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|Index||173 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ah, yes; the "granddaddy" of all Treks! The place where we got our first
glimpse of the future. Apparently, mini-skirts would be back in style and
everyone would wear their pajamas at work. Also, a goatee signified
When I was a kid, the series was the coolest; lots of action, some humor, weird aliens, etc. When I was older, it was still entertaining. Some episodes held up very well, with the outstanding writing making more of an impression. Some things were fairly silly, and some were downright goofy.
Although never blessed with the greatest budget, the show put as much money on the screen as it could. For the time and for television, the effects were pretty good, aside from the bridge shaking stuff. The exteriors tended to get a little repetitive; it seems that the galaxy looks a lot like southern California and a studio interior. The styrofoam geological forms were quite interesting.
To me. this is still the best series. Yes, Next Gen had better acting (at least from Patrick Stewart) and better effects, but this series was more fun. These guys didn't sit around in conference rooms while the Romulans were firing on their ship. There was no technobabble while the engineer reconfigured the microwave oven to create a transwarp carbourator inversion and emit a tachyon diode stream. Nope, Scotty just crossed a couple of wires and then BLAMMO! Kirk got more action than any of the other skippers, and Spock was more fun than Data. Of course, the women weren't very emancipated, but that still hasn't changed as much as the producers like to claim, in later series.
To sum it up, you just can't beat Trbbles, Klingons with smooth foreheads, green women, and planets with Nazis and gangsters. I'll take the Squire of Gothos over Q any day (yes, I've read the Peter David book). My only quibble is that no one ever thought to put seatbelts on the bridge. Wasn't there some 23rd Century Ralph Nader around? And with all of Kirk's "friends" throughout the galaxy, is anyone else surprised we have only come across one child of his? I have a feeling he kept going on missions to avoid process servers.
In our household we are all Trekkies, so the ongoing adventures of the
Federation Star Ship Enterprise constantly enthrall us. My husband will
stubbornly watch only TOS, while my teenage son feels nostalgic about
TOS, but secretly prefers Voyager. As for myself, while I find some of
the Next Generation plots compelling and enjoy the dangerous drama of
Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant, there's nothing quite like the
characters from TOS. The series has an innocence about it unmatched in
the later ones. My compliments to the late Gene Roddenberry, Star
Captain James T. Kirk is the audacious, impulsive, and womanizing Enterprise commander. In almost every episode he has some gorgeous new love interest, seldom exhibiting much restraint! Kirk frequently engages in physical hand to hand combat with his opponents, torn shirt & sweat being common. Yet he does manage to come up with some bold and brilliant moves such as his legendary ruse, the Corbomite Manouever. Perhaps his primary task is serving as referee between the constantly sparring First Officer Spock and ship's doctor, Bones McCoy.
The heart of the series is Mr. Spock, the half Vulcan First Officer and ship's Science Officer. Actually however, Spock would maintain that he is the HEAD of the series, since he prides himself on his unfailing logic and lack of emotion. The inner conflict between his logic driven paternal Vulcan half and his emotional maternal human half form an ongoing theme. Spock possesses two useful Vulcan abilities, the neck pinch and the mind meld. The most engaging character interaction is between the logic motivated Spock versus the highly emotional ship's physician, Dr. Leonard (Bones) McCoy, who is basically a country doctor in space, a humanitarian leery of all this newfangled gadgetry. McCoy is famous in the Trek world for his expression, 'I'm a doctor, not a ----' (many phrases have been used here).
Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott is a hot tempered Scotsman with a fondness for his native country's whiskey. Scotty constantly bemoans that he 'cannae change the laws of physics' all the while working assorted engineering miracles with the warp core and anti matter this or that. As for Communications Officer Uhura, she is most notable for her regular phrase, 'Hailing frequencies open, Sir.'
To be sure, some of the episodes have less than brilliant plots, notably Spock's Brain, though the character interactions always compensate for any inadequacies. However, some ideas were masterful, including The Enterprise Incident, The Menagerie, and City on the Edge of Forever. The series took on issues of overpopulation (The Mark of Gideon), social class disparity (The Cloud Minders, with its clever cloud city, Stratos), and racism (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield), which involves laughable hatred between two races, one black on the left side & white on the right, the other race vice versa. I personally enjoyed The Naked Time (Nurse Chappel admits her love for Spock), A Taste of Armageddon (computer war), This Side of Paradise (Spock frolics), and Is There in Truth No Beauty? (the Medusan ambassador's incredible ugliness causes madness in the hapless onlooker). However, my absolute favourite is unquestionably the absurd Amok Time, with Spock's ridiculous pon farr mating strife.
The Enterprise crew consists of a racially diverse group, with its black Communications Officer Uhura and Oriental helmsman Sulu. The ship's navigator, Chekov, is Russian...quite a revolutionary idea for that Cold War era. The cast are perfect in their roles, including William Shatner (Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), and all the others. Special tribute to the late Deforest Kelly (McCoy) and James Doohan (Scotty), who are sadly missed.
This is the series that gave us such technologies as the transporter, tricorder, and cloaking device...high tech weaponry including phasers and photon torpedoes...futuristic games like three dimensional chess...miracle drugs such as cordrazine...and gourmet delicacies like Saurian brandy & Romulan ale. Some of the gadgetry gave a sneak preview of such later real life technology as computer floppy discs.
In addition to the highly logical Vulcans, Star Trek gave us glimpses of such alien species as the honour driven Klingons and the sneaky Romulans (the Federation's two primary enemies), also the xenophobic Tholians, the reptilian Gorn, and many others. It treated us to the endearing rock like, silicon based Horta and the cute & fuzzy but all too prolific Tribbles (which caused no end of Trouble). And it acquainted us with such planets as Sarpeidon, Eminiar & Vendikar.
In the episode Metamorphosis, we were all introduced to the heroic Zephram Cochrane who invented the warp drive way back in 2063. In constant demand is the dilithium vital to the warp engine's functioning. Star Trek also acquainted us with the United Federation of Planets, Starfleet & Starfleet Academy, and the Federation's much vaunted strict rule called the Prime Directive, which is frequently mentioned but universally ignored!
Star Trek is simply an incredibly fun and entertaining science fiction series, though it was hardly appreciated back in the 1960's when it originally aired. Fortunately, it lives on today in re runs, giving Trekkies the ongoing excitement of regularly 'boldly going where no man has gone before'. Live long and prosper, everyone!
The original Trek series established, within it's brief 3-year span,
the panorama of an ever-expanding Federation of planets &
civilizations, of which Earth was, in the 23rd century, a founding
member (tho the audience never saw Earth during this run, except in
time travel stories back to our 20th century). This series also
presented mankind as, first & foremost, explorers, embodied by the trio
of dynamic captain James T. Kirk (Shatner), his number two, science
officer Spock (Nimoy) and irascible but kindly Dr.McCoy (Kelley) - but
Spock was, of course, an alien (a Vulcan), an example of the alliances
Earth held with many extraterrestrial races. They operated from a
magnificent starship, Enterprise (one of several such ships in
Starfleet), with a crew of about 400. Creator Roddenberry used the
series as a platform to address many social & political concerns of the
time. The general consensus of most familiar with the show is that the
1st & 2nd years were superior; the 3rd suffered in the writing & budget
The best episodes: "City on the Edge of Forever"-Kirk almost sacrifices Earth's history for the love of a woman. Almost, and he might've done so had he known her a little longer; "Mirror,Mirror"-4 members of the crew switch places with their counterparts in a parallel universe, where the Federation is a hostile Empire; "Space Seed"-the crew awaken Khan, an old-time conqueror boosted by eugenics, who returned in the 2nd Trek film("The Wrath of Khan"); "Arena"-Kirk battles a lizardian captain of an unfriendly race on a desolate asteroid; "The Naked Time"-the crew lose their inhibitions, back when this was original; "This Side of Paradise"-another one with everyone affected emotionally and forgetting their mission; "The Trouble With Tribbles"-hugely entertaining romp on a space station; "Shore Leave"-another romp on a weird planet; "Journey to Babel"-Enterprise hosts ambassadors, Spock's parents included, dealing with intrigue & politics; "Where No Man Has Gone Before"-the 2nd pilot which green-lit the series and the 1st with normal humans acquiring godlike powers; "The Enemy Within"-examines duality of human nature; "The Doomsday Machine"-space epic about a huge alien weapon destroying planets; "Amok Time"-detailed look into Vulcan customs; "Balance of Terror"-warships testing each other in space,introducing the aggressive Romulan race; "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"-answering all questions on androids; and "The Devil in the Dark"-which shows you cannot judge monsters by appearance.
As the list above demonstrates, all the concepts we have come to know in later films and series (Next Generation,Deep Space 9,Voyager) were laid out just fine in the late '60s by some inventive writing (the first film to follow this, for example, merely reworked the episode "The Changeling" with a $50 million budget). The 2nd season also ended with a pilot for an unrealized spin-off "Assignment:Earth" which would have focused on human agent of aliens 'Gary-7' in the present day. It was back then, also, that omnipotent beings, such as "The Squire of Gothos" and the Organians ("Errand of Mercy"-which introduced Klingons) popped up to work miracles. The final 3rd season show ended things on a hysterical note as Kirk's body was taken over by an unbalanced woman - quite unPC these days but nonetheless intriguing & entertaining. The series was followed 4 years later by an animated version, which took place during the same mission. Finally, I'm still struck, or starstruck, by how, after all this time, it was this show that convinced me we really were on a huge ship traveling in space - more so than the later sophisticated shows (TNG) or the movies. Yes, the original is still the best, and it's easy to see why.
I have loved Star Trek since I first watched it as a child. However, the
series which followed - Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek:
Space Nine, and Star Trek: Enterprise - although generally still
entertaining, seem to me to have left out the element which made the
original series so special. Namely, the interaction between the
particularly Spock, Jim, and Bones.
So well written, and generally well acted.
With Bones (Dr Leonard H McCoy) being the opposite to Spock in terms of personality, so that the two of them always found something to argue about. Jim (Captain James T Kirk) in the middle, as a referee, displaying faults and strengths taken from both extremes. Extremes in the sense of McCoy being a very caring, compassionate, yet also highly emotional character. Representative of humanity, perhaps. Spock, the dry, cold, logical, emotionless Vulcan. Jim "a man of deep feelings", as Spock once said, yet also no stranger to thorough analysis of whatever situation the crew found themselves in. Bones seeking always to heal, to return everybody he met (whether friend or foe, human or otherwise) to as close to perfect health as possible. Frustrated by the fact that he (Bones) could not fully understand, for example, Spock's Vulcan anatomy. All three of them the closest friends. All three displaying unwavering loyalty toward each other - even though Spock would have found the suggestion of his displaying such a human quality to be insulting.
The dynamics involved, the interaction, led to brilliant moments of humour. A science fiction programme to be not only enjoyed for the imaginative stories and the themes, but also for the humour, for the humanity.
Which is not to suggest that the other characters were in any way second rate. Scotty's loyalty and his supreme confidence in his engineering abilities, Chekov's almost adolescent playfulness and humour, Sulu's loyalty, honour, and physical prowess, Uhura's dedication to duty and femininity in a masculine world, all added important and welcome elements to what I still consider to be the best science fiction television series ever.
The special effects were often laughable, the sets cheap and often reused, but the humanity, the character interaction, the stories, imagination, the brilliant writing... all added up to something very special indeed.
This show changed the way we looked at science fiction forever. Before there was The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and the prequel Enterprise. There was Captain James T. Kirk and crew on the Starship Enterprise. Exploring new worlds and new life. Traveling through time and space. Leonard Nimoy is great has Mr. Spock, the half human/half alien science officer and second in command. Deforest Kelly is also great Has Dr. Leonard Bones Mccoy, our favorite whiney Doctor, who came out with favorite sayings like "He's dead Jim" and "I'm a Doctor not a brick layer". The special effects may have seemed hoaky at times. But the show was still great in it's day. Gene Roddenberry was a genuis when he created this show. The show was well acted by everyone . So Star Trek fans live long and prosper.
Despite the popularity of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the original series is still by far my favorite. None of the others had the appeal of the characters like the overconfident Kirk, totally unemotional Spock, and the sarcastic McCoy. Yes, the special effects and production values are cheesy by today's standards, but I love bad effects! Every planet they beamed down to, it was so obvious which were natural earth settings (which always seemed to be around L.A. in the Vasquez Rocks area) and foam rubber plastic sets. My favorite episodes were: The Menagerie, which used footage from The Cage (check out those backgrounds, which are obviously matte paintings), The City on the Edge Forever (with Joan Collins as a depression era social worker), The Enemy Within, featuring a dual Captain Kirk, The Alternative Factor, (an incredibly bad, but interesting episode that had a man's spaceship that looked like it was made out of plastic and took just a few minutes to build), All Our Yesterdays, the only episode I know of that never showed the ship's bridge and was about the crew time traveling on a planet about to explode, and of course my very favorite, The Trouble With Tribbles.
This has to be one of the greatest series in history. I really enjoy watching a lot of the episodes especially those from the second and third seasons when Chekov was on and the supporting cast really became complete. I especially loved the episodes that dealt with what happens when someone upsets the natural course that a planet goes on (eg. "A Piece of the Action"). In the case of those episodes, usually someone wants to help a planet achieve its destiny at a faster rate or leaves a form of literature or technology behind leading to disastrous results as was the case with the Ekosians who followed the Nazi model or the world that used the model of 1920's Chicago to base their societies on. This pretty much is a moral for any world including our own and how we should leave not only people follow their own path but let nature take it's own path.
Guess who the single-most recognized personality the world-over REALLY
Not Usama BinLaden, but Capt. Kirk.
By consensus, City on the Edge of Forever is The Original Series(TOS)'s most-loved episode. It's high drama; a rather Shakespearian exploration of time travel, penned by serious s/f writer Harlan Ellison. It plays like a feature film. If anyone gets the courage (Hollywood is still terrified of the wrath of Star Trek fans), it SHOULD be remade as one.
In "City", Capt. Kirk and Mr Spock (it's `Mr', OK? -`Mr' Spock; get it right) are credibly compelled to travel back in time; they must put right the change in history that Leonard `Bones' McCoy, the ship's doctor, caused in his cordrazine-demented state. The good doctor obliterated their timeline so nothing of the UFP or Enterprise exists anymore!
Curious instrument-readings had lead them to an unknown planet. `Somethin--or someone--on this planet can effect changes in time, causing turbulent waves of space-displacement', observes Spock, as they rock the ship. While trying to plot the turbulence from orbit, passing through ripples in time, one of those ship-quakes causes the ship's experienced surgeon to accidentally inject himself(!) with a full hypospray of cordrazine. Characteristically for the overdose, he no longer recognizes his shipmates as friends but as `murderers and assassins'.
His psychosis is only temporary, but lasts long enough for McCoy to transport down to the very object of their search: the Guardian of Forever, an apparent rock archway on the planet. Unfortunately the thing is ripping through time (centuries in seconds), inconveniently fast for a human lifespan. In protective hot pursuit, the landing party follows McCoy to The Guardian.
Ever the scientist, upon discovering and marveling at the source of the time-displacements, Spock berates himself: `I....am a fool! My tricorder is capable of recording even at this speed! I've missed taping centuries of living history which no man before has ever...' and then the cornered McCoy leaps past him, back through time. This is the only time in the series that Spock actively berates himself. It opens the door for Kirk's chiding Spock's scientific prowess in building a video player(!) `with nothing but stone knives and bearskins' in that `zinc-plated, vacuum-tubed culture' they've followed the frenzied McCoy to: Depression-Era America.
As they desperately try to predict McCoy's arrival, Kirk and Spock meet Edith Keeler(Joan Collins) still at a very anonymous stage of her future political-activist career. What happens to history, and Enterprise, as they acclimate to Edith Keeler's homeless mission still packs a punch 37yrs later.
Look for Kirk's double-entendre (but you must watch the WHOLE SCENE with Edith Keeler, as it plays off the sexual tension): `We have a flop, Mr Spock'. `-We have a what, Capt'n?' `A place to sleep.' `-....One might've said so in the first place'.
The undeniable chemistry between Collins and Shatner, much to the chagrin of Bill's LEGIONS of detractors, I'm certain is responsible for the indubitable success of the drama. ST was always treated by cast and crew as serious science-fiction. To her credit, Collins joined their Trek seriously, but sadly only for this outing. Her career might've been far more acclaimed had she become a regular.
Small wonder that `City' is the single-most popular episode of the original series, and it comes very close to taking the cake from ALL the many incarnations since! ST was at its best combining intellectual curiosity+sense of wonder with challenges to the heart. The humour was always just icing.
The other two main contender episodes for that level of praise-from ST(TOS)-are Bill Shatner's personal fave, `The Devil in the Dark' (and were it not for the awful display of male arrogance-and-ignorance by all the miners, I would agree with Shatner); plus David Gerrold's classic gag entry from ST's 2nd season, `The Trouble with Tribbles'(1967).
`Tribbles' has an important ecological message that was very sophisticated for its time (ie that animals coexist in ecological balance, and Heaven help you if you mess with that), couched in impish, trilling, and fuzzy, tribble-like humour; but because it doesn't challenge our ethics and hearts all that much, `Tribbles' can't win `Best ST Episode' even though it's A LOT OF FUN.
`Devil', written by legendary ST honcho-producer Gene Coon, was about human/alien humility. Human judgements, eg of beauty, should never be applied to aliens. `Ugly' is no reason to judge foreigners-or actual aliens-as stupid/less worthy. Information is a far better arbiter. Replete with positivism and 1960s churlish greed, `Devil' was also a precursor to Alien(1979), albeit about a `nice' alien: the Horta was a (midget-scuttling-under-a-)very-unattractive(-carpet)/highly intelligent mother of a dying race. Mr Spock's ecological sensitivity shines well to this day, compared to the miners' brutality.
`Devil' was also lore-establishing for its depiction of Dr McCoy's distrust of transporters, and his appellations that he was `a DOCTOR, not a....'-in this case `not a bricklayer'; the best punchline to the joke he EVER produced.
The only thing that irked me about `Devil' (apart from the laughably cheap set design) was the script's obtuseness about the economical value, even then(!!), of silicon. (The plot is predicated upon a bandwagon theory, that life could be based on non-Carbon elements; but to pick SILICON was unfortunate, since it was already the chief source material for semiconducting transistors in 1965!) Double-D'Oh!!!
`City' has no such hindsight embarrassments. Instead, it reveals the rich and trusting relationship between Kirk and Spock as they take turns at solving puzzles and support each other's dignity. They still tease each other, esp. poor Spock about his alleged vulnerability to (human) sentimentality (which he takes as mild insults), and about his ears, which during the first season was still a novelty to audiences. How quickly things change.
In my estimation, only ST-Voyager produced similar integration of science, wonder, philosophy, humour AND devastating drama. With `Eye of a Needle', `Distant Origin', `Drone', `Ashes to Ashes', and possibly `Timeless', ST-Voyager came close to replicating the emotional impact of ST-TOS' `discovery science' fiction.(10/10)
The science fiction series "Star Trek", called TOS (The Original Series) since its 1966-1969 three-season run on NBC-TV because there have been four other "Star Trek" series, has been made the biggest success of any re-run series in television history. Its re-run profits have been misused, in my view, by those who had nothing to do with the series' creation to set up the Fox Networl; in addition, novels of an authorized and of independent versions have been allowed to be published, many products have been created and sold, ranging from die-cut models to calendars, and a series of more than half-a dozen films have been made as features. But the nature of the series I argue has neither been understood not defined sufficiently in all the decades since its too-early demise and astonishing later career. The series was the product of an intelligent republican postmodernist; his central character for a 2200's starship-based series of adventure was an Iowa born activist named James Tiberius Kirk. Roddenberry's characters talked about individual development but generally confuted emergency ethics (altruism) with real-space-time ethics; and more than a dozen times, his central character was involved in actions a starship captain should not have assigned himself to carry out. The series' main creator, Gene Roddenberry, despite being a veteran both of military and police department experience, also frequently neglected or somewhat mishandled virtually all the details of physical importance to such a series--such as ship's equipment, duty assignments, defensive formations, weaponry, computers, transport, language and translation, color-coding, insigniae, Academy training, shipboard relief procedures etc.... Yet in spite of thee secondary omissions, the story-lines and plots were so strong in idea-level that above 50+ of 79 episodes in my estimation as a writer were above- average dramatic or comedic efforts, A look at the roster of writers and directors employed on "Star Trek" will demonstrate one reason why the show was so lively, emotionally-positive and dramatically compelling. Fine directors were used a number of times; in season two, Marc Daniels shared duties with Joseph Pevney; Vincent Mceveety, Gerd Oswald, Michael O'Herlihy, Gene Nelson, Ralph Senensky, Marvin Chomsky, Robert Sparr and others provided their talents. Writers also contributed story ideas or scripts in more than one case each , such as Jean Lisette Aroeste, Jerome Bixby, Margaret Armen, John D.F. Black, Robert Bloch and Theodore Sturgeon for example. And the series' head writers included Black, D.C. Fontana, Gene Coon, Stephen Carabatsos and Roddenberry. The famous cast was comprised Canadian William Shatner as Kirk, Lonard Nimoy as the half-alien pointed-eared 1st Officer, Spock, Georgia-born De Forest Kelley as the ship's doctor, McCoy, Candian James Doohan as Montgomery Scott, Chief Engineer, George Takei as Lt. Sulu, singer-dancer Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, and Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel. In pursuit of verisimilitude and an allegorical relationship to the Cold War 1960s, Roddenberry oversaw the elaboration of the Klingon race of aliens, stand-in for Communists, the Vulcan allies, stand-in for the British, and the Romulans, a Vulcan offshoot who were stand-ins for the Germans and Chinese. There are so many important story ideas on "Star Trek" TOS, especially when the series is compared to mere adventure programs of the same period, it is difficult to discern a pattern or to nominate the most worthy, separating the plot from its produced episode. The strongest included "Return to Tomorrow", "City On the Edge of Forever", "Balance of Terror", "This Side of Paradise", "Bread and Circuses", "Mirror, Mirror", "A Piece of the Action", "The Cloud Minders", "All Our Yesterdays", "Mudd's Women", "A Taste of Armageddon" and "The Enemy Within". Recurring themes included god-machines, the power and mystery of sex, humans' ingenuity, the need for self-discipline, the dangers of superhuman powers, the need for a government of sane people, the limits of logic and the problems of emotional extremity, loyalty to a charismatic leader, etc. If Spock was Eliot Ness in alien makeup, a normative human, the rest as depicted came across as promising humans with minor flaws that only got in their way under extreme circumstances. This was a show about the Federation--the flawed U.S. bureaucracy, and Starfleet Command-- the US Air Force and Navy, with details of the civilization of the future kept intentionally vague under such notions as "speaking basic English', the Prime Directive of non-interference being in force and the crew never visiting Earth, etc;, Yhe really questionable elements of the show were the universal translator device, the molecular-disassembly and reassembly "transporter" device and the mysterious "energy shields". But in spite of technical lapses and postmodernist philosophy, the viewers responded to the series' many positive elements--the multiracial crew getting along and functioning bravely under adverse circumstances, the exciting plots, and the sense of a human future of all-but-unlimited potential-- qualities very often entirely missing from other series of the same era. Many of the series' episodes are worth viewing, by my lights as a writer, many times over. That is the series' legacy, I suggest--that it spoke for hope, tolerance and self-assertion, albeit imperfectly, at a time when angst and doubt were all-but-universal on the fictional screens of the United States.
Commonly known as "The Original Series", those of us engaged in an
unhealthy obsession with Star Trek refer to it as TOS. TOS, began under
the creative influence of Gene Roddenberry, with a brilliant,complex
and intellectual pilot known as The Cage. The Cage proved to be too
much for network TV. The first pilot was about as complex as a few
episodes of Twin Peaks and almost as edgy. Plus it included a woman in
a command position (Majel Barret or Majel Leigh Hudec, who later
married Gene Roddenberry and eventually became Nurse/Dr. Christine
Chapel, the voice of most of Star Trek's computers and Deanna Troi's
mom in the Next Generation). The only major character who was
consistent between The Cage and TOS was Spock (Leonard Nimoy's
half-Vulcan science officer).
Roddenberry and his collaborators did not lose hope, and took the advice of the networks seriously - shooting a second pilot with William Shatner replacing Jeffrey Hunter as the captain. The second pilot was later recycled as the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The first, was reused and retold in the great two part episode "The Menagerie".
To put it simply, TOS revolved around three main characters and a strong supporting cast. The three principal cast members were Captain James T Kirk (William Shatner, who previously made a major mark in Roger Corman's excellent "The Intruder") - an intelligent, courageous, humanitarian and righteous leader with an occasional tendency to bend the rules in order to get positive results; Mr. Spock (Nimoy)- Kirk's first officer and scientist, a brilliant half-human, half-Vulcan male who can calculate complex math in his head and see the logical path in any situation; and Dr. McCoy (veteran character actor Deforest Kelley)- a crusty, likable southern gentleman and expert surgeon.
Women and non-whites were better represented in positions of respect in this show than most of what appeared on TV before it, and the show presented through demonstration (as opposed to rhetoric) an earth which was united, interested in diversity, and rationally governed by an interplanetary Federation founded by humans and their Vulcan allies.
One of my favorite and most memorable Star Trek memories is when I learned the story of how the great Whoopie Goldburg was inspired by seeing a black woman (Lt Uhura, Nichelle Nichols) in a position of power on the bridge of the Enterprise, and even more inspired by the fact that a black woman was acting in a respectable major supporting role on a network TV show! Whoopie was apparently so indebted to TOS that she all but volunteered to play the important recurring role of Guinan in The Next Generation. It is also great to learn of the many members of NASA who cite TOS as one of their major career influences.
The world of TOS is, of course, not the world we live in, but rather a world in which humankind has a bright future and the possibility of living to our highest potential as explorers, scientists, and enlightened beings. Yet, despite the hope represented in this future, TOS' characters face many of the same problems we face today - prejudice (Devil in the Dark, Errand of Mercy, Enemy Within, others), militarism (Errand of Mercy, Balance of Power, etc); the conflict between self and society (City on the Edge of Forever, etc); technological advance and social change (Ultimate Computer, The Changeling, etc); Cultural conflict (almost every episode, but especially Amok Time, The Tholian Web, Journey to Babel, The Corbomite Maneouver) and religion (many episodes, especially Who Mourns for Adonais, Amok Time and The Squire of Gothos).
In creating this expansive and ever-expanding universe, the creators of TOS provided ample territory for allegoric examination of contemporary problems,without privileging any particular political or philosophical tradition over another.
TOS featured generally good writing (though not as consistently good as that of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), wildly experimental plots, consistent characterization, and a moderate and very well-used budget. The special effects are dated, and are really just adequate to convey the meaning, but unlike a lot of contemporary sci-fi, the stories, characters, acting and directing overshadow the special effects completely - rendering them somewhat irrelevant.
The show's great themes, and the entertaining way in which is explores them has changed the mainstream approach to science fiction in more than just the television medium. TOS took itself seriously, and attempted to create serious drama seasoned with occasional humor, and more than its fair share of humanism and romance. Like the show, the characters were well imagined, well-developed, and intelligent. The starship Enterprise - also wonderfully detailed - did not carry any ballast in its crew. The crew showed many different kinds of people working together - united only by the desire to explore and learn, by rationality and discipline, and by a sense of purpose far higher than simple self-interest.
What an inspiring vision of human life.
As German pop musician Nena once said "We are all a Captain Kirk" -
...well.... maybe some day.
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