Creating a television series that makes it to a second season is a difficult thing to do. It’s difficult today and was just as tough in 1966 when Gene Roddenberry created a full-color science fiction show in prime time about a “Wagon Train to the stars”–a Western in space–a Star Trek. The unlikely series survived into not only its second season but also a third. An untapped audience–a group of loyal fans kept the dream alive, and the stories would continue in an animated series in the early 1970s. With the success of Star Wars, Star Trek made its way to the big screen by the end of the decade and the rest of the story, as they say, is history.
The future predicted in 1966 to “explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,” isn’t here yet, despite the dates of yesterday’s future arriving and going by. But that hasn’t stopped generations of fans from being inspired to pursue everything from medicine and law to astronomy and design. To make this world better and build a greater tomorrow. Star Trek may not have arrived yet, but the utopian future is something many of us look forward to and strive for.
Or has it arrived? Our iPads and smart phones, Bluetooths and medical scanners were all inspired by creative types behind Star Trek, like Wah Chang and Rick Sternbach. If society as a whole hasn’t changed, the technology that drives it certainly is making headway every day.
Here, September 8, 2016, fifty years after the airing of the first episode of Star Trek on NBC, the world is far different, yet it still continues the struggle for equality and fairness, the same desires Roddenberry’s original stories reflected as the world crept up to the cataclysmic summer of 1968. The same elements are summed up in the Vulcan acronym IDIC–infinite diversity in infinite combinations–the core of Vulcan philosophy celebrating all the differences in life. In short, that is what Star Trek is all about.
Many who created and celebrated Star Trek over the years have come and gone–friends behind the scenes from the many the incarnations of Trekdom, like Penny Juday, Anthony Frederickson, Alan Bernard, and Steve Gerber, and folks in front of the camera we were lucky enough to meet and talk to in person, like James Doohan and Grace Lee Whitney.
Yet 50 years later many are still here, many we’ve been lucky to meet who still take the time to greet fans at conventions, like William Shatner, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig, who are each as friendly in person as you’d hope for as a fan of the original series. With the passing of Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett on February 27 this year, and the young Anton Yelchin this summer, it’s a reminder to take advantage of the opportunities to share stories with all involved in this giant, internationally recognized phenomenon.
Today Star Trek joins Doctor Who and James Bond as another major genre franchise that has stood the test of time. Congratulations to everyone who has been involved with Star Trek over the years, and to them and to all its fans… Live Long and Prosper!