Monday, April 13, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch:The Big Screen

Every sci-fi TV spaceship or vehicle needs at least two items in its control room: a center seat (for its commanding officer), and a big screen...the eyes upon the universe itself.

Typically, a large rectangle in shape and design, this essential piece of high-tech equipment can project images or diagrams, permit face-to-face video communication between vessels, or probe dark, dangerous areas of outer space.

The most famous view screen of all belongs to NCC-1701, the U.S.S Enterprise of Star Trek: The Original Series (1966 - 1969).  

The view-screen is built into the fore-section of the bridge, and it is outlined by a narrow strip of blue light.On rare occasions, the crew-members actually walk in front of the view-screen ("The Doomsday Machine" or "Spock's Brain,") whereas the rest of the time, the screen is part of a special effects shot, with imagery imposed upon it. in post-production.

All succeeding Star Trek series -- from The Next Generation (1987 - 1994) and Deep Space Nine (1993 - 1999) to Voyager (1995 -2001) and Enterprise (2001 - 2005) -- have featured the same sort of lay-out, with a large rectangular view-screen positioned at the front of the bridge.

Other series follow this pattern tot. For example, the main administrative post of Moonbase Alpha on Space:1999 (1975 - 1977) features a giant square screen at the front of the chamber.  When control of the base is relocated undergrounds in Year Two, to the Command Center, the Big Screen goes with it.

Blake's 7 (1978 - 1981) has an interesting variation on the view-screen trope. Aboard the Liberator, the view screen appears or materializes over a blank-wall on the bridge, and is oval in shape, rather than rectangular.

On The Starlost (1973), circular screens appear at hubs located throughout Earthship Ark, and allow users to ask questions of the central data base.

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