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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old May 2 2013, 04:56 AM   #1
xvicente
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Saucer Separation

Back when TNG was about to be released, a great deal was said about the ship's ability to separate the battle section etc. To me it sounded like another boast that TNG would have better special effects (among other production values) than TOS.

Never made much sense to me. One or both sections have to lack some important system (how about a warp engine for the saucer?), or in "normal" mode, have to haul an awful lot of redundant equipment. It could be argued it's easier to have two complete spaceships.

Then there's the battle section looks very weird IMHO.

Turned out that, after the show-off in the pilot episode, that capability was used only in a few episodes and, I dare to say, never in a decisive manner.

I read somethere the designer of the Enterprise D wasn't told the ship was supposed to separate until after the design was complete (and with not much time left to devote to the problem).

I wonder if some more aesthetic solution could be invented given more time, or if the shape of the ship would have to be greatly modified.
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Last edited by xvicente; May 2 2013 at 05:00 AM. Reason: grammar and stuff. I'm tired, ok?
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Old May 2 2013, 05:05 AM   #2
R. Star
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Re: Saucer Separation

Well if you have two complete spaceships you're just gonna end up with two different mission profiles. Though given how often they're the only ship in range... two smaller ships might be a good thing instead of one big one.

But to the saucer separation? Well... it seemed cool at first, but it just wasn't practical. Both from a budget and effects issue, an aesthetic issue as you mentioned, and a practicality issue in regards to the ship. How often do they have time to separate and how often would it seem that saucer is just vulnerable on the edge of a battle zone? Really the movie Generations gave it it's most practical use... a giant escape pod.
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Old May 2 2013, 05:07 AM   #3
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Re: Saucer Separation

Also in an hour-long episode you generally don't have the time to spend dealing with saucer separation stuff when you could be dealing with actual story.
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Old May 2 2013, 05:13 AM   #4
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Re: Saucer Separation

Saucer separation is a matter of practicality. What do aesthetics matter? If you're in a situation where you need to go into battle and leave non-essential personnel behind, how pretty the ship is is the last thing on your mind.

What they should have done is made the whole separation process faster, given the saucer some kind of limited warp capability, and put the main bridge in the drive section. There were plenty of times in TNG I was left wondering why they didn't leave the saucer somewhere before going into a dangerous situation.
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Old May 2 2013, 05:15 AM   #5
R. Star
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Re: Saucer Separation

Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
Saucer separation is a matter of practicality. What do aesthetics matter? If you're in a situation where you need to go into battle and leave non-essential personnel behind, how pretty the ship is is the last thing on your mind.

What they should have done is made the whole separation process faster, given the saucer some kind of limited warp capability, and put the main bridge in the drive section. There were plenty of times in TNG I was left wondering why they didn't leave the saucer somewhere before going into a dangerous situation.
How the ship looks matters when you're selling a sci-fi show to an audience.
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Old May 2 2013, 05:17 AM   #6
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Re: Saucer Separation

The drive section by itself always looked incomplete to me... and I thought that was the whole point!
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Old May 2 2013, 06:28 AM   #7
C.E. Evans
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Re: Saucer Separation

Saucer separation was only to be used in worst-case scenarios: either when the stardrive section has been compromised (as was the case in Generations) or in an unfavorable battle situation in which the stardrive section will be sacrificed to allow most of the crew to escape in the saucer.
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Old May 2 2013, 08:17 AM   #8
Timo
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Re: Saucer Separation

...given the saucer some kind of limited warp capability...
They really gave the saucer that from the get-go.

And not even particularly "limited" at that. The saucer reached Deneb IV only a few hours later than the stardrive section, despite back-backtracking a significant interstellar distance. Remember how, when faced with Q, Picard turned around and ran from him at higher-than-recommended-maximum warp for several minutes? The saucer would have had to undo that. Ergo, significant warp capacity.

The idea of the saucer as being capable of whisking most of the crew to safety at warp is reinforced in "Arsenal of Freedom". We further learn that even when released at impulse, the saucer can attain interstellar speeds all on its own, and successfully reach a distant starbase. (If this were not the case, LaForge should be shot at dawn for not giving the saucer an initial warp boost before separation.)

This all jibes well with "Heart of Glory", where Riker sees a risky situation and recommends preemptive separation, yet Picard argues that there is time to utilize the saucer's escape abilities later, when the threat has been either confirmed or dismissed.

Other episodes or movies flow with this... Only "Brothers" discusses the details of dropping the saucer from warp to sublight, but this is in the specific context of forcing the saucer out of warp. I guess we could argue, based on "Brothers", that the reason the saucer is docked to the stardrive section rather than merely flying in formation with it is that the mighty warp engines of the saucer are normally idled for economy and take time and effort to rev up.

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Old May 2 2013, 08:39 AM   #9
davejames
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Re: Saucer Separation

Personally I always thought it was surprising that Picard didn't use the ability a lot MORE. Especially in battle like we saw in BOBW, where you'd basically have two-ships-in-one and could flank the enemy and attack from both sides.

The saucer may not have had warp drive, but it did had some massive phaser banks to defend itself and attack other ships. And we've seen LOTS of Trek battles where the ships utilized nothing but impulse engines to maneuver around, so it's not like that's a new thing (hell, it's not like the Ent-D looked all that maneuverable even with both halves together; that thing was always slow as hell).
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Old May 2 2013, 08:50 AM   #10
Timo
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Re: Saucer Separation

hell, it's not like the Ent-D looked all that maneuverable even with both halves together; that thing was always slow as hell
The E-D looked like a whale, but moved like a swallow... We often saw her turning on a dime. It's just that when you already have weapons pointing in every direction, there isn't much motivation to do a barrel roll.

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Old May 2 2013, 11:30 AM   #11
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Re: Saucer Separation

Timo wrote: View Post
hell, it's not like the Ent-D looked all that maneuverable even with both halves together; that thing was always slow as hell
The E-D looked like a whale, but moved like a swallow... We often saw her turning on a dime. It's just that when you already have weapons pointing in every direction, there isn't much motivation to do a barrel roll.

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I think we only have seen the Enterprise turn like that in Generations.
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Old May 2 2013, 11:42 AM   #12
C.E. Evans
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Re: Saucer Separation

davejames wrote: View Post
Personally I always thought it was surprising that Picard didn't use the ability a lot MORE.
I'm actually glad that they didn't use it a lot more. I think ideally, saucer separation should only be used for abandon ship (or abandon stardrive) scenarios.
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Old May 2 2013, 11:51 AM   #13
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Re: Saucer Separation

I've said it before, but another sensible use for the separation would have been to leave the saucer in orbit of a planet you are studying in detail while the rest of the ship does another mission (say, zipping around and scanning the area).

My guess is the real reason they abandoned the separation was just because they didn't have many shots of the separated models, and when they shifted to the non-separable 4-footer, that was that. There's also the space the Battle Bridge set took. They can say it was because it slowed the story down, but they could have easily cut down the number of shots for the separation to make it quick.
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Old May 2 2013, 12:16 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: Saucer Separation

I think we only have seen the Enterprise turn like that in Generations.
I think we first saw the "tight turn out of trouble" thing in "The Defector", where Picard tries to high-tail it out of the Nelvana III ambush and basically pivots the ship on the aft tip of one nacelle. It was then played at various speeds in a variety of later episodes, sometimes suggesting a routine maneuver, sometimes a rapid trick of evasion.

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Old May 2 2013, 12:24 PM   #15
Dream
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Re: Saucer Separation

If they did the separation thing all the time, it would feel less special. I think they made the right call by not over using it. We can could the number of times the saucer separated in one hand.
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