“Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise…”
Who of the “Boomer” generation is not familiar with these iconic words, Trekkie or not? These phrases conjure images of traveling the universe, of exploring new and strange cultures and worlds, of battles great and small fighting the good fight.
The opening title sequence goes on to describe a “5-year” mission, which really missed the mark…twice.
The First Voyage
First, Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) premiered September 8, 1966, with the episode “The Man Trap.” It finally signed off on June 3, 1969, with the episode “Turnabout Intruder,” a couple of years short of a 5-year mission.
The original pilot episode “The Cage,” which remained unaired in its entirety in the 1960s, was finally released December 24, 1988, kind of a Christmas present to loyal Trekkies.
Interestingly, NBC planned to cancel the show after each of the first two seasons, but Trek was saved by fan-based letter writing campaigns.
Cementing the USS Enterprise, her crew and her missions into the collective consciousness of the United States once, and for all time.
Second, the 5-year mission fell woefully short of the true “mission” length by a factor of ten as 2016 represents the 50th anniversary. What started as a relatively short, niche-market TV show has become one of the most massive and well-known franchises in the world.
Follow-up shows to the original series include an animated cartoon, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), which is still airing in reruns on BBC America (Directv customers can find that on channel 264), Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (DS9), Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise (a prequel to TOS).
There’s even a reboot of Star Trek coming in 2017. And that’s just TV!
The Voyage Goes to The Movies
On the Big Screen, there have been twelve movies to date. They started with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was released in 1979 following the further exploits of TOS crew and bridged over to TNG crew in the 1994 movie Star Trek: Generations. The movies continued following the now well-known TNG crew through the 2002 release of Star Trek: Nemesis.
In 2009, a reboot movie following the characters of TOS was released. This version stars Chris Pine as Capt. James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock but in an alternate universe created by Mr. Spock in a time traveling incident. Time travel and alternate universes can give you a headache, but at least it’s in a fun way.
Characters We Love
We’ve seen James Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard in the center seat of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (and versions A, D, E and F; and once Rachel Garrett commanding NCC-1701 C). Benjamin Sisko commanded an outpost/space station protecting a potential Federation member, and Katherine Janeway lead the USS Voyager NCC-74656 across the galaxy trying to get back to Federation space.
We’ve met alien species – some allies and some enemies. And some that were somewhere in between. Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi and who can ever forget Q? We’ve traveled through space, through time and into alternate dimensions with different versions of the characters we grew to know so well. I wonder where these stories will lead us next?
Another Next Generation
The fantastical visions of one man, Mr. Gene Roddenberry, inspired so many to follow the path of sci-fi entertainment and others to turn those fantasies into reality.
So as our beloved Trek continues its “ongoing mission to explore strange, new worlds…to boldly go where no one has gone before!” We can share our Trekkiehood with our children and grandchildren, filling their heads with impossibilities that become reality. They will become those explorers that push the boundaries of our world, then the Solar system and then…? The ends time.