Why Did Roddenberry Hate the "dreadnought" from the Starfleet Technical Manual?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Samuel, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    "Most"? Never been my impression. Granted, I was 10 in 1984, but I've always liked it.
     
    BillJ likes this.
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I've never much liked any of ILM's starship designs for Trek movies. The only Trek movie starship designs I like are the ones from TMP and the Enterprise-E. Well, I kind of like the Nemesis Romulan warbirds (aka the Valdore or Mogai class), but they look a bit too Klingon.
     
    Galileo7 and Samuel like this.
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    A type 13 planet in its final stage
    "Most" as in the vocal minority who cared enough to write in to fanzines and complain.
     
    Samuel likes this.
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Wasn't that sort of the intended goal? In the movie that made it to the screen, the Excelsior was an adversary vessel, an usurper of the position of the Enterprise. Like her captain, she was a buffoon and a bully. Her bloated appearance may well have been designed to reflect that. Heck, even the choice of name may have...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Longinus and mos6507 like this.
  5. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    Manchester
    That's an interesting take. The Reliant, the Klingon Bird of Prey and the Excelsior are some of the most iconic Trek ships not named Enterprise. Particularly the Reliant - if you like the TMP Enterprise, what's not to like in a more compact counterpart?


    Absolutely. They might as well have called her the USS Snooty McPompousface.

    I remember viscerally hating the ludicrous 'Great Experiment' and her jumped-up captain and crew and silly computer. Up yer shaft...

    The Excelsior was also something of a punchline in Star Trek IV, where she was only marginally preferable to a freighter. It was only when they put Sulu in the chair that fans were allowed to see her as a legitimate hero ship.
     
    Samuel likes this.
  6. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Oh, I have no doubt that Arnold had something to do with it. But Roddenberry definitely did not approve of the more military aspects that FASA, Task Force Games, and other RPGs were taking with Star Trek.

    People like Probert and Micheal Okuda were big proponents of Gene and probably went along with whatever he said without knowing why he felt the way he did (i.e. I don't think Probert knew of the history behind the tech manual). But that's just my opinion. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

    IIRC, the original intent for the Excelsior was that it would eventually replace the Enterprise as the hero ship (Whether it would be renamed the Enteprise II, A, or whatever is unknown to me.) ILM constantly complained about how hard it was to film the unwieldy TMP Enterprise model and wanted a more camera-friendly ship. That's why the Excelsior (and the Reliant from TWOK and Enterprise-D from TNG) are much more flatter and more manipulative than the former ship. But unfortunately the way the Excelsior was presented in the films made people actually disapprove of it, and so that decision was changed. I think people's perceptions of the ship being "bloated" etc. was just a result of how it became an "opponent" ship in fans' minds. Scotty's constant disparagement of the ship didn't help. So for TUC, much to the consternation of ILM, they went back to the TMP Enterprise (although unknown to them at the time, it would be the last time the model would ever be used.)
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Of course, Sulu was going to command the Excelsior when she was still without form and could have looked cool, in the cut scene of ST2:TWoK. Back then, she might have been envisioned as less important than the current hero ship, with the name choice simply arbitrary, harking back to silly British ship names.

    That Sulu eventually gets the buffoon ship of ST3:TSfS is for practical reasons, as the only other options would have been the Miranda and the Oberth, and at that point the story explicitly called for something that could, would and should usurp the Enterprise. And of course episode after episode of TNG had softened the audiences to the idea that the Excelsiors were not enemy vessels...

    The design of the ST3:TSfS ship is a result of a choosing process where Nimoy dumped several sleeker alternatives, no doubt with specific ideas in mind already. I could easily see the man who insisted that the rest of Starfleet ships have pink chairs to establish them as wimps to deliberately choose the least attractive Excelsior possible. I wonder who chose to use the name Excelsior, now that there was no obligation from the cut ST2:TWoK?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Samuel likes this.
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Mainly, the lack of a deflector dish, and the lack of the ability to separate the saucer from the engine section in case of emergency. They just kitbashed together some pieces of the TMP ship without thinking through Matt Jefferies's underlying design logic. The Miranda class is okay to look at, but it's form over substance, typical of TWOK's lack of plausibility and thought. I never felt that ILM's designers "got" how Trek ships were supposed to work.

    Besides, the fact that the best elements of the Miranda design are the ones recycled from TMP designs is kind of the point. The only way ILM could design a good-looking Trek ship was by copying elements of other designers' ships.
     
    Jerikka Dawn, Galileo7 and uniderth like this.
  9. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    From what I understand, the "Excelsior" that Sulu was going to command in TWOK was just an insignificant ship and the line about it was just to show that Kirk's crew had moved on to other things. As for why the decision was made to name the NX-2000 the same name? They probably just thought it sounded cool. Probably from the same logic that a big ship like the Excelsior needs a big registry number and a small ship like the Grissom needs a small registry number.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Or just from the writer's natural instinct to recycle leftover ideas. Since creativity is a process of trial and error, with things being conceived and then discarded along the way and sometimes whole projects being abandoned, creators always accumulate drawers full of unused concepts that we can rummage through when we need them for a new project.
     
  11. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    That's true. After all, the name "Mace Windu" originated as far back as Lucas's first concepts for Star Wars.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    And really, the disparate ingredients of the Excelsior made for very good lemonade in the end:

    1) A model put to good use.
    2) The original intent behind the model, abandoned once already, put to use.
    3) A character put to good use.
    4) The original character development, abandoned once already, put to better use.
    5) A good name put to unintended use.
    6) A new era ushered in, amusingly after it has already been ushered out in TNG.

    Now if there had only been a Captain Sulu series... ;)

    (I mean, it's lemonade time again. Takei could never have carried the show back then, but one can always recast after the obligatory nostalgia decades.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
    Praetor and Samuel like this.
  13. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2017
    I remember a letter in Starlog by Richard Arnold himself. He said the presence of the Excelsior in Star Trek ) III was to (exact quote coming) "show how great the Enterprise still was"
     
  14. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    [​IMG]
     
    XCV330 and Praetor like this.
  15. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    Manchester
    Interesting to latch on to two things that even in TOS did not seem to be essential for Starship design - I thought it was Jeffries' intention that the engine pods be the source of the dangerous reactions rather than the secondary hull?

    Klingon and Romulan ships have similar outboard pods, but no obvious hull separation. Even the tiny D7 bridge section could only be a lifeboat for a small portion of the crew. They also have no obvious deflector dishes.

    The introduction in TMP of the reactor core, complete with handy ventral ejection port, still further reduces the usefulness of splitting hulls. When we look at the balance of Starfleet ships, it's surely a minority that are even capable of saucer separation.
     
    The Librarian likes this.
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Where did I say anything about a secondary hull? I'm saying the Reliant design has no evident modularity that would allow for separation.


    Yeah, but those are warships, so there wouldn't be as much concern for safety engineering. They're more likely to get blown up by an enemy than to have an engine malfunction that requires jettisoning the engines.


    The depression on the lower front of the Klingon battlecruiser's forward bulb, which TMP interpreted as a torpedo tube, was originally intended by Jefferies as a deflector dish. The Romulan BoP lacked one because it was designed by Wah Chang rather than Jefferies.


    Yes, obviously the assumptions underlying Starfleet ship design have changed in the 35 years since TWOK came out, because TWOK's designs are part of the canon now and have obviously influenced what followed. I'm talking about how I reacted to the Reliant design at the time, how it reflected a lack of consideration for the design philosophy it was imitating. You asked what my reasons were, and that's what I've given you. I like the design sensibilities that guided Matt Jefferies's work. I think it was very smart and well-thought-out and credible, as well as gorgeous and elegant. By contrast, ILM's designs were not only less aesthetically pleasing, but less plausible as well, based purely on aesthetics rather than design logic. I just find them more superficial. I'm not trying to rationalize them in-universe (not unless I get paid to do so in a novel or story), I'm saying I'm not as fond of the design philosophy behind their creation as fictional constructs.
     
    Galileo7 likes this.
  17. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Location:
    Liftoff
    I've always liked to think the Reliant had a smaller form of deflector, though you have a valid point about such a design having less of an "emergency" mode so to speak. I was rewatching some of Andrew Probert's interviews on the "Roddenberry Rules" and it's been interesting to listen to his comments. While I find some of the ideas about codependent engine systems interesting, on a personal level I have trouble viewing Gene's intended version as the proper way to go. To each their own, I suppose. :)
     
    Samuel likes this.
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I'm not talking about "Gene's intended version," because "Gene" wasn't a production designer. I'm talking about Walter M. Jefferies's design style. His starship designs had a wonderful elegance and sense to them that no other Star Trek designers since have managed to equal.
     
    psCargile and JonnyQuest037 like this.
  19. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    Manchester
    Well, you said "the lack of the ability to separate the saucer from the engine section in case of emergency". My point is that I understood Jefferies intended the "power unit" nacelles were the dangerous parts, and they are just as obviously separable on the Reliant as the original Enterprise.

    The secondary hull was designed for equipment and stores IIRC - indeed on many of his working designs the secondary pod was not even attached to the nacelles, which fed directly into the saucer. Therefore the Reliant seems just as safe as the Enterprise from a Jefferies standpoint.

    Perhaps I'm mistaken in that.


    I suppose it's down to interpretation, but there must be some value in keeping the nacelles away form the bulk of the ship - I believe Jefferies had radiation in mind.

    Right, I stand corrected on the Bird of Prey.
    I guess I just don't see the Reliant in any way as inconsistent with Jefferies' design, or the other previously established starships in TOS and TMP.

    As I say I thought it was an interesting take and was curious to know your thinking.
     
  20. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Take anything windbag Richard Arnold says with a lick of salt (LINK).

    As to the nav deflector, let's not forget that it wasn't a nav deflector at first. It was the main sensor dish, as evidenced by the "radome nose" on some of Jefferies early designs. Not sure at what point the decision was made to start calling it the deflector, but it might be after the Klingon ship was designed.
     
    BillJ and Tomalak like this.