Forty-seven years ago today, the crew of the USS Enterprise set out on a five-year mission to explore space and make contact with new life forms. Making friends (and enemies) along the way, the intrepid Captain Kirk and company gave us a glimpse into a hopeful future, one that showed how humanity actually could get along — for the most part. And despite the original five-year mission lasting only three years (more on that in another post later), the show has lasted long enough to inspire multiple generations of Trekkies and Trekkers.
Forty years ago, the show returned to the air in the form of an animated series produced by Filmation, with many of the original cast providing voices for their characters. Writers from the show were brought in under the supervision of D.C. Fontana, and the animated Trek delivered stories just as solid as the live-action show.
Star Trek has always been about ideas. No matter what incarnation you consider yours — it’s very much like deciding which Doctor is yours — be it, the Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, or Enterprise (yes, there are some), at the heart of the show was always an effort to deliver stories that actually said something, that made you think for a bit. And never did Star Trek ever talk down to its audience.
Are you listening, J.J. and company?
Even the fan films have understood this central component of the show, and even though some may have dodgy effects and sub-par writing and acting, the effort is almost always there to have an idea.
Gene Roddenberry was a flawed human being just like the rest of us, but he and folks like Gene Coon, Dorothy Fontana, Robert Justman, David Gerrold, and a slew of writers and craftsmen and actors made this universe that we just can’t seem to abandon. It has inspired people to become astronauts, engineers, doctors. It’s prompted people to chase new technologies — the cell phone, the hypospray, virtual reality, holograms.
So, happy anniversary to Star Trek, and thanks to everyone who made it what it is. Here’s to another forty-plus years of showing us what’s possible.