A missed opportunity.

The Original Series

A missed opportunity.

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:15 pm

So I was thinking about the end of Star Trek IV, and something always bothered me about it. The ending.

We see Kirk and the others in Spacedock in a shuttle after they are exonerated, discussing what ship they will get. And Sulu suggests the Excelsior, much to Scotty's disgust. And then we see the shuttle fly over the Excelsior and there is another Constitution class Starship, relabeled USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.

Only, this always struck me wrong. For one, it's pretty obvious that this is supposed to be a new ship. Yes, later on they would come up with the idea that this was the old USS Yorktown rechristened, but that seems like a bit of a retcon to me. The ship itself looks new when they go aboard, with a different and much more "modern" bridge. And the "jump to warp" effect is different... rather souped-up compared to what we see earlier when the Enterprise goes to warp. If you go behind the scenes, you find that the bridge control graphics included references to transwarp drive, which the last film established is a brand new and highly experimental thing. This is obviously meant to be a new ship.

And that fits well with Star Trek V. Consider this dialogue :

Scotty : U.S.S. Enterprise, shakedown cruise report. I think this new ship was put together by monkeys!

Or this :

Scotty : All I can say is they don't make 'em like they used to.
Kirk : You told me you could have the ship operational in two weeks. I gave you three. What happened?

Clearly this indicates a new-build ship.

But it's senseless to build another Constitution class. It's a decades old design in a time when a brand new design is just going into production. It would be like the US Navy saying "Screw the new Ford class carrier, just build another CVN-65 Enterprise! It's so historic!"

And that's ignoring the fact that it would surely take a year or more, perhaps several, to build a new Constitution. Are they really keeping the Connie production lines running right up to the very day the Excelsior is ready for trial runs? And fitting them with transwarp engines, to boot!

And even if we go with the retcon idea of a rechristened Yorktown, that doesn't sit right with me. It's horribly disrespectful to a ship which has been in service for many years to just rename it like that... the ship has it's own history, it's own heritage, and they just trample all over that. Not to mention the crew that they would have to yank off the thing to give it to a bunch of heroes. Ugh.

Here's what I would have done. Play out that last scene exactly as before... but instead of revealing a new Enterprise behind the Excelsior, reveal that the Excelsior itself has been renamed as the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.

Now the scene works on every level. Kirk being given a brand new ship is a suitable reward. Styles being relieved of command in favour of Kirk works on a dramatic level, because the movie clearly doesn't want us to like that guy, AND it works on the practical level, because he's just coming off a major and extremely public failure inflicted on him by Kirk right in front of half of Starfleet. You can argue that it wasn't really his fault, but "it's not fair" only goes so far in saving a career from something like that.

Then the transwarp stuff also makes sense. And it ties so much better into Star Trek V, since a brand new Excelsior class Enterprise-A could very believably be a bit of a kludge with a lot of minor kinks to work out. And it owuld have given Scotty a lovely character arc, showing him coming to respect the new ship and its abilities throughout the film. And it even, dare I say it, would have made sense of the fabled trip to the galactic core which the transwarp equipped Enterprise-A could plausibly have done in a small fraction of the expected time. You could even have made a point of Sybok seeking to capture this particular Starship as it would be the only one fast enough to get there. (Though you'd then need a plausible way the BoP could follow).

All in all, I think this would have been a far better ending. What say you?
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Tsukiyumi » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:25 pm

Good points all around. Would've changed the beginning of Generations a bit, but that wouldn't really be a bad thing.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby McAvoy » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:46 am

You need to look up the USNs new destroyer class, Zumwalt class. After two, the USN wants to go back to the Arleigh Burke class. A class that was already beginning to become long in the tooth. An economical class vs. The Ticonderoga class.

Ships have been renamed before. But that was too free up the old name for a new state of the art ship. Usually capital ships like battleships though. Or new naming scheme. Like he USN renaming all of its armored cruisers after cities instead of States where state names were reserved for battleships. The Royal Navy did the same with the R class as well.

Anyway, perhaps a missed opportunity and it may have flowed well with the 'trilogy'.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:15 am

Re the Zumwalts, I can see that. But it's not really comparable because the Zumwalts are kind of a kludge. Intended as cruisers sometimes, as super sized destroyers in some ways, kind of Arleigh Burke replacements only kind of not... and now essentially a failed design, or at best one that has been at least in large part relegated to the niche role of shore bombardment.

There's some of that kind of thing with the Excelsior, given that the transwarp experiment evidently failed. But the Excelsior was a Connie replacement, pure and simple, and it went on to a massive production run and a massively long and successful service life - still in regular frontline service 92 years later!
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby McAvoy » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:20 am

That is the closest thing I can think off of the top of my head. I know many Navies have built duplicates of a inferior design to add numbers to the fleet despite having better designs on the board.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Teaos » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:32 am

They didnt need it to be the same ship unless they really really needed to save money on interior sets. So yeah, wouldnt have been much better.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jul 11, 2013 11:02 am

Tsukiyumi wrote:Good points all around. Would've changed the beginning of Generations a bit, but that wouldn't really be a bad thing.

Well Generations is only set six years after Star Trek III, so the introduction of a somewhat upgraded Excelsior subclass at that point would still make sense.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Mikey » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:35 pm

Logical points all around, GK - but you're ignoring the simple and plain fact that the entire scene was built to play upon nostalgia and sentimentality rather than storyline logic.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby McAvoy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:26 pm

Mikey wrote:Logical points all around, GK - but you're ignoring the simple and plain fact that the entire scene was built to play upon nostalgia and sentimentality rather than storyline logic.


True. Either way would probably cost the same. I doubt they scrapped the Excelsior's bridge or parts from STIII so it would be a matter of taking them out of storage.

In hindsight STVI would be slightly different too with Sulu commanding the Excelsior. It wouldn't be as neat as having Sulu commanding the Excelsior that we are familiar with.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Graham Kennedy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:17 pm

It's interesting to contemplate how things would have played out if they'd done as I suggested.

ST V would make far more sense, as mentioned.

ST VI... they couldn't show Sulu in command of Excelsior because there wouldn't BE an Excelsior. And of course they wouldn't have wanted to have an Excelsior class Enterprise functioning beside another Excelsior class ship because it's too confusing for the audience. They'd have had to introduce another class there... if the budget allowed that, of course. Would this hypothetical new class then be the one we saw so often all the way through TNG?

Or would Sulu's ship be a modified Excelsior along the lines that we got for the E-B, with the E-B then being some new class?
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby McAvoy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:22 pm

STV wouldn't really change if at all.

STVI would change he story a lot actually unless you introduce a new class for Sulu to command. Or they could dust of the Constellation class or something. But I think that model isn't big screen quality.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Reliant121 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 2:58 pm

There are two variants of the Excelsior, let's not forget. You could introduce the Lakota STYLE refit as an Excelsior type B or something which then later becomes the hull for the Lakota.
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby McAvoy » Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:57 pm

In hindsight and s movie later there was. But to have two Excelsiors on screen you have to film one unmodified and then modify it for the second ship. Or build a whole new model which then begs the question why not a whole new ship?
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Re: A missed opportunity.

Postby Atekimogus » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:05 am

I wouldn't have given them the Excelsior, mainly since it is a class ship and technological test-bed, but rather the first ship of the new excelsior class.

Now that might have stretched the time-frame a bit, but the new ship could have been kind of half finished as we see her first and which would give a good explanation for the extended shore-leave we see in the beginning of V.


Out of universe, from what I gathered from behind the scenes books etc. , the designers wanted to come up with a new ship and viewed the blowing up of the E-nil as a good opportunity to do so but in the end they were forced to went with the cheapest option, which was painting an - A on an otherwise pristine model (since they blew up a smaller-scale version in IV).

That is also why the expensive 6foot Galaxy class model - now in storage - has an NCC-1701 E prefix, since considering past practices, it was entirely possible that the new ship they were going to get is again a GCS ship. I can well imagine, that only the ability to do some otherwise very expensive shoots with a computer instead of the models freed them to go ahead with a completely new design.


Obviously the Movie Enterprise was a rather expensive piece of equipment and quite understandibly they wanted to get as much use out of it as possible and since they couldn't really use the model in the series (since they do not trust to this day the audience being able to tell the difference between a Constitution class ship and "the" Enterprise) it meant that they had to use it in the movies.

(Quite franky, I don't really understand why they were THAT picky with their models - at least in the movies. Sure they were great expenditures costing thousands of dollars etc. but when viewed in context of the total budget of the movies......they were not THAT expensive and as a bonus, they could have brought them to their ongoing series....)
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