"Space the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. It's five year mission, to explore strange new worlds. To see out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before."
On Thursday, September 8, 1966, (also known among serious Trekkies and Trekkers alike as stardate 1513.1) the sci-fi television series Star Trek (better know today as Star Trek: The Original Series) premiered on NBC-TV at 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM EST with the episode: The Man Trap to mixed reviews by critics and science fiction fans alike.
At the time few people knew that Star Trek would become one of the most celebrated stories in sci-fi history, as well as kick off a major American cultural phenomenon that would inspire millions of writers and dreamers - including this blogger. In fact, when the series first aired - the culmination of more than two years of constant work by the legendary Gene Roddenberry and his team - the reception it got was colder than....well, than the depths of space.
|The original crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. |
From left to right background: James Doohan RIP as Lt. Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, Walter Koeing as Ensign Pavel Chekov, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry RIP as Nurse Christine Chapel, Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu.
From left to right foreground: DeForest Kelley RIP as Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy, William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, and Leonard Nimoy RIP as Commander Spock.
Never a huge ratings draw - in fact the show barely got a second and third season save for major letter writing campaigns by hardcore science fiction fans (much of this largely orchestrated by Roddenberry himself) - Star Trek lasted 79 original episodes that aired on NBC-TV between 1966 to 1969, the same year that Armstrong and Aldrin would take mankind's first steps on the moon. Not exactly a huge run in its first window, but the show did run just long enough to gather a small but growing fandom and a library of reruns that would catch fire five years later in syndication giving it cult-classic status.
Despite being only a moderate success when it first aired, Star Trek The Original Series was the show that would never die. It would go on to spawn 13 movies (including three reboots), four (soon to be five) live-action spinoff series, an animated TV series, comic books, postage stamps, documentaries, hundreds of novels, hundred of thousands of fanfiction stories, lots and lots of conventions, cosplayers, and millions of fans worldwide.
The impact of the series is still being felt today in American popular culture. This is a fine credit to the actors who portrayed the original cast and their later counterparts in the other Star Trek spin-offs. It is also a testament to the creative vision of Gene Roddenberry as well as the fine work of the production staff, writers and technical crews that worked on Star Trek The Original Series.
|Prop designers Richard C. Datin, Jr., Mel Keys and Vernon Sion shown
posing with the 11 foot long model of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 used
for Star Trek's original television series between 1966 - 1969. |
The model is currently on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., USA.
|Stamps honoring Star Trek's 50th Anniversary from the US Postal Service.|
I cannot remember a time before Star Trek. Mostly because I was born and grew up when the show's reruns were syndicated. Usually they came on late at night on weekends and I would try - and sometimes fail - to stay awake on my parent's couch as I watched them. I was also fortunate enough to grow up through my formative teenage years with the really excellent films and the TV spin-offs - particularly Star Trek The Next Generation - and I try to get my hands on every Star Trek novel written.
Today as a adult - at least in theory if you ask my friends and family - I continue to enjoy watching the original 79 episodes of the original series. Of all the series (which I absolutely love!) the Original Series and the films set from those characters are my favorites....well except for J.J. Abrams reboot. No offense, but for this Trekkie, when I think of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, there will never be any others than Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley. I will always be thankful to the Great Bird of the Galaxy for introducing the world to them.
Let me close out this tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek and the men and women who worked on the series with a list of this blogger's top twelve favorite episodes of The Original Series and top five feature Star Trek films.
Blogger's Top 12 Favorite Star Trek The Original Series Episodes
(1) City On The Edge Of Forever
Season 1, Episode 28 - Original Air Date: April 6, 1967 - Written By: Harlan Ellison
(2) The Doomsday Machine
Season 2, Episode 6 - Original Air Date: October 20, 1967 - Written By: Norman Spinrad
(3) The Trouble With Tribbles
Season 2, Episode 15 - Original Air Date: December 29, 1967 - Written By: David Gerrold
(4) Amok Time
Season 2, Episode 1 - Original Air Date: September 15, 1967 - Written By: Theodore Sturgeon
Season 2, Episode 13 - Original Air Date: December 15, 1967 - Written By: Art Wallace
(6) The Balance Of Terror
Season 1, Episode 14 - Original Air Date: December 15, 1966 - Written By: Paul Schneider
|The USS Enterprise in a deadly battle with an invading cloaked Romulan Bird of Prey near the Neutral Zone. Considered by many Trek fans to be probably one of the best episodes of Season One.|
(7) The Enterprise Incident
Season 3, Episode 2 - Original Air Date: September 27, 1968 - Written By: D.C. Fontana
(8) Whom Gods Destroy
Season 3, Episode 14 - Original Air Date: January 3, 1969 - Written By: Lee Erwin & Jerry Sohl
(9) I, Mudd
Season 2, Episode 8 - Original Air Date: November 3, 1967 - Written By: Stephen Kandel
Season 1, Episode 18 - Original Air Date: January 19, 1967 - Written By: Frederic Brown & Gene L. Coon
(11) Mirror, Mirror
Season 2, Episode 4 - Original Air Date: October 6, 1967 - Written By: Jerome Bixby
(12) All Our Yesterdays
Season 3, Episode 23 - Original Air Date: March 14, 1969 - Written By: Jean Lisette Aroeste
Three honorable mentions go to the episodes: The Squire of Gothos, Space Seed, and Errand of Mercy.
Blogger's Top 5 Star Trek Feature Films
(1) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
(2) Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
Directed By Nicholas Meyer
(3) Star Trek Generations (1994)
Directed By: David Carson
(4) Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
Directed By: Leonard Nimoy
(5) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County (1991)
Directed By: Nicholas Meyer