After Hours

Idiot sci-fi question: Why did the starship Enterprise have such a stupid bridge?

There, I said it, the USS Enterprise (all of them) in Star Trek (all of them) had a stupid bridge. It was illogically designed, awkwardly placed, and was a complete backstep from modern thinking and plain old common sense. Here's why.

Dumb BridgeThere, I said it, the USS Enterprise (all of them) in Star Trek (all of them) had a stupid bridge. It was illogically designed, awkwardly placed, and was a complete backstep from modern thinking and plain old common sense. Here's why.

First, some ground rules: The starship Enterprise was a military vessel. Don't give me that Roddenberry-esque utopian hokum about Starfleet being an exploratory and diplomatic body. The crew had military ranks,  the ship had weapons, and people got court-martialed.

So, first question, why is the main control center of the ship — where all your high-ranking, high-value officers sit and work — placed on the top of the vessel where's it's easy to hit? Seriously, if Sulu ever misjudges the top of the doorjamb in spacedock, every major character gets scraped out of continuity like extra icing off a cupcake. Why Khan didn't aim for the bridge instead of engineering when he busted his sneak attack in Star Trek II I'll never know. One decent shot and it's just Scotty, Bones and some cadets versus the Nightmare from Fantasy Island, which lasts all of 5 seconds. Instead, he aims for engineering and yucks it up long enough to get pwned by some prefix-code shenanigans and later the cunning tactic of "moving in the z-axis." They just don't make genetically modified supervillains like they used to. I guess the short answer is that Starfleet can design a dumb bridge because all the bad guys are even dumber.

Second question: Why does the Enterprise have just a bridge? All modern naval vessels have this neat room called the Combat Information Center (CIC), where all important command decisions are made. So, even though many warships still have a conventional bridge up top where it can get blasted — a pragmatic necessity since, when all else fails, you'll need to look out an open window to see and steer — the high-ranking officers are nestled below decks behind lots of armor and with multiple methods of egress. If you get stuck on the bridge of the Enterprise — which happened in several episodes — you're effectively trapped, sealing the commanders off from their crew. And don't tell me there wasn't room for a CIC, the darn ship had an auxillary bridge (and a bowling alley), so they could have spared the space for a rational command center.

So, fearless readers and unapologetic Trekkies, let this here Trivia Geek in on the secret — or at least your crackpot theories — and explain why the starship(s) Enterprise had such a stupid bridge.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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