On September 8, 1966, the most successful science fiction franchise of all time was born, Star Trek, originally running for three years as a TV series from 1966 to 1969, nobody could’ve ever predicted back then the longevity of Star Trek’s popularity and its’ amazing cult following.
Since its’ inception, there have been 13 movies, 6 TV shows, with a 7th coming in early 2017, and tons and tons of merchandising and fans all over the world.
Star Trek has been a cult phenomenon for decades. Fans of the franchise are called Trekkies or Trekkers. The franchise spans a wide range of spin-offs including games, figurines, novels, toys, and comics. Star Trek had a themed attraction in Las Vegas that opened in 1998 and closed in September 2008. At least two museum exhibits of props travel the world. The series has its own full-fledged constructed language, Klingon. Several parodies have been made of Star Trek. In addition, viewers have produced several fan productions.
Star Trek is noted for its influence on the world outside of science fiction. It has been cited as an inspiration for several technological inventions, including the cell phone and tablet computers. The franchise is also noted for its progressive civil rights stances. The Original Series included one of television’s first multiracial casts. Star Trek references can be found throughout popular culture from movies such as the submarine thriller Crimson Tide to the animated series South Park.
For the next six posts, we’re gonna be taking a look at Star Trek’s 50 year television history and we’re gonna begin tonight with the series that started it all, Star Trek:
Star Trek is an American science-fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. It later acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: TOS or simply TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began.
The show is set in the Milky Way galaxy, roughly during the 2260s. The ship and crew are led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Shatner’s voice-over introduction during each episode’s opening credits stated the starship’s purpose:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
The series was produced from September 1966 to December 1967 by Norway Productions and Desilu Productions, and by Paramount Television from January 1968 to June 1969. Star Trek aired on NBC from September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969 and was actually seen first on September 6, 1966, on Canada’s CTV network. Star Trek‘s Nielsen ratings while on NBC were low, and the network cancelled it after three seasons and 79 episodes. Several years later, the series became a bona fide hit in broadcast syndication, remaining so throughout the 1970s, achieving cult classic status and a developing influence on popular culture. Star Trek eventually spawned a franchise, consisting of five additional television series, thirteen feature films, numerous books, games, toys, and is now widely considered one of the most popular and influential television series of all time.
The series contains significant elements of Space Western, as described by Gene Roddenberry and the general audience.
Definitely a show that was ahead of its’ time, what makes the original Star Trek series work is the fact that they did a good job of blending science fiction elements not just with western elements but also managed to blend the elements of comedy, drama, and action and rolled them all into one.
William Shatner’s James T. Kirk does a great job coming off as one of those great assholeish heroes, you can tell that he loves his job and he cares more about his ship and his crew more than anything else in the world and he’ll go to the most insane ways to make sure he does his job…and get some tail on the side….no, seriously, watch the original series again, count the number of women that Kirk has had his way with in the original series.
It also helps to have a great ensemble cast including Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, DeForest Kelley’s Dr. Mccoy, Nichelle Nichols’ Uhara, George Takei’s Sulu, Walter Koenig’s Chekov, James Doohan’s Scotty, Majel Barrett’s Christine Chapel, and Grace Lee Whitney’s Janice Rand.
Plus for 1966, the effects hold up nicely by today’s standards. I know that around 2006 they did a high definition revamp of the special effects on the series to make it look more presentable for today’s TV, which wasn’t a bad idea but then again, revamping the effects on a sci-fi classic…hmmm, where have I heard that done before? To their credit, they don’t change key storylines, they just update the effects. Again, not a bad idea but by updating the effects, you take these effects that was shot for a series in 1966 and turned it into effects that look like something you’d see on an Asylum movie. That’s how bad some of these effects get. Bottom line, if you’re gonna watch the original series, watch the ones with the original effects and not the 2006 effects, they do have them separated on the Blu-Ray and DVD sets for the original series.
Regardless, Star Trek on the whole was a great series, it was very much ahead of its’ time, it was good fun, it had great acting, it had great action, great drama, great sci-fi elements, it’s a classic TV series and was only the beginning of one of the greatest franchises of all time.
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