Set phasers to “reminisce,” as Star Trek celebrates a rather big birthday.
Seminal sci-fi show Star Trek celebrates its 45th birthday today. On Thursday 8th 1966, audiences were first introduced to Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy, and the rest of the Enterprise crew in the episode “The Man Trap.”
It took Star Trek-creator a couple of tries to get the show on TV. The original pilot – “The Cage” – had a very different cast, with only Leonard Nimoy and Majel Barrett being part of both crews. “The Cage” didn’t prove all that popular with the network, but the idea of Star Trek – which was pitched as “Wagon Train in space” – impressed NBC enough for it to commission a second pilot. This second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” was a lot more successful, and NBC picked up the show. Both pilots found their way into the first season of the show. A recut version of “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was broadcast, and “The Cage” was used as the base for the two-part episode, “The Menagerie.”
To celebrate the Star Trek’s birthday, the surviving members of The Original Series cast have shared some of their memories of working on the show. On the official Star Trek website, they revealed who their favourite guest stars were – Ricardo Montalban, who played the oft-invoked Khan, was fondly remembered – who the show’s unsung heroes’ were, and their most enduring memory of show creator Gene Roddenberry. Nimoy remembered how Roddenberry could take a weak script and turn it around, while Walter Koenig, who played Ensign Chekov, remembered how Roddenberry would smile as he came on set.
The show was incredibly progressive for its time – Star Trek had one of the very first interracial kisses shown on television, for example – and Roddenberry would have liked to have done more. George Takei, who played Mister Sulu, shared an interesting conversation that he had had with Roddenberry about diversity and putting gay characters in the show. Roddenberry said that he would have liked to have included a gay character, but that he was pushing against the boundaries as it was. If he pushed any harder, the show would be taken off the air and the opportunity to do any more good would be lost. “He was making a practical decision,” Takei said, “and basically taking his shots.”
While the original series of Star Trek only ran for three seasons, it has gone on to spawn a number of spin-off series, as well as nearly a dozen movies, as well as numerous books, comics and videogames. It has also inspired and entertained countless sci-fi fans, and generated a fandom that has endured for nearly half a century. Being a geek would literally be totally different without the show, and even if you don’t like it, you can’t deny the part it’s played in shaping the wonderful world of sci-fi that we enjoy today.