Thursday, September 8, 2011

45 Years Ago Today...

It seems impossible, but 45 years ago today, on September 8, 1966, Star Trek premiered on NBC. No one at the network could have possibly foreseen the impact and cultural importance the show would have.

It's possible I may have seen the premiere episode, but if I did, I'm too young to remember it. Honestly I doubt if I saw it, due to my Dad's viewing tastes. Back in those days, most families only had one TV set. Our TV was dominated by my Dad, who would consult the Holy TV Guide each night and plan the family's viewing for the evening. Dad's viewing tastes tended toward Combat and Rat Patrol. Back then he thought science fiction was "stupid," so I never got to watch anything like Trek when he was home.

Dad sometimes worked evenings, leaving control of the set to me and my Mom, so I do have a few vague memories of watching a couple of Star Trek episodes in their original run. I sort of remember liking it when they featured monsters and aliens, and I liked watching the Enterprise blast things with its phasers. Many of the episodes were just about people standing around talking though, which was of no interest to my young mind. My most vivid memory of the show: Two guys were always walking into some room and disappearing. I didn't understand what the transporter was back then.

My true memories of the show begin a few years later, circa 1974. That's when the local UHF station began airing the show in syndication and I saw the episodes for what I consider the first time. That's when I officially became a fan. Star Trek aired each weeknight after the local news, and I watched it every chance I got on my tiny black and white TV.

Someone at our local TV station was obviously a fan. At the end of each local newscast, they'd show a wide shot of the whole news team sitting behind the large desk. The anchorman would bid the audience goodnight, and then you'd hear the transporter sound effect as the entire news team was dematerialized and Star Trek would begin. Yes, my local news team beamed up to the Enterprise each night. Kind of negates the whole "trusted journalism" concept they were no doubt cultivating. I wish I had a tape of it for proof.

Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry often claimed that the show's lasting success was due to the fact that it showed us that humanity can overcome its problems, nations can work together and that there's hope for the future. It's a noble sentiment, but it's also hopelessly naive. The human race has been killing one another from the minute we climbed down out of the trees and started walking on two legs, and I honestly don't see that changing much in the next 200 years. Don't get me wrong; it would be great if our species finally grew up and acted like the noble crew of the Enterprise, but... I just don't see it ever happening.

On the other hand, the show has definitely had a positive influence on our technology. Many of the gadgets in the series have already become a reality, most notably the communicators, which heavily influenced out cell phones. Too bad it hasn't affected our society as intently as it has our technology.

Anyway, sit back with a glass of Romulan Ale and wish Star Trek a happy 45th birthday!

1 comment:

  1. yeah, there were no suicide bombers or greedy capitalists on the Enterprise. Maybe the upcoming film will continue Roddenbury's legacy & address some of the issues we face today, or, better yet, how we overcame them.

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