“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her five year mission, to explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
Those thirty-nine words are perhaps the most famous ever spoken in any television series, or movie franchise. First heard on 8 September 1966, these words open the NBC television network series, “Star Trek.” Creator Gene Rodenberry described it as “Wagon Train” to the stars.
I was eight years old when Star Trek premiered, and didn’t truly understand what was going on. All I saw were people in brightly colored uniforms hurtling through space on a cool space ship.
It was only when I got into high school and started watching “Star Trek,” on WPIX-TV, Channel 11, in New York City, that I truly started to appreciate what the series, it subtle and not-so-subtle messages. I was able to name every piece of trivia, every guest star and their characters, how many alien women Captain Kirk had, or tried to seduce, and the various throw away lines Dr. McCoy said to Kirk.
Please remember that Star Trek only ran on NBC for three seasons, until 1969. Four years later, in 1973, I truly started to appreciate it and could understand all the nuances that Gene Rodenberry was trying to get across to the viewer.
I had also started to collect all the novels by writer, James Blish, and I became enthralled with the stories and the characters. Every boy wanted to be one of the main characters, and I of course wanted to be Captain Kirk. After all, he had the most action and fun, and usually got the good-looking girl.
Over the years, I collected all the “Star Trek” novels I could get my hands on, and devoured them like candy. They were fast, easy reads that satisfied by hunger for the show.
Then the “Big Event” occurred; in 1978, Paramount Studios announces plans to produce ““Star Trek”-The Motion Picture.” Originally it was supposed to be a new “Star Trek” series for the new fourth network that Paramount was going to form, but didn’t happen.
The film was released in 1979 to somewhat tepid reviews and rightly so. It was a poorly done version of the Second Season episode, “The Changling,” about a deep space probe that comes alive after its programming alters.
Paramount decided to make it a major motion picture event because of the success of “Star Wars.” Although it was a financial success, mixed reaction came from fans and critics. This first film was never my favourite and hoped that, if there were, a sequel, it would be much better.
In 1982, “Star Trek” II: the wrath of Khan” was released to both critical and financial success. Mr. Spock dies in this film, not before uttering two of the most famous lines in movie history: “I have been and shall always be your friend,” and “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.” Spock says both lines to Captain Kirk.
Leonard Nimoy agrees to return once again as Spock as well as to direct the film. In 1984, “Star Trek” III: the search for Spock” is released and is a huge hit. In 1986, “Star Trek” IV: the voyage home” releases, again, directed by Leonard Nimoy. Of all the films, this one is the most light hearted and fun, involving one of the original series most used story lines, time travel. The characters of Scott, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov feature, prominently, and you can tell they were having fun.
William Shatner wanted a shot at directing. He got it in 1988, with “Star Trek” V: the final frontier.” To me, this movie was almost as bad as the first one; the less time spent on this one, the better.
The last original cast movie, “Star Trek” VI: the undiscovered country,” releases in 1991 and, again, brings back the Klingons, who have agreed to a peace summit.
Three years later, in 1994, the seventh film in the franchise, “Star Trek”: first contact” is released and features the death of Captain Kirk. It is the symbolic passing of the torch from him to Captain Jean Luc Picard, from the series “Star Trek”: the next generation,” which had just concluded a very successful seven-year run.
Forward to 2009, when the rebooted “Star Trek” movie releases, directed by J.J. Abrams, of Bad Robot Productions. He literally turned the universe upside down, introducing us to the characters when they were young children and then young adults just entering Star Fleet Academy.
It took me a couple of viewings to realize exactly what happened. Without getting into many details, Spock manipulates the fabric of time and space, creating a new time line that varies widely from what we knew and loved.
This past May, 2013, the latest “Star Trek” movie was released, “Into the Darkness,” again directed by J.J. Abrams. If you thought his first film was action packed, hold on to your seats! This one shows in 3D and makes you move in your seat.
Abrams introduces two “new” characters, Carol Marcus and John Harrison. Carol is the daughter of Admiral Marcus, who has secretly built a dreadnought starship, with the help of Harrison, who, when revealed, is as a character everyone is familiar with. Go see the movie; I won’t reveal the answer here.
“Star Trek” helped me get through my formidable years. The movies influence things we say and do. If we all had friends like Kirk and Spock, our lives would be better for it.
Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.
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