I’m sure anyone reading this has heard the names “James T. Kirk”, “Spock”, or “Doctor McCoy” and know that it’s from Star Trek. Everybody knows that McCoy is a Doctor and not anything else or that Scotty fixed everything on the ship every week, it seemed. But for those of you who may NOT know or maybe like to read about Star Trek, I will be talking about everything Trek. From Deep Space Nine to Memory Alpha, I will teach you everything you want, and probably more than you wanted, to know about Star Trek. Let’s take a mental stroll back to the 1960s. The Beatles were all the rage, Sean Connery was British super-spy James Bond, and Gene Roddenberry had an idea about humans exploring the Milky Way Galaxy….
“What is Star Trek” is a question with multiple answers, honestly. The first real-world answer is Star Trek is, a show wherein the original premise was created by Gene Roddenberry and was set aboard a large interstellar spacecraft called the S.S. Yorktown. However, after edits, the ship would bear the iconic name “Enterprise”. Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana, Gene L. Coon, Jerome Bixby, and Theodore Sturgeon were notable writing contributors. Star Trek would not be what it is now without their critical input. The Klingons, The Evil, Mirror Universe, and most of what Vulcan society is would not be here if not for these and many other talented writers that were hired to write for Star Trek. Star Trek was a show rife with social commentary. The main cast was culturally diverse for the time, and their characters even included a Russian, who was considered an enemy of most of the Western World at that time. It symbolized that today’s enemies could be tomorrow’s friends and allies.
Many of the episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, as the first series was retconned to be called after its sequel series Star Trek: The Next Generation, began to air, dealt not with how humanity had doomed itself but how it rose from the ashes of destruction to better itself and attempt to peaceably co-exist with its interstellar neighbors and teach the values that make humanity great. However, Star Trek was being aired during the Vietnam conflict, and censorship practices at the time didn’t allow direct commentary on that conflict, so Nazis and World War II were inserted with a wink of the eye, knowing what was really being discussed. The closest the series ever got to endorsing war was the first season episode, “Errand of Mercy”, which also introduces long-time frenemies, the Klingon Empire. By the end of that episode, Captain Kirk realizes the error of charging into war, no matter how “right” or “conscionable” it may seem at the time.
Several other episodes deal with many numerous other topics, such as bigotry, racism, and other social issues of the time. By the end of the first season, episodes concerning mental stability, absolute power corrupting absolutely, the madness of total anarchic freedom, and even how one person, doing what they believe to be right at the time, can drastically change the future had been made. Star Trek: The Original Series managed to do a lot with very little, and whatever it lacked in the budget, it tried to make up for with substance. One of the best episodes, if not THE VERY BEST, of The Original Series was made as an end-of-the-season budget-saving episode using sets from The Andy Griffith Show. The episode is called “The City on the Edge of Forever” and was written by renowned Speculative Fiction author Harlan Ellison.
To sum up the “real-world,” what is Star Trek and move into the incredibly lore-filled and incredibly nerdy “in the universe” What is Star Trek? I will leave you all with this: Star Trek was an American Television program produced by Desilu Studios and aired on CBS from 1966-1969 and was very influential in the genre of Science Fiction and has spawned nine sequel series’, thirteen movies, numerous comic books, and novels and shows no real sign of slowing down, as of this article at least. Although it was canceled after three seasons, a letter-writing campaign renewed it for a very up and down third season. However, the show was revitalized in syndication and was allowed to grow into the media sensation it is today. Thank you for reading, and keep your eyes open for more Trek content on The Game of Nerds.