Observations in TNG: "Pen Pals"

A joint project with TrekCore, by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Here are some observations about sets, props and visual effects in TNG: "Pen Pals" without a specific theme, and a comparison of the original TV release (TNG) with the remastered episode (TNG-R).

"Pen Pals" HD Screencaps @ TrekCore

Description TNG Other caps Comparison TNG to TNG-R Description TNG-R
Camera equipment is visible in the top right corner of this shot. Despite the reframing we can still see a small triangle on the very top of the frame.
According to the Captain's log at the beginning of the episode, the five star systems in the Selcundi Drema sector are unusually high in geological activity. Over the course of the episode, four of the five systems are visited or mentioned. In order to underline this, several planets appear in this episode. In nearly every space shot, the Enterprise is seen flying past distant planets. One of the planets also appears on the main viewscreen in this bridge shot. The planet is still the same in TNG-R.
As in the previous episode, the holodeck corridor no longer has a turbolift access. No changes
The paint seems to have come off in the top left part of the holodeck doors. The color of the holodeck door frame changes from beige to gray in the middle of the scene. This was already the case in the original episode but is even more noticeable in TNG-R with its better color reproduction.
Picard's saddle reappears a few years later, in "Starship Mine".
"Starship Mine"
No changes
Two more planets in the Selcundi Drema sector. The same shot appears again in "The Chase" when the USS Enterprise-D investigates the area in the proximity of the Volterra nebula.
"The Chase"
The planet and the nebula in this TNG-R shot appear to have been newly created.
Another geologically active planet in the Selcundi Drema sector, this one with a molten surface. The planet was redone for TNG-R.
A reddish planet in the Selcundi Drema sector. It is possible that this is the same planet seen earlier on the bridge viewscreen. Another TNG-R shot with a new planet and nebula.
A graphic of a star system in the Selcundi Drema sector shows up on an aft bridge monitor in the background of this screen cap. Unusually, the top part of the yellow/red alert indicator to the right of the observation lounge corridor door is covered with a black cardboard square. No changes
This aft bridge display only consists of strings of numbers. The HD close-up confirms that there's nothing interesting about it.
A good look at the left sidewall of the five aft bridge stations. The green and blue stripes simulate isolinear optical chips. No changes
Various isolinear optical chips, early scanners and PADDs, a tricorder and isolinear circuitry (similar to the one first seen in "11001001", identical to the one in "Contagion") appear in this shot. A better look at the props is possible in TNG-R (although the shot is unusually dark).
As can be seen in this still, the area behind the bridge chairs also contains several isolinear chip slots. No changes
The corridor lounge is a redress of the area of main engineering normally featuring the pool table and the large MSD. The screen cap from "Q Who" shows almost exactly the same area.
"Q Who"
No changes
The following scenes shows how the corridor set was made to appear much larger through clever editing. The stills and the map of Stage 9 show how the actors walk through the same part of the set their times during their discussion. The first two screen caps show an early and a late frame from the first shot (red), the third and fourth screen cap show frames from the second shot (green) and the last two screen caps show frames from the third shot (blue).
Stage 9 map
No changes
The USS Enterprise-D flies past an unnamed sun, planet and nebula in the Selcundi Drema sector. The nebula is more wavy in TNG-R.
The subsurface scan displayed in the geophysical lab is similar in design to LCARS display seen in the terraforming station on Velara III.
"Home Soil"
We can see the display much better in HD.
A replica of the oscillation overthruster prop from "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" makes its first of many appearances on Star Trek as a geological tool in this episode.
Visual Crossovers with Other Series/Movies
Re-Used Props - Engineering Tools
A close-up of this prop in HD.
The prop is used to vaporize a rock in this shot.
The console behind Davies was originally created for Dr. Graves's lab in "The Schizoid Man". The same console also appeared in "Unnatural Selection" and will appear in several later episodes.
"The Schizoid Man"
The console is somewhat better visible in TNG-R.
The geophysical lab is a redress of the USS Enterprise-D battle bridge, originally the bridge of the USS Enterprise in the first four Star Trek films. In the current modification, the set was earlier seen in "The Measure of a Man" as the courtroom on Starbase 173. The large lighting panels of the courtroom are filled with LCARS displays in this episode.
Re-Used Starship Interiors

"The Measure of a Man"
No changes

"The Measure of a Man"
The console/computer Davies briefly looks into after vaporizing the rock is usually seen in sickbay. It appeared in "We'll Always Have Paris" and "Loud as a Whisper", for example.
"We'll Always Have Paris"

"Loud as a Whisper"
No changes
A graphic of a planetary system displayed on a monitor in the geophysical lab bears some resemblance to similar graphics seen in the first season and in "The Ensigns of Command".
No changes
Two computers that were originally created for the classroom in "When the Bough Breaks" are seen in the geophysics lab.
Consoles Built for Star Trek

"When the Bough Breaks"
No changes
By the time of this episode, several copies of the PADD originally designed by Rick Sternbach for "Home Soil" had been made, so seeing a stack of similar PADDs is starting to become a regular sight. A close-up of the props in HD.
The transparent domes in the background, housing rocks samples in this episode, would later appear in the medical/science lab aboard the USS Enterprise-D, first seen in "Transfigurations".
No changes
The door Wesley is seen leaving through was originally the door to the battle bridge ready room.
"The Arsenal of Freedom"
A better look at the door in TNG-R.
The LCARS animation was not added in post production but was a practical effect on set: A monitor hidden behind the LCARS panel displayed the animation. Various details on this animated LCARS display can be seen much better in HD.
The LCARS display behind Data's desk in his quarters has been changed for this episode. Originally, the side view of the USS Enterprise-D was much bigger and filled the whole screen. Here, it was replaced with a side view that takes up only the right half of the display. A monitor which could playback animated LCARS displays, as mentioned previously, was installed in the left half of the display. More isolinear circuitry is seen in the foreground of this shot.
"The Measure of a Man"
No changes
The first graphic of the signal analysis contains an in-joke, as Rob Legato was the visual effects supervisor of this episode. A small LCARS touchpad has also been added to the monitor in Data's desk since it was last seen in "The Schizoid Man".
"The Schizoid Man"
Various details of the signal analysis enhancement can be seen much better in HD.
Another planet is seen as the USS Enterprise-D conducts its survey of the Selcundi Drema system. The same shot appears again in "The Chase" when the USS Enterprise-D investigates the area in the proximity of the Volterra nebula.
"The Chase"
The shot in TNG-R closely resembles the original but was at least retouched if not completely redone.
Wesley says that his team of geophysicists is waiting behind the door. When he finally enters the room, after talking to Doctor Pulaski, it can be seen that the room has green walls. That is because he actually enters Troi's office, first seen in the previous episode "The Icarus Factor", which is always located opposite the transporter room.
"The Icarus Factor"
No changes
This shot of the Selcundi Drema sector is peculiar. It is similar to the previous space shot (even though 6 weeks have passed according to the Captain's log) in every detail, except for the red planet which is missing here. When looking closely, however, the outline of the planet can still be seen. Maybe it was forgotten to add the planet in post production?
Earlier in this episode

This shot appears slightly different in the remastered episode. In the original episode, the shot begins with an image of empty space (just with the odd outline of the planet), moves to the right while the Enterprise passes by and ends with the shot of the planet and moon just barely completely entering the frame. In the remastered episode, the planet and moon are in frame right from the beginning and the camera pans a little further to the right. Maybe this was done in order to eliminate the strange outline of the planet.

Another Selcundi Drema sector planet with its moon is seen in this shot.
The battle bridge viewscreen can be seen in this shot, not unexpectedly, as the set is a redress of the USS Enterprise-D battle bridge. The transparent domes housing rock samples are seen again in this screen capture as well.
"The Arsenal of Freedom"
Close-ups of the microscopes in HD.
The microscope was rented from Modern Props. It appeared in several later Star Trek episodes such as "Rascals", "True Q" and DS9: "A Man Alone".
Consoles by Modern Props in Star Trek

"True Q"

"A Man Alone"
A second microscope, standing on the table in the background Davies is leaning on, was also rented from Modern Props. This microscope is usually seen in Doctor Pulaski's office in the second season, as in "The Child" and "The Icarus Factor". Many years later Enterprise, it appeared as a neutron microscope.
"The Icarus Factor"

The tube in the background, which is similar in appearance to the two tubes connected to the warp core in main engineering, is lit red in this scene. In the earlier geophysical lab scene, it was blue. When the camera cuts to Wesley, the tube is suddenly blue again, only to switch back to red at the end of the scene.
"Time Squared"
No changes

Earlier in this episode
Wesley is holding a PADD during the meeting with his team members. Close inspection reveals that a small paper slip with the names of Wesley's team members was simply glued on the PADD he is holding. The dull surface of the paper (in contrast to the reflective PADD) gives this away.
As can be seen in this shot, the geophysical lab set has been connected to the large corridor set. Based on the wall panels and doors seen behind the lab door in this shot and others in the episode, there is only one location where this set could have fit: at the very end of the corridor set in main engineering. So far, nothing has ever been connected to this part of the set. The short corridor is normally hidden behind a wall plug (when the set doubles as main engineering) or only a closed door is seen at the end of the corridor. In "Where Silence Has Lease", when the set doubles as the USS Yamato corridors, the usually closed door is seen opened, and a shuttlebay/cargo bay door is seen in the background. In about this spot the geophysical lab set door is located. In both episodes, it can be seen that the blue corridor carpet ends abruptly. In "Where Silence Has Lease", no carpet covers the floor. In "Pen Pals", beige carpet was covered to bridge the gap. The orange set border of the corridor set can also be seen above and behind Wesley.
"Where Silence Has Lease"
No changes
The USS Enterprise-D approaches a nebula or forming star in the Selcundi Drema sector. The same shot appears again in "The Chase" when the USS Enterprise-D investigates the area in the proximity of the Volterra nebula.
"The Chase"
This shot too was at least retouched for TNG-R.
A nice close-up of the 3-D chess set as already seen in several episodes in the first season. A better look at the chess game in HD.
A close-up of the Ten Forward doors which were originally created for "Conspiracy" where they appear at Starfleet Headquarters.
No changes
The blue plastic dome on the Ten Forward table was also seen in the "The Dauphin" and the starboard lounge in "Justice".

"The Dauphin"
A close-up of the dome in HD.
We can't read anything on the console in SD. The text on the console in the background is legible now. It reads "COMET SAMPLE".
A similar transparent dome on a tripod is seen in Riker's quarters in several episodes, including "The Quality of Life". Another dome like this appears on Rutia IV in "The High Ground".
"The High Ground"

"The Quality of Life"
No changes
The USS Enterprise-D approaches yet another planet in the Selcundi Drema sector. The planet is new, while the nebula is unchanged in the remastered version.
Picard's aquarium is still present in his quarters in this episode. No changes
The artist's signature can nearly be made out in this shot of the space station painting in Picard's quarters. No changes
After Riker's Starfleet Academy Certificate (or a similar diploma) was seen in his quarters in "The Icarus Factor", it seems that Picard has his certificate on display in his quarters in this episode as well.
"The Icarus Factor"
No changes
Drema IV was later re-used as the planet housing Starbase 515 in "Samaritan Snare" and Rutia IV in "The High Ground". The volcanic and tectonic activity on the planet can be nicely seen in this shot. The planet looks totally different in TNG-R. Only the tectonic activity was reconstructed to be in the same spot.
More tectonic activity is visible in this shot.
For this shot of Data's quarters, his desk was turned 90° counter-clockwise for an unknown reason. The LCARS display normally behind Data is now glimpsed to the right of him. The shot is filmed through the open door to the office part of Data's quarters. The comparison screen cap from "The Schizoid Man" shows that the blue carpet originally covering this wall has been replaced by gray ribbing as well.
"The Schizoid Man"
No changes
The sliding door of Picard's ready room replicator is seen again in this shot, when the Captain orders (and actually gets) his Earl Grey tea for the first time in the series. No changes
Two of Sarjenka's dolls can be seen in this shot. A close-up of the dolls in HD.
Sarjenka's blue radio transmitter is seen in this shot. The prop appeared one year later in Kivas Fajo's collection in "The Most Toys". It had been repainted since then, though.
"The Most Toys"
A close-up of the device in HD.
The volcanically active surface of Drema IV. The effects were redone for TNG-R. Note the dark bar on the right, which was already in the original version but is more noticeable now.
Sarjenka is standing in the doorway to her home. The background is a bit crisper in HD. A rock wall has been added to the left of Sarjenka.
A Dreman lute-like instrument can be seen in this shot. A close-up of the instrument in HD.
Another shot of the surface of Drema IV. The shot remains unchanged in TNG-R. It is very blurry. It was obviously created in SD.
The two transparent spheres could be Dreman celestial globes, similar to the one seen aboard the Tarellian plague ship in "Haven". Based on the sculpture on the floor, there must also be a horned, goat-like animal on Drema IV.
No changes
More tectonic activity can be seen in this screen cap showing the USS Enterprise-D in orbit of Drema IV. Once again we can see that the planet is different yet the volcanic activity is in the same place.
A black cardboard square noticeably covers the yellow/red alert indicator on the bridge in this shot. It is even more noticeable in TNG-R.
Sarjenka's elongated fingers can be nicely seen in these shots.
In Alien Hands
An HD close-up of her fingers.
A graphic of Drema IV, similar to the planetary graphics seen in many season 1 episodes, appears on the bridge aft console here. No changes
This shot of the USS Enterprise-D is mirrored, as can be seen by the registry on the ventral side of the saucer section. The mirrored registry was removed altogether in the remastered version.
As the class 1 probes are housed in photon torpedo casings in this shot, it is logical that they appear like photon torpedoes, in contrast to their appearances in "Where Silence Has Lease" and "Time Squared".
"Where Silence Has Lease"

"Time Squared"
No changes
A nice long shot of Drema IV. Another good look at the new planet.
A graphic of Drema IV. Small details can be seen much better in HD.
The carpet seems to be loose behind Data's ops chair. No changes
A blurry close-up of Picard's ready room model. The underside of the model can be seen a few seconds later. No changes

The door Data and Sarjenka are seen going through is the main sickbay door, yet when the camera switches to the inside of sickbay, they are seen entering through the sickbay office door.

Standing behind Doctor Pulaski is the same microscope earlier seen in the geophysical lab.

No changes
A good look at the sickbay ceiling. No changes
Seen behind Sarjenka is the animated sickbay monitor seen more closely in "We'll Always Have Paris".
"We'll Always Have Paris"
An HD close-up of the display.
The surface of Drema IV after the USS Enterprise-D has helped decreasing the volcanic activity on the planet. The shot too remains unchanged in TNG-R and is quite blurry.
One can see that the volcanic and tectonic activity has noticeably calmed down if comparing this of the planet to an earlier, similar shot. A final look at the changed planet.



The stage layout comes from Star Trek Stages History.


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