Friday, April 4, 2014

More Enterprise ch-ch-ch-changes!

In 1977, Gene Roddenberry convinced Paramount (which was then considering establishing a television network) to let him try his hand again at Star Trek. This effort, titled Star Trek: Phase II led to a redesign of the USS Enterprise to make it appear more up-to-date. Star Trek art director Matt Jeffries came up with the design revision, although his paintings were worked out physically by the team of Mike Minor, Joe Jennings, Andrew Probert, Douglas Trumbull, Harold Michaelson, and Richard Taylor. The main design changes were to streamline the nacelles, get rid of the antenna dish in favor of a glowing portal, and lighting the ship blue. Probert came up with the idea of painting panels on the hull.

According to a number of publications, James T. Kirk brought the crew of the Enterprise back to Earth after its five-year deep-space mission. He was the first to do so with his crew mostly intact, and with his ship still functioning. This made him a hero, and got him promoted to admiral. The Enterprise underwent a multi-year refit (as depicted in the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture) at spacedock in Earth orbit. Oddly, despite being retrofitted by Starfleet, it is immediately repurposed as a training ship. It is heavily damaged during its battle with the USS Reliant, then destroyed a few weeks (months?) later over the Genesis Planet. Knowing the popularity of the ship, Starfleet already had commissioned another ship to be the Enterprise, which was seen after Kirk, et al., returned to the future with whales in tow. It was once more very heavily damaged during a battle with a small but cloaked Klingon bird-of-prey over the planet Khitomer.

An eight-foot-long model was built for this film. This model served as the USS Enterprise in the second and third films (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). It was also used as the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A in the fourth, fifth, and sixth movies.

The paint on the model contained small particles of mica for the first three Star Trek films. This allowed the surface of the ship to glisten slightly and change color more easily as it turned, creating a more pleasing visual effect.

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