I have seen a lot of posts as to which Trek series is the best, the worst, what is great about this series and what is terrible about that series. I thought, with this being the 50th anniversary of the start of the franchise, I would go through each series and talk about what I love about each one. I have issues with each series, things I wish were better, but at the end of the day, it is always better to talk about the good. I will start things off with the show that started it all: the one and only “Star Trek”.
2. The future looks bright – Science fiction has often and almost universally shown that humanity has a bleak future. Aliens were going to invade and enslave us, war was going to drive us from our planet, and we would be fighting every other encounter with another ship. While Star Trek does have its fair share of confrontation, the outlook of humanity is one of the most optimistic of the genre. In Star Trek, the mostly human crew will value, respect, and follow the half-human-half-vulcan first officer. Women are seen as equals, and the bridge is full of different ethnicities. We still argue and debate, but at the end of the day there is unity. Looking at today’s world, the need for such harmony on this planet is so very apparent.
3. Enduring and iconic characters – When Leonard Nimoy passed away last year, the majority of people knew who he was, even if they had never seen the show. Spock became a central figure in pop culture. It is hard to find someone in the developed world who would not know what someone meant when they said “Beam me up Scotty”, and they would usually respond in their best Scottish accent. People knew Doctor McCoy and Captain James T. Kirk. Amongst all the characters in the Trek universe, these are likely the most entrenched in our society. Some may feel that later shows were better quality than the Original Series, but no other show has characters that have been so beloved or iconic.
4. Great story telling – For every face-palm inducing “Way to Eden” or “Spock’s Brain” there are gems like “Balance of Terror” or “the City on the Edge of Forever”. Compelling stories for the day, they still stand up to test of time. And there was variety in the stories as well. We were thrilled with “Amok Time” and laughing loudly with “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Great stories that we can watch again and again. Yes, the effects and stunt work might have been more on the hokey side, but the stories were so good that we still watch them with enthusiasm and nostalgia. Plus, the stories dealt with issues in ways that only Star Trek could. As an example, racism is handled so well with “Let That be Your Last Battlefield”, giving us two “races” at war with each other whose only difference is which side of their face is black and which is white. Star Trek was able to tackle these issues with such finesse in a way that no show set in the current era would have been able to do.
5. Never give up, never surrender – More than anything else, this show taught us the importance in never losing hope. When the original pilot, “The Cage” did not sell well, Gene Roddenberry kept at it until it was picked up. When the show was cancelled after season two, a massive letter writing campaign kept it going for one more season. Even after its cancellation, fans rallied around it, making it more successful in reruns than during its original airings. Plus, we have the fan movement. Before Fan-boys, Whovians, Browncoats, Potterheads, Ringers, Gateheads, and Scapers, there were Trekies. Do you love Comic Con? We started it with Star Trek conventions. We kept our franchise alive and well during the dry years. With a new film released this summer and a new TV series on the horizon, the Original Series is the heart of it all. Tying it in with my first point, this is where it all started.