In all of history there has never been a day that was as significant to me as this one. No, it’s not my wedding anniversary or a birthday of a loved one. Nope, no one famous did anything of great importance. A war wasn’t won or lost on this day. But what did happen was on this day, 45 years ago, the very first episode of Star Trek aired.
Forty-five years! I wasn’t even born when the first episode aired in 1966 and by the time I was born in 1969 the show had been cancelled. But that didn’t stop me, at the tender age of 5 from falling head over heels with this show.
My mom has told me that I used to enjoy the show so much that I would pretend to be sick at supper time because that was when repeats of the show aired. I can remember owning a 1970’s toy version of a phaser that would shoot a little circle piece from the top of it. I loved that toy and wish more than anything that I still had it.
As a teen, I read anything I could get my hands on that was Trek-related. Books, comic books, you name it. I read the books so much I wore the covers off of them. I remember seeing Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and was in a state of shock when Spock died. (I still get emotional watching Kirk and Spock’s final scene together.) A few years later, I watched with much excitement when Spock was brought back to life in such an unusual way that I overlooked all the glaring holes with the plotline of that movie.
I wished I was Captain Kirk – with his bravado and cunning and his ease around women. I longed to be Spock with his intelligence and his ability to control his emotions – something as a hotheaded young man I never was able to do well. To me, Dr. McCoy was like a gruff uncle and Scotty was that crazy relative who seemed to brighten up any room he was in. The whole lot of them were like this weird extended family that came into my house and brought these exciting adventures to me on a regular basis.
When The Next Generation came out, I was thrilled – but felt a little bit like I was cheating on my one true love. For a long time I couldn’t wrap my head around how it was ok that Captain Picard was different than Captain Kirk. But he and that crew grew on me too and by the time “The Best of Both Worlds” came on, I was hooked completely. Watching that 2-parter now, I can still remember how I screamed “Noooo!” when Locutus (Picard) came on and Commander Riker ordered Worf to fire phasers and they hit the “To Be Continued” screen. A whole summer to find out what happened next? Pure agony!
Meanwhile there were still more movies to watch with the old gang. William Shatner produced one and while it was the worst of the movies (Kirk takes on God, sort of), it was still very cool and had some great scenes between Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The final movie for them “The Undiscovered Country”, while showing their age, still managed to provide a good send off for the crew of The Old Series.
About this time, I met my wife-to-be and she somehow managed to stay with me even after I forced her to watch all six of the current movies. She watched numerous episodes of The Next Generation and if you catch her off guard, she’ll even admit, she liked a few. Not long after we got married, I took her to see “Generations” which was the much anticipated Picard/Kirk team-up. At that point, she had enough and from there on forward I was on my own in regards to the movies.
Deep Space Nine came soon then and while not quite what I envisioned Trek to be, I loved the intrigue of the show. I also loved the fact that Commander Sisko was a little bit more of that rebellious leader much in the same way that Kirk was. The Ferengi’s never really grew on me but I did love the dynamic between Odo and Quark though.
Then came Voyager – a kind of “Gilligan’s Island” version of Trek. Which should have annoyed most female fans of the show because it had a female captain who gets her ship really, really lost and we all know that it’s men who can’t ever find their way anywhere without a map. I loved this show too, of course. Despite its kind of weak premise of having them lost, it kind of worked, because it allowed the writers to explore Star Trek in a fresh way. And of course there was Seven of Nine who was primarily put on that show to get every red-blooded male’s attention (played by the beautiful Jeri Ryan) and it was a smashing success.
When Voyager ended, I was sure that would be it but then came Enterprise with Scott Bakula. I was absolutely beyond pumped for this show. I thought Bakula was fantastic in Quantum Leap and couldn’t WAIT to see him in Trek. Unfortunately, if I had to be honest, Enterprise was not that great. You could tell that they’d gone too many times to the well and the storylines weren’t all that fresh. The fourth season was better but by then it was far too late.
And so that was it, or so I thought. The Next Generation had made its last movie and Enterprise was cancelled. The well had been tapped. That was until 2009, when the newest Star Trek came out and it was about Kirk, Spock and McCoy again. Huh? DeForest Kelly (McCoy) is dead, and Shatner and Nimoy are in their 70’s! Well, this one took the same characters and had them being played by new younger actors.
It was absolutely freaking FANTASTIC!!! I saw that movie four times on the big screen. Even though all of those actors were younger than me now, I literally felt like I was a kid again. I ate it up. They could not have made a better movie if they tried and I look forward to many more with this group.
Am I a diehard fan? Absolutely. Am I a fanatic? I don’t think so. I’m not that much into the technical aspect of the show. I was once teased mercilessly by friends for calling the “Astrometrics” area “Astrophysics” (yes nerds will tease other nerds for nerdy things like this). I couldn’t telling you how big one starship is over another or that sort of thing.
But I love the storytelling that Trek does. I love how it tackles society’s issues in ways that most shows don’t. I love the optimistic outlook the show provides for the future. But mainly, I just love it when Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway or Archer just simply shoot, punch or in some way outwit the bad guys.
Forty-five years ago this show took to the airwaves and for over 30 of those years I have been “boldly going” to the couch to watch them ever since. I hope that the series and I “live long and prosper” so I can do this for many, many more years.