Sunday, November 9, 2008
STAR TREK: 42 Years and Counting...
September 8, 1966 - It was the first week of the new television season, just like any other year, and NBC was about to debut their new science fiction show.
This new show premiered with an episode called "The Man Trap." The angle of the story was different, to say the least: It was a love story with a science fiction twist, born of a relationship from one of the heroic character's past, featuring a somewhat desperate creature that, in the end, just wanted to live. It was moving, tragic and anything but cheesy. The viewers were hooked.
This show proved it had something different. It had a unique life that would go on to exist beyond expectation. It stood outside of time, as it tapped into universal themes and epic struggles, and put the cosmos on notice. Things have changed. Primetime on NBC eventually proved that this was no place for something so big, so broad in scope. This show, after all, would go on to spawn four other more television series, an animated saturday morning series, ten movies (with # 11 coming in 2009), plus a multibillion dollar licensing empire that, to this day, includes novels, non fiction books, videos and DVD's, live events and attractions around the world and all sorts of assorted merchandise.
Like other cultural, artistic or philosophical phemonena this new show was largely unappreciated in its own time and only later would be seen as what it is today, a world-wide, cultural phenomenon. Thanks to a form of TV recycling called syndication, the show became a hit to generations of young, impressionable kids, including many future scientists, astronauts and filmmakers. The show became lodged in the collective minds of a nation.
There have been many theories to try and explain its success. ("It's an optimistic vision of the future" being the most common.) Countless newspapers, magazines, and books have centered on how the philosophy of this show has influenced people — from politicians to scientists to philosophers — and now websites and blogs have all been devoted to explaining its personal, and mass, appeal. Everyone, it seems, has their take on why one little show has lasted throughout the ages, and the beauty of it is that everyone is right. It's the infinite diversity of opinion, from an infinite combination of people, that has helped lend the show its uniqueness.
Yes, it had a group of characters that said discrimination was a thing of the past; it had a future that said we would not be annihilated by nuclear holocaust; it had an economy that was driven by progress and achievement, not simple wealth accumulation; it had people from different racial backgrounds working together and respecting one another; it had science as a guiding force, not mysticism or superstition; it had technology as a means to explore, not just make life easier; and, perhaps most importantly, it had a peaceful mission at its core, not one of conquest. The 60's was a very unstable decade for humanity. This show screamed peace in a time of war.
The cast of Star Trek and its creator Gene Rodenberry during the rolling out ceremony for Nasa's first space shuttle prototype, The Enterprise.
All of these reasons helped contribute to the show's success, but so did the iconic characters, the smart writing, the new technology and the great special effects.
Fans all over the world owe a big Thank You to Gene Roddenberry for having the intelligence and foresight to see into the future and dream about the possibilities for humans to settle their differences on this planet and to come together for a greater good: to unite in the journey of exploring our vast universe and all its mysteries, and to learn from each other.
The opening titles sequence for Star Trek: Enterprise (2001) served as a tribute to our real world pioneers of space exploration.
One of the elements in STAR TREK I am the most passionate about is the idea of space exploration, now more than ever it is imperative that we show our support for NASA and the space program. Our goverments continue to spend large sums on waging war and not enough on pushing the human race forward. It is definetely time for a change, in the meatime we can continue to feed our imagination with STAR TREK. We should always remember that the better our fantasies are the better our reality can be.