Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Star Trek Exhibit at Mall of America 9/1/14 Thoughts on the Bridge

I was thrilled this past Sunday to go to Mall of America in Minnesota to see the traveling Star Trek Exhibit.
Of course, all of the usual things were there: props, costumes, models, little informational videos and such-and I enjoyed those things-but for this trip (My second time to the exhibit. The first time was when it was in St. Louis) the BIG attraction was visiting a life sized mock up of the Star Trek Original Series Enterprise bridge. (The original set used in the show was destroyed when the series was cancelled.)
Now, nothing brings the "geek" out in a Star Trek fan like talking about their favorite set, prop, technology, or location. Im certainly no different. I've been buggy for the Enterprise bridge since I was a kid.
So, how was the Star Trek exhibit mock up? I give it 3 stars out of 4. If I were to grade it on first impressions and lighting presentation alone I would give it 5 out of 4 stars. Let's take a look at some stuff.

How the bridge looks on a random episode of Star Trek:

How the bridge exhibit looks:

The way the bridge appears in a room with low lights is just a technicolor dream! This photo is close as I can find to how the bridge actually looks when you enter it, but you can bet it's better even than this. 

They don't allow photography so I wasn't able to get any of the detailed pics I wanted. I was fairly dazzled for a few minutes by the coolness of being there and seeing it all lit up like a Star Trek Christmas tree. It was awesome!!

The faults appeared quick enough after my geekery subsided to a slow tsunami. hahaha. The jelly bean button panels had been obviously manhandled, assembled, taken apart, and assembled again for who knows how many times. The wear and tear showed. Some buttons, here and there, were missing all together and you could look into the empty sockets and see what you would expect to see inside a fancy light-board. If you paid attention to that for very long it would pop you out of the fantasy so I tried to ignore it.

Also, and I know this sounds so obsessive compulsive-some of the button panels were in the wrong place or were missing important props like viewers and such. The more I looked the more that bugged the heck out of me. Hell, they've been publishing Star Trek technical manuals since the early 70s. If you're gonna build a replica of the most famous science fiction set in history you gotta get it right! You just have to. It's not like the information on this stuff is hard to get!!  People are coming to see these things and are paying for the privilege. Many, many, many of them are like me and have loved this stuff since they were able to walk. Its certainly as close as I'll ever get to being on a "set" of any kind. It's important to us know, get it right!

The bridge was scaled down a bit. Wasn't quite full size. Not a biggie.  All of the chairs except for the captain's chair were absent. Im supposing that's to allow folks easier access to play with the buttons and such. Or, maybe it was to make taking paid photographs of customers in the captain's chair easier. I don't really know. That's understandable, I guess,  but I still wished everything was as it looked on tv.

Speaking of paid is one of the 4 I bought.

See how the paid photograph effectively destroys the technicolor dream you're sitting in? I really know very, very little about photography so I don't know if there was any way they could take souvenir photos and still translate what you're actually experiencing in lighting to the photographs or not.

The view screen was active and it showed various scenes you might see on the tv series. You know, a planet below, slowly spinning. A comet. A star field in "warp". That was very nice and as I sat in the captain's chair like a 45 year old 10 year old I couldn't help but be smiling from ear to ear. Hidden speakers played the Star Trek theme softly and that was cool as hell.  But you know what was missing???  THE BRIDGE NOISE!!!! The illusion would have been enhanced SO MUCH by those familiar chirps and whirls and beeps that is a bridge hallmark on the tv series.

I think most people will be totally satisfied with the bridge mock-up. I felt I got my money's worth for sure. Even though Im a little more hardcore than the average fan and therefore probably a little more expectant, I saw nothing here that derailed my enjoyment. Anything can be picked apart. Oh, and how we alllll love to do that! I had geek quibbles. Big deal.  I was cheesing it hard core the entire time I was on the bridge. My dad and my sister who were watching me transform into that little child we all carry inside of us got a big kick out of me getting a rush from being on the bridge.

I had a BLAST!!!