Show Type: Sci-Fi
First Telecast: September 8, 1966
Last Telecast: September 2, 1969
Captain James T. Kirk..... William Shatner
Mr. Spock..... Leonard Nimoy
Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy..... DeForest Kelley
Yeoman Janice Rand (1966-1967)..... Grace Lee Whitney
Sulu..... George Takei
Lieutenant Uhura..... Nichelle Nichols
Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott..... James Doohan
Nurse Christine Chapel..... Majel Barrett
Ensign Pavel Chekov (1967-1969)..... Walter Koenig
Set in the 23rd century, Star Trek followed the adventures of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise, a cruiser-sized spacecraft whose mission included reconnaissance of previously unexplored worlds and transporting supplies to Earth colonies in space. Confrontations with two alien races, Klingons and Romulans, provided recurring conflicts and numerous encounters with other strange forms of alien life as well. Star Trek differed from previous sci-fi shows in that it was a well-written, serious sci-fi collection of short stories dealing with current social issues disguised in extraterrestrial settings.
Captain James Kirk was the hero of the show - but, his alien first officer, Mr. Spock, had a following almost as large. Despite his Satanic appearance, he was an instant favorite of the viewing audience. He was half Vulcan - half human; his father was an ambassador and mother was an Earthling, and he had pointed ears and a green complextion. Although he maintained a totally logical approach to life, he struggled to control his emotions. Even for a pure Vulcan, this was an ongoing task, but in Spock's case, his human half made it even harder for him. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy was the the third major cast member, a fine surgeon and diagnostician with a sarcastic sense of humor. Although Spock and McCoy did not always agree upon things, they had a great respect for each other and were extremely loyal to Captain Kirk.
Other cast members included: Lt. Uhura, the communications officer; Sulu, the chief navigator; Lt. Commander "Beam me up Scotty" Scott, the chief engineer; Christine Chapel, Dr. McCoy's assistant and Ensign Pavel Chekov, assistant navigator and aspiring executive officer. During the first season, Yeoman Janice Rand was a regular, but her character never developed and she was written off the show.
Star Trek was not the big hit everyone thinks it was during its run on TV. Only due to the publicity today has it made a name for itself. It was regularly beaten by all sorts of competition in its time slot. It placed #52 among all series in 1966-67 - it's highest season - behind such shows as Mr. Terrific and Iron Horse. It was finally cancelled by NBC in 1969 due to a declining audience and the heavy amount of teenagers and children viewers which made it unappealing to network sponsors.
Since then, the show has been very successful in reruns. It developed a cult following in the 1970's, with the fans calling themselves "trekkies." They organized and lobbied to get the show back on TV. Star Trek did return to the NBC network - as an animated cartoon on Saturday mornings from 1973-1975. Original cast members provided the voices.
In 1979, the years of lobbying, together with the commercial box-office success of movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, resulted in a movie version of Star Trek. It reunited most of the original cast, cost over $40,000,000 to produce and was a major disappointment for everyone involved - especially Paramount Pictures. Despite the marginal success of the first film, a second, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, was produced in 1982. This movie was actually a sequel to an episode of Star Trek called "Space Seed" with its guest star, Ricardo Montalban, reprising his role as Khan. It was far more successful than the first and thus, set up a series of continuing Star Trek movies.
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