Observations in TNG: "The Neutral Zone"

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

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

"The Neutral Zone" HD Screencaps @ TrekCore

Description TNG Other caps Comparison TNG to TNG-R Description TNG-R
The cryonics satellite model was modified and appeared a few years later as Relay Station 47 in "Aquiel".
Earth Ship Classes


We can recognize the details of the model much better in HD.

Note that the framing of this shot is not correct. The satellite is cut off at the bottom, while the star background extends further down.

Like in many first and second season episodes, black cardboard squares cover part of the aft bridge consoles to hide reflections of the camera and lighting equipment.
Visual Bloopers
Like in all other first-season episodes too, the cardboard covers are still clearly visible in HD.
As a reference to M*A*S*H, the topmost segment of the cryonics satellite is labeled "4077". The label is better readable in HD.
The interior of the cryonics satellite is a redress of the two-part airlock from "11001001". The section containing the satellite's computers was originally the section of the airlock onboard the USS Enterprise-D. The second section with the cryostasis units was the part of the airlock belonging to Starbase 74. The airlock door separating the two sections is the same as in "11001001".
No changes


The fabric inside the cryostasis units is similar to the fabric covering the transporter room walls in the first few seasons of TNG. It is a SONEX-type acoustic foam.
Acoustic Panels as Wall Coverings in TNG

The structure of the acoustic panel in HD.
The footage of the satellite appearing after the opening credits is mirror-inverted, as we can tell by the numbers on the hull of the satellite. The same, non-inverted footage appeared earlier in the episode.
Earlier in this episode
No changes
While streaking stars have been seen in the observation lounge windows in previous episodes, this shot marks the first time that the whole room is seen with moving stars in the background. For these shots, the regular black curtain with tiny sparkling stars, normally seen behind the large windows, was removed and a bluescreen was installed behind the windows. The moving star field was then inserted into the footage in post-production. The bluescreen sometimes caused so-called blue spill, as can be seen in the shot showing Worf. No changes
For the last time, sickbay is redressed as the observation lounge in this episode. Between seasons 1 and 2, a completely new observation lounge set was constructed. The comparison of the screen caps demonstrates how the windows were covered with a fabric whenever the set was used as sickbay.
"The Big Goodbye"

"We'll Always Have Paris"
No changes
The cables powering the biobed monitors are very noticeable in these two shots. The cables are still clearly visible in TNG-R.
A better look at the fabric hiding the observation lounge windows. The comparison shot from roughly the same angle shows what the set looks like when it appears as the observation lounge.
"The Last Outpost"
No changes
While Clare Raymond and Ralph Offenhouse are woken up with an injection administered through a hypospray, a different device is used on Sonny Clemonds. Doctor Crusher used this medical device on Worf in "Lonely Among Us".
"Lonely Among Us"
A better look at the unusual hypospray in HD.
The guest lounge is a modification of the dining room seen in "Haven" and "Where No One Has Gone Before".

"Where No One Has Gone Before"
No changes
The decorative light fixtures with three black vertical bars, flanking the doors to the guest lounge, are first seen in the lounge here. Normally, those light columns are seen in the senior officer's crew and guest quarters.
No changes
This is the fourth appearance of the crew quarters replicator after "Heart of Glory", "Symbiosis" and "Conspiracy". It was only seen replicating something once, in "Heart of Glory". No changes
The text on the replicator terminal is almost legible in this shot. The display is somewhat clearer in HD. The small writing may consist of numbers only.
As can be seen in these screenshots, the guest lounge (like the dining room in "Haven" and "Where No One Has Gone Before") is located opposite the transporter room. No changes

The replicator in the small side alcove in Picard's ready room (most likely also containing the head) has not been installed yet. It wouldn't be until "Contagion" that the Captain would order his famous "Earl Grey, hot" from this replicator.

The alcove was gradually revealed in the first season. From the pilot until "Too Short a Season", the door was always closed. In "Home Soil", it was first seen opened but the two light fixtures hadn't been installed yet. In "Coming of Age" it first appeared as it does in "The Neutral Zone".

"Too Short a Season"

"Coming of Age"
No changes

"Home Soil"


This 3-D chessboard has been seen in previous episodes, always in crew or guest quarters. It will be seen in Ten Forward from time to time, beginning in the second season. In "Ménage à Troi" it is seen aboard the Ferengi Marauder Krayton when Riker plays 3-D chess against the Ferengi Nibor.

Most of the gaming pieces were made from clothes pegs.

"Pen Pals"

"Ménage à Troi"
While most of the chess pieces look alike (one half is painted silver, one half is painted gold), there are two unique chess pieces, looking like animals. These are napkin rings in real life!
A silver Constitution-class model is seen behind Clare Raymond in her guest quarters. The model has appeared before, in Riker's quarters in "Haven" and "Lonely Among Us" and in the ready room in "Too Short a Season", "The Battle", "The Big Goodbye" and "Hide and Q". Only in this episode, however, the nacelles are mounted backwards, with the nacelle bottom sides facing outward and the rear end facing forward.
"The Battle"
A close look at the ship in HD that doesn't reveal more details, however.
The large PADD-like device used by Doctor Crusher was previously seen in "Encounter at Farpoint" and "Symbiosis" and later reappears in "The Quality of Life" as a Tyran wall panel.
"Encounter at Farpoint"

A close look at the prop in HD.
Clare Raymond's first name is spelled "Claire" on the first display, unlike in the episode credits. Her displayed date of death is 2035. This doesn't match the statement that all three people saved from the satellite died in the late 20th century and that particularly Clare died "about 370 years ago", according to Dr. Crusher. This would place her death in the year 1994.

The family tree contains numerous in-jokes. It includes the names of the principal TNG actors, as well as references to other TV series such as M*A*S*H and Gilligan's Island. Even "Kermit T. Frog" and "Miss Piggy" can be found in a later generation.
Visual Crossovers with Other Series/Movies

The revised family tree includes the place of birth and the dates of birth and of death for each member. The spelling of Clare Raymond was changed from "Claire" to "Clare" and the date of her death was fixed.

Some Gilligan's Island gags have been preserved, although they are more subtle now (Ginger Summers and Mary A. Grant).

Clare Raymond's grandchildren and their spouses still bear the names of the TNG cast. In some cases the birthplaces listed even match the real birthplaces of the actors. Brent Spiner (here Brent S. Jay Raymond) was actually born in Houston, TX and Jay really is his second name. Marina Sirtis (here Marina S. Despina) was also born in London, UK in real life. Despina is the name of her mother. Wil Wheaton (here Wil W. Lachance Raymond) was really born in Burbank, in addition "Lachance" is a reference to the character Wheaton played in "Stand by Me": Gordie Lachance.

Cheryl G. Raymond refers to Gates McFadden, whose full name is Cheryl Gates McFadden.

Clare's great-grandchildren are still named for M*A*S*H characters, namely Charles Winchester (Charles W. Raymond), Sherman T. Potter (Sherman P. Raymond II), "Trapper" John Francis Xavier McIntyre (Francis M. Raymond), Margaret Houlihan (Margaret H. Raymond), Walter O'Reilly (Walter O. Raymond) and Kealani Kellye, played by Kellye Nakahara (Kelleye N. Raymond).

The next couple of generations are named for people who worked on the remastering of TNG. Many names have the last name "Raymond" added for visual continuity.

In the third to last generation of the TNG-R version we can spot "Molly Tranya Amber", named for the two dogs of Denise and Mike Okuda, Molly and Tranya.

The last two generations are not really legible on screen even in HD. The majority are named for people who worked on the episode in 1988. Asterisks denote TNG-R team members. Among the TNG-R people are Robert Meyer Burnett and Roger Lay, who produced the documentaries on the Blu-ray set.

  • Herman Zimmerman Raymond
  • Andrew Probert Raymond
  • Monica Clee Raymond
  • Jeff Hadjikhani Raymond*
  • Roger Lay Raymond*
  • Rick Sternbach Raymond
  • Scott Sendfonte Raymond*
  • Hanna Shearer Raymond
  • Cari Thomas Raymond
  • Robert Metoyer Raymond
  • Adele Simmons Raymond
  • Robert Burnett Raymond*
  • Thomas Raymond
  • James Conway Raymond
  • Robert Justman Raymond
  • William Theiss Raymond
  • Robert Legato Raymond
  • Deborah McIntyre Raymond
Clare Raymond's guest quarters are actually one half of the senior officer's quarters. No changes

This model of the USS Enterprise-D makes its first appearance in this episode. On TNG, it was later seen in "Booby Trap". The model also appeared in DS9's schoolroom in "The Nagus" and Harry Kim's Starfleet office in "Non Sequitur", albeit with a differently affixed stand.

Rick Sternbach: "The desk model in 'Booby Trap' was, in fact, a test shot of the kit from AMT/Ertl, before any of the surface detailing was added. We got a box of smooth styrene model parts in the mail, assembled the ship, and mounted it on a lucite stand built by the prop shop. As I recall, it had no decals, just a basic paint job. As to the Ent-D model [with the differently affixed stand], that was set dressing stuff that changed a lot. Jim Mees, the decorator, might have had the model and stand modified after sustaining damage, that sort of thing. I know the Stargazer model was dropped more than once by the grips, so I wouldn't be surprised if things got altered a bit."

"Booby Trap"
A look at the ship in HD.
Sonny Clemonds's guest quarters consist of the other half of the senior officer's quarters. This part of the set normally houses the bedroom. The communications console in Picard's bedroom, seen in the previous episode, can still be seen in the corner.
We can recognize the console somewhat better in HD.
This colorful piece of background art only appears in this episode and is only seen for a few frames. A closer look at the decoration in HD.
As Ralph Offenhouse takes the turbolift to the bridge, two unusual drill holes are seen on the top of the doors. No changes
Susan Sackett, Gene Roddenberry's assistant from 1977 until his death in 1991, makes a cameo appearance in this scene. She wears the same costume as Marina Sirtis in "Encounter at Farpoint". Susan Sackett purportedly won a bet and thus was rewarded with the walk-on role. No changes
The first appearance of the impressive Romulan Warbird, designed by Andrew Probert.
Appearances of the Romulan Warbird
Romulan Ship Classes
We can make out in HD how the hull of the ship miniature was "weathered". This is not a digital enhancement.
The Romulans appear for the first time in TNG, with a new forehead make-up. For many years, this discontinuity from TOS and TOS movies to the 24th Trek would remain an oddity. It is finally explained in Star Trek: Picard with the protruding forehead bones being typical of "Northeners" such as Zhaban.
The Evolution of the Romulans

TOS: "Balance of Terror"

PIC: "Remembrance"
We can see the Romulan make-up, the bridge and the emblems a bit better in HD.
We can see the TNG-style Romulan emblem for the first time, albeit rather small in the background of the bridge.
The Evolution of the Romulan Emblem

Romulan emblem (TNG)
When a Romulan Warbird is seen again in "Contagion", the bridge of the ship has completely changed appearance.
Only in this episode the Romulan uniform is worn with a shoulder drape, similar to the appearance of Romulan uniforms in The Original Series. In "Contagion", when Romulans first reappear on TNG, the uniform fabric is still the same but the shoulder drapes are gone. Like in TOS, only higher ranking officers wear the shoulder drapes, as can be seen in the background of the screenshot.
"Balance of Terror"

Commander Tebok's drape features three hexagons (arranged in a way similar to the original Romulan logo) and Subcommander Thei's drape has two of those shapes. The hexagons are based on similar shapes which were attached to Romulan helmets in "Balance of Terror".
Close inspection of the shoulder drape reveals that it seems to feature Romulan rank insignia that might be based on the original Romulan logo from TOS:"The Enterprise Incident".
Forgotten Alien Emblems

Mike Okuda: "I knew of the logo in 'The Enterprise Incident.' Although I often tried to preserve elements from the original series, in this particular case, I thought it was too similar to the Klingon logo. I had an artist named Monte Thrashner design the predatory bird for the TNG Romulan logo."

Romulan emblem (TOS)
The wall fabric that can be seen here and in several other crew quarters in season 1 (such as "Lonely Among Us", "Home Soil", "Heart of Glory") first appeared on the ceiling of the Tarellian plague ship bridge in "Haven".
No changes
Another 4077 (reference to M*A*S*H) is hidden in this LCARS display. Some of Thomas Raymond's personal details were changed. His birth date and those of his children were changed from stardates to actual dates. He is no longer a professor of exobiology but teaches exosociology now. The names of his wife and children were changed as well.
A photo of associate producer Peter Lauritson was used to create Thomas Raymond's likeness.
Peter Lauritson



Thanks to Lee Sherman, Drew Stewart and Colin for additional hints!


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