The Next Generation and it’s progeny had a number of annoying narrative crutches they relied on, such as the incessant “Captain’s Log” that started nearly every single episode. The other major one was the conference room. Both of these were used rarely in The Original Series, which usually started in media res, often not even on board the ship. The original Enterprise did have a briefing room, but it was used sparingly and certainly not in the midst of a crisis. Those discussions were left on the bridge.
The Next Generation, on the other hand, made it a point to take every important person off the bridge at any moment to sit around a table and leisurely confab. One of the most egregious examples is in “Q Who” where, after the ship has had a chunk of it removed by a still looming Borg vessel, the Enterprise just sits there while Picard calls a meeting. Could you imagine Kirk taking everyone down to the briefing room in “Corbomite Maneuver” with three minutes left on the counter to come up with his Big Balok Bluff?
This is not an appeal to tradition, though. The Enterprise D doesn’t have the same psuedo-military hierarchy as it’s parent show, and I respect TNG as its own kinder, gentler ensemble animal. Picard is a listener, not a dictator. People talk more and react less. The A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen once described The Next Generation bridge as a space for Picard to walk about and explore his options, as opposed to a place where he can just swing his chair one way or another and bark. There’s even more than one center seat so that everyone can sit down next to the captain and have their say.
That’s why, when looking at the many old Probert concept bridge samples Ryan sent me for the Vikrant I immediately seized on the ones that had replaced the captain chair completely with a conference table and also increased the size of the resources available to explore. I wanted to double down on the Next Generationness of The Next Generation while also keeping the action where it belongs – in the command center with the problem on screen in front of all involved. And, yeah, it looks even more like the lobby of a Hilton. So much the better.