Star Trek: The Original Series is an American science fiction television program created by Gene Roddenberry. The show ran for three seasons from 1966-1969.
Although the starship Enterprise’s five year mission to explore new worlds was cut short by poor ratings, the ship and crew didn’t dematerialize quite so fast.
Devoted viewers demanded more. As the fan mail piled up, the show’s uniqueness was soon realized and run of successful movies were produced throughout the 1970s to 1990s, along with several new Star Trek TV spin-offs, closely following the original format.
A few second-rate academics might still scoff at the idea, but Star Trek TOS and its offshoots have taken on mythic proportions. Instead of Sumerian gods carved in stone, Star Trek gave us gods etched on film. And there’s arguably not too much difference between the two.
Trying to be progressive in its day, the original Star Trek pilot episode featured a female first officer. But due to poor ratings she was replaced by the male Vulcan, Mr. Spock. The revised cast boasted a host of international characters at the command center, which for the mid-1960’s was virtually unheard of.
In the episode, “Plato’s Stepchildren” (1968) Captain Kirk and the black Lt. Uhura are forced by telekinesis to kiss, a controversial first for fiction characters on U.S. TV. And in the episode Balance of Terror (1966) Kirk scolds his navigational officer Styles for making a racial slur:
Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There’s no room for it on the bridge.
Some say that the whole Star Trek phenomenon has all the earmarks of not just a myth, but a true religion because it exhibits the following criteria:
- A social component (Star Trek conventions are periodically held around the world)
- The Star Trek ‘creed’ (the Prime Directive)
- A general goodwill ethic
- Implied transcendental ideas
The 2009 hit movie Star Trek, directed by J. J. Abrams, brought the popular character Spock back into the spotlight. This time he’s both an elderly (played by the late Leonard Nimoy) and a young man (played by Zachary Quinto).
The fact that Leonard Nimoy is showcased in this blockbuster film while William Shatner (who played the original Captain Kirk) apparently didn’t fit with the script says volumes about public opinion and maybe Hollywood politics within the Star Trek universe.
Nimoy’s popularity endures after his death. Recently an asteriod was named after him—4864 Nimoy. This goes to show that Star Trek is not only mythic. Many scientists, astronomers and astronauts admit to loving and being inspired by the show.