design!

Probert refined his sketch into a more familiar Star Trek ship shape. His initial design included a D-shaped "battle vessel" which detached from the saucer. The producers then told him they wanted the saucer section to be able to detach from the rest of the ship (an idea which came out of a Star Trek novel). Probert revised his design again. Roddenberry requested that the aft end of the warp nacelles be lengthened and the bridge added to top of the saucer section (rather than within the ship). With that, the design was done.

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) built a two-foot model and a highly detailed six-foot model for the first season, for a total of $75,000. Both had detachable saucers. Legendary model maker Greg Jein built a four-foot miniature which added the Ten Forward windows for the first time; it debuted in the second season. The two-foot and six-foot models went into storage. The six-foot model was hauled out of mothballs and used for the saucer separation sequence in the episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", and then again in the film Star Trek: Generations. The four-foot model was modified into the three-nacelled Enterprise for the series finale "All Good Things..." It as then restored to the two-nacelle design and used for the USS Odyssey and the USS Venture in episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Originally, TNG was set 300 years in the future. The Enterprise would have been NCC-1701-7. This was changed to NCC-1701-G, and then the time-frame for the series changed to just 80 and the numbering changed again to NCC-1701-D.

Andrew Probert was given a patent in 1990 for his design of the Enterprise-D.

The Enterprise-D had 42 decks (double the original's), 1,102 crew (almost four times of that of the original ship), and was twice as long as NCC-1701. Probert designed it to carry a "captain's yacht" (named the Calypso). Never depicted due to budget restrictions on the show, it can be seen inset into the hull on the underside of the saucer section.

The six-foot model of the Enterprise-D sold at auction in 2006 for $576,000.

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