Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

   The conversation went something like this:

   "Dad, can I stay up past my bedtime to watch the new Star Trek TV show?"

   "How much past your bedtime?"

   "It's only a half-hour."

   "I don't know..."

   "Please? It looks like a great show! I know you'll like it, too!"

   "Well... I guess that would be ok."

   (What can I tell you - my Dad was a great guy!)

   And that's how 10-year-old Chuck got to watch the first episode of the original Star Trek TV show when it premiered on this day in 1966.

   That first episode - "The Man Trap" - isn't one of the better episodes in the run of the series - but I was absolutely hooked.

   This was a show that checked off so many boxes - loaded with imagination, adventure, heroism, beautiful women, monsters, special effects, drama, intelligent stories and compelling characters - how could I resist?

   Even in black-and-white (we didn't own a color television set yet), it immediately became my favorite show - I don't remember ever missing an episode.

   I was heartbroken when they announced it was cancelled after two seasons, thrilled when it was revived for one more season, and sad when it ended "for good."

   But then - the reruns! The show ran and ran and ran in syndication, and fandom started holding conventions - it was an idea that wouldn't die. Star Trek held on as comic books and (a quite excellent) cartoon series.

   There were reports of a new TV series with the original crew, but instead they started a new series of films. The first one was disappointing, but the second was a classic.  The rest are a mix of fantastic and, well, not so much.

   Then there were the new TV series, including Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise -  with more in the works.

   So why does Star Trek continue on and on when so many others have come and gone without a ripple?

   There are lots of reasons, including its optimistic vision of the future, peopled by fascinating characters, thrown into adventures beyond imagination. Or perhaps it is the archetype foundation as a "Wagon Train to the stars." Or, if you prefer, a military / exploration mission with infinite story possibilities.

   It's a combination of all those things - cracking good stories, humor, a canvas that allows for any kind of story you want to tell - and it has sparked the imagination of countless fans.

  All I know is, I don't want it to ever end.

    Oh, one more thing: thank, Dad!


Kevin Findley said...

BBC America is running TOS all weekend. Just watched City On The Edge of Forever and am about halfway through Amok Time. Such an amazing number of episodes in only three seasons.


El Vox said...

Yes, I've always been a Star Trek fan, but mostly TOS. For me they've never really eclipsed that era. I too was watching some of the BBC channel's marathon. When they showed I, Mudd, one of many classic episodes, I realized what I missed a lot of time with the other versions, and that's the psychedelic flavor that the TOS had. Man, some of the set designs, and lighting are drenched in dayglo, psychedelic framing (even more prominent with the new remastering). Perhaps that was just a sign of the times, but I miss it, and it added to the cerebral nature of the show. Anyway my two cents. :)

Chuck said...

The show generally gets gigged for "cheap effects," but I thought they managed some amazing set pieces considering the budget and time limits. And yes, there's a freshness about the colors used, the costume designs (most hold up very well today). There were silly episodes, but when it was good, it was very, very good.