Fifty years ago to the day, on September 8, 1966, the first Star Trek episode aired, introducing us to a multi-national, multi-racial crew whose mission was “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations” and to introduce generations of viewers to the wonders and dangers of scientific and geographic exploration.
With landslides featuring suspiciously light boulders–some of them prone to a bit of bouncing off to the edge of the screen and a captain known at least as well for fistfights as diplomacy and whose occasional bouts of illogic destroyed more than one computer, the show was–is–far from perfect, but it was and is groundbreaking. It respected the audience’s intelligence far more than most science fiction shows of the time and it offered hope. Hope that we would still be around in the 23rd century, that we would have somehow figured out how to live at peace with one another, and that the aliens were not all out to get us. There was even one on the crew–as first officer, no less. And there were still more alien beings like the Gorn, the Horta, or the Medusa whom the crew still managed to find common ground with.
The show inspired astronauts, programmers, and writers and helped fuel interest in our own space program, and fans were stubborn enough to insist that the first U.S. shuttle be named Enterprise. It has given us the chance to gather with other fans of like interests, forming lasting friendships, and it has given us hours and hours of entertainment. There are movies, sequels, and spinoffs. There is an alternate universe now forming in the theaters.
And there is always those elusive, beyond price qualities of hope and wonder. We may yet succeed on our tightrope walk through the world. And there are always, always new worlds to find.
Not bad for a show that ran for three years and put some of its actors in paper mache masks. Not bad at all.
For a walk down memory lane, take a look and listen at this compilation of Star Trek opening credits by crouteru
All the beautiful openings!