Happy 45th birthday, Star Trek! Star Treks future shows humans and aliens working together using futuristic technology exploring the human adventure.
MGM's logic that Science Fiction as a genre wouldn't have mass appeal to a 1960's audience proved to be an expensive blunder which paved the way for Desilu Studios who were impressed with Gene Roddenberry's outerspace concept. Gene created a future with alien civilizations exploring the final frontier presenting Earth's social issues to outwit 1960's sensorship. Desilu gave him a three year deal to seek out new lifeforms on new civilisations.
In 1966 Star Trek's trials and tribulations were far from over. Mr Oscar Katz head of Desilu's tv programming (until 1965) hustled with Roddenberry to get Star Trek on the air. A plan emerged to present Star Trek as the "wagontrain to the Stars" because of the popularity of westerns. Finally Desilu Studios agreed to make Star Trek but when the networks, NBC saw "the cage" from 1964, they were not impressed. Instead of a western in space they were given an intellectual drama on the perils of mind control and the immorality of imprisonment. NBC did however appreciate Star Trek's potential given some significant changes. It was a sci-fi battle worth fighting for but in the end, NBC ordered 13 episodes of Star Trek to be screened in the autumn. The first series episode was the Corbinite Manoeuvre which began filming on May 24 1966.
Star Trek's first pilot episode "The cage," was originally a test to show the Networks what Star Trek would look like in the future.
Jeffrey hunter was cast as Captain Christopher Pike renaming Captain Robert April with Majel Barret his second officer as Number 1. Susan Oliver starred as the green Orion dancing woman "Vina" dazzling us with her wonderful performances. The rest of the original characters buckled up for the ride because over nine days the original pilot was shot at a cost of $630,000 making it the most expensive in Hollywood history.
The only problem was this version of "The cage" was never aired because NBC said it was too "cerebral" What it needed was more action and adventure and less geek.
Even though it was unheard of NBC re-commissioned a second pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," at a cost of $330,000 with the rechristened crew of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701..Only the guy with the ears, Spock remained. It must have felt like a huge breakthrough for the writers. Significant changes were made to the USS Yorktown which meant renaming it the USS Enterprise NCC 1701. Captain Christopher Pike was replaced with the brash new Captain James T. Kirk given to William Shatner.
September 8th 2011 celebrates the 45th anniversary of Star Trek The Original Series. Star Trek was originally a show that the tv networks found promising. The first pilot led to trek's episode of 'The Cage' being rejected. The shows 'creator', Gene Roddenberry worked several nights in a row without going home to sleep to make the dream become a reality and spread throughout the stars. The Great Bird of the Galaxy battled on at his type writer pounding out the scripts (with his faithful lieutenants) D.C. Fontana and Gene Coon as his Story Editors and Script Writers during the classic series.
When the Studio was pressed for time, Gene Coon had a little trick that sped up the process. He'd go into Roddenberry's office and stand on his desk telling him,
"I'm not leaving until you give me that script!"
Why is Star Trek so popular today? Some say its all to do with the logic the green blooded, vulcan employs when hes losing his arguments with Dr McCoy. Mr Spock's constant carping with humans, fascinates us so with his extraordinary feats of logic (frustrating Dr McCoy) because they make us laugh. The reason Star Trek has endured is because of the stories, the characters and uniqueness of science fiction beamed onto tv every week. Star Trek stories infect viewers with a keen sense of hope and family about a future where people would love to live.
In an interview with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, can you guess who said what?
'Its the relationship of Kirk and Spock, its the relationship that the three of us had, the cam-padres, the family, the levels of meaning of the show and the uniqueness of science fiction at that time. It was all that and many other things but the curious thing is no-body really knows. So anything you say is as valid as what we say because if we knew what it was, we'd do it again and again.'
Spock fascination with logic gives the show a serious undertone of scientific credibility making believers out of fans, eagerly trekking on Spock's every word. Its always a thrill to see the threat to the ship popping up on the bridge viewscreen after Spocks diagnostic analysis.
Doctors, Scientists, Engineers even the guy cutting the lawn, got their acts together because of their devout belief in the show."
"To the delight of Trek fans today, I want to thank everyone including the NBC executives who didn't give up on the Star Trek dream."
It can equally be debated that the emotional decisions of Captain Kirk were the key ingredients necessary to save the enterprise and her crew on countless missions. Kirk doesn't believe in the no-win scenario so cheating death and outwitting aliens is all in a days work. Kirk seizes on the moment by deploying superior battle strategies making him the supreme commander and inter-planetary chaser of women.
Thank God NBC executives got rid of those dreadful silver s-scanners. They looked silly on the Enterprise's first pilot bridge which was a drab grey. The idea behind the silver consoles was to give the bridge stations a metallic appearance similar to ocean liners and submarine battle bridges of the time.
The viewscreen lost its curves and the bridge crew got new uniforms. Nyota Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols looks lovely in her mini skirt and was ready for action with her hailing frequencies open.
"Get rid of the guy with the ears."
Network suits feared his satanic appearance would upset viewers on black and white tv sets, so they changed his red face to green.
Star Trek's creator never surrendered, never gave up on Mr Spock and the ears survived! The pointy eared vulcan lives on today delighting trek's female fanbase, who according to Isaac Asimov's daughter found Mr Spock, "dreamy." How can you fault a character whose geek speak includes "Live Long and Prosper?" 79 episodes later after a second pilot, Star Trek found its real audience of Trekkie's through successful syndication.
Star Trek should have been forgotten about but the simple matter of economics and re-runs kept it alive after its cancellation in 1969. The surge in Star Trek fandom, clubs and conventions splashed onto the scene during the 1970's. 15,000 Trekkie's swamped the first Star Trek convention at the Statler-Hilton hotel in New York on January 1972. Understandable now isn't it? considering Captain Kirk's crew have been our guides and protectors for nearly five decades but in 1972, trek was just shooting for the stars.
For 45 years our Star Trek heroes have beamed into our living inspiring us with hope for the future. We've all come to love and enjoy Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry's cult tv epic, for its exciting flow of optimism. Its fast paced intergalactic adventures thrill fans right to the edge of our seats when Scotty's flipping out over the Enterprise intercom, warning the captain
"She cannae take much more of this, she blow up!"
We want to be on the starship USS Enterprise too! or maybe you were a Voyager fan or Niner or Enterprise follower caught up in the whole action adventure warping through space.
Despite pressures of the 1960's George Takei was cast as a Japanese Helm Officer playing Mr Sulu with Gene also wanting a Russian Tactical Officer played by Walter Koenig. This was quite a crew in the making.
Soon Jimmy Doohan stepped into the fold and read for Scotty's part in his many accents. Jimmy was so good he had executives rolling around on the floor in stitches and landed the chief engineers job straight away. "The writers of Star Trek found out that I read technical journals. And that's how they put the "science about ships" into Scotty's character. Scotty is ninety-nine percent James Doohan and one-percent accent."
I was handed a script and asked to do several accents. I read the part in Russian, English, German, Irish and Scottish voices. Gene asked me which was my favorite. When I suggested a Scotsman because of their engineering tradition, I even named him Scotty! Alright!?
We see lovely Majel Barret who played the frosty No1 on the USS Yorktown re-invented as a bleached blonde playing Nurse Chapel assisting Dr McCoy in Sickbay. After Gene Roddenberry divorced his first wife of 27 years, he married his secretary Majel Barrett set in a traditional Japanese Shinto ceremony on August 6, 1969. The happy couple conceived a son Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry Jr.
Star Trek The Original Series aired for three seasons with relative success as s 79 tv episodic series and then in 1969 died a miserable death. The TV Networks, NBC, figured they'd had a lucky escape but they were wrong.
Our heroes Captain James T. Kirk, Mr Spock, Dr McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Nurse Chapel, Sulu Chekov and the rest of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise 1701 are alive in the hearts and minds of trek fans everywhere. Star Trek TOS got its new lease of life spurred on by syndication, kept going by loyal Trekkies, letter writing campaigns, Star Trek conventions and Gene Roddenberry's hopeful vision of the future.
Within a few short years Kirk's starship USS Enterprise had become legendary. Phrases from the show, include Dr McCoys famous emotional outbursts,
"I'm a doctor not a bricklayer," "Do something, Spock!" "He's dead Jim." and Mr Spock's "Live Long and Prosper," "I am a Scientist doctor, emotions are alien to me." followed by the good doctors retort "In a pigs eye!"
All from simple beginnings in 1966, star trek's classic Franchise warped ahead spinning off five more shows! twelve movies, video games, merchandise, technological inventions, conventions, technobabble, cult followings and dedicated fans believing they're from the planet Vulcan and Romulus.
On a safer note Scotty,The Chief Engineer, occasionally operated the transporter pad beaming people up and down from planet surfaces. But it was McCoy who kicked up the biggest fuss when it was his turn to "beam down." Bones didn't care much for having his atoms scattered over empty, black space when transporting to the planet surface. The d-mn machine scrambled atoms up and filtered them through the Heisenberg Compensators which was no comforting guarantee the good doctor would re-materialize properly in one piece. Scotty's transporters cost nothing to film which was the real master-stroke. Landing a spaceship on a planet was time consuming and expensive.
In 1987 Star Trek TNG replaces Kirk with Captain Jean Luc Picard played by Patrick Steward with a brand new Galaxy Class starship and captain on the bridge. Starfleet's finest crew has an empathic female betazoid who can read "feelings" which gives Picard a handy edge. New to Star Trek's concept is the android Mr Data who replaced our great vulchie, Mr Spock.
The TNG phenomenon is a huge success and ran for 7 years ending on a high roll with the seasons finale 'All Good Things.' Its interesting to note Captain Picard never quite took the personal risks that Captain Kirk faced virtually every day. Despite this, Wesley Crusher's nerdling experiments were headache enough to even up the score of Picard's Enterprise-D blowing up in space.
By 1987 Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek had grown up and while Picard's high tech USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D is a far superior ship, in nearly almost every way, the old classic Enterprise magic can't quite be re-engineered. So its a brand new Galaxy class Enterprise with a captain who resists the idea of families travelling in space. Add to Picard's woes Dr Beverly Crusher genius son telling the adult Enterprise bridge crew how to run the ship, its hard not to take sides. Star Trek TNG was different ending on a big bang and the highest tv ratings in Star Trek history..
Sulu's starship concept bit the dust too. In the end Rick Berman set the show on starbase Deep Space Nine. 1991 was a terribly sad year with Gene Roddenberry's passing but his vision of Star Trek lives on spreading throughout the hearts and minds of trek fans everywhere. Its a real pity we'll never really know what he thought of DS9's portrayal of a dark, exciting and gritty Star Trek universe with Michael Dorn's character Worf from Star Trek TNG! Wasn't he a cool klingon?
In 1995 Star Trek Voyager hit our tv screens with Captain Janeway. More recently Star Trek 'Enterprise' and J.J. Abrams 2009 Star Trek reboot hit our tv screens with alternate time lines. I remember 1994 in my house with mixed human emotions. I felt very much like the alien Mr Spock in Trek's classic series.
Naturally I proceeded with caution and took out my tricorder to scan for anomalies in the spacetime continuum. (Just kidding really but I had fun growing up with my tricorder and phaser.)
Flipping open my tricorder, I began my scientific analysis with short rang scanning. Readings indicated that it was safe to proceed from my current set of beam in co-ordinates, the coast was clear. There were no strange, alien lifeforms in the rooms beyond, just ordinary flesh and blood humans but all was not what it seemed. Mr Spock would have been disappointed! For a while I considered calling in the Redshirts for backup. The arrival of 1994 was indeed a trekkieshed. The Wrath of Star Trek was beaming throughout the universe infecting alien sceptics polluting the timeline.
Star Trek shows were a common occurrence playing on tv sets throughout the galaxy. My family were being bombarded constantly by Star Trek daily as live commercials and trek shows beamed directly into our living room. If I could time travel to 1994, I wouldn't change a single thing. Star Trek The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and later Voyager in '95 were all on tv together making unique sci-fi history which will never happen again. Granted we have Netflix but is it really the same?