Over the last 57 years, Star Trek has taken fans across the galaxy in the USS Enterprise (other starships are available) through various movies and TV shows. These outings are even more satisfying when they’re interconnected in some way, but Picard season 3 lost one really cool reference to the movie First Contact, despite LeVar Burton’s protests.
Star Trek fans don’t ask for much, really. All we want is a Star Trek timeline full of fun stories, intriguing characters, and awe-inspiring worlds. Even better, is when a Star Trek movie or Star Trek series rewards keen-eyed viewers with a little Easter egg.
Picard production designer Dave Blass gets it. He planted a brilliant nod to the past when setting up Geordi La Forge’s desk for a scene in the show, as he explained to TrekMovie.com: “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.”
Being a top-rate Trexpert, Blass had decorated La Forge’s workstation with all kinds of detailed callbacks to the Star Trek character‘s history in the franchise. All of this was sadly cropped out of the final shot that went into the show, with the cinematographer insisting the framing was “too cluttered.”
Blass fought for his creative vision and insisted the items remain, but not even the intervention of LeVar Burton himself could quite save the day. “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],'” Blass explained. “He saw that and he’s like ‘You get it.'”
For reference, the Zefram Cochrane statue was something Geordi La Forge held great reverence for in the First Contact movie. He described the raised arm of Cochrane as a hopeful symbol of “reaching toward the future,” and in a spectacular time travel story, La Forge even got to meet Cochrane and tell him all about the statue.
Burton was so pleased with Blass’s supreme nerdiness that he even kissed him out of pure joy. The production designer may not have got his way, but at least he enjoyed meeting an iconic Star Trek actor. “That was the day I met LeVar Burton, but in that instance Geordi La Forge. It was such a wonderful thing,” Blass said.
I know Blass had to kill his darlings that day, and the Star Trek fandom was denied a really genius piece of attention to detail, but I bet Blass himself was feeling pretty smug when Burton praised his efforts. When one of the coolest guys in the galaxy backs you, it’s hard to care about anything else, really.
It’s also a really fascinating insight into the creative battle between various departments on a TV show or film. I’ve some experience in that arena, and it’s a game which requires a lot of patience, compromise, and biting your tongue, even in the low-budget side of things. I can’t imagine how tense things get on bigger budget projects where there are even more cooks to spoil the broth.
Dave Blass may have lost his particular battle that day, but Star Trek fans keep winning, because there are so many new shows on the way. Keep up with the best sci-fi series around, with our guides to the Star Trek Legacy release date and the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date. You can also look into Star Trek 4, but you’ll only be disappointed.