Star Trek All Over Again

kirk spock bones"Space . . . the final frontier . . . "  I don’t think I knew what science fiction was, but in 1966 Star Trek came on the tube and a whole generation was mesmerized. The Twilight Zone was one thing, but these guys were zooming around the galaxy at warp speed, Mr. Sulu.

Thoughts of Star Trek were prompted by the announcement some months ago that CBS was going to make the first three seasons of Star Trek (1966 thru 1969) available on the internet – for free. If you get in the way back machine, you will remember that the show was cancelled after three seasons and the fans of the show went nuts. It may have been the first time that something in TV/popular culture had such a dramatic effect on people that they would protest en masse. Oh sure, we took to the streets at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, but that was politics. Star Trek was just a freakin’ TV show, but it spoke to, if not all, a big chunk of our generation.

Maybe it was because we grew up in the space age, watching rocket launches and seeing a man walk on the moon, or maybe it was just the tacky drama of it all. Beaming up, warping around galaxies, and mingling with races of people/creatures unique from our race was unlike anything we had ever seen. Forget the ears on Vulcans, those Forengi were really strange looking.

If you look at some of the episodes from those three seasons, some of the juxtapositions are just bizarre, but that didn’t stop us from watching. The 15th kirk with phasers onepisode from Season One finds the crew beaming down for shore leave and hooking up with Alice in Wonderland. Only from the mind of Gene Roddenberry (although many writers contended that he appropriated their ideas). He does deserve credit for creating the TV series that took us beyond Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon with more credible staging and effects and some fascinating plots. He may have sold it to NBC as "Wagon Train to the Stars," but it created a franchise that would last many decades with millions of Trekkies/Trekkers to show for it.

One warning about the free videos – they have commercials. Resistance is futile, as the borgs used to say. On the other hand, the networks still need those commercials in order to Live long and prosper.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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