Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy 47'th Birthday Star Trek!

                          On this evening on September 8'th,1966 the National Broadcasting Network premiered a brand new science fiction program written and conceived by a then relatively unknown television writer named Gene Roddenberry. While two separate pilots had already been created,as well as several episodes NBC decided to air the sixth episode produced as the televised pilot called 'The Man Trap'. Staring mainly William Shatner,Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly this episode was the story of a scientist whose wife had been killed by an shape shifting alien who fed on salt. In sympathy for this species,the last of it's kind,he allowed the creature to maintain the form of his departed wife-and former lover of Doctor McCoy. The episode was in retrospect classic Star Trek: the characters interacted meaningfully and the action was driven by the vital drama and social commentary of the plot.

                          Interestingly enough,Star Trek's critical history at that time reflected how it was received during it's original airing. While a minority of people praised the show for it's unusually strong writing televised science fiction,most reaction can be summed up by the review of Jack Hellman of Daily Variety: "Not conducive to its popularity is the lack of meaningful cast leads. They move around with directorial precision with only violence to provide the excitement." Yet even from this point a significant and devoted fan base developed for the series who would soon become known as Trekkies-later altered to the less pejorative Trekkers. These admirers of Roddenberry's view of the universe and humanity later contributed to a letter writing campaign so massive Star Trek was renewed for it's unintended third and final season in 1968.

                        Four years away from the half century mark,Star Trek seems nonexistent as a television entity. This is an opinion that up until recently I shared. However with something as expansive as Star Trek,one only has to look below the surface to see that apathy towards Star Trek is actually only paper thin. If one goes online to YouTube to any Star Trek related video,the comment threads on the material showcase a universe firmly integrated into the most hopeful side of the world lexicon. Perhaps in the end,the forces that led to the early demise of the original Star Trek series seemed to win out in the end-as it was unfortunate negitive criticism and public apathy that led to it disappearing off the small screen in any form after 2005. Yet the influence that even a sometimes forgotten episode such as 'The Man Trap' might've had on...say a 20 year old collage student in 1966 could actually work wonders on a 20 year old in 2013 convinced they must go to collage to live a productive life-who see no alternative ways to success. And on that level,perhaps Star Trek-in some type of form,still lives.