Enterprise question

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by jaygibson77, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. jaygibson77

    jaygibson77 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Was Kirk's Enterprise the only Constitution class to survive? Or is that apocryphal? Doesn't Picard tell Scotty there's one in the fleet museum? Seems like I remember a story that all the others were lost or destroyed.
     
  2. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    That was a popular bit of continuity in offscreen sources back in the day, but it was never established onscreen, and seems unlikely given that there were as many as a dozen of them operating during the series, at least some of which must have managed to survive for 20+ years at that point, as the Enterprise had.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It was claimed in Roddenberry's TMP novelization that Kirk was the only captain to return from a 5-year mission with both ship and crew mostly intact. We know that at least a couple of Connies, Excalibur and Exeter, lost their crews but physically survived. So it was never claimed that every other Connie was physically destroyed; Roddenberry's claim would've meant that some were destroyed while others returned/were recovered without most or all of their crews.

    But I never found that claim likely or appealing. I don't like the idea that Kirk and his crew were so much better than everyone else. Sure, Kirk liked to say he had the best crew in the fleet, but what captain wouldn't say that? It doesn't mean the rest of Starfleet was so incompetent that over 90 percent of their capital ships failed to return from their tours of service. That's just inane.
     
  4. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I vaguely recall (correctly or incorrectly) the U.S.S. Yorktown as one of the ships to come back from their 5-year mission.
     
  5. Shatnertage

    Shatnertage Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What did Roddenberry have against Starfleet?

    Starfleet as depicted in TMP has got to be the most inept organization in the galaxy. First, there's the routine transport that kills the first officer in a gruesome way. Then, there's the total HR cluster---- of having the guy who's going to replace Decker break the news to him. Seems like the could have handled that better. Now there's the suggestion from the novelization that, as Christopher said, nearly 90% of Starfleet's finest class couldn't successfully finish their deployments.

    So was the anti-Starfleet stuff some kind of meta commentary on Roddenberry's struggles with studio executives to get Phase II/TMP made?
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But it wasn't routine -- that's the point. Kirk was forcing the unfinished Enterprise into service prematurely to deal with the emergency. Remember, the reason Scotty had to bring Kirk across to the ship in a travel pod (well, the in-story reason) was because the Enterprise transporters weren't operational yet -- the engineering crew was having problems getting them to work. When Kirk arrived in the engine room minutes before the accident, the engineers' chatter was about "faulty modules" in the transporter that kept its sensors from engaging. Cleary was in the process of putting a new backup sensor in the unit, per Scotty's order, when the transporter room started to engage the transport. Essentially, because they were rushing to do a job in 12 hours that should've been done over days or weeks, mistakes were made, and the accident resulted from that. Kirk's hubris, his zeal to use the crisis as an excuse to get his ship back, has resulted in an unready ship being pushed into service, and two people have died as a result. And Kirk has to live with the consequences of his actions.


    Again, the haste to prepare for the emergency can explain that. And Kirk's arrogance, his relentless drive to get the ship back without consideration for those under him, was presented as a character flaw he had to surmount. Kirk's arc in the first half of the movie is learning to respect Will Decker. At first he sees Decker as an interloper to be pushed aside, but he's forced to learn that Decker knows more about this new ship and crew than he does, and he needs to tamp down his own ego and trust Decker's judgment. So the way he breaks the news to Decker at the beginning is intended to be Kirk's mistake, not Starfleet's.


    There's no "anti-Starfleet stuff." The line in the novelization was more about being pro-Kirk and pro-Enterprise, playing into the idea that they were the best and brightest, the most special characters and thus the ones worthy of being the focus of the series. Most series fiction presents its leads as special and beyond the norm. Sherlock Holmes was the only detective who could solve the cases he tackled. James Bond is Her Majesty's top double-0 agent. MacGyver was the Phoenix Foundation's most successful operative. The 4077th had the highest survival rate of any MASH unit in Korea. Scrooge McDuck is the richest duck in the world. And so on. And often, this means that other members of the same organization/profession are only depicted when you need someone for the heroes to rescue, or someone to fail at something the heroes then succeed at. Taken too far, it can give the impression, however unintentionally, that the rest of the organization is pretty much useless. And this is a case where it was taken too far.

    Besides, Roddenberry's conceit in the prefacing material of the TMP novelization was that he was a 23rd-century producer who had made a series that dramatized (and in some cases exaggerated) the real adventures of Kirk and crew. I imagine he was trying to explain why it had been that ship and crew, rather than some other, that had been singled out for such a dramatization. And his explanation was that they'd done something nobody else had done.
     
  7. jaygibson77

    jaygibson77 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I, too, have wondered about Roddenberry and Starfleet. I felt like TMP tried too hard to distance itself from TOS. That is, environment and uniforms are very sterile-looking for scientists and explorers. Then in the TNG bible and series, he stresses Starfleet is not a military but a scientific organization. Starfleet looks very military in the movies, though. But for TNG, where he had more control, the series is more diplomatic, peaceful relationships with the Klingons, the phaser looks like a dustbuster instead of a pistol. All good and well if the Ferengi are your only antagonist. But that didn’t work. Q Who, I think, took the right approach. Trek is exploration, but as Q pointed out, there are dangers out there. One has to be prepared for that. If Starfleet isn’t a military force, who protects Earth? Earth is always threatened in science fiction!
     
  8. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    So TOS was really some sort of "holo-program"? ;)
     
  9. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Why is Kirk responsible here when the sequence of events in the movie points to a mistake on the crew? Yes, we hear some engineers saying something was wrong with the transporters. They should've then locked out the system so no one would use it and test it until corrected - like they did in "The Galileo Seven". Instead no one bothers to do this or inform the transporter room of the problem until the accident happens. Kirk didn't give any order to override safety protocols so this is a crew fault which goes to Shatnertage's comment of an inept Starfleet.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Gene Roddenberry did not make TMP single-handedly. A lot of other people were involved in its creative decisions. Robert Wise was the director of the film and thus the person most responsible for its designs, final script, performances, cinematography, effects, editing, etc. Robert Wise also directed The Andromeda Strain, which portrayed a similarly sterile, futuristic environment. It stands to reason that the look and feel of the TMP Starfleet was Wise's choice, not Roddenberry's.

    And it wasn't about distancing from TOS. It was just about taking advantage of the ability to do Star Trek with a far higher budget and more advanced technology than had been available in the 1960s. That gave them the freedom to redo everything from the ground up. Not to mention that the sets, costumes, props, etc. made for Phase II were too lacking in detail to look good on a gigantic feature-film screen, and thus had to be redone.

    Plus it was a decade later, styles had changed, and new people with new ideas were working on the designs, so naturally they came up with different designs. Not in order to reject or distance themselves from what came before, but just because their desire was to move the franchise forward and keep it modern and forward-looking rather than valuing nostalgia above all else.

    Anyway, TMP's utilitarian uniforms made vastly more sense as everyday wear for scientists and crew than the Horatio Hornblower cosplay that passed for uniforms in TWOK onward. I could buy those heavy double-breasted jackets as formal dress uniforms, but they were absurd as everyday fatigues.


    True. TMP is a poor example for the premise, but by the time of TNG, Roddenberry had evidently undergone a major change in his attitude toward the military. He was, of course, a WWII veteran himself, and his first TV series, The Lieutenant, was set on a US Marine Corps base. TOS was overt in its portrayal of Starfleet as a military and Kirk as a soldier, though it was a military whose primary mission was exploration. But by TNG his views toward the military were rather different.

    And he was definitely trying to distance TNG from TOS. I used to believe it was because he'd come to regret a number of things about TOS, compromises and mistakes he'd made or stories told by other creators that he didn't agree with, but I recently read (not sure where) that it was more for business reasons -- that since Paramount owned TOS at the time, he wanted to create something that he could claim as a separate, original work that he could retain ownership of. I don't know, maybe that was the only reason for trying to depict a non-military Starfleet -- in an attempt to be legally distinct from the way Starfleet was portrayed in TOS. (Although I'm not clear on how he thought he could do this as long as it was under the Star Trek name. Maybe what we got is the compromise between what he was trying to achieve and what the studio and the other developers wanted.)
     
  11. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I always took that as Roddenberry stressing just how dangerous deep-space exploration was and that Kirk and the gang were more lucky than anything else. In the book, Roddenberry had Kirk privately deeply regret losing nearly 100 crewmembers during the course of his mission because he didn't always make the right decision at the right time.
     
  12. jaygibson77

    jaygibson77 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    It definitely harkens back to Wise’s The Andromeda Strain for sure, but you have to admit when things were still in the “Phase II” stages, things were a little more “traditional”. One or the other really tries to separate military from science, i.e. the Klingons’ new look vs. new Enterprise. And it made for a boring story. But I don’t really buy into the bigger budget reasoning since TWOK had a smaller budget and was better than TMP. I agree the uniforms look more like dress uniforms but they’re a huge improvement over the pajamas.

    Definitely with TNG Roddenberry’s humanistic view comes into play more so than before, and the first season suffers for it. A pure utopia sounds great on paper but it doesn’t really work because not everyone is going to play along. The Ferengi were more Scooby Doo in villainy, we’re at peace with the Klingons, the Romulans don’t show up until the end of the season, and Q couldn’t be in every episode. Gene was great about scientific metaphors to tell stories about the human condition but the first season lacks a lot. I wonder what Gene would have thought about the Cardassians later and everyone carrying phaser rifles.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That is a complete non sequitur. Correlation does not imply causation. There have been plenty of non-boring stories that have not been about the military, so it's pretty bizarre to claim that downplaying the military aspects somehow caused the story to be (allegedly) boring.


    Speak for yourself. In TMP, the sets looked like feature film sets, but TWOK's lighting and cinematography somehow made them look like TV-movie sets. A lot of its Enterprise footage was blatantly recycled stock from TMP, and while ILM's miniature work may have been more explodey, I don't consider it aesthetically superior to Trumbull & Dykstra's work on TMP. And I like the TMP uniforms; I don't understand the scorn they get. They're the most versatile, functional, plausibly futuristic uniforms Trek has ever had. They came in so many different varieties for different needs, and had functional variants that other uniform designs have ignored, like radiation suits for engineers and armor for security personnel.
     
  14. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If the Enterprise had been the only Constitution class starship to return, then it would be easy for Kirk to boast about having the best crew—because it would have been the only starship crew in the fleet!
     
  15. jaygibson77

    jaygibson77 Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I thought I was.

    Moving on.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The funny thing is, Kirk doesn't really boast about his crew all that often, and he basically never praises his ship. It's really only in the desperate pep talk he gives to a dying crew in a dying ship in "Immunity Syndrome" that he stoops to using the expression "the best crew", along with "a good ship"...

    Back in the time of TOS, Kirk, his crew and his ship might not have been anything special. That doesn't mean they wouldn't have become unique by the time of ST:TMP somehow, possibly indeed by the virtue of their we-survived-the-full-five-years t-shirts. And indeed we hear rather explicitly that this five-year mission thing makes Kirk uniquely qualified among all Captains or or flag officers currently on Earth to face the V'Ger threat, so it must be a rare achievement indeed.

    That is, if we take Kirk's word for it; for all we know, he bought the permission to command the Enterprise with hard cash.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    Another idea...we don't know that all of the Constitutions were doing the exact same type of mission as the Enterprise at the time of TOS. It could be that Kirk's 5-year deep space mission was the first successful attempt at such a mission without needing the other Constitutions and/or their crews to have all bitten the dust in a short time period.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The whole "5-year mission" thing is weird to begin with. We see much of it in TOS, and it does not seem to be a five-year-long stretch of deep space research at all. Rather, the ship returns to port every so often, scrambles to perform military and diplomatic missions, and even visits Earth twice. How is this five-year period different from what the ship did during the rest of her existence, then?

    It appears that the five years in deep space were an issue only for Kirk himself and his closest officers, not for the ship as such. In the newest movie, Kirk is excited at the prospect of being selected to command this mission, supposedly because nobody has done it before or because it's very rarely done. But why? What's so special about five years, as opposed to, say, two or ten? Five doesn't seem to stretch the capabilities or endurance of the ship at all, and indeed such concerns should be preempted by the frequent port calls.

    It might thus well be that five years is exceptional exactly because that's when even the luckiest skippers run out of luck. Technology doesn't help or hinder things much - space simply is too dangerous to be survivable in the long run, and risking five consecutive years is foolhardy, that is, heroic, and thus so appealing to the young nuKirk.

    Having the Prime Kirk, a man only slightly older than his nuCounterpart, be the only one to "survive" a five-year mission might in fact be quite realistic. It might even be that he was the only man who ever agreed to performing such a mission... Others would quit while they were ahead, with no loss to Starfleet or science as yet others would continue from where they left off. A five-year mission would simply be a record-breaking stunt, one destined to propel Kirk to fame in a carefully planned Starfleet propaganda move.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. The Old Building & Loan

    The Old Building & Loan Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    It could be that ships that weren't on such a mission had more limited/specific duties and/or a more limited/specific area of operations.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Good call. A lot of people assume that 5-year missions are the standard, but that's unsupported, since we only had canonical evidence for one ship going on one 5-year mission -- and we barely even had that. After all, main-title narration doesn't really count as in-universe content, so the only real proof of the 5-year mission would be Kirk's "my five years out there" line in TMP and Icheb's reference to "Kirk's historic 5-year mission" in VGR: "Q2." Indeed, from those alone, we can't even say for sure whether the mission was meant to be 5 years or if it just happened to end up that way. (If we go by Roddenberry's implied interpretation that TOS was a dramatization after the fact, then the opening narration could be a reference to how long it ended up being rather than how long it was planned to be.)

    Star Trek Into Darkness is our first canonical evidence that a "5-year mission" is a specifically defined mission profile in Starfleet... yet at the same time, it's also canonical evidence that it's not the universal norm for Starfleet, that it's a distinct, even exceptional type of mission profile for a capital ship. Granted, it's in an alternate timeline, but it certainly supports the idea that the same could apply in the Prime timeline as well.