Observations in TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers"

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

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

"Who Watches the Watchers" HD Screencaps @ TrekCore

Description TNG Other caps Comparison TNG to TNG-R Description TNG-R
At the very beginning of the episode, we see how Geordi enters the bridge. The engineering station on the port side, next to the turbolift, turns on, without Geordi saying a word or touching it. That's a nice little detail for sure! No changes
The duck blind without its holographic cover. The shot in HD. Note the very different (and more natural) new hue.
We can see a script binder next to Deanna Troi's seat. The script binder is even better visible in HD.
The desk in the foreground is similar to the desks seen in the senior officers' crew quarters and Doctor Crusher's sickbay office. This is the first time that it is seen in black, though. The domed console in the background, holding the reactor to the station, will later appear again on Gamma Hromi II in "The Vengeance Factor", turned sideways.
"The Child"

"The Vengeance Factor"
The interior of the duck blind in HD.
Tendrils of energy inside the duck blind on Mintaka III. In previous TNG-R episodes, the remastered tendrils 99% matched the originals. Here, a different approach was taken.

A look through the station's window. The rocks in the background are the real rocks at Vasquez Rocks. The image was flipped for the episode. The image I took at Vasquez Rocks in 2010, more than 20 years later, shows the actual orientation of the rock formation.

A speck of blue (maybe the sky or a blue screen) can be seen in the top left corner in the original episode. A grate is normally found right next to the window in this place, as the other shots of the window reveal.

True orientation
The speck of blue is not visible in the remastered version, and the rocks were replaced with the same ones that appear later in the episode.

The surface of Mintaka III was filmed at Vasquez Rocks. The location was used in several earlier TOS episodes and appeared in some later Star Trek episodes as well.
Re-Uses of the Vasquez Rocks Location

The shot with the Mintakan sundial was flipped. We later see the same portion of the rocks in its actual orientation.

True orientation
The view of the iconic rock formation in HD (still flipped).
Three consoles of this type are seen inside the duck blind. The consoles were originally created for the classroom in "When the Bough Breaks". They were re-used in several TNG episodes and the fifth Star Trek film and eventually destroyed in "New Ground". In "Who Watches the Watchers", the consoles feature displays with maps of the area around the duck blind on Mintaka III.
Consoles Built for Star Trek
We can recognize more details of the console in HD.
The duck blind from the outside. Rick Sternbach says that he based the design of the duck blind on the video cameras used by the TMA-1 team in "2001: A Space Odyssey". The shot was faithfully reconstructed for TNG-R.

In the original episode, the view out of the duck blind window is completely different now, the rocks in the background are fake. There is also no longer a speck of blue in the top left corner.

Note that the grating on the left is made of freezer spacers.
Re-Uses of Freezer Spacers

Earlier in TNG

Earlier in TNG-R
In TNG-R, the look out of the window is consistent.
The TNG scientist's uniform makes its first appearance in "Who Watches the Watchers". The uniform is also seen in many other TNG episodes, like "The Vengeance Factor", "Devil's Due" and "A Matter of Time". No changes
The medical PADD was used by Dr. Crusher in "Evolution", when she was talking to Wesley in the medical lab. It features a graphic of a large molecule, it seems.
Thanks to the HD transfer of the episode, the details can be seen much better now.

The Mintakans are described as "proto-Vulcan". No further explanation for how they are related to Vulcans is given in the episode. Besides pointed ears, their make-up features raised forehead bones similar to those of the "new" Romulans of TNG.

The unique patch on Liko's forehead is only seen in this episode.

The details of the device can be seen much better in HD.
Roughly the same shot of Vasquez Rocks as it appeared in the 60s during the filming of "Shore Leave". As already mentioned, a shot of about the same location appeared flipped earlier in the episode.
TOS: "Shore Leave"
No changes
The interior of the Mintakan living space is a re-use of the court on Tau Cygna V seen in "The Ensigns of Command", as can be seen in this and some later comparison screenshots.
"The Ensigns of Command"
No changes
The sickbay wear is seen again after it debuted in "The Child", then with a lighter, more turquoise color. Beginning with this episode, the regular design of the medical gown, as seen in the rest of the series, is used.
"The Child"
No changes
The same rock formation from nearly the same angle as many years earlier during the filming of "The Alternative Factor".
TOS: "The Alternative Factor"
No changes

TOS: "The Alternative Factor"
A "Mintakan bird" is briefly seen in this shot. A close-up of the bird in HD.
The little cavity in which Riker hides in the episode, and the same spot more than 20 years later in 2010. I'm sure there was graffiti there during filming in 1989 as well, explaining the markings in the episode, covering the graffiti.
Photo from 2010
No changes
Due to the transporter effect, which was added in post production, the footage of Riker and Palmer beaming to sickbay appeared very blurry in the original episode. Because of the new editing technologies used by CBS-Digital, the shot looks much better now.

A good look at Mintaka III. The planet was later re-used as Betazed in "Ménage ā Troi" and Barkon IV in "Thine Own Self".
Re-Used Planets in TNG

A new planet appears in the remastered version of the episode.
Mintaka III as seen through the observation lounge windows.

Nuria is amazed to see her planet from space.

In the original episode, there's not only a reflection of the planet on the table plate but also on the marble table leg. As the leg is a little higher than the table plate, the reflection of the window frame is moved a little to the right in comparison to the reflection of the frame on the table plate. The reflection of the planet (added in post production) is not distorted in the same way, however.

The small error was corrected. In the remastered episode, there is no longer any reflection on the surface of the marble. Also, the planet has not rotated as far as it did in the original episode.
The starfield in the background behaves strangely in the episode. It is slowly moving to the left in the close-ups of Picard and Nuria but is static in the wider shot showing the two standing in the observation lounge. No changes
Next to a shot in "Man of the People", this is the best look we ever get at the Constellation class model in Picard's ready room. The model in HD.
The ready room side door is closed here, something that hasn't happened since "The Child". Maybe this was done so the unfinished back wall of the alcove wouldn't be seen in the shot focusing on the Stargazer model. No changes
The screenshots from "The Ensigns of Command" and this episode clearly show that the same set was used in both episodes.
"The Ensigns of Command"

"The Ensigns of Command"
No changes
The screenshot from "Time Squared" reveals that the wall console to the left of the main sickbay door was not yet present in season 2. Consoles like this would continue to be a regular fixture of sickbays on Starfleet ships as the cap of Voyager's sickbay from "Rise" reveals. Also notice that the sickbay doors (like many others) were painted orange for season 3.
"Time Squared"

VOY: "Rise"
No changes
A third version of Doctor Crusher's lab coat debuts in "Who Watches the Watchers", after the season 1 version and the much shorter early season 3 version with large lapels.
"The Neutral Zone"

The new lab coat in HD.
The bow used by Liko looks too far advanced for the more primitive Mintakans. A close-up of the bow in HD. It has been identified as a Martin Dyna-Bo.
The younger Mintakan children, such as the boy who will give the tapestry to Picard, have regular smooth foreheads and no Mintakan/Romulan ridges. Maybe they only grow out when Mintakans get older. The real-world reason may be that the production didn't want to subject the child actors to hours of make-up application. The make-up in HD.
Beginning in "Sarek", the Mintakan tapestry given to Picard at the end of this episode is seen on his desk chair in his quarters in several TNG episodes. The tapestry was also seen in Picard's ready room aboard the USS Enterprise-E in "Star Trek: First Contact" and "Star Trek: Insurrection".

"Star Trek: First Contact"
The famous shot in HD.


"Star Trek: Insurrection"
A final good look at planet Mintaka III. As can be seen by the shape of the continents, this is just a mirrored version of the same shot of the planet seen earlier in the episode.
Earlier in this episode
The same is the case with the refined planet in TNG-R.



Thanks to James for the hint about the script binder.


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