Category Archives: Star Trek Countdown

COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Things Star Trek: Enterprise Did Right

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In many ways Star Trek: Enterprise has become Star Trek’s Phantom Menace in that it is a prequel that has become almost cliché to poke fun of. I am not going to stand here and argue that Enterprise was the best series of Star Trek because it wasn’t. What I am going to say in this article is that it wasn’t as bad as many make out and while much of the first two seasons were mostly recycled plots from previous Star Trek shows there were some hidden gems and a sign of the promise the show had.

PLEASE NOTE; This is just my opinion but I would be interested in hearing what you have to think.


Technological Inferiority

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Like many fans, when I saw the Enterprise NX-01 for the first time my response was “That looks like the Akira-class from Star Trek: First Contact! I thought it was supposed to be set before Kirk?” The most important thing about first impressions of a new Star Trek is the ship and the creators seemed to get it wrong. However…While it took a long time for people to warm to the Akiraprise, as some call it, one thing I have to say I really liked about it was that it was inferior to most of the enemies it faced. For the 30 years leading up to Star Trek: Enterprise we saw our heroes flying around the universe in the most advanced ship of its day. Now we had a ship that really felt like it was the cutting edge of human technology but since humans were new to spaceflight they weren’t the best on the block. In fact the ship didn’t even have shields and in an early episode we saw one of the really awful early torpedoes get shot out of the sky. Over time the NX-01 became more advanced and we started to see some of the more familiar technologies enter service like Photonic torpedoes but even in the last season the Enterprise was still largely the underdog. I really liked this.

“Evil” Vulcans

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OK they weren’t evil exactly but certainly there was an antagonist element about how they were portrayed in Star Trek: Enterprise. This was another of those decisions that seemed to anger militant Trekkies because since the very early days the Vulcans were seen as both peace loving and close friends with humanity. What those Trekkies seem to forget however is that we are seeing an earlier Vulcan people here who aren’t the intellectual element of an alliance of planets but rather they are their own people who have enemies and are cautious about their dealings with humanity who after all hadn’t long come out of a Third World War and were now joining the space faring nations of the galaxy. There is even a brilliant line where Suval actually tells Admiral Forest that humans achieved far more than Vulcan did in the same timeframe and that many Vulcans are fearful of what humans will achieve in the future. Translated, this means that some Vulcans in the 22nd century are afraid of being displaced by humanity in terms of galactic importance which in a roundabout way is exactly what happens. From the Vulcan point of view therefore it is understandable that they are distrustful of humans. One final note; we need to remember that there have been ‘bad guy’ Vulcans before including one who wanted to play Baseball with Sisko to prove Vulcans are better than humans – that’s racist isn’t it?

Racist Humans

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Overnight humans became wonderful and peace loving? CRAP! Perhaps the biggest thing Star Trek: Enterprise contributed to the Star Trek universe more than anything was showing the transitionary period for humanity and how that by the 22nd century there were still those who were fearful of aliens because they were different. Even better and perhaps more relevant for the 21st century audience was the fact that this racism was largely caused by an alien attack which lends weight behind why these racist elements are still thriving. This mirrors the post-9/11 world where many Muslims feel that the West has the view that all followers of the Islamic faith are terrorists which of course is absolute nonsense. I would have liked to see more of this but sadly the show finished before it could be explored further.

Trip and T’Pol

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Romances between central characters has been met with mixed responses from fans in the past. Some really worked well (Worf and Jadzia Dax in DS9) and some really didn’t work well at all (Chakotay and Seven in Voyager). Trip and T’Pol did work for me. Not only did it work but it actually interested me. In a pseudo kind of way we saw a little something of what Spock’s parents went through with all the dilemma of a love across species although in this case the genders are reversed. Connor Trinneer and Jolene Blalock had wonderful on-screen chemistry and many of their scenes were emotional in the later seasons. Their relationship showed how their characters had evolved over the course of the show; they were perhaps the only characters who really did.

The Augment Saga

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In the show’s final season multi-part storylines became the order of the day. Without a doubt the most exciting was the three-part Augment story arc which saw Brent Spiner make a guest appearance as Arik Soong, a predecessor of Data’s creator Dr Noonien Soong. When first advertised, this fact was seen simply as a gimmick to try and pull back some of the old school fans who had given up on the show but this episode was much more than that. What we got was a thrilling trilogy that explores more of why genetic engineering is banned in the future and makes us question more about what it means to be human; something Star Trek has repeatedly done with mixed success. It was also brilliant to see the Augments demonstrate their agility and strength far more than we have seen before and it would be something we would see again in Khan himself in Star Trek Into Darkness. Spiner’s performance was flawless and it was great watching him play a character who has not only an abundance of emotion but is actually manipulative and antagonistic. Perhaps Data’s evil brother Lore has more in common with Arik Soong than Dr Noonien Soong would like to admit? This was Star Trek: Enterprise at its best.

There is no escaping it; Star Trek Enterprise was heavily flawed but does it really deserve the disdain it has received? No. Not in my opinion. I am not being a blind Trekkie here as I have already highlighted some of the show’s problems but there was some gold mixed in with the bronze.

COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Star Trek Bad Guy Ships

As I have said previously Star Trek is more about ideas than action. It’s why J.J. Abrams always said he never got Star Trek because it was “too cerebral” for him. Well for those like Abrams who have difficulty comprehending in-depth storytelling there have been plenty of eye candy moments in Star Trek’s 50 years.

Here is my countdown of the top 5 bad guy ships. Please note that to set some criteria for this countdown I have selected ships that have at some point either been captained by an antagonist or have fired on our heroes at some point. Enjoy…

5. Tholian Web Spinner

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With its low budget the original series often had to contend with glowing objects on the viewscreen as the bad guy’s ship. However on occasion we did get to see another ship with its metallic hull and in a few episodes we got some real classics. The Tholian Web Spinner is unique in that not only does it fall in to the category of being one of these few exceptions but it also a rather creative way of capturing or destroying enemies with its energy web which made for one of the most thrilling episodes of the series and lead to Star Trek: Enterprise’s brilliant homage in it’s final season.


4. USS Reliant

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Slow to one-half impulse power…Lets be friends
– Khan

The most unsettling enemy is often the one with a familiar face and that’s something Khan knew all too well when he hijacked the USS Reliant and incorporated it in to his plan for revenge on Kirk. The Reliant, while presumably not as sophisticated an exploration vessel as the Enterprise, was comparably armed and this lead to one of most tactically rich battle sequences in Trek history. It was a true battle between commanders rather than the Enterprise facing a weaker opponent has had been the case many times previously.


3. Reman Warbird Scimitar

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Love or hate Star Trek: Nemesis you have to admit the Scimitar was an imposing and impressive warship. It’s angled design gave it both a stealthy and powerful look and while most large ships in Star Trek are quite clumsy this beast was very nimble. Whereas the fight between Kirk and Khan in Star Trek II was one of slow but gripping space tactics the fight between the Scimitar and the Enterprise E was fast and spectacular and with it’s ability to fire through the cloak and its awesome array of weapons Picard was right in saying…

She’s a predator.


2. Krenim Temporal Weapon Ship

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All bad guy ships need their ‘edge’ over our heroes. For the Krenim that edge came in the ability to rewrite history and erase beings/ships/planets form history altogether. The “Year of Hell” episodes of Star Trek: Voyager were among the best of the series with a gripping storyline about battling against the odds and leading the charge was this behemoth. Janeway’s final sacrifice by ramming the Krenim ship remains one of the best scenes in Star Trek.


1. Borg Cube

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Even after 25 years since its first appearance the rather simple looking Borg Cube remains one of the most imposing ships in Star Trek history. People often forget that rarely do the Borg employ weapons like torpedoes and disruptors. This ship wears down its enemies with tractor beams and cutting beams so it can capture the crew and assimilate them in to the hive. A dampening field renders energy weapons ineffective and even if our heroes can damage it this ship can repair itself in a few hours. Ingenuity on the part of Starfleet is what defeats the Borg rather than weapons alone. But their imposing nature made their destruction at the hands of Species 8472 all the more spectacular.

Thanks for reading…

COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Star Trek The Animated Series Episodes

Tony Wilkins looks at his five favorite episodes of the often forgotten Star Trek: The Animated Series


People often forget that strictly speaking there have been six Star Trek series over the years. The Animated Series often polarizes fans in that they either love it or hate it. Me; I take a more objective stance. I will never say it’s better than any of the live action series but hidden among it’s line up are some true gems worthy of mention in the Star Trek realm.

Here are my top 5 episodes that I think all Trek fans should watch…


5. The Terratin Incident

This is one of those classic episodes that everyone remembers when mentioning The Animated Series. While investigating a heavily volcanic planet the crew get splashed by a very bright white light which eventually causes them to start shrinking. It’s a lot of fun just for watching them try to handle their equipment and knowing that they could never have filmed this with the real actors and that was the beauty of The Animated Series.


4. The Counter-Clock Incident

Another of those classic episodes, the Counter-Clock Incident sees our heroes reduced to children after they enter another dimension where everything works in reverse. As well as being fun there are some fascinating points in this story that deserve mention most notably that it is the only on-screen appearance of Robert April; the Captain who commanded the Enterprise during her maiden voyage. His name was mentioned in The Cage where Pike reveals he took over command from April but he was never again mentioned until this episode. In the Star Trek Encyclopedia a picture of Robert April on the bridge is included but is actually Gene Roddenberry himself.


3. The Pirates of Orion

This episode is often labelled as unremarkable, it certainly is on Bernd Schnieder’s Ex-Astris-Scienta website, but I think this is unfair. The plot plays out that Spock is dying and needs some medicine but the ship carrying the medicine was ransacked by “Oreeon” raiders – that’s right in this episode they are “Oreeons” not “Orions”. The reason I love this episode is because it plays out more like one of TNG’s more action packed episodes. The “Oreeons” are bad guys but they have their own angle and instead of just fighting it out there are efforts to negotiate with Kirk willing to let them go if he can just have the medicine. Also we get to see a genuine alien ship in this episode that looks mean as hell.


2. The Time Trap


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has a distinctly simple premise; the Bermuda Triangle in space. It is more than that however in that it’s also a story of putting differences aside to achieve a common goal. OK that does sound a bit cheesy but in this episode it really works. The fact that the Klingon Captain is the legendary Kor himself from the very first episode with the Klingons adds more weight to this point but sadly it is not the great John Colicos reprising his role. If any more proof was needed that this was a great concept then look at Star Trek Voyager which virtually recycled this episode in The Void.


1. Yesteryear

This is a story that needed to be told in the Star Trek universe. Sadly it had to be animated but would have made a beautiful live action episode. After an historical research mission using the Guardian of Forever Spock returns to the Enterprise to find he has been replaced by an Andorian and he has to travel in to his past to fix things. The sci-fi element of this episode we have seen countless times but it’s the exploration of Spock’s past on Vulcan that makes this memorable. Think of it as an expansion on young Spock’s scenes in Star Trek (2009) where we see the troubled life Spock had and how he came through all that to be the great Starfleet officer and diplomat. It also explores his family life more and explains a little of the hostility between himself and his father. It is intelligent, delicate and touching throughout. A must-see for all Trek fans.

Thanks for reading…

 

 

 

COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Star Trek Parody Songs

Tony Wilkins counts down his top 5 Star Trek themed songs.


Star Trek was one of the pioneering shows that not only gave us something fresh, interesting and exciting but also sparked the creativity of fans the world over many of whom put that creativity into honoring the show. Here are my favorite songs based on Star Trek. Please note; some of these artists have done more than one great Star Trek song but in the interest of variety I have only selected one from their collections. So here we go.

5. Meekakitty – Star Trek Girl

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Ok, so this is very much a pop song in it’s style but that doesn’t take away the fact that it is filled with Trek-based lyrics. It is a cheesy love song but it is ludicrously catchy and you will have it in your head for hours. It’s sung by Tessa Violet (more commonly known as Meekakitty) who has done numerous music videos based on sci-fi or fantasy themes. I label this song under the topic of “guilty pleasure” because it really is. I do not apologize for it. Check it out.

Meekakitty – Star Trek Girl


4. Five Year Mission – The Cage

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Now these guys take fandom to a whole new level. They are an indie rock band who have written songs about nearly every single episode of the original series of Star Trek including the unaired pilot “The Cage”. This is the one I have chosen from their collection because I love the episode and this song really captures the tone. The chorus is especially catchy being about Captain Pike being the hero rather than Kirk.

Five Year Mission – The Cage


3. Warp II – Ballad of Bones I/II

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In my own experience the best fans are the ones who can have fun with their favorite show. Warp 11 are just those kinds of fans. Their lyrics are a bit more blue than the usual Trek themed music so expect to find the black and white Parental Warning Explicit Lyrics label on their cd cases but don’t be fooled; these guys are talented. While most of their songs are a lot of fun to listen to every so often they come out with something that will break your heart and that’s why I have chosen the Ballad of Bones II for the link below because it was a tribute to DeForest Kelly. I highly recommended checking these guys out.

Warp 11 – Ballad of Bones II


 2. Key of Awesome – Star Trek Slow Jam

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What would a Vulcan love song sound like? Probably something like this from the kings of parody, the Key of Awesome crew. This song has me in stitches of laughter every time I hear it. The lyrics have been carefully constructed to be as Vulcan-esque as possible and are delivered flawlessly against the background tune of a stylized version of the theme for the new movies. Just as brilliant is the quality of the video that accompanies it. Have a look. I am sure you will agree.

Key of Awesome – Star Trek Slow Jam


1. The Firm – Star Trekkin’

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Love it or hate it – this is still considered the Star Trek parody song and that’s why I give it the number one spot. It captures the pop culture of everything to do with Star Trek including McCoy’s “Dead Jim” and Scotty’s “You cannot change the laws of physics!” YES it does poke fun at the show but let’s be honest every trekkie has done that at some point. Think of this as Galaxy Quest The Musical.

The Firm – Star Trekkin’


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COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Rogue Starfleet Admirals

Tony Wilkins looks at the top 5 Admirals of Starfleet who violated more than the Prime Directive.


What is it about being promoted to an Admiral that turns an otherwise competent Starfleet officer in to a megalomaniac? I have always had a theory on this matter. In the TNG episode “Phantasms” Picard was invited to an Admiral’s banquet and is thrilled when his ship’s warp core malfunctions preventing him from attending. When asked why, Picard explains that Starfleet Admiralty are an extremely tedious group of people. Given that they exist in such a boring world is it any wonder they go a bit doolally if only to get a bit of excitement.

Whatever the reason here are my top 5 Admirals who went rogue. Please note I am only looking at Admirals in the prime universe so that excludes Admiral Marcus from “Star Trek Into Darkness” and Admiral Kathryn Janeway from the alternate future in the last episode of Voyager.

5. Admiral Ross

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In truth Ross would have been excused from this list were it not for one episode of DS9. In “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” Ross works with Sloane from the mysterious Section 31 to manipulate affairs within the Romulan Empire in order to better serve the Federation’s needs in the Dominion War. This is a massive violation of the Prime Directive. In all honesty this was probably the most interesting Admiral Ross ever became in the whole series. I have never really warmed to him and had always wished that they had brought back Admiral Nacheyev for the Dominion War. I would have expected this behaviour from her.


4. Admiral Dougherty

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Perhaps the one thing all our rougue Admirals have in common is their belief that what they are doing is for the good of the Federation. Admiral Dougherty was the most blatant about this conviction but he was perhaps the most torn by his actions than anyone else in this list. He deliberately went out of his way to protect the peaceful Ba’ku people while working with the Son’a to plunder their secret of eternal youth. Ultimately however he would fall foul of his “allies” and die in a rather gruesome face stretching.


3. Admiral Cartwright

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What do you do if peace with your age-old enemy looms on the horizon threatening to make your Admiral’s life even duller? Simple; you conspire with your enemy to make sure peace talks fail and that hostilities continue. Cartwright is interesting because it shows us how Kirk might have gone had he not been given back the Enterprise. Both men fear a future where the Federation and Klingons are working together but for Kirk, Chancellor Gorkon’s last words pleading him to preserve peace inspire him that not all Klingons are cold blooded killers. Cartwright on the other hand wants to seize the opportunity to finally crush the Klingon menace. Unfortunately for him Kirk and crew are around to save the day in one last mission that sets up the more hopeful future of the 24th century.


2. Admiral Leyton

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Perhaps the most frightening member of our list, Admiral Leyton plotted the unthinkable; a military coup against the Federation President which would install himself as leader. This is not simply a case of a thirst for power. Like all our list Leyton thinks he is doing what is best for the Federation by turning it in to a military dictatorship in order to strengthen it against the Dominion. This is the most obvious flaw in his plan however. Had he succeeded he would have effectively destroyed the Federation way of life he was actually trying to protect with his actions. Leyton is an interesting character to consider at a time when we are constantly being asked the question; in the face of global terrorism how much of our civil liberties should we give up for protection against the enemy within and what kind of police state would result? The final word has to go to the brilliant performance of Robert Foxworth in the role.


1. Admiral Kirk

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Of all our list perhaps the most famous is Admiral James Tiberius Kirk himself. It is because he is the hero of the movies that we often forget he too is a rogue Starfleet Admiral (at least for two movies). Let’s take a look at his record shall we? He steals a Federation ship then blows it up. He uses his influence on his crew to assault Starfleet personnel and sabotage a Starfleet ship. He murders a Klingon crew, albeit in self defence, then steals their ship (that’s two counts of space vehicular theft). He violates orders to stay away from two planets; first the Genesis planet then Earth when it is attacked by the Cetacean probe. Then he dables in time travel that leads to several disruptions in the timeline including bringing someone from the 1980s in to the 23rd century and finally he litters San Francisco Bay by dumping his stolen Klingon ship in it. I think all that qualifies as a rogue Starfleet officer but as the old saying goes; everyone loves a rogue.


 

I am aware that there are more Admirals who went rogue. I covered Admiral Pressman from “The Pegasus” in an episode review so I decided to keep him off this list.

Thanks for reading…

 

COUNTDOWN: Top 5 Star Trek Battles

The risk with lists like this is that they could get filled with Dominion War battles so I am limiting it to just one to give the list a bit of variety.

So here goes…


5. Ramming the Doomsday Machine (Star Trek “The Doomsday Machine”)
File:STDoomsday Machine.jpgThis whole episode left fans in awe when it first aired in 1967. The fact was that we saw for the first time that ships like the Enterprise weren’t all powerful and we saw another Constitution-class starship, the USS Constellation, getting the decks blown out from it. Only once more did we ever feel the same way again and that was when we saw the Galaxy-class USS Odyssey destroyed in the Dominion’s first episode of DS9 having seen the Enterprise-D being nearly immortal for the past seven years in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

4. Firing through the cloak (Star Trek VI)

Probably one of the tensest battles to have ever taken place during Star Trek’s history the whole engagement was long and nerve wracking yet never boring. On the contrary it feels like you are on the Enterprise-A being shot at by an invisible enemy. The battle is stolen by General Chang quoting Shakespeare. I know this angered some fans but boy did it give this fight drama.

3. Battle of Wolf 359 (Deep Space Nine)

An amazing thing about this battle is that it was so infused in to Star Trek’s folklore that we didn’t really need to see it on screen. We knew it was the Federation’s biggest loss (up to that point) in a single battle and the name of some of the ships but seeing it in the opening scene of DS9 was still a treat. For me the most memorable scene was watching the USS Melbourne get it’s saucer section blown off.

2. Battle of Sector 001 (Star Trek: First Contact)

Oh how things had changed. In “Best of Both Worlds/Emissary” firepower alone was not enough to defeat the Borg at Wolf 359. Now however the Federation fleet can penetrate the dampening field surrounding Borg ships. Data even says that the Cube had sustained heavy damage by the time the Enterprise-E arrived but as a testament to the Borg the ship can still fight. Only Picard’s knowledge of the Borg finally tips the balance and the Cube is reduced to scrap. As the old saying goes Payback’s a bitch!

1. Retaking Deep Space Nine (Deep Space Nine: Sacrifice of Angels)

Compiling this list very nearly became a list of DS9 only battles. There were so many good ones but I had to chose one that I thought was the most interesting and tactically sound. I chose this battle therefore for several reasons. Firstly we hadn’t really seen anything on this scale before or since in Star Trek; two massive fleets slugging it out. The scale even surpasses the movie battles! Secondly, for the first time we saw some real effort in devising tactics – targetting the Cardassian ships to create a hole, having the Galaxy-class ships with their superior firepower and shields take flanking positions for the smaller ships and finally the Klingons outflanking the Dominion fleet and breaking up their lines.

The scene stealer was of course watching the Galaxy-class ships burning that Cardassion Galor-class. Imagine if they had the three nacelled dreadnought version from “All Good Things”.

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COUNTDOWN; Top 5 Star Trek ships we never got to see

Over it’s 40+ years Star Trek has shown us some pretty impressive looking ship designs. What is equally interesting however are all the paper designs that for some reason (usually budget based) didn’t make it on our screens. Some did have nods to them as we shall see but on the whole we never saw them actually there on the screen.

5. Daedalus-class

In a parallel dimension this would have been the design that Captain Pike would have began the Star Trek universe in during “The Cage”. Yes; this was the design that was going to be the original USS Enterprise NCC-1701. Fortunately it was dropped for the more elegant saucer shape but that wouldn’t be the end of it. The design was eventually used as the basis of the USS Horizon and in homage to the fact it came first it was placed as being in service during the 2160s. The class very nearly got resurrected when Star Trek: Enterprise was conceived with Doug Drexler wanting to create an earlier version for the show. In the end he was over-ruled and designed the so-called ‘Akira-prise’ instead.

4. Defiant-class Runabout
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The Defiant added a whole new dimension to Deep Space Nine and signalled the end of that shows foray into exploring the Gamma Quadrant replacing it with the concept that one station and its crew were all that stood in front of the invading hordes of Dominion forces, itself the near mirror image of the Federation. The Defiant was the first true warship in Star Trek (although its implied there were designated warships during Kirk’s era). Some of the earlier designs looked very different to the armored tank we eventually saw on screen. One design would be resurrected as the Nova-class USS Equinox in Voyager but initially it looked like the Defiant was going to be an uber-Runabout.  

3. Original Ambassador-class
https://i2.wp.com/ottens.co.uk/forgottentrek/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Andrew-Probert-Enterprise-C-painting.jpgOne of the most loved episodes of The Next Generation was by far and away “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. We got action, a gripping storyline involving an alternate history but above all we got to see the Enterprise-C. The design of the Enterprise-C we saw on the screen looked like a hybrid of the Constitution-class and Excelsior-class. This was not the original design however. Andrew Probert designed a ship that was to have showed a direct design lineage between the Excelsior-class and the Galaxy-class. Alas it was not to be although if I am honest I do prefer the design they went with. It was more classical.

2. Federation-class Dreadnought

No other design from the original series has had as much debate and interest as the Federation-class Dreadnought. It appeared in one of the first technical manuals and on a display in “Star Trek III:The Search For Spock” so therefore it is established as canon. The purpose behind the design was to have a heavily armed counterpart to the Constitution-class which was more multi-role having scientific and military roles. The third nacelle was adopted to imply it was more powerful than the Enterprise. Gene Roddenberry signed off on the design but then reversed his decision disliking the war role the ship had but by then it was too late.

1. Enterprise NX-01 Refit


I was one of those fans who actually liked the idea of Star Trek:Enterprise. It had gallons of potential for me and I looked forward to the story playing out and seeing the history behind the characters I had come to love. Sadly, until the last season it had very little to do with established canon and at times completely ignored it. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the design of the ship. This 22nd century ship had many design cues from the Akira-class of the 24th century and this was the final straw for a lot of fans (and I don’t blame them even though I stuck with the show and got rewarded with the brilliant but too late 4th season). There was an effort to remedy this with a refit that would have given the NX-01 an engineering hull and main deflector dish. It looks the business but sadly was never to be.