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This Day in History, 1966: Star Trek premieres

Forty years ago today, the original Star Trek series debuted on NBC. Although it ran for only three years and never placed better than No. 52 in the ratings, Gene Roddenberry's series became a cult classic and spawned five other television series, ten movies, and numerous novels, comic books, and short stories.

Anyone wish to share their memories of their first exposure to the series? I honestly can't remember which episode I saw first, although I know I didn't see the show until it was being syndicated in reruns, as I was born after it had already been cancelled. I do remember that my older brother was watching it before I was, and one of my older half-brothers watched it on NBC and remembers the unprecedented announcement at the end of second season, when NBC told the viewers that the show had been renewed and asked everyone to stop sending letters.

Probably the oddest early memory I have about the show is this. My mother was reading aloud from a book about cars to my younger brother and me. As she was reading, she remembered that my older brother would want to know that Star Trek was on. So she shouted, "Beep beep! Honk honk! Star Trek!" We laughed for hours.

Maybe you had to be there.

In any event, if you wish to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this cultural phenomenon, what better way to do it than by picking up a copy of Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek edited by David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer. The book includes my essay "We Find the One Quite Adequate: Religious Attitudes in Star Trek, in which I analyze the role religion playes (or didn't play) in the original series. You can check out the table of contents on Robert Sawyer's blog. The book has been getting some excellent reviews, such as this fine review at SF Signal.

End plug. :-)

Copyright © Michael Burstein

Comments

"I was against The Next Generation at first, but got sucked in by the episode where Troi gets pregnant with that alien who was curious about people. It made me cry."

Did you know that was actually a rewritten script from the abandoned Star Trek Phase II series? Replace Riker with Decker and Troi with Ilia and voila... you've got Phase II. There were several other scripts that were adapted for Next Gen as well, but the specifics escape me at the moment.
I have the book about the development of Phase II. Fascinating.
That's Star Trekkin' by The Firm (not this The Firm).
I first heard the song many years ago and thought it was very funny. ckd found a reference, below.
Trek and I are practically twins. I was born three months and day before Trek premiered. However, being of such a tender age, my folks wouldn't let me stay up to watch it in its original network run. :)

I started watching it in syndication (on WPIX in New York, Saturdays at 6). My mother watched it, and she and I would often eat dinner on TV trays while Dad and my brothers ate in the kitchen. The first episode I remember seeing was The Man Trap, so it's entirely possible that my first exposure was the premiere in syndication.

I've had lots of Trek experiences, and the show has had a big impact on my life (personally and professionally), but I won't clutter up someone else's blog with the details. I guess I'll have to go post my own commemoration.
I enjoyed your post. Want to post a link to it here?
I was nine when it debuted and am not sure if I ever watched it during its initial run. I was much more into Lost in Space. Star Trek didn't make much of an impression on me at the time.

Later, I know I caught the occasional rerun in syndication.

In 1973, I was working the lunch counter at a Zayre. The book racks were beside the counter, and we'd borrow books to read at lunch. I happened to pick up Stephen Whitfield's book on Star Trek, started watching the reruns religiously and got really hooked. And then I started reading stuff by other SF writers, and got hooked on SF as well. Within two years, I'd joined a local SF club and started going to cons. And the rest, they say, is history.
Whitfield's book really should be considered a classic in its genre.
1. Will have to look for the book.

2. Have you heard about the remastered Star Trek that Paramount is doing, with the old episodes and new FX? I almost posted about it, and then decided that even die hard Trekkies really weren't going to get excited about reruns, no matter how reworked and how beloved.

3. I think I started watching Star Trek shortly after the first film came out, as I had no interest at all in seeing the film. By the time Wrath of Khan came out, though, I was hooked. Like many in NYC, we watched the daily Trek reruns on Channel 11 at 6 pm, followed by the Odd Couple rerun and the Channel 11 news at 7:30. Later, in college, after they moved the Trek rerun to midnight, it was my version of prime time viewing.

4. In terms of quality, I place DS9 and Next Gen way ahead of the original. The acting and the stories were just that much better. But the original series still holds up well as an example of an early SF series that took itself and its premises seriously. Nimoy was always great, Shatner was really the best choice for the part of Kirk, and Bones remains the best Trek doctor (by a nose over the EMH). And it's hard not to echo what Joss Whedon said in a "20 quiestions" interview. When asked, "Kirk or Picard," he said "Patrick Stewart, of course, but Kirk." Kirk was and still what an action hero should be.

5. And I will close with the deep affection I have for the movies. Yes, some of them stank. But I always enjoyed seeing the almost Homeric story of the mature James Kirk, a man who answered the call to adventure and then had to face the challenges of growing old and even growing up. Like Ulysses, he had his voyages home, and like Ulysses, he still sought more even as he changed with the times and with age. Other Trek characters rarely change, and of its other captains, only Sisko changed at all. Picard is a great character, but we never get to see him face the undiscovered country as we do with Kirk. i don't think anyone intended to let Kirk actually become a well-rounded (if still limited) character, but he did, thanks to the movies.
1. Bless you.

2. I have; in fact, I think we've already seen some interesting possibilities t at http://www.trekenhanced.com. As long as the originals still exist and are available, I'm fine with it. In fact, I'm curious to see what they end up doing.

3. I was watching on channel 11, I remember, well before Wrath of Khan.

4. I consider DS9 the best series of them all.

5. As for the movies, Star Trek IV was the one I used to get non-SF fans interested in Trek. Even my younger brother loved that movie.
Devil in the Dark ["Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer!"] is my earliest TV memory, and a contender for the earliest of all my memories. I can't watch it anymore, though. It freaks me out and at the same time gives me that painful feeling of embarrassment at ever having loved it.
You feel embarrassment at loving Devil in the Dark? Personally, I found that the story and metaphor were compelling enough to make up for the low production values.
It's more the wooden acting and posturing-in-place-of-acting that make me squirm. It's not a bad story.

Star Trek Memories

My folks watched Trek all the time, including in reruns. So I don't have a memory of my "first" exposure to ST. In fact, I can never remember a time I did not know all the episodes by heart. There was a time, back before ST faded from regular play and when I was watching more often, when I could tell you what episode was playing from a single line of dialog and acompanying background music.

Best ST memory, tho, was freshman year of college. ST was returning to Channel 11 for midnight showings. I heard that there was a core crowd of fans that gathered to watch Trek regularly, and were having a party to celebrate.

Painfully conscious that college was not fandom, I went. I figured I'd wear a button or two, but nothing too fanboy.

So, of course, I am greeted at the door by a woman from Stratos offering me Tranya and Romulan Ale. I spent the next four years from Midnight to 1 a.m. in the 'Spoon TV room.

Re: Star Trek Memories

I used to play the game of trying to identify an episode of Trek from the beginning of the broadcast. I still remember surprising my college roommates by identifying "The Deadly Years" from the transporter shimmer.

And yeah, my college Trek memories involve my freshman roommates and I gathering every evening in our room to watch the original series. Then I tried Next Gen, didn't like it, but came back after a chance viewing of "Yesterday's Enterprise."
I remember the first Star Trek I ever saw quite clearly--mid-70s reruns, I guess I was around 6 or 7--"The Man Trap." Boy oh boy, did that one scare the bajeezus outta me! Bothered me so much that it was another seven or eight years before I'd watch another on. Every time the theme music would come on, I'd change the channels to anything else. Once I saw some of the other eps as a teenager, I realized the show was pretty cool and grew to like it a lot. And I'll admit to being like Jimmy Buffett--I *think* I've seen all of 'em several times each, but every so often one will come on that stops me short, because I've never seen it before (well, at least that happened back when it was in syndication).
"The Man Trap" freaked me out too. And for years I stayed away from "Catspaw."
I was three years old. And I remember the introductory log entry for "Operation: Annihilate" (the one with the back amebae?). I don't remember much more, but I do remember hearing about a brother.

I may also remember a scene from "Mudd's Women", but I'm not sure.

I was a little kid when it was originally on, so I don't remember the first time I saw it. I do remember reciting the opening "Space, the final frontier..." with my friend in fifth grade, so it was already a part of my consciousness by then.
First season, my older brother was watching Star Trek on his B&W TV in his room and I watched Bewitched on the Color TV in the living room. (I was nine.) He wanted to see Star Trek in color, so he tried to convince me to watch it. Unfortunately, the two episodes I tried The Man Trap and Charlie X freaked me out (including the engign who lost her face...) so I refused to watch any more that season.

The next two years it was on Friday nights, so there wasn't a Bewitched conflict, I was older and got hooked.
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