Star Trek turns 50

Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode.

startrekFrom all the news segments, I knew that Star Trek turns 50 today. Yet I was going to let the anniversary pass, even though I really liked the piece on CBS Sunday Morning, where, I discovered, reporter Faith Salie appeared on Deep Space Nine.

But what tipped the tide was turning on the TV on Labor Day, and there was someone who looked a whole lot like Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original Star Trek, on the CBS-TV soap opera The Young and The Restless, which, I assure you, I never watch. And it was!

My excitement, BTW, was only mildly tempered by the fact that The Wife has NO idea who Uhura was, let alone Nichols, who was one of the very few black actors on TV in 1966-1969, when the original series aired. But my late father, who watched that series in real time, even as I mostly ignored it, know the significance of the actress and the character.

I didn’t watch Star Trek but I did watch Leonard Nimoy in his next TV series, replacing Martin Landau on Mission: Impossible. And oddly, I started watching the Star Trek cartoon series in the 1970s.

I saw the first five Star Trek movies. The first one bored me, but I liked the next three. The fourth film, The Voyage Home, I saw in a movie theater in Charlotte, NC with my mother in 1986. And though she had not seen the previous films, which made the narrative a bit confusing, she seemed to enjoy it. But after the terrible fifth film, I never saw another movie with that cast.

Speaking of the original cast, the late James Doohan, who played, Scotty, participated at FantaCon in Albany in 1983. I saw him only briefly, but the story goes that he was…less than an ideal guest. Also, having been to several conventions and worked at a comic book store, I will attest that Get A Life, that famous segment on Saturday Night Live, had a HUGE element of truth; Shatner talks about the experience.

Like most people, I only discovered the original Star Trek in reruns. But I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation religiously from the start. Thanks to the VCR, I believe I missed but one episode, and that in the first season. But I have never seen any of that cast’s films. Go figure.

I viewed Deep Space Nine (1993–99) and Voyager (1995–2001) fairly regularly, though Enterprise (2001–05) considerably less so.

But I was a devoted follower of the TV series The Practice, which, in its last season, was essentially an extended pilot for Boston Legal with Shatner as Denny Crane.

There was also this Shatner-hosted program, and I hope someone can identify it, since it appears nowhere in his IMDB or Wikipedia pages. He interviews people involved in saving a little girl who fell down a well, or victims of a crime, or Mary Kay Letourneau with the much younger Vili Fualaau.

And while I’m on Shatner, it was through Coverville that I discovered Common People, the cover by William Shatner and Joe Jackson, which I have great affection for.

Patrick Stewart, Jean Luc Piccard in The Next Generation, I love in almost anything I see him in. I get oddly great pleasure seeing his great friendship with Ian McKellan.

I’ve already addressed George Takei recently. And I noted Leonard Nimoy’s passing last year.

The first Star Trek movie reboot I’ve seen on TV. CBS Interactive is showing a new iteration of Star Trek, Discovery in January 2017. I’ll probably not watch it until it’s on a more affordable platform.

But I realize that Star Trek, no matter how much or little one has seen the movies, TV series, bought the comics (I did) or the novelizations, or purchased accouterments (I did not), is in the cultural DNA. So I need to acknowledge the fact that Star Trek turns 50 with appropriate response.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Star Trek turns 50”

  1. I am in fact old enough to have seen The Original Series during its initial network run. That said, I think I saw maybe half of those episodes at most. (There would be plenty of time to get caught up.)

  2. NPR did a really nice short piece on Star Trek’s culture impact focusing on Nichols.

    I had a harder time getting into Next Generation, probably because as a teen I wanted fights and love/sex in every episode. I loved Highlander the TV series, so there’s no accounting for teenage-me’s tastes. 🙂

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