When I was a kid, no one had to add the caveat, The Original Series to Star Trek. It was simply Star Trek. In a way I miss those simpler days. I’m happy that the franchise has climbed to such lofty heights but there was something very gratifying about the simplicity of having only one show and a few films to rave about.
I watched this show with my mom when I was younger and we always went to every film when it premiered at the theaters. I think Wrath of Khan was the first movie I saw of the series but I had seen several episodes of the show before that.
Looking back and watching some episodes now it seems almost quant in comparison but Star Trek was a really progressive show at the time of its run. It was late 60’s, tons of social change was happening, the Vietnam war was getting started… there was a lot going on. And here comes this TV show about a bunch of humans (and Spock, the Vulcan) traveling through the far reaches of space having adventures.
Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a future with no poverty, racial equality and mankind’s exploration into unchartered space was revolutionary. Instead of the dystopian view an author like Philip K. Dick expounded on with his novels, or the nightmare world of 1984, Star Trek offered a future filled with hope.
Humans develop technology that helps them travel the stars, defend themselves and allows communication over vast distances. The transporter, being able to teleport from one location to another, was pretty mind-bending in the 60’s; and so was the hand held communicators, which we all have today. It’s called a cell phone. Crazy, isn’t it?
What I remember the most and what has made Star Trek so successful are the characters. Everyone knows Spock. Logical, emotionless, super intelligent, you could always count on Spock being Spock. If regulations had to be adhered to, Spock was your man. His cool, calculating abilities often saved The Enterprise and its crew.
Then we had his direct counterpart and one of the three “legs” of the Star Trek: TOS pillar, Doctor McCoy. McCoy was all emotion, shouting and going on a tear about Spock’s lack of compassion. McCoy care about people and this empathy often put him at odds with Spock’s dispassionate logic.
The head of this pillar was no doubt Captain James T. Kirk. A man’s man, a ladies man, Kirk embodies the leader archetype better than any fictional character I can think of. He would do anything for his crew, anything to save the ship, whatever it took to save the day.
This show spawned one of the most successful Science Fiction franchises in history and it is easy to see why.