Interview: Dave Blass On Rebuilding The Enterprise-D And What You Didn’t See In ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Season 3

Due to this week’s release of the Picard Legacy Blu-ray box set, the TrekMovie All Access Podcast team had a chance to speak to production designer Dave Blass about his work on the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard. We talked about what it took to recreate the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D and got the inside details about how the team got creative when it came to building all the different sets needed for season 3, even if viewers didn’t always see the amount of detail that went into them on TV.

Let’s start with the Enterprise-D which was painstakingly recreated. Even though it was for the end of the season, worked started on that first?

No. Actually, the challenge is that we did season 2 and season 3 back-to-back. So about halfway through season 2, [showrunner] Terry [Matalas] and his team kind of formed up and started working on season 3. And then we started getting hints and ideas of what we were going to do. But in season 3 we start the season with Picard and Laris in his study and he gets the signal from Beverly, that happens on the same stage where the Enterprise D was. So we literally ended up, you know: “Okay, shoot the scene because I got to build a spaceship here.” But two days before we shot that we were still in season 2. We finished season 2 on a Friday and we started season 3 on a Monday. I remember Terry coming to me saying, “Yeah, we want to do the D.” Then it was like, how do we do that and how do we afford it, and what version of it we were going to do? That was an evolving process. There was a scene in season 2 where Picard was being interviewed by a psychiatrist played by James Callis, who was his father. Initially, that was written for Picard’s ready room on the Enterprise-D. So we had gone down that route and it was too expensive to build a whole new set so we reworked something on the La Sirena set. But it was in our mind that we knew the D was possibly going to be there, but how and why was still to be figured out. It did take us three months to build it, so it was something that we ran into really quickly.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge, Brent Spiner as Data, Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher, Michael Dorn as Worf, Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi, Jonathan Frakes as Will Riker and Patrick Stewart as Picard in “The Last Generation” (Paramount+)

You brought in a lot of veteran experts like Doug Drexler, John Eaves, and the Okudas. That’s all exciting but was there ever anything that you disagreed about and if so, how did you deal with it?

I don’t think we ever disagreed about anything. But it’s terrifying, as someone who is such a fanboy for these people. I had John Eaves’ book, I had three copies of the Enterprise Tech Manual [written by Rick Sternbach and Mike Okuda]. I had Mike sign mine in Vegas, the one that I got as a Christmas present when I was in college. So to just give notes—it’s like, “Okay, here I don’t think this is…” But you will never meet a more cordial group. They just want to do good stuff. So I’d be working with them and they’d get frustrated because we couldn’t do this and ideally, it was a situation where we would all be around a conference table, all sketching on pads and coming up with something, but everyone was working from home because of COVID, so we never really had the camaraderie that they had back in the old days with everyone together. But we really went deep. Like bringing Dan Curry in to design Worf’s new weapon. There was no, “Hey, why don’t we do it?” I was like, “Why don’t we let Dan do it?” Because if Dan does it, it’s going to be right. We don’t have to compare it to what we would do. So I get the credit because he designed it.

TNG production designer Herman Zimmerman visits TNG vets Doug Drexler (L) and Dan Curry
(R) on the recreated Enterprise-D set (Photo: Dave Blass)

On the DVD commentaries for season 3 of Picard, Terry was talking about Matalas Prime, saying there’s so much detail viewers couldn’t even see. Was that on purpose? Were there conversations with the DPs about lighting all those things to see more of it?

When I design something, I create a sandbox for them to go play in. It’s one of those things, especially for something like Matalas Prime which played over the course of six episodes, you don’t know what is going to be seen and where things will play out. We had [director] Dan Liu, who came in for the final episode [using that set], and when we were doing the first episode when we first saw Raffi, Dan’s not even in the mix, he’s not there. So he’s going to come in with his own vision and his own idea of how to shoot things. So my thing is to make everything as shootable as possible from every single angle. So no matter where they put the camera, it’s going to be a good shot. That is one of the things Jonathan Frakes kindly said, there was not a bad angle and there was so much depth. If you don’t see it, you don’t see it, but it was all there. That’s why I make it a habit of taking a lot of nice photos and I will share them on Twitter to let people see things that they may have not seen. But yeah, we just did layers and Shauna Aronson, our set decorator, and her team did a phenomenal job there. It was the same thing with the Borg ship at the end, it’s just layers upon layers of the entire history of the Borg race that are in there. And if you don’t see it, it happens, but it’s all there so that they can see if they want to.

Behind the scenes on “The Last Generation” (Paramount+)

Are there certain things you guys spent a lot of time on that never ended up on screen that you really wish fans had seen?

It happens. Film production is a collaborative effort and everyone’s just screaming to get through it and a lot of times what the focus is doesn’t end up being—and again, I design it for every possibility of what you possibly could want to do. One of the things that made me pull my hair out was in Picard’s library, it was a two-story set with a whole walkway up above with all this detail and bookshelves and history knickknacks, and you never saw it. Initially, Picard was looking for a book in the first scene, and my idea is we see him up top and he’s walking around trying to find the book and then he comes down the spiral staircase and we reveal the whole room. And then it was like “too much shoe leather.” It takes too much time out of the episode to shoot all that so he’s just on the ground floor and does the thing. And so in the end, I think there was just one shot where you could kind of see there was a second floor. But that’s on every single show and everything you’ve ever done.

Dave Blass on the USS Titan set (Photo: Dave Blass)

Well, at least LeVar Burton kissed you after seeing Geordi’s office, even though they cropped out all the cool stuff for the final shot.

Yeah, that was such a thing because we put all this stuff on his desk. And then the cinematographer came in and the reason I was there for LeVar Burton to kiss me was that they took all the stuff off the desk, because “it’s way too cluttered, way too cluttered.” And the onset dresser called me and said, “Dave, you need to come down here” and I walked in and said, “No, you need to put all that stuff back on the desk.” The only reason anyone is ever going to remember this scene is all that stuff that’s on the desk. Every single thing means something and it’s going to be a whole thing. I was like, “Just do it, just do it.” And then LeVar comes in and sees the Zefram Cochrane statue and he’s like, “Oh, my God” and they’re like, “Yeah, Dave did that.” I was like, “There’s that scene where you have your hand up [in Star Trek: First Contact]” and he saw that and he’s like “You get it.” And that was the day I met LeVar Burton, but in that instance Geordi La Forge. It was such a wonderful thing.

But yeah, there are levels to fans. There are fans that will sit there and freeze-frame things and look for the good, the bad. They look at the Easter egg-y things, but we didn’t look them at as Easter eggs. We were world-building for Geordi. It’s the history of Starfleet. He was at a museum. Why wouldn’t there be pieces of history? And what is the history of Star Trek? As I told my team, Star Trek is not a sci-fi fantasy, it’s a historical drama that takes place in the future with 55 years of history. Knowing the history is really what you have to do. You don’t have to follow it. You don’t have to make this thing look exactly like that. But you have to know iconography. It’s the same way if you were designing a World War II movie, you don’t just put a typewriter in that’s not period-appropriate. It’s the same thing with Star Trek. You have to have a period-appropriate thing. If you are going to put a chair in there you have to know, “Oh, that chair was used in The Original Series so that’s a 100-year-old chair.”

Publicity still with LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge for “The Bounty” shows items on his desk that weren’t seen in the final episode (Paramount+)

In the case of the Enterprise-D bridge, you went out of your way to match the set, but there is the reality that you are shooting with modern cameras and lighting. Did you have to accommodate modern technology and the way the DPs [directors of photography] wanted to light that set?

Not so much for the DPs because, again we give them the sandbox, and how they’re going to light it will be whatever they want. But we did [make some changes], because on the original Next Generation bridge, all of the Okudagrams, the LCARS, were backlit by either neon or fluorescent lighting. Then on screen, there is a falloff because you have a bulb, a bulb, and a bulb and then up along the edge it gets darker because there’s no even way to light that. But now we’re lighting with LED lights and you can have a nice flat, perfect color. Also fluorescent light tints everything kind of greenish. So Mike Okuda had some of the actual original LCARS, the physical pieces of gels and things when we knew exactly what color they were. But that’s not the color that they were because that color was changed by the lighting. So then we ended up changing all the colors and then adding little vignette kind of shading to the LCARS so the edges looked like that. So we had to redo everything so it didn’t look like what it was, but it looked like what it looked like on screen. And that was a big challenge.

Initials for Blass and other members of the Picard art department were included on the LCARS for the rebuilt Enterprise-D set (Photo: Dave Blass)

On Picard season 3, you guys reused the 10 Forward set a lot. You mentioned how doing Picard’s Enterprise-D ready room in season 2 didn’t work out for practical reasons, so was that the case with reusing 10 Forward?

I think that was the brilliance of Terry Matalas. He was just like, “I’m going to own it.” Like we are not going to redesign the Stargazer bridge for the Titan, we are going to own it. We are going to own that the holodeck happens to be the 10 Forward bar and we are just going to say, “Here it is, deal with it.” Because without that, you’re not standing on the Enterprise-D. He actually comes to me and says, “Okay, I need the Shrike bridge for Amanda Plummer” and I’m like, “Dude, there’s no room. We don’t have the space and we don’t have any money.” And he was like, “If we don’t do a budget cost-effective Shrike version that’s cool and looks awesome and you do you thing that you can do because that’s why I hired you, if you don’t do that, we don’t get to be on the Enterprise-D.” So you sit there and go “Here’s what we are going to do” and it’s going to creatively work and it’s going to make sense and do all those things. So that’s why the 10 Forward bar worked. Would it have been great to have a real bar on the ship? Awesome. But if you go back to watch The Next Generation, they didn’t even do sickbay in season 1. For sickbay, they redressed the observation lounge. We did so much in season 3. In the first episode, we had the Shrike, we had the Eleos, we had Matalas Prime. So every time it’s like, “Oh, there’s a transporter room.” Go back and watch the Star Trek: The Original Series movies. They reuse the transporter room from The Next Generation on The Undiscovered Country.

Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren and Patrick Stewart as Picard in “Imposters” (Paramount+)

Where did you build the Eleos sets?

So the evolution of that was in season 2, you hand Soong’s lab and and Kore’s little bedroom. So that square room became the Eleos, which then became Daystrom Station, which then became the Borg. It was literally like, “What can we turn this into next week?” In hindsight for me, had I known that when I was designing Soong’s lab, I would have done something monumentally different. But when you’re doing your first episode of designing Star Trek, you’re trying to do something cool. Had I known these four walls are never going to move for the next two years, we’re going to have to turn them into all these different things, I would build different walls.

Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher in “The Next Generation” (Paramount+)

Picard Legacy box set out now

The Star Trek: The Picard Legacy Collection arrived on Tuesday, November 7. It is described as “the definitive release for Next Generation fans.” The limited edition set includes 54 individually numbered Blu-ray discs and unique packaging that houses every TV series and film featuring Jean-Luc Picard. That includes 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, 3 seasons of Picard, and the 4 TNG feature films along with over 35 hours of special features. This limited set also includes an exclusive edition of The Wisdom of Picard featuring brand new artwork and quotes, along with a one-of-a-kind deck of playing cards, a magnet sheet featuring all of Captain Picard’s badges and four custom Chateau Picard drink coasters.

It is available now at Amazon for $199.95.

Picard Legacy Collection

Here is what’s included…

  •  All Series and Films Featuring Captain Jean-Luc Picard
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation – Seasons 1-7
    • Star Trek: Picard – Seasons 1-3
    • Star Trek: Generations
    • Star Trek: First Contact
    • Star Trek: Insurrection
    • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • 35 hours of bonus features
  • Premium Packaging Containing 54 Blu-ray Discs, 154 Episodes and Exclusive Collectables
  • Exclusive Collectables:
    • Magnetic Captain Picard Badges
    • 4 Custom Chateau Picard Drink Coasters
    • Custom Deck of Playing Cards
    • Exclusive Version of The Wisdom of Picard, The Wisdom of Picard: The Legacy Collection Edition
      • Featuring New Cover Art
      • Including quotes from the latest seasons of Star Trek: Picard

Here is the launch trailer…

More from Dave Blass

See our earlier article for Blass talking about Star Trek: Legacy. The full audio interview with Dave Blass will be available on the next episode of TrekMovie’s All Access Star Trek podcast.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

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I honestly did not watch season 3 to the end, I think I gave up after episode 9

Picard is without doubt, along with Discovery the absolute dregs of “Star Trek” and SNW seems to be going the same way.

I will admit there were moments in Season 3 I thought FINALLY, they are making quality Star Trek again, but I ran out of patience with the whole thing

Jack Crusher story – boring
The main villain I cannot even remember her name (Varek?) stupid
The Borg again – lazy
The Borg working with the changelings – insane
Killing such a great character as Ro Laren – unforgivable

Then there is the whole awful writing – all the Starfleet in the same place at the same time?, recycling previous Trek (fan service), gratuitous violence and profanity etc etc

I will admit the music was good!!

I have said it before and I will say it again, Star Trek Nemesis was/is far superior than this garbage. They should not have dragged those elderly actors back on screen for this

In retrospect, I have to agree that S3 was a lot of fanservice wish-fulfilment and deus-ex-machinations, hung on some rather bare bones of story. Plot holes so big you could drive the Enterprise-D through them (see what I did there?)

I really liked season 1 because that had a genuinely interesting science-fiction story at the heart of it – alien AIs leave a message for synthetics that becomes misinterpreted by organics due to bio-incompatibility, and this creates a homicidal cult within an already secretive organization, who destroy Mars to foster distrust of synthetics, even though this hobbles the Federation’s ability to help their own species evacuate from a looming disaster.

And it followed up the story of Picard and Data in a hopeful way, showing us the Coppelius androids and a somewhat saner Soong, and showing how they could choose not to be ‘The Destroyer.’

The metaphysical question of “is Picard still Picard” after being uploaded into a synthetic body is also fascinating, but I wish they hadn’t dropped it after S1. It’s something that was better explored in the last season of Agents of SHIELD when the late Coulson’s recorded self, from the Framework virtual reality, is put into a Life Model Decoy, and he has an existential crisis.

S2 could have jumped off into exploring more things like this but fell into the trope of “the entire timeline revolves around the Picard family” – and yet we didn’t really get to know Renée Picard at all; she was really just a MacGuffin to crowbar the plot along.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing an Expanse-like series with Renée, about the early days of Earth exploring the solar system, with more of a hard sci-fi setting, set against the background of the growing tension that would become WWIII. But keep Star Trek continuity distant so it becomes its own thing, and it doesn’t contradict canon.

Nice to see that at least one fellow traveler feels about this as I do. In spite of many issues including a finale so anticlimactic that I cancelled my All Access membership within moments of watching it, overall I’ll take S1 over S3 any day. For all of its missteps, at least not until Picard was reborn as a cyborg did I feel that I was being pandered to — which is about *all* I felt watching S3.

Nice to see that at least one fellow traveler feels about this as I do. In spite of many issues including a finale so anticlimactic that I cancelled my All Access membership within moments of watching it, overall I’ll take S1 over S3 any day.

Agreed. Season 1 was at least half-decent science fiction versus the Season 3 star-wars-like fantasy space opera with the Picardenstein and zombies BS.

I rewatched the first seven episodes of season 3 on a long-haul flight three days ago — not all, partly because Lufthansa inexplicably omitted the final two, and in any event I began fading around the middle of episode 6. (Thanks, incipient jet lag.)

With those caveats, I continued to enjoy it. It reinforced my view that, like many of TNG’s two-partners, the first half of the season was better than the second. The villains were indeed mustache-twirlers, as I thought before. We never got an adequate explanation of what Vadic’s motivations were. The nostalgia overdose began around episode 6.

But on the positive side of the ledger, there was truly excellent character work; we saw real conflict among the TNG crew, reminiscent of the best of DS9; we saw leaders making mistakes and taking flawed command decisions, a la Kirk in TWOK; we saw Picard with a true Kobayashi Maru moment; and we saw the beloved crew as a family, where each had a moment to shine.

We got career-best acting from all of them, too. It’s amazing to see how Frakes evolved from one of the weaker performers back in season one of TNG to today, when he held his own against Stewart. We also got a poignant sci-fi moment in the nebula actually being a nest for the cosmozoan jellyfish beings — “to seek out new life,” as Beverly mused.

So again, I ultimately enjoyed it, which isn’t something I say often in this era of NuTrek, with its kids’ shows, Tawny Awesome, Space Hitler, and other mediocrities. I need to find some time to re-watch the back end properly, of course. I’d be unsurprised if binge-watching the back end, without the front, negatively colors my assessment.

I agree that season one was much more thought-provoking, and I tend to think of it as the best. Season two was dreadful; it should have followed up on PIcard’s new status as an android.

In fairness, I thought they made the motivation for Vadic’s hatred of the Federation and the Titan’s crew pretty clear. The problem was that that revelation was never followed-up on, which told the audience everything it needed to know about its importance to the overall story.

Well said.

I appreciate someone with a strong opinion! I agree it was not perfect, but after all these years of horrible cringe trek that I would never recommend anyone watch, season 3 was the closest I’ve felt to watching real star trek since enterprise went off the air, and I lapped up every minute. Am I a sucker for falling for the cheap tricks they played on us? Maybe, but it felt good to actually enjoy my favorite show once again. And I think strange new worlds is garbage too, so really after 5 new shows and 11 seasons, I was glad I finally got something that truly appealed to me. But I definitely acknowledge that it could’ve been a lot better for so many reasons you pointed out.

Some TOS EPs are garbage, some TNG were, some DS9 were, lots of Voyagers Eps were, few of ENTs were. ENT was something, but still cringy storylines. SNW is not that bad.Thats just television. but with fewer eps, it seems the overall crafting per episode improved even if the direction might be all wrong. But dont overidolize the past.

I thought S3 was space opera and not real Star Trek. It wasn’t TNG-style Star Trek at all where we have a problem solving crew, creative thinking, science fiction instead of fantasy, and characters who put their service above their personal needs. I think it was the least Star Trek-like season of all three seasons of Picard.

Even the shitty S2 was more like a long TNG episode for sure.

I thought S3 was space opera and not real Star Trek. It wasn’t TNG-style Star Trek at all where we have a problem solving crew, creative thinking, science fiction instead of fantasy, and characters who put their service above their personal needs.

1. What’s the criteria for distinguishing “space opera” from “real Star Trek” (or at least non-space opera)? How do you apply those criteria here?

2. We certainly had a “problem-solving crew” and “creative thinking” in “17 Seconds” and “Kobayashi Maru” and “Imposters.” Beverly scienced their way out of a no-win scenario by figuring out the nebula was alive (or at least was a birthing ward). Granted, as I said above, the first half of the season was better than what followed.

3. What was the fantasy element in season 3?

4. On characters who put their service above their personal needs, you’re not entirely wrong, but a lot of great Star Trek also involves situations where a character that is otherwise service-minded does just that: Sisko in “For the Uniform,” for instance, or Picard in FIRST CONTACT, or Janeway in “Equinox II,” or Kirk in “Obsession” or TUC. I don’t see characters with flaws, at least in moderation, to be a bad thing.

Characters with flaws are fine, they just can’t be swept aside when they become inconvenient. Janeway was the worst victim of inconsistent characterization. She was always shown to be obsessive and single-minded, but extreme characterizations like her depression in Night and vengeful bent in Equinox Part 2 never sat well with me because they came out of nowhere and don’t get any follow through until the next time Janeway goes rogue.

Sisko’s darker turns always made more sense to me, pretty much from the moment he punched Q. Eddington’s betrayal was better set up than Ransom’s. His embrace of Bajoran lore and the Prophets was gradual. Starfleet tended to reward his reckless decisions as they bore fruit.

I don’t quite see how season 3 doesn’t mix devotion to Starfleet with understandable human impulses and instincts. Riker, Troi, Geordi and Beverly had kids to protect, Worf needed to work on himself. Shaw was complicated and a little inconsistent but not a brick wall. Picard, Raffi, Seven and Ro were pretty dogged about trying to expose the conspiracy, which became the entire cast’s mission in the face of a manipulated Starfleet’s resistance. Felt more Star Trek to me than the version of Starfleet Picard faced off with in season 1.

I think I gave up after episode 9″

That’s *wild*

Yeah, he missed the Return of the Jedi remake which was Ep 10.

I’d pay someone not more than two dollars if you never posted here again.

That’s rather uncalled for; are we supposed to have cheerleading only?

I think Matalas brilliantly did great under the reduced budget, huge pressure, and time limitation. Not to mention Stewart very specific conditions for the plot, that are usually not satisfactory for the fans.

I have mixed feelings about Jack. He is a good actor. However, we needed more weight to become Picard’s son. More time for fans to learn from him. Too new, too sudden to like him. I think it was very unfortunate not bringing Wellesley back for the final season. It was a missed opportunity. That actually would it have added the required intensity and dramatic moment that was lacking, for Jack. Wellesley not as the Hero, but being part of saving the Galaxy, rescuing his new brother, all together, with/for Beverly and Jean Luc. A complete family reunion. If he is a Time Traveler, fine, maybe having him as “The Watcher” pulling strings!? Watching Mom and Picard and his new brother!?

McFadden did a great performance during this season, it was very appropriate giving Beverly the opening of the season, putting her back in place with Picard. I am not saying Laris is a mistake. Laris is amazing as well…great addition to the show…but for me as a fan since the beginning, the conflict and the love between the two, is a major pillar of STNG.

Of course, the season could be better, always. Nevertheless, Season 3 was my favorite season. True, no location filming like season 1 and 2, no serious Guinan plot, original new enemies, no spot, all filmed in the studio, and many other factors due to many factors…but under these circumstances, I think you will have a different opinion if you watch again the entire season all at once. For me, was exactly what I have been waiting to see way before Discovery Episode 1. A current update of my beloved crew.

I don’t mind them killing Ro off – (to steal a phrase) they pulled out the chair Forbes twice to be a lead regular in Trek and she never sta down and took it. As much as I enjoy DS9 and Kira – it would have been fascinating to see Ro as the Barjoran rep on DS9. And Voyage could have been drastically different if Ro had been there instead of Torres.

If my memory doesn’t fail, which is more frequent at my current age….I think Forbes declined a long commitment with the franchise, twice.

About killing her, true, but it’s Star Trek. They can bring her back at anytime. Maybe she was transported by the Changelings before the explosion, or something else. :D

Malala’s said that originally, they were were later going to show that Ro had survived, but, they ran out of time.

Definitely agree about Ro. Always loved her and it was great to see her back! Another big reason I loved the season so much.

And while I love Kira to death I still would’ve been curious to see Ro on that show too.

It was a big missed opportunity not to have shown Kira and Ro meeting at some point. I imagine Kira would have *hated* Ro, since the latter spent the occupation (or at least her adult life, once she escaped the refugee camp) in the relatively safety of the Federation.

And potentially Ro would have thought that Kira was too open to working with the Cardassians.

Diaspora groups are often more hawkish than locals when it comes to civil conflicts, as we see to some extent in the recent Gaza and Armenia crises. Bajor was an allegory for the Palestine conflict; this would have been an interesting angle to explore.

 I think it was very unfortunate not bringing Wellesley back for the final season.

That’s OK, Harvard has admitted guys for a long time now.

(Sorry, Wellesley alumnae; I kid.)

LOL! Wesley!!! :P

“Fan service” is what it is all about. I loved season 3, but hated the first 2 seasons.

Completely agree.

By not watching Ep 10 you deprived yourself of the Trek remake of Return of the Jedi.

Perhaps Lufthansa agrees with you!

IMO I would give it another shot. I felt the same way about Disco and Picard until Se. 3. It’s basically a standalone season that could have been a long movie. Yes there’s various cringe moments but overall it was an entertaining watch and I’m even going back for a second round.

I don’t get the progression on the bridges..
TOS bridge with all the information displays and ability for everyone to communicate so its super functional..
… 30 years later….
Let’s make it where everyone has to look forward, no displays on entire walls, carpet to lite on fire and make a guy stand when he isn’t blocking someones view.
…. 30 years later …
Let’s have even less displays even on the back wall, throw some stairs for everyone to fall down and make it so big everyone needs to shout at each other.

Ugh. They had some magic with the SNW 1701 bridge and even then were like ” those colorful displays are super awesome, would get to use color to communicate information and attract the eye on DIS, let’s monochrome that!”

That being said, they did a great job with what they had on S3. The ENT-D bridge looked like it was 1990. And I did love all the stuff Geordi had in his office.

Yeah, the stairs on both the Stargazer and Titan/Ent-G bridges are a design fail – what a tripping hazard. And not every surface needs to have embedded LED lighting.

To the degree that there’s more usable information visible everywhere, the Kelvin 1701 bridge is actually really good – there’s large status displays visible from across the room atop the individual stations, which have more detailed displays for seated operators viewing close-up. There’s also the implication that operators use some sort of minimal AR headsets as we see Scotty and other crew members use them.

I didn’t like the clutter of the standing transparent “whiteboards”, but maybe that was a reference to those kind of submarine plotting boards as seen in many military dramas (and also referenced in Star Wars, as you can see them all over the rebel base). On Discovery, they translated these into actual transparent OLED displays, which is a boon for VFX people as you don’t have to insert graphics over the top.

The MCU also uses the annoying transparent screens, which a character has commented about.

HA! That was funny about the rug and the stairs.

No mention of Andrew Probert in this article? John Eaves did not design the Enterprise-D bridge. That’s Andrew Probert’s work. Credits due!

Wait – TNG season 1 didn’t include a dedicated Sickbay set? That thing looks identical to what they used in later seasons.

Look again. He’s correct — S1’s Sickbay is clearly a redress of the observation lounge with the windows covered-over. (Paramount was evidently hedging its bets on the show’s success.) A dedicated Sickbay set was not built until S2.

It is actually the other way around – During TNG season 1, the observation lounge is a redress of sickbay – the same sickbay set that was built for The Motion Picture.

For season 2, a dedicated observation lounge set was built and the sickbay set was improved, removing the wall that doubled as the observation lounge wall and replacing it with biobed alcoves. But sickbay never moved – the observation lounge did.

You’re entirely right; thanks for the correction.

But sickbay had already been transformed into the bar in TSFS (the klingon sickbay looks like it is the biobed room from TMP), so there wasn’t a sickbay to transform or modify for TNG. I don’t see how this tracks.

They did a pretty great job with the redress.

TUC’s reuses of TNG sets were blatant. Totally understandable, but man the Enterprise D engine room feels so wrong there.

-D engine room (along with Defiant’s and the E-E’s all look ‘wrong’ to me, like a large scale version of a home video effect with the flashing. The TMP/Voyager looking engine room seem real rather than some electrician taking shortcuts.


Unfortunately, that engine room always looked wrong to my eyes — lots of empty, wasted space (horizontal and vertical) to house a skinny, fragile-looking warp core running down the center of it all. Given that it all doesn’t even work as advertised until Spock comes along to fine-tune it, it just lends to the impression that the whole thing was an inefficient downgrade from TOS.

In truth, much as it pains me to say it, I’ve just never cared for much of the TMP’s production design.

I find most of the cosmetic and functionality aspects of TMP design to be horrendous (on the interiors), from consoles to colors, but the engine room has a kind of Ken Adam spectacle to it (except for those clumsy X shapes holding up the horizontal parts) that I find appealing.

I’ve probably mentioned this here previously, but the part of the ship that seems to get the most screen time is the front of the helm/nav station — which is blank as a fart to quote from TWIN PEAKS. They needed something to break that up — grilles, plant-ons, whatever — I mean, the ship they had on BLAKE’S SEVEN for the last season had things that looked like sunglass racks mounted on the front side of the stations. It was almost frilly, but it looked like something rather than the nothing that is there through most of TMP.

And remember, I’m a TMP devotee, despite being able to write hundreds of pages just on its faults!

I remember when MOONRAKER came out and wishing that they’d gotten Ken Adam to do the designs for Trek, as for all its silliness I thought the space station sets in that film were way cooler to look at than just about anything in TMP.

(And yes, I found those X-shaped structures supporting the warp core so inelegant as to be distracting.)

For me, there is a real ‘wood barn’ effect in the designs for space movies coming out dec 79, as both THE BLACK HOLE and TMP conjure that up for me despite my efforts to ignore same. I think it is all those crossbeams (mostly diagonal) that look like wood 2x4s.

There’s a lack of continuity on the Trek designs, possibly growing out of changing art dept leads. The feature production designer kept wanting to go for a floating nograv look to architecture by minimizing supports from beneath, limiting them to a single member when possible, like the sickbay beds. And yet … Engineering, with those X forms!

Not that MR gets a free pass for design either; the handguns sure do look like auto timing light guns to me. And as presented, the station’s core (the part that wouldn’t have gravity) appears to be the place where everybody gathers to his Drax’s Hitler-esque speech. At least we never see anything that suggests that area is in a smaller pod on the station, or that it would fit anywhere else on the station. But at least MR, as you say was way cooler looking.

Many years ago someone did a cutaway poster of the TOS Enterprise that placed Engineering just forward of the shuttlebay, with that glowing tunnel being the conduits (or whatever) trailing down from those slim pylons holding up the warp nacelles. Made a lot of sense to me at the time, even if it was after the fact — a more efficient and logical use of the available space than any engine room seen in the franchise since (and don’t get me started on SNW’s virtual abomination).

Somebody actually laminated that David Kimble poster onto hardboard and gave it to me back in the 80s, and I had it till the girlfriend from hell carved it up around 1990. I just came across a signed book of Kimble’s sportscar cutaways and it is awesome stuff, even for somebody like me who is not into cars that way.

If you look closely during the movie, there are small angled tubes shooting upward at the far end of the horizontal tube (down where the little kids and/or short people are in the forced perspective set) that I think correspond with the struts going to the nacelles, so there was some attempt to realize that concept on the live-action.

I should probably see if there is a blow-upable version of the Kimble refit online … would love to see how he shrunk the rec deck into the too-limited space assigned it.

I always really loved the TOS engine room with those things behind the grille. Though there is an awful lot of wasted space, especially after they took out all that stuff on what I think of as the right side if you’re looking backwards.

i’ve always felt part of the charm of ST is that it deals with budget restrictions. which i feel DSC doesn’t balance well they swing so far from one extreme of too much cgi and effects to nothing at all and boring stories. PIC and SNW i feel balance the budget better to get more consistent episodes from a production standpoint

“saying there’s so much detail viewers couldn’t even see” –

yeah….because they have all the lights turned off in these shows….

“Star Trek is not a sci-fi fantasy, it’s a historical drama that takes place in the future with 55 years of history.”

Yeah no. It’s just a tv show. Get real.

But from his production perspective, he’s right. He’s meaning this is the mindset that props and set dressers need to have when making Star Trek.

Yeah, I think it’s a brilliant thing to tell his people to get their minds in the right place. It showed on screen to any Trekkie, so I’d say it’s a pretty “real” sentiment.

Here, here! I found this so heartening to read. It’s fidelity to the universe, and its reality, that makes the whole thing feel believable, connected, real. It’s exactly the kind of production mindset I want to have from someone designing Star Trek.

Whereas I for one think the sense of “a history of the future” is one of the things that makes Star Trek, or at least Star Trek though 2002 or so, special.

TNG already feels outdated to me. It’s like watching an old sci-fi movie from the 1930’s. Just one of the reasons I don’t watch TNG anymore.

I take slight issue with the quote. In terms of TNG, it’s a historical drama that takes place in the future with roughly 120 years of history. The 55 years is how long Star Trek has been a thing. I think he mixed the two up.

I loved Picard season 3. The gang were back together and it felt like my Star Trek again.

Thank you Dave Blass. Thanks to everyone involved. It was fun.

Oh my.


Season 3 was the worst.

Wow. It’s clear this guy GETS what makes Star Trek productions work. Excellent!

He certainly does! 👍

Thank you Tony for this excellent interview. I’m currently watching Legacy on Bluray and I’m having a blast watching it. The commentary and special features are amazing. I would definitely reactivate P+ if they greenlight Legacy S2 and bring back these amazing creative people.

lol I love how you’re treating Picard Season 3 as “Legacy” Season 1. It’s such a different show compared to Season 2 of Picard. It’s really true in a way.

Agreed! When I rank the shows, I separate it from Picard. I rank it with the movies too. It’s so different from S1/2 of Picard it has to be treated as a show on its own.

It reminded me of the silver age of Star Trek and what I want from modern trek. I hope some day a show will get back to this era.

I am more than happy to not be a cynic about this. Blass did some beautiful work which showed off his love for the franchise and these characters. I certainly appreciated his efforts and can imagine how much fun he must have been having even amidst the tough reality that is production.

Picard season 3 is what finally brought me back to the Star Trek I fell in love with back in the 90s. What I was hoping first season would’ve done.

It helped redeemed my faith that NuTrek could finally get to the level of Trek many fans like me missed after lackluster stuff like JJ verse, Discovery and the first two awful seasons of Picard. Love the animated shows and really like SNW but this would be my most ideal Trek in the future.

And it was totally awesome to see the Enterprise D in all her glory. Just warmed this old cynical Trekkie’s heart.

Still hoping for more Terry Trek.

The fan service in season 3 was absolutely blatant – usually it would pain me but in this case, I LOVED IT!! Maybe I’m old and don’t look too much into these kinda things anymore, or it was just great seeing characters I grew up with all in the same room again, but I really did not care of the fan service – season 3 TO ME was the best out of the three.
And seeing the D again was totally unexpected, I still get goosebumps and chills every single time those bay doors start to open.

I still remember watching the end of episode 9 and saw the Enterprise D appear and how much I choked up seeing her again. I was so overcome with emotion and the crazy thing is I KNEW we were going to see her lol. That was leaked before the season started she was going to show up but still to see her in action…one last time, was very overwhelming when Picard sat down and said engaged.

And then the next week when I saw the final episode on IMAX, I choked up again because it hit me the last time we saw her was in Generations back at the Chinese theater with my best friend watching her swan song with a sold out crowd. And now here I am, 29 years later, watching her soar again in a movie theater with my fellow Trekkies and many of them overcome with the same emotions. For me, that experience will always be part of my special Star Trek memories as someone who has been a fan since the 70s.

And I truly have to thank people like Terry Matalas, Dave Blass, the Okudas, John Eaves, Doug Drexler, Liz Kloczkowski and everyone who had a hand of bringing the ship and bridge back into existence. It will forever be one of my most memorable seasons of Star Trek because of that one decision alone.

Well deserved!

Yes indeed, well said. Pic S3 gave me a little faith in the franchise again, along with PRO and SNW S1. The rest I haven’t been too thrilled about from these showrunners, so hopefully the crew responsible for P3 will provide us with more memorable Trek in the years to come.

The only reason anyone is ever going to remember this scene is all that stuff that’s on the desk.”

Star Trek Picard Season 3 summed up in one sentence.

Picard S3, ironically, is criticised for being to fan-servicy. Seasons 1 and 2 were criticised for being not fan-servicy enough. It’s a show about a legacy character, fan service to a degree is what I expect. The thing that drives me crazy with this show is the amount of missed opportunities, sloppy writing and directionless meandering. The show had nothing to say in the most convoluted way for two entire seasons and then switched gears and deliverd some kind of action-adventure Next Gen movie. I’m not sure anyone wanted that (me included), but if there’s one season I’m going to watch again, it’s season 3.

Picard S3, ironically, is criticised for being to fan-servicy. Seasons 1 and 2 were criticised for being not fan-servicy enough.

Not necessarily by the same people.

Naw; with respect, that’s a strawman. S1 was criticized for many things, but in a continuity sense mostly for the AWOL crew members and creative choices (e.g. the cursing and excessive violence) that kept it from feeling like an extension or continuation of TNG. S3 was criticized not so much for its legitimate connections to TNG — the presence of all those beloved actors was enough to ensure that — but that enormous mound of Easter eggs dumped on fandom like that load of furballs that had inundated Bill Shatner decades before. And for all that, it really didn’t feel much like TNG either.

Agreed, I’ll most certainly never watch PIC Seasons 1 or 2 ever again. Most slipshod writing ever, and did the old and new characters no justice. S3 was another animal entirely, with enough rewatch value for me that I purchased the discs.

“Star Trek is not a sci-fi fantasy, it’s a historical drama that takes place in the future with 55 years of history.”

Star Wars is sci-fi fantasy. Star Trek is sci-fi.

Well, yeah, but it has become more and more fantasy-like has time goes on. It has become more and more like Star Wars.

I thought season 3 on the whole was Good. The things I didn’t like, I hated with passion. Most of them had to do with the insane darkness, the overuse of Ten Forward and Mtalas Prime, the lack of outdoors stuff, the writing and Terry M.

I ate up every TNG thing they put in and shed tears several times in the last couple of episodes. Data’s new version worked incredibly (and surprisingly well). Was the end satisfying? No, it wasn’t, not for me. They effed it up in the last few minutes. Still bitter about the renaming of the Titan. The lead up to that, with the writing and all, called for the ship to be called USS Picard. So when it ended, I slow double blinked, and went on with my day.

Picard as a series certainly had a lot of highs, but also enough questionable lows. The killing off of Picard in the first season, the use of the Borg in all (!) 3 seasons, but mostly the drag that became season 2 after the first 2 or 3 episodes. But hey, this is what is it. It’s done and I’m happy with 3 new years of Trek. I’ll give it a few years, and then rewatch it probably.

I’m looking forward to any Legacy show that might be coming, but I’d appreciate if some egos of the people involved could be deflated a bit. It’s going to ruin things (like Chibnal did with Doctor Who during his run).

I don’t know that ego was really the problem with Doctor Who. A showrunner needs some level of self-confidence and the creative freedom to do what they want with a series. The studio funding them can veto it, but I don’t really think even the most controversial parts of the last three seasons of DW were borne out of Chibnall being a massive egotist. The show thrives on change, it just happened that so many of the changes he made weren’t excitingly written. He had a decent cast, great production crews, some solid story ideas and good intentions, but those scripts often just had no life or personality to them.

With Trek, if they do a Legacy show they would be paying any returning actors for their insights into their characters as well as for their acting talents and fandom appeal. Inevitably that will mean some would resist some character decisions, but friction can create great results in the end. With Stewart it’s been a mixed bag – his notes improved First Contact but not Insurrection, and Picard has been a mixed bag. But the highlight of season 3 wa show it handled the legacy characters (including Seven, whose voice felt far more balanced with her Voyager persona than what we got in seasons 1 and 2). That took some real skill to be able to navigate when considering the actors involved, so I wouldn’t be that worried about egos being a problem for a new show starring Trek veterans.

Regarding the egos I mentioned on Picard I was referring to some of the behind the scenes people specifically, not the actors actually. I agree with your remark of how Seven was handled in season 3 btw. She was amazing.

A bit off topic, but Regarding Doctor Who, I do feel Chibnal’s ego was the problem. First of all he decided that everything had to be different, resulting in no classic aliens in season 11 whatsoever. They remedied that quick when the response was luke warm. The writing was most definitely the biggest problem, but again, it was mostly Chibnal again. Him having written most of them. He’s just not a very good writer. All of his episodes would start out strong and interesting, but would come to a near stand still after about 15 minutes. That’s when I would start checking my phone again haha. But his biggest faux pas truely is his addition of the Timeless Child (or whatever it was called). No writer should even break open the canon that much, where it basically destroys the basics of a series. Add onto it all you want, but not in reverse so te speak. But anyway, in the end it’s down to preference and let’s say I’m glad Russell is back for now. His ‘Tales of the Tardis’ is just a dream.

I agree no writer should have upended canon so much, but mostly because it’s not something the fans were really craving. We’d survived off of scraps and hints and the mystery of the First Doctor’s life on Gallifrey until he left was always fine to poke and prod but never totally reveal. It’s all unexpectedly rendered small potatoes by the sprawling and unnecessarily complicated new backstory created by the Timeless Child. The biggest sin though is just that it’s all been laid out so badly – in bad monologues and lifeless flashbacks with forgettable new characters beyond the Fugitive Doctor. I agree Chibnall isn’t a good writer for DW, but he’s an accomplished showrunner who needed confidence to be able to steer the show, plus he needed convincing to even take the job. It’s a lot to put the show’s flaws all down to ego when the argument is basically that Chibnall should have accepted he was doing so many things wrong. He needed creative freedom and while some things he did would appear to repudiate previous showrunners, particularly Moffat, I’m not ready to say his heart wasn’t in the right place. It was his show for 5 years, that came with a lot of creative license.

RTD is wise to bring out the big guns to get viewers back, and hopefully he doesn’t lean into mythology more than he used to. The show has lasted as long as it has because the mythology is expansive yet not so bogged down in details as the Timeless Child suddenly made it. But at the end of the day they just need to be engaging stories.

The reuse of sets throughout Trek never bothered me. I always thought it added continuity. Even going back to The Final Frontier (ST:V) – they blatantly reuse (barely) redressed corridors and the transporter room from TNG to cut costs. But in my mind that just ties that world to the future of the federation and its designs. Honestly it even makes it a bit more realistic. I’ve worked on corporate offices throughout the US and honestly they all look exactly the same once you get inside.

“As I told my team, Star Trek is not a sci-fi fantasy, it’s a historical drama that takes place in the future with 55 years of history.” That one sentence tells you he gets it!

Yes, season 3 was really inferior to most of TNG, but better than the rest of Picard. Science fiction overall has been really dumbed down, and Picard is a prime (pun intended) example. I was moved when they were on the 1701-D bridge, but simultaneously thought, why? They are just walking onto the bridge. It’s because we have not seen anything close to real Star Trek for decades. The franchise has been badly handled (not unique, Star Wars was also, and by some of the same people), Picard has, mostly, been disappointing. Patrick Stewart, bless him, he is awesome playing Picard. But if the story we have seen was based on his wishes, not so great at writing Picard. And who thought it was a good idea to make him a synth? Sounds like a writer who couldn’t write themselves out of a corner.
But it was good to see the bridge again. Glad TPTB had the forethought to bring the right people in to do it. At least some of them realize that viewers WILL notice when things are different visually.