Happy 45th Birthday, Star Trek!
On September 8th, 1966 NBC began airing Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. For three seasons, the Enterprise’s crew boldly went where no one had gone before, showing viewers a glimpse of what the future may hold. Some inventors and scientists have even credited Star Trek as being the motivating force behind their choice of career.
Star Trek didn’t just show the possible advances in science and technology, the show cleverly broke down social and racial barriers in the guise of science fiction. Series creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future showed men and women of all nationalities working together, and even featured the first inter-racial kiss between two fictional characters (Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura).
Star Trek wasn’t just a clever way to raise social awareness, as the show had many memorable episodes penned by science fiction legends. “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Arena” are two episodes of Star Trek which consistently rank in many “top ten” episode lists. One other fan favorite is the episode “Space Seed” in which the evil villian and Kirk’s nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh is introduced. Khan returned in the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Not all the fan favorite episodes were drama or hard science-fiction. One fan favorite, “The Trouble with Tribbles” has many humorous moments and was even re-visited in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. David Gerrold, writer of “The Trouble with Tribbles” went on write episodes for the animated series and consulted with Gene Roddenberry on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Gerrold also went on to write several science-fiction novels outside of the Trek universe – his semi-autobiographical novellette “The Martian Child” won both Hugo and Nebula awards and was made into a feature-length movie, which starred John Cusack.
Sadly, Star Trek did not fare well in the ratings during its initial run. Nearly cancelled after its second season, Trek limped along on the Friday night “death slot” at 10PM. Star Trek’s final episode aired in June of 1969, one month before the Apollo 11 moon landing in July of 1969. The unfortunate timing of Trek’s cancellation has made some people wonder if the show had been renewed for a fourth season, the ratings would have picked back up due to the moon landing.
Regardless of the cancellation and low ratings, Star Trek was a surprise hit in syndication and enjoyed far better success in the late 60′s and early 70′s. After syndication, Star Trek spawned five shows over the next four decades (The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise) and twelve movies (Complete list)
In 2009, the eleventh Star Trek movie was released. Directed by J.J Abrams, the movie aimed to make Trek appeal to larger audiences by featuring a younger Enterprise crew ( Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, etc), and focusing more on action and humor than the deeper stories in previous Trek movies.
The 2009 Star Trek film also featured a new design for the Enterprise. Sleeker and “sexier” than previous incarnations, the ship’s look was radical, yet stayed true to the classic ship design.
A sequel to the 2009 Star Trek movie is in production, with an estimated release date of late 2012, or possibly some time in 2013.
Since I have a fever and the prescription is more theremin, I give you the original 1966 opening theme to Star Trek.
May the force be with you! Oh… wait.. wrong universe… Live long and prosper!