Thursday 8 September 2016

Happy 50th Birthday to STAR TREK

On 8 September 1966, NBC television in the United States debuted the first episode of a new science fiction series. It was called Star Trek and they did not expect it to run for very long.

An American TV listings magazine on 8 September 1966.

Fifty years later, Star Trek is possibly the biggest science fiction franchise ever created. 726 television episodes have aired across six different series, with a combined run time of 516¼ hours. There have been thirteen feature films released over a period of thirty-seven years. Over 600 novels have been published set in the Star Trek universe, not to mention around eighty video games, two dozen board games, several wargames and roleplaying games, hundreds more comic books and numerous CD soundtracks. There's also hundreds of model kits, action figures and toys. All in all, it's been a massively popular and successful franchise, watching by tens of millions of people in dozens of countries.

It's had its ups - the Borg, The Wrath of Khan, Yesterday's Enterprise, Deep Space Nine - and its had its downs - Neelix, The Final Frontier, Into Darkness, Voyager - but Star Trek as a whole is both an entertaining and refreshingly upbeat (compared to many other SF shows) view of the future, and a surprisingly prescient font of SF ideas. The fact that the iPad was effectively created in the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, airing in 1987, remains crazy. Star Trek also gave us a huge number of catchphrases, memes and brilliant characters. It even gave us Pixar (who started off doing experiment effects work on The Wrah of Khan), and of course the living legends that are its indomitable cast and crew.

A few years ago the fate of Star Trek looked uncertain. This year Star Trek Beyond, the third (and best) in a series of big-budget reboot movies, has been released and has done well. In January the seventh Star Trek TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, will begin airing. I suspect that the franchise will now always be around in one form or another, still boldly know the rest.

For a full account of the history of the Star Trek franchise please check out my previous articles in the Star Trek at 50 series:

 The Star Trek Paradox
1964-66: The Genesis Project
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
1966-75: The Original Series
1975-79: Phase II and The Motion Picture
1979-86: The Genesis Trilogy
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A)
1986-88: Building the Next Generation
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-B)
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-C)
1988-94: The Best of All Worlds
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
1986-91: Crossing the Generations
1992-98: The Next Generation On Screen
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-E)
1991-93: Defending the Final Frontier
1993-99: Tearing Up the Rulebook
1995-2001: Exploring the Final Frontier
1998-2002: Torpedoing the Box Office
2001-05: The End of an Era
2005-16: Rebirth
2017: Returning to the Final Frontier

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