Happy 45th Birthday, Star Trek!
Forty-five years ago today, NBC began airing Star Trek, starting with “The Man Trap,” the sixth episode produced — again, another well known fan fact. All of that was about eight years before my time. But even after “my time” began, those original series episodes seemed to be … well, old and boring. Chessy sets & costumes and poor special effects for a child in the early 80s. I was too young to care about the more important issues Trek was really talking about — those philosophical and cultural aspects and the better future every serious Trek fan will tell you why he or she enjoys the series. The Vietnam War was over a year before I was born. So that controversy was dead. (Or at least, kept in suspended animation for a few decades). Civil rights didn’t seem to be that big of issue to my world: I knew kids from other races from school. We got along okay. But whether those kids and their families ever had conflicts simply because of their race, I can’t say. I didn’t know them that well.
I really didn’t become a “serious fan” until the early 90s. But what made everything click and stay clicked, I really can’t say. I mean, there are several good reasons why I do enjoy Star Trek, the philosophical aspects now being one of them. (It took awhile for me to appreciate such topics). But there are other shows and movies I enjoy that are also philosophical that I don’t enjoy as much as I do Trek. Maybe it’s because Star Trek is so diverse and expansive, having six television series (including the Animated Series), eleven films, hundreds of novels, comics, fan fiction, and apparently no end in sight. Maybe that’s it.
I’ve just spent the last year re-watching everything: Enterprise, The Original Series, the Original Series films, The Next Generation, The Next Generation films, Deep Space Nine… I’m now about half-way through the fifth-season of Voyager. I plan to finish with J.J. Abrams’ film probably by next month. I started that particular trek (no pun intended) simply because it’s been awhile. Now everything old seems new again. I’m in my own repeating time-loop and loving it. Well, I take that back. Most of it. I’ll admit, not everything Trek over the years has been gold. Sometimes, we’ve had to settle for silver and bronze. And sometimes even aluminium. But I have developed a new appreciation to parts of Star Trek that I didn’t really enjoy when I first saw it. I think every fan should re-watch those series: find what they’ve missed, re-evaluate previous held assumptions (both good and bad) revisit those strange new worlds.
Because it’s been a long Trek, both literally and figuratively. But it’ something well worth it.
Here’s to another forty-five years!