Star Trek’s constantly changing starship “Enterprise” – Relax, it’s just a TV show!

L-R Rebecca Romijn as Una and Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+
L-R Rebecca Romijn as Una and Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ /

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds takes us back to Trek’s beginnings, which means comparing 1964’s Enterprise with its 2023 equivalent.

I know, this is a controversial topic. Is your heart rate up? Before we begin let’s try some breathing exercises.  Breathe in and then repeat after me, “It’s only a TV show!”  Exhale.  Now sing the “MST3K” theme song and remember exactly those words, it’s “just a TV show.”  I know the current canon isn’t as religious as TNG or DS9’s versions, but it will be okay – for all of us.

Let’s talk about our “original recipe” Enterprise and its 3-year transformation starting with 1964’s Pike Enterprise. Pike tells Dr. Boyce during the medical examination turned cocktail hour, that there are 203 souls on board, down from 412 Kirk would command a few years later.  We even confirm there’s some sort of dimensional weirdness going on as the bridge bulge, featured in the first few minutes of “The Cage”  is about twice the size of Kirk’s Enterprise  (or maybe the rest of the ship is one-half the bridge scale).  What happened?  Of course, “it’s complicated”, but Roddenberry wanted to “up” the crew compliment.  Bigger is always better – so the Enterprise got “upsized” and doubled its crew complement.

Next, let’s look at that bridge turbo lift location. It appears on the model centerline, but then on the actual set, it’s offset, mainly so we get a great shot of the captain in his chair while also nicely framing this week’s guest star exiting the tube.  It’s cinemagic, but also saves us from moving the camera for a second shot.  Model makers, you know what I’m talking about: offset the bridge 20 degrees to make the turbo-lift align with that aftermarket mini-bridge model you have. You can pretend the exterior/interior match.  They don’t.

Next comes the nacelles, which changed 3 times during TOS.  Sure we can say “upgrades” – which is what they were – only for the model.  Also, the main deflector dish changed size. Would they do that on a 5-year mission – I assume the ship wouldn’t return for major changes until those 5 years were up.  But then, I don’t know.  And we have old/new SFX shots.  Think about those nacelles with or without exhaust spheres intermixed in the same external scene.

Star Trek’s dreaded Kelvin and now SNW timeline… It’s okay, you’ll be fine!

Our next major revision came in the Kelvin timeline.  A major upgrade in size (our SECOND in Enterprise history).  Our alternate universe Big E weighing in at Galaxy class dimensions. Also with each movie came a nacelle redesign.  We can probably justify the alternate timeline – but the “fix” was in.  It was time for a starship makeover.

Finally, we have the “Strange New Worlds” Enterprise.  It, too, saw a major upgrade and “upsizing.” The bright and beautifully designed sets don’t match our original starship, but they sure are eye candy.  We also get a melding of “digital meets practical effects.”  I have no doubt Gene Roddenberry and Bob Justman would have gone in this modern direction had the technology existed.

So, do we cover our eyes and pretend this never happened?  A high-tech starship with high-tech displays replacing the glass marble buttons and winky-blinky Christmas light readouts?

Oh yes!

And why?  Because we live in the 21st century. I like my future technology looking more advanced than that mechanical chronometer on Sulu’s panel. Remember the Bluray edition thankfully erased that 1950’s antique from all canon. Need more convincing?  Maybe this Paramount+ video will help.

So class, can we “boldly go” in this super-enhanced “new” Enterprise knowing she’s been changing/evolving before our very eyes?  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some 21st century SFX and can’t wait to fly again on this eye-candy wonder, the new (and improved) Enterprise.

Next. How canceling Star Trek: Prodigy is terrible. dark