Fifty years ago this week-September 8, 1966, to be exact- a day that will live in the hearts of series fans everywhere.
The original theme song-with lyrics:
Star Trek-the brainchild of Gene Roddenberry, aka “The Great Bird of the Galaxy” made its debut on NBC after two years of development which included the original series pilot, “The Cage,” scenes of which later became part of the episode “The Menagerie.” That episode featured Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, which was later changed to make Pike a mentor and former commanding officer for James T. Kirk, who was played by William Shatner. The rest of the original series cast included Leonard Nimoy as Spock, De Forest Kelly as Doctor McCoy, James Doohan as Scotty, Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura, a significant role for an African American actress at the time, George Takei as Lieutenant Sulu, Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel, and Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Janice Rand, who left under controversial circumstances midway through the first season.
Critical reaction was mixed at the time, although Star Trek managed to attract well known science fiction writers such as Harlan Ellison. Set in the 23rd century, the series dealt with themes of exploration and occasionally conflict with other species, most notably the hostile Klingons and Romulans. The series sought to portray a positive future for humanity during the turbulent 1960s, by showing an era in which contemporary prejudices were a thing of the past.
Star Trek aired for three seasons before being canceled due to low ratings (and in the eyes of many fans, declining quality in its final season.) The show, however, became a cult favorite in syndication, leading to an animated revival in the 1970s, and several feature films along with various spin-off series beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Suffice it to say that Star Trek continues to make its presence felt on popular culture. May it continue to live long and prosper.