Back in '79 I had mixed feelings about the TMP refit.
I flat out love
the original MJ design. I still do. Based on pre-release art and pics (of what was the Phase II version) of the TMP ship I wasn't sure what to expect as I wasn't totally won over by the images we were seeing in magazine articles (like Starlog).
When the movie came out I was blown away. The finalized version up on the screen was sooo
much better than the images I'd seen earlier. Everything was well proportioned and well integrated. And the SCALE of it all. The film really brought the Enterprise
to life. There was an added layer or two of realism and detail to it all.
Now that said there were elements I had reservations about. To this day I'm still not fond of the Christmas tree effect of spotlights all over the hull. I understand the reasoning behind them, but I still don't care for it. At first the new style nacelles kind of irked me, but mostly in terms that I don't think they had enough width to them---didn't look as visually balanced (in my mind) as the cylindrical nacelles. The pristine white colour overall was also something I wasn't totally sold on.
So overall I'd say I was about 90% pleased with the refit primarily because even with my reservations it all went together beautifully.
Inside was a mixed bag. A lot of it looked like a credible evolution of the TOS sets, but I also missed the spaciousness of the TOS ship. The original ship allowed me to believe the crew could spend five years within those walls, but the TMP version, particularly the corridors, looked too confining to accept as something you could see yourself spending extended periods in. This was supposed to be a starship on years long mission and not a submarine or naval vessel on patrols lasting a matter of months. On the other hand I thought the main rec-room was oversized.
In many respects the new interiors looked convincing, but I would have liked to see a bit more colour to them. Also some of the interiors could look somewhat unfinished, but then that fit in with the ship being launched ahead of schedule. I found the transporter room to be too dark and claustrophobic so I think that one was a miss along with the transparent partition between the control console and the materialization platform---it just didn't look right.
The Bridge - quite nice overall, but again I'd like to have seen a bit more colour. Not too much, but maybe paint the turbo lift doors and the railings red (a bit darker than the series version).
Main Engineering - okay this I still don't really care for. It struck me as just too divergent from the TOS setup and it looked like it took up a lot of room.
Sickbay - fine as it seemed a logical evolution from what came before.
Transporter Room - no, I think they missed here. It was just too dark and claustrophobic and welcoming. I could easily see why someone like McCoy would feel like they were within an instrument of death in that room. The death of Sonak and Lori Ciana certainly reinforces that anxiety.
Hangar Deck - we really don't see much of it, but it looked okay but maybe a bit too open and oversized. I got the feeling Main Engineering and the Hangar Deck took up most of the secondary hull.
So with the interior overall I was about 60-70% or so happy with it.
I don't really recall any controversy about the TMP design. I recall discussion, but certainly not outrage. In regard to the new look Klingons and the vamped up new Klingon battle cruisers I got the impression they were largely a hit with audiences. That opening scene of the film is still probably the best of all the films.