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The best Enterprise

Baby boom Trekkies loved the original TV series’ ship (NCC–1701). Millennials had Picard’s ship, the 1701-D. But my ship, my Enterprise, was NCC–1701-A—the short-lived duplicate we see in Treks IV-VI. The Undiscovered Country is the first Trek I saw in theaters; that film cemented my fondness for its imaginary vessel.

But it’s not just nerd nostalgia that makes 1701-A better. The refit Enterprise (both 1701 and 1701-A) looks better than any other Star Trek ship. It has a simple, utilitarian appearance—not the retro corniness of the original series’ design (and J.J. Abram’s reboot), nor the smooth, oddly-aerodynamic sleekness of the Next Generation-era ships. The 1701-A design is so beautiful that the first film dedicates five full minutes to a majestic fly-by. Some people think that scene is boring. Those people are wrong.

The 1701-A’s interior aesthetic bests its Enterprise siblings, as well. None of these sprawling, 2000-square-foot luxury suites from the Enterprise-D. Instead, enlisted crew share bunkrooms, and even a ship’s captain gets relatively cramped quarters. The bridge feels submarinish—metallic and stark—compared to the plush, over-carpeted interior of Picard’s bridge, or the 60s show’s cardboard sets.

I do sometimes wonder what happened to the Enterprise-A, since the ship disappears from canon after The Undiscovered Country. According to a toy model’s documentation, the vessel gets placed in a museum. A TNG comic indicates that Scotty tours the 1701-A after his unlikely rescue by Picard and Co. (TNG: “Relics.”) And in William Shatner’s (non-canonical) Trek novels, Kirk (newly resurrected after Generations) pulls the Enterprise-A out of retirement for one more mission to save the galaxy.