A critical look at TMP set design…

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Warped9, Feb 6, 2022.

  1. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    A thought exercise.

    This isn’t is take on TMP as a film, which I actually like and am so looking forward to the upgraded version of the Director’s Edition.

    This is a different look. TMP basically morphed out of a planned then aborted television pilot for Star Trek: Phase II. It not only morphed out of the planned pilot it was ramped up, particularly in terms of models, set designs and visual fx.

    But what if what followed TMP’s release had happened differently. Despite a lukewarm critical reception TMP did pretty well at the box office. Indeed adjusting for inflation it is one of the more successful Trek films financially.

    So what if Paramount had gone back to one of its initial proposals for a new Star Trek televisions series and used TMP as the pilot for a series of television films released once a month? Certainly part of the startup costs would be covered in terms of sets and models already built. Of course, there is the possibility those sets might have had to be relocated for television production use.

    If this had happened it raises interesting questions. While the new Starfleet uniforms worked well enough for a one-time feature film they might not have been suitable for a series production (that one-piece jumpsuit would have had to go). It’s possible the general designs could have been tweaked and a bit more colour added. Ditto for some of the sets.

    The TMP bridge set evokes the colour scheme as seen way back in “The Cage.” Not bad, but it could use a bit more colour although not to the extent as seen with the TOS series bridge. I think Kirk’s command chair would look better elevated like it was in TOS.

    Sickbay and Kirk’s quarters worked well enough and Kirk’s cabin could have been redressed for use as quarters for other characters.

    The TMP transporter room was a sterile, cold and unwelcoming looking set. I think that one would have needed a serious upgrade to make it series production friendly as well as more interesting looking. Since the Enterprise refit in TMP was rushed into service to intercept Vger it could be rationalized the upgraded sets represented the refit as completed.

    The set I have the biggest gripe with is Main Engineering. While it certainly is a visual spectacle I have never really cared for it. And it looks nightmarish in terms of regular series production. It certainly doesn’t look to have the same room to move around in it as you did on the TOS set. In terms of ship design I have never liked the idea of the intermix conduit going up through the photon torpedo launcher. It strikes me as really dumb. I’d be inclined to really revise this set.

    Finally there are the corridors. In TOS the corridors were wide to accommodate the bulky cameras of the day. The by product was the Enterprise didn’t feel claustrophobic. Mind you it’s entirely possible some of the TOS Enterprise corridors weren’t all that spacious and some were more like narrow service corridors. In counterpoint the corridors in TMP looked very claustrophobic, or maybe we didn’t really get to see the bigger versions.

    Thoughts anyone?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2022
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  2. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I love everything about the TMP aesthetic, although I think an additional more basic engineering office or control room would have been needed for a series. The logistics of using false perspective and children would be too tricky for a weekly show.

    The ship in TMP feels like a sterile submarine in space. I like that. It feels sensible and functional.
     
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  3. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Commodore Commodore

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    I like the general look of the TMP set, what I never cared for was the aseptic color palette. What Meyer did in TWoK was the way to go imho: he mostly kept things as they were but warmed the colors up.

    About the uniforms, for Phase II they originally made something pretty similar to the TOS ones, there are some photos of them around, I thought it wasn’t a bed idea.
     
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  4. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Which isn’t a great idea if you expect people to be living in it for extended periods.
     
  5. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    True but that's why I like it. I like that it feels like these people are so dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge that they are willing to make sacrifices. They need psychiatrists to monitor long term mental health, and they recruit random scientists to act as a member of the nursing staff because a 5-year deep space assignment is an unpopular posting. The conditions were never ideal. Lovely carpeted floors and a bowling alley just doesn't feel as sci fi to me. When you make it either a short term naval vessel or a cruise ship, it loses a certain something.
     
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  6. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TMP's aesthetics have some issues but the one thing I found appropriate were the uniforms, and for me an upgrade to TOS. They looked comfortable, yes there were some anatomical imprints which some members have joked about but I rolled it off that it's Star Trek. I also liked the variants of these outfits which is to say the crew will have an extended time in outer space, I thought those uniforms were very forward thinking which made me wish TMP had the Enterprise already settled performing missions in outer space and then had to return to Earth because of V'Ger. The flaw was the Enterprise appeared experimental and not the established super ship I knew and loved, for it to jibe for me as a series I think it needed more simplification of the tech by consolidating tactical with navigation or have a tactical officer combined with communications etc. Get rid of that ridiculous gear shift at the helm which was something I found just as dumb in the JJmovies.

    I think getting rid of the notion there's a warp core in the belly of the Constitution Class Enterprise would resolve them having Scotty and his team wearing bulky, white hazmat suits in every episode, plus those outfits look very uncomfortable which surprisingly mesh a lot better with Harve Bennett & the Great Nick Meyer's vision for Trek. I agree the vessel needed more color than the sterile look it had but I have to include that the Enterprise was experimental and it wasn't ready to rock n roll when we see her. She just wasn't there yet, so I think the color for the interiors would come later when she was finally commissioned to explore.

    I'm not sure if there was ever a rule families were not allowed on spaceships but the Enterprise always appeared to be a ship which could have an extended family aboard; even in "The Cage" there were hints such a thing could be possible if the course was to keep Boldly Going to seek out new life, the ship at one point could not drop off a family whenever crewmembers boinked and popped out kiddies. Sickbay would have to have a nursery and other prenatal needs for extended space travel, it just has to happen. The show doesn't have to present this element all of the time but it has to be there IMO. I thought TNG handled this angle very well and I don't doubt, TMP could've done a similar representation.
     
  7. Admiral Archer

    Admiral Archer Captain Captain

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    My opinions, much like production design from TMP to TNG, have evolved since I was a teenager, but as an angsty 14 year old, there was something insanely comforting about the production design of the first Star Trek film. What others called cold and sterile, I found to be perfectly suited to my taste in production design (I would have in those days considered myself the opposite of an emo, so I needed less pitch black aesthetic and more solid white, grey or silver). I wasn't a Vulcan, just very serious and passionate with the emotions I did have, even if a sense of humor was not one of them.

    In contrast, just like how TNG brought in shades of warmer colors in it's aesthetic such as brown, beige and gold, I eventually thawed out a bit as well. This might explain why I'm so torn between TMP and TNG as far as my favorite style of Trek.
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Yes.

    This goes with my initial notion that the ship was incomplete when launched to intercept Vger. I, too, would have preferred the refit Enterprise already fully operational and on active duty at the beginning of the film, but I understand why they started things the way they did.
     
  9. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Commodore Commodore

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    never found those uniforms looked comfortable. And of course the costumes were notoriously uncomfortable.
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Movie costumes are designed for appearance and certainly not long term everyday use. That said the concept of the two-piece TMP uniform isn’t a big deal given it’s basically what looks like a pullover top and trousers. Where it ran into trouble was having the trousers integrated with the shoes. Simply ditch that idea along with the one-piece jumpsuit.

    If a TMP based series were being made today we could take advantage of fabrics that simply didn’t exist in the 1970s.

    I’m not overly fond of the entire uniform being all the same colour or the cut of the tunic’s hem, but I do get they were trying for something that looked evolved from what is worn today. Fashion changes and what is perfectly acceptable in one era can look bizarre to another. People of the past would find what we wear today rather strange, and thats being kind. Business attire is far more casual looking than people of the past could imagine. Casual attire today leaves a lot of people looking like bums and people of the past could see women of today dressing scandalously half naked in their eyes.

    Designing something futuristic is tricky because you’re not trying to appeal to a genuine 23rd century audience, but rather a 20th/21st century audience with their societal perceptions and biases grounded in that era.
     
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  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I love the uniforms but Into Darkness certainly did a better job, giving them shoulder pads, collars, and separate shoes. I wish that there was more logic to the uniforms as well such as beige for helm and grey for navigation; beige for tactical and grey for internal security etc. The woman who replaced Chekov at tactical isn't even security personnel.
     
  12. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    The colour palette and variety of the TMP uniforms were not easy to understand although they appeared to retain the sleeve braiding of TOS. I would opt for better colours and less variety in the uniforms to keep it simpler to understand.

    I don’t like the JJtrek films, but they did illustrate a bolder colour palette can work on the big screen. That said I think tones somewhere between TMP and TOS could have worked. You need something to offset the overall muted colours of the refit E’s interior sets.

    But, please, no beige. I have always found beige to be boring as hell.
     
  13. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My favorite set on the refit Enterprise is the Main Engine Room....and I love the TMP muted color palette.

    :shrug:
     
  14. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I did too, for what the Enterprise was in the context of the film, a work in progress, but for a series I would expect some changes to be made when it finally is assigned for deep space assignments. I wouldn't have minded after the V'Ger incident the builders back at dry dock would borrow the color scheme from TOS, not exactly like the paint job but something to honor it with different kinds of paints and flooring, maybe glossier but it would be unforgiving to light and shoot.
    Uniforms I would like to see them in the colors from TOS, and I think the one full color would be bold, if it needed to be a two set of color I would like to even try maybe one shade of Avocado green for Command, kind of like the shades of green seen inside the fruit. Science, shades of blue, the same thing but maybe make top part sparkly, while Operations, blending of reds, and could support working tools on the outfit.
     
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  15. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Beige is irritating as hell. I can handle most any color, but beige is quite the nuisance color. Honestly, if I were to revisit the sets I would have lightened the colors a bit just to make them a little more bright.

    Also, as you note, the uniforms are something that needs some small changes. No one piece uniforms, or covering the shoes. I would keep the braid system, but adjust the color palate of the uniforms to be more easy to understand at a glance.
     
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  16. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Many years ago I worked up a different colour palette for the TMP era. Command was a soft gold with white as an alternate. Science was blue. Life Sciences (Medical) was soft green or a lighter shade of blue. Security was grey and Support Services (Engineering) was a lighter grey.
     
  17. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The only thing I would change would be to put security guards in red like in STIII and STVI. I don't know how they expect to wash the blood out of the white uniforms.
     
  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just like doctors do.
     
  19. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like the (non canon) idea that the corridors in the living/more common levels are all color coded, like the brownish color you see briefly in the corridor during the scene between Decker and Ilia.

    It's weird that this is the only time in the film series you see a wall color in the corridors rather than the polished metal look.
     
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  20. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Doctors don't have to contend with space blood.