Does TOS Still Look Futuristic to You?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    The interior designs of all Treks were largely decided upon for reasons of practicality with an eye towards "contemporary" standards of the day. They wished to appear forward thinking but relatable to audiences of their respective days. Nothing laughable about that.

    And, as I stated earlier, even in retrospect the "look" serves a valid function in providing a contextual framework. The 60s look of TOS helps cue us, for example, to be forgiving in their attitude towards women.

    Though I will say TNG was not as advanced in terms of how they depicted women as they should have been.

    I would also confess to finding terms such as "laughable" to be wrong and offensive. Offensive because I view the artisans and technicians who did the best they could do in providing a real and plausible backdrop for the story to inhabit. No matter what the age or era these folks should be hailed and their efforts never derided by disdainful laughter.
     
  2. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was. I think the way it was laid-out in TNG just made it seem to be larger than the TOS bridge. I had a lot more open space, so I think it seemed less closded-in than Kirk's bridge did.
     
  3. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    TOS is probably the most dated in its look but the quality of the scripts means it still holds up. The most dated element of the production for me is the music. Especially the music that plays for the 7 second awkward pause after a "joke" has been made.

    The most futuristic Trek is The Motion Picture. Though that loses points for McCoy's disco outfit.
     
  4. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    I remember them saying they had to break down a wall in the studio to accomidate the TNG bridge which had to be larger because the ship was so much larger itself with over 1000 people instead of 400. Plus it slanted down, like Picard's head too. It was ridiculous like they kept changing their mind as to want they wanted and went with a mish mash of several different designs stuck together. GR was getting dimensional then I think. The predators were too much for him. they made him look like he was standing still and was an outdated dinosaur, almost to the point where seemed like Berman just told everyone to ignore him and worship the Golden calf like E.G. Marshell did in Moses. GR was no Charton Heston at that time. The fix was in. Even his memos were probably being ignored and laughed at like TOS was this goofy, corny, outdated thing compared to what they were doing, only none of them, including GR at the time knew what they were doing really.
     
  5. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm sorry you find the term offensive. You are taking it the wrong way. No one has greater respect for the artists that defined the look of the various series than I do. My point is simple -- that from the point of view of future viewers, the choice of say, the NX-01's plasma screen monitors in a near future age of self-luminous Organic Light Emitting Diode or Nano-Emissive displays will in retrospect look nearsighted. The abstract flat displays in TOS will leave room for future tinkerers to insert moving images if they choose, while those thick plasma screens from the 1990s will always be there on that 22nd century bridge.

    That doesn't mean the choice was "wrong". It means it will have a shorter shelf life. "Laughable" like the carefully conceived and wrought 1950 Robert Heinlein film "Destination Moon" looked laughable a decade after it was made. Technology had taken a different path and the rockets and pressure suits of 1960 looked very different from those depicted in the movie, which looked locked in an era of extrapolated V-2s.

    Since that is the subject of this thread -- the "shelf life" of TOS design -- I believe my comment is pertinent -- not impertinent.
     
  6. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't think the music is 'dated', I just know every damn cue. I can play them in my head. I know exactly what humorous cue you're talking about. (Actually I'm thinking of the whimsical, puzzled cue as featured in Tomorrow is Yesterday. "A son, I...have a son")
     
  7. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    I'll take you at your word.

    Then we are not so far apart, if at all. Yes, all Trek's will reflect the periods in which they are produced both in style and function. I just do not believe most future viewers will get hung up on that unalterable reality - at least to the point of turning their backs on it.

    Example: My wife and I have been revisiting the Rockford Files TV series ('74-'80). The level of technology (or lack thereof) is noticable. Big boxey cars, no cell phones (even car phones were rare), no internet or personal computers. Rockfords using a portable printing press to make his phony business cards as oppossed to using a printer. Pretty much everything we take for granted today, but it is still incredible fun to watch because of the strength of the characters. The transcendence, universality, relatability of people and situations and conflicts.

    Well, again I feel there is a wrongmindedness to insisting on using "laughable" - as if folks watch old movies and TV with a hyper-critical eye in scrutinizing everything for the sole purpose of finding fault or to invalidate the production. Most folks, I believe, take things in stride and have their own built-in "anachromatic compensator" built right into their imaginations. They notice but do not let it distract.

    Another example would be "Earth vs the Flying Saucers" were the tech and look is all dated but the concepts and strength of drama compels audiences past getting hung-up on it's dated look.

    You have stated your beliefs and outlook - I respect that. That sort of sharing is absolutely why we are all here. I'm still not sure why you're determined to justify the overly harsh label of "laughable," but that is your right to do so.
     
  8. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, firstly I think "laughable" isn't such a bad thing. You place your bets and take your chances. We're talking prognostication here. The Rockford Files took place in a real, definite past. It looks dated because it is. Something pretending to show our future that is outpaced by reality before its time comes is no less art than "Metropolis" or HG Wells. The bets were a little off, that's all. And that can elicit an "I'm laughing with you" chuckle. Because hey- how many of us could do better? Few get things as right as Wah Chang's communicator or the TOS pad. And when they do, we should have room to applaud.
     
  9. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Trek TOS had the tricorder, which looked pretty much like a 1960s portable radio or tape recorder with a small viewscreen. The PADD first appeared in TNG. ENT had PADDs that more closely resembled today's tablet computers.
     
  10. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  11. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Oh, that thingy that Kirk was always using to sign off on fuel consumption reports or whatever. Yeah, I guess it could be retconned as an early-model PADD.

    But I will never, never accept TOS landing parties being referred to as "away teams"! :angryrazz:
     
  12. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Which is why I wish that Abrams & Co. would drop the stupid miniskirts and let the women wear pants, as in the pilot 'The Cage'. In fact, several feminists have said that that's what should happen in Star Trek Into Darkness, and they said it in 2009-2010. Holding on to this part of Star Trek 'just because it's tradition' is bullshit; the modern military isn't like that for women generally (unless female personnel are in smart dress mode.)

    I think that the bridge has dated, and the bridge seen in the Abramsverse is a lot better.
     
  13. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The flip side of using flatscreen computer displays in Enterprise is that they were animated (and within budget, always the primary consideration) and due to good graphic design they appeared to be providing information to the crew. The major issue that's always existed with Star Trek - and this is particularly true of TOS - is that the equipment on the bridge is attractive but rarely appears to be doing anything useful.

    Probably the most persuasive instruments on the TOS bridge were Spock's viewer and Sulu's targeting scope, simply because you couldn't judge the visual plausibility of whatever they were looking at.

    A second way in which the Enterprise bridge is more persuasive is that the design employs the kind of basic ergonomics - heights, angles, size of panel layouts - that people have become familiar with in modern office environments and personal computers. The TOS is much more seat-of-the pants in that regard. Uhura occupies a station that's twice the size it ought to be and tilted up before her at an extreme angle that happens to look good on camera because that angle better shows off the backlit jelly-button "control panels."

    The TOS bridge is my favorite Star Trek set, period, but that's not because of its plausibility so much as the esthetics and way the design "plays" - yeah, getting to and from Kirk's chair is ridiculous, but the eye lines and character movement from level to level are great.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Some of the women in the 2009 movie wore pants. Some didn't.
     
  15. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Seem to remember it is the same width as TOS bridge, but between 2 & 4 feet longer. Rest of effect is due to lens choice and brightness.

    Back on the question ... I don't think TOS ever looked futuristic to me (how could it? I saw 2001 when I was 7-1/2, not even anything NASA has done has ever looked as good), but at times it looked RIGHT, which is more important.

    I ascribe that to dramatic cross-lighting, with a shadow side that REALLY fell into shadow. Finnerman pioneered it, but Francis pushed it harder ... I just LOVE the way the bridge looks when the air is cut off in DAY OF THE DOVE (y'know, the 'ship out, freak!' scene.)

    The only bridge that doesn't date for me is the TFF/TUC/E-B variant, which just seems to strike a decent balance between credibility and visual appeal (at least if you avoid seeing the TUC sliders and other retro-groaners.) Colors and contrast on VOYAGER's bridge were good too, from what I recall, though I haven't seen much of the show.

    The TMP bridge always read as a Lockheed lunchroom during a power outage to me.

    The Abrams stuff is just looney tunes. Regardless of how bright the TOS set was, there was contrast, dark consoles, red trim ... The Abrams bridge is a Target store's cosmetics aisle, way too bright to spend time in or to be able to read a display w/o sunglasses ... and that's even before the lensflare madness enters the picture!
     
  16. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    You can't laugh with someone if they never intended it to be humorous. At that point you can only be said to be laughing at them. Acknowledging that somethings may look dated years after they were produced or that science took shape in ways different than predicted doesn't automaticly justify a "laughable" label.

    This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode were Jerry learns a friend described him as "being a phony." When confronted the friend tried to BS him that the term "phony" was slang for something more positive (like "bad" meaning "good"). Jerry didn't buy it then nor do I now.

    "Laughable" when used to describe things not meant to be seen as funny transforms it into a term of derision. I believe that makes it a poor choice to use in polite conversation were respect is something strived for.

    I accept that I may very possibly be in the minority on this, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. ;)
     
  17. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I disagree with you. That isn't the way it was intended. If that is the way you took it, that is the fault of your perceptions and not of my intentions. As far as I know there is no universal standard that assigns the term "laughable" with the meaning YOU have assigned it. "Laughable" is defined as something that causes laughter. Period. If it was intended to cause laughter, great. If it wasn't, great. It caused laughter. Not derision. Laughter is good. Derision is bad. You have decided I meant to be derisive. I didn't.

    Design that sets out to predict what the future will look like and ends up being superseded is as laughable as anything that presents itself as one thing and looks like another. I tell my guests that I am going to serve them fish and I bring them a turkey and I might get a joke and a chuckle. Will it hurt my feelings? Only if I choose to think my guests are being derisive. Since you will never be my guest however, I will never have that to worry about.
     
  18. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Frank Lloyd Wright's designs were notoriously ignorant of ergonomics, and yet they still look more futuristic than much of what is built today, nearly a century after their design. Tell me what you think -- what looks more futuristic - the NX-01 bridge or Frank Lloyd Wright's designs for the interior of Klaatu's ship in "The Day the Earth Stood Still"? I know Wright's designs with their stand-up controls probably fail the ergonomics test. But their ambiguity and dissociation from what is familiar, yet vague connection with what we would expect from "controls" makes them look suitably futuristic to me. But I may be in the minority.
     
  19. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, I suppose there is a difference between "futuristic" as an esthetic and "plausible as a technologically advanced future." I think that Forbidden Planet looks more futuristic than the Nostromo in Alien, but it does not look as real...and both are dated.
     
  20. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Perhaps, however, I am applying the rules of common usuage and context whereas you appear to be trying to ignore such relevant considerations. You look to be attempting to claim the meaning of word is to be considered and interpreteted in a vaccum.

    So laughter is never hurtful or meant to insult or injure? LOL! I'm sure many folks would disagree.

    That is a seperate point for debate.

    I would (and do) maintain they are not meant to be literal, direct predictions rather they are figurative representations. This is supported by the fact form usually supercedes consideration of function. It is usually desiged to reinforce the predetermined theme or unifying vision of the production.

    In most cases they are the results of artists and designers rather then engineers or people with expert knowledge in a given area. The medical props in Trek, for example were designed by artists rather than engineers with expertise in the medical field (though consultation may have been invited).

    And this example applies to what we are saying ... how? You tell folks to expect one thing and deliver something else is in no way what we are speaking to. Unless it is a non-sequitur on purpose then :lol:
     

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