Today across all manner of media you will be able to take part in the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek! It was fifty years ago today that NBC began airing Star Trek – a series that would run until June 3, 1969 for a total of 79 episode but thanks to syndication found itself earning renewed interest with new generations.
Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a “Wagon Train to the Stars” may not have ever become a Nielsen rating’s darling but it did manage to leave I think a very lasting and worthy legacy.
One that has helped influence our now everyday technology but continues to inspire countless people and helped to forge a franchise that has spawned six television series and thirteen feature films!
The Original Players
One of the reasons the original series has endured this long is of course thanks to the casting of its three main leads. While not the chosen Captain for the 1964 pilot The Cage, that honor going to Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers) as Capt. Christopher Pike – I believe it’s safe to say that William Shatner certainly made the role of Capt. James Tiberius Kirk his own.
Leonard Nimoy as Spock along with Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel) were the only two cast member who found themselves carried over from the pilot to the first sixteen episodes that NBC ordered for the 1966 and 1967 season. While much like Shatner – Nimoy crafted an iconic character with Mr. Spock and became probably the fan favorite member of the starship Enterprise.
For what little it might be worth I was in fact not a big fan of Spock in my youth, no, I have always been an emotional person so one of my favorite Star Trek characters early on was the sometimes overlooked Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy played to perfection by DeForest Kelley.
The coolly logical intellect and matter-of-fact demeanor of Mr. Spock would often hilariously rub Dr. McCoy the wrong way and cause the space faring country Doctor to rant about how inhuman his fellow crew member behaved. But the genius of the writing in the original Star Trek is the showrunners made sure to show how much these three people cared for one another and the rest of their crew.
Of course it wasn’t just Nimoy, Kelley, and Shatner that kept the Enterprise flying and the series popular – not by a long shot as we were lucky enough to have the likes of James Doohan as Lieutenant Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott…who was and still is hands down my favorite character.
Walter Koenig as Ensign Pavel Chekov who was also seen in that clip was brought in during the second season to help connect with younger Star Trek fans…and the fact he bore a more than passing resemblance to The Monkees’ teen heartthrob Davy Jones.
Then there was the beautiful Nichelle Nichols as communications officer, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, an amazing and historic non-stereotypical role for the actress – a character that she almost stopped portraying until a chance encounter with Martin Luther King Jr. changed her mind.
It was during the 70s and 80s while acting as a recruiter for new candidates for the NASA astronaut program that Nichols learned just how very much of an inspiration her role in Star Trek truly was.
Rounding out the original cast of regulars is the incredible George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, the skilled helmsman that managed to get the Enterprise out of almost as many jams as Mr. Scott has worked miracles in engineering.
Another non-sterotypical role which is just part of why I believe Roddenberry’s vision of a future where mankind can put aside it’s differences to make themselves better and reach the stars is still so very important today.
The Legacy and Importance of Star Trek
Hey, I absolutely love Star Wars and I will reluctantly admit there was a time when I thought I could only really be a loyal fan of one franchise…thankfully I wisened up. But how about we get the importance of Star Trek and it’s legacy straight from DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, and even Harlan Ellison on this 1976 episode of Tomorrow with Tom Synder?
[Via] William Forsche
So happy 50th anniversary to Star Trek and here is to the next 50 years!
[Via] Star Trek