Star Trek: The Original Series, the marvellous sci-fi show created by Gene Roddenbury, which initially ran for three seasons, first aired fifty years ago today, on 8th September 1966.
Although the plot probably needs little introduction, in the 23rd century, Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew are on a five-year mission to explore new places of the universe, and to discover new civilisations, travelling on board their spaceship, the U.S.S Enterprise. Kirk is helped by his science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and his chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelly). During this time, they face many challenges and dangers as we follow their journey through the almost-limitless galaxy.
Star Trek: The Original Series is perhaps most remember for it’s incredible message of acceptance. It interested a lot of different people due to its open-minded nature. It went as far include the character of the Russian officer, Checkov (Walter Koening), the Japanese Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei), but also a coloured woman in charge, Lt Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and, of course, the most famous, First Officer Spock, who is only half human. This is incredible considering the heightened political tensions of the Cold War which underpinned society at this time.
As such, one might argue Star Trek: The Original Series was about addressing issues which transcends the entire of humanity. The adventure drama sci-fi series also championed peace and respect between all those diverse civilisations. However, as most of shows in the 60s, it experienced censorship of scripts and film footage by the staff of NBC’s Broadcast Standards Department.
As the show ratings were not satisfying for the studios, NBC threatened to cancel it but the fan base and their petition succeeded in keeping the show on the air, despite the substantial reduction of budget and the change of its airing time. Canceled after three seasons and 79 episodes, the legacy of Star Trek: The Original Series was meant to continue. Paramount Studios had already bought the right, and by the late 70s itwas aired throughout the world, developing a Star Trek cult due to its popularity far greater than its first airing. Indeed, the first Star Trek convention took place in 1972.
With the success of Sci-fi movies such as Star Wars, six Star Trek movies were brought to the big screens between 1979 and 1991. It also returned with five seperate TV shows and left the small screen in 2005. Since 2009, the Star Trek franchise has been rebooted a further three times, with a new film series, as well as the television series Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek Discovery.
Star Trek has already made such an impact on the Sci-fi genre and it is unlikely this will stop anytime soon, but it is incredible that it has all stemmed from such humble beginnings. Watch the trailer for the newest incarnation of the show, Star Trek Beyond below: