STAR TREK turns 50 today
The show is almost as old as I am. And I’ve been a fan for 42 of those years.
Star Trek and I go way back… all the way back to about 1974 and junior high, when a new friend introduced me to the franchise via the novelizations of the animated series. I devoured the books, which were more like collections of short stories, with several episodes in each book. Then I went looking for the show on television.
The original Star Trek series had debuted on September 8, 1966. Needless to say, I was too young to watch it then. By the time I heard about it, 8 years later, it was in syndicated reruns—if you could find it at all. I was only able to watch the occasional episode, but I continued reading everything I could get my hands on, including David Gerrold’s memoir about “The Trouble with Tribbles,” from which I geekily memorized the exact number of tribbles in the storage compartment as calculated by Spock.
I was obsessed. I spent hours over the course of a week, learning to raise one eyebrow like Spock. (I managed the left eyebrow, but never the right.) Another good friend and I made up new stories, and even called each other by our Star Trek alter-egos: she was Pavel Chekov and I was Ensign (later Lieutenant) Karsavina, a character I created and named for a famous ballet dancer. (Hey, I was in middle school.)
I remained a loyal if slightly less obsessed fan through high school and college, adding new fandoms as science fiction and fantasy exploded in popular culture—Star Wars in particular. But when I heard about the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I was over the moon—only to have my hopes dashed, along with the rest of the fandom’s, by it’s sheer awfulness. Even so, my love for the series as a whole never wavered. By the time I finished college, I had managed to see most of the original episodes, though very out of order. The Wrath of Khan (1982) was a full-throttle return to everything that made series great, even if (SPOILER ALERT) it did require the destruction of the Enterprise. Two movies later, as Star Trek: The Voyage Home drew to a close and the Enterprise-A was revealed in all her glory, I dissolved into tears in the theater: my ship was back.
I graduated from college; I moved away from home; I met my future husband, also a Trekkie from a young age, and fell in love. And then came the announcement: Paramount was reviving the series. We were both working retail, so our schedules were never the same week to week. Our first major purchase together was a VCR, so we could tape the episodes and not miss a single one. (And believe me, back then, a VCR was a major purchase — it cost us several hundred dollars.) We kept it at my apartment, which had cable TV, and we watched every episode of the first several seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation together.
We continued watching them (taped on that same VCR) as we got married. ST:NG‘s run ended just before Robin was born, but then there was Deep Space 9, and Voyager. Somewhere in the middle of ST:Voyager I gave up watching that series, but we still saw all the movies and caught old episodes of ST:NG and DS9 whenever we could. With the advent of DVDs, we bought whole series at a time: first TOS, then ST:NG.
Robin grew up watching Star Trek; even before we let her watch them, she would sneak out of bed and watch from the hall. Now she’s introducing her college roommates to the franchise.
And it’s not over yet. The reboot series of movies, which takes place in an alternate timeline, has had its flaws, but the most recent movie was terrific. And this year saw the announcement of Star Trek: Discovery, a show which will take place about 10 years before TOS, but will involve new characters. It’s coming on CBS All Access, the network’s streaming service. The show promises to stay in keeping with the “legacy” of the series and Roddenberry’s vision, and it will debut in January 2017. I’m really excited to see it!
Happy Anniversary, STAR TREK!
Thank you, Star Trek,
for all the years. For the characters I’ve loved, the stories that have made me think, the values that helped form my worldview. Thank you for the laughter, the tears, the memories.
Former cast members and NASA employees also wished Star Trek a happy 50th anniversary!