I was recently asked which Star Trek series was my favorite. My response? “Yes.” I mean, how can you choose just one Star Trek series? Each one has its own unique flavor, its positives and negatives, and not all series will appeal to every person. If I were to pick just one Star Trek series (which is really, really hard to do), I suppose that I’d have to go with the original.
TOS holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the beginning of one of the most prolific sci-fi series in existence, but it reminds me of my childhood. You see, when I was little, I used to watch Star Trek reruns with my dad. It was a special time we spent together, just the two of us. (Later I found out my mom is a sci-fi nerd, too.)
Looking back at Star Trek (no bloody A, B, C or D), you might think it’s really cheesy or outdated, with outdated attitudes. To that I say you need to look at when it was created. When Star Trek first premiered in 1966, the most popular television shows were westerns. Star Trek was presented to the networks as “Wagon Train among the stars”, where the wagon train (the starship Enterprise) would travel and have adventures during the journey.
While today we may cringe at the obviously misogynistic attitudes depicted in the show, we also need to realize that this is the way television was in the 1960’s. Heck, this is the way most attitudes were in the 1960’s. Star Trek did a lot to help change those attitudes, as well as inspire people.
If you look at it, the original USS Enterprise had a diverse bridge crew. Not counting Spock, the completely alien first officer, there was Sulu, the Asian pilot and Checkov, the Russian navigator (which at the height of the Cold War was definitely unheard of). There was also Uhura, a black woman with responsibility (also completely unheard of at this time of civil rights activism).
Speaking of Uhura, there is a wonderful story about Nichelle Nichols’s experience on Star Trek. She had submitted a resignation letter to creator Gene Roddenberry, wanting more for her acting career. That weekend, Nichelle had gone to an event where she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He let her know that her character of Lt. Uhura was a role model, and that he was a fan of hers. When Ms. Nichols went to work again that Monday, she approached Gene and took back her resignation. Roddenberry was relieved. (You can see an article about the experience here.) Heck, the character of Uhura even inspired one Whoopi Goldberg to become an actress! (See an article on Whoopi being a Star Trek fan here.)
Star Trek was hopeful at a time when there was a lot of uncertainty about the future. It showed us an Earth that was united regardless of race, position, or creed. It showed humans getting along with other races (Vulcans, Andorians, etc.) and trying to get along with other races. It showed that we could find humor in even some of the most dire of circumstances, and that sometimes we just need to laugh (“The Trouble with Tribbles” comes to mind here).
It may have lasted only three seasons, but Star Trek has become ingrained in pop culture. It has inspired all sorts of people to do amazing things, and has spawned several movies and television series. For these reasons, plus the personal memories I have of enjoying a lazy Sunday watching Star Trek with my family, the original Star Trek series will always have a special place in my heart.
Live Long and Prosper,
Captain Jill Bogler