Star Trek 50th Anniversary 

Fifty years ago today, a sci-fi series began on television that was so groundbreaking, it changed the world. And if that claim seems preposterous, I can add that Star Trek, at least, changed my world. 

Created by Gene Roddenbery, this series, originally described as Wagon Train to the Stars, premiered on September 8, 1966 with the episode The Man Trap.  William Shatner, as the daring Captain James Tiberius Kirk, provided the voice over for the opening monologue, promising that the voyages of the starship Enterprise would boldly go where no man had gone before. 

And they did. 

Set in the 23rd century, Kirk and crew showed viewers in the late 1960s a future that offered equality, diversity, acceptance and hope. As they explored the far reaches of space, they also explored the depths of humanity, the mysteries of the unknown and the strengths of friendship. They boldly went, and we went with them. 

That first series only lasted three years. But in syndication the franchise continued to grow its fan base, eventually launching six more tv series, including Discovery, premiering next year, and 13 feature length movies. A reboot began in 2009, introducing a younger generation to Star Trek. Add in hundreds of novels, comics and video games, and the huge scope of this fandom can be seen. 

Star Trek not only inspired additional series and movies, but influenced technology and science as well. We are using, well before the 23rd century, devices that in 1966 were the stuff of fantasy. What was imagined then, has become reality. The list includes small handheld computers, flip phones, diagnostic beds, tractor beams, hyposprays, computer tablets, voice activated computers, bluetooth headsets, transparent aluminum, GPS, automatic doors and a VISOR for the seeing impaired. 

I couldn’t let this day pass without recognizing this extraordinary show and the impact it has had on the world, and on me. As a young teen figuring out my place in this often confusing world, Star Trek expanded my mind and heart and taught me to think about and see a bigger reality. In ways that go immeasurably beyond being a fan girl, the Star Trek universe was my safe place for years. In that expansive space I had the freedom to explore who I was and what I could do, and discover what I could offer to the world.

I was thrilled with Facebook’s commemoration of the day by switching the response emoticons to Star Trek based ones. And I added a Live Long and Prosper banner to my profile picture on that social media site. This evening I enjoyed the episode The Naked Time, from season one of the Original Series. A virus allows repressed and hidden traits within each crew member to surface, creating hilarity, vulnerability and anguish. Star Trek was genius…and light years ahead of its time.

I am grateful for Gene Roddenbery’s vision. I hope Star Trek journeys on, so that in another 50 years my great, great grandchildren smile about their Trekkie Yaya who embraced that  vision and lived a bigger life because of it. And then go visit me in the holodeck. 

Live long and prosper, Star Trek. Happy 50th!

To Boldly Go

Today was one of those days where I repeatedly came across something. Without specifically looking for it, Star Trek popped up over and over…on a TV commercial, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. I opened my Amazon Video app to check the availability of a movie my daughter recommended, and Star Trek was featured. Not the most recent films in this long lived franchise, but the three seasons from the original series and the early movies. 

Granted, there is a new release, Star Trek Beyond, playing now in theaters. I’ll see it this week. And this year is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. And…a new television series, Star Trek Discovery, premieres January 2017. However, today, my awareness was pulled again and again to this campy sci-fi phenomenon. 

I gave in to the taps on the shoulder. And happily so. I am a Trekkie, and have been since age 14. As an eight year old, when the series premiered, the show was a bit too intense for me. I watched the second episode, Charlie X, and it scared me. Six years later I caught the series in syndication and I was hooked. Hurrying home after school each afternoon, I’d catch the next episode. 

Five TV spin offs, an animated series and 13 feature length films later, I’m still a devout fan. I’ve faithfully watched every series and movie. And when I was in between episodes and films, I read Star Trek novels. At one time I owned a couple of hundred paperbacks chronicling the continuing adventures of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. My family can verify that along with the usual fan momentos, I also had in my collection an Enterprise telephone, life size cardboard standees, and a set of Vulcan ears that slipped over my own. 

With great pleasure, I settled back this afternoon and watched episode one from the original series, The Man Trap. Although I’ve seen every episode many times, it’s been several years since I’ve watched anything from the television series. Being familiar with the story left me free to see with fresh eyes and a perspective that has shifted since I last viewed Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, affectionately known as Bones. 

I was enchanted, again. I know the sets and special effects are not up to today’s  standards. And the women wear short dresses. And William Shatner is dramatic as Captain James T Kirk. But c’mon…it was the 1960s. The stories and concepts were way ahead of their time. The gadgets and science of Star Trek inspired future technology. The cast was multiracial and multicultural.

Watching today, with a tender smile, I loved it still. Why? Because of the relationships and friendships. Kirk, Spock and Bones form an unbreakable bond that continues across time and the galaxy. If one is present, the other two are near by. They journey with each other. Protect each other. Challenge each other. Sacrifice themselves for the others. That strong friendship inspired me as a teen and continues to today. It is unconditional love, respect and trust, combined. 

The half human, half Vulcan character Spock, portrayed by Leonard Nimoy, captivated me the most. His struggles with his humanity allowed me to learn more about myself. His attempt to keep his emotions tightly under control was of particular interest to me as I attempted to do the same. Although I was okay expressing positive emotions, and Spock was not, we both clamped down on the negative ones. Our shared journey was to discover how to live with the rawness of powerful emotions that threatened to overwhelm. I was horribly sad when Leonard passed away last year. And grateful to learn today that a documentary, For the Love of Spock, created by Leonard’s son Adam Nimoy, will be released this fall. 

I’m glad that today I was reminded of just how important Star Trek has been in my life. In many ways, the impact was much deeper than just me being in the fandom. Star Trek has shaped my life, and taught me to reach, to expand, to grow, and yes…here it comes…to boldly go. 

I am thrilled to celebrate 50 years of Trek. I look forward to future films and TV series. As I was saving pictures for my blog post, my grandson Dayan texted to ask if I was aware there was a new Star Trek series coming out. He had no idea I’d been immersed in the franchise all day. It was the final attention getting tap. Dayan introduced me to Doctor Who. It is time for me to introduce him to another long running series. 

Live long and prosper, Star Trek.