Thursday, September 08, 2016

Happy 50 Years of Star Trek!

50 Years of Star Trek

Today (Sept. 8) is the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek: "The Man Trap." The sixth episode filmed (including two pilots), the story of the salt-hungry shape-shifter was the first one aired as a "sneak preview" of the new series in 1966.

I was too young to remember the first season, but I vaguely remember watching the series on our small black-and-white TV in the kitchen. My imagination merged with those early viewings until it took me years to accept that the Orion slave girl wasn't blue (oh, green is easy for you NOW).

Growing up with Star Trek (especially in syndication), with its co-ed, multicultural cast of characters, plus the early space shuttle program, influenced my love of space and aviation. I studied aerospace engineering in college and worked in that field for nearly two decades.

Looking back at the series, now, the pilots and first season evolved characters and props so quickly — like Spock's deeply slashed eyebrows and velour uniforms, Sulu changing from science officer to helmsman, Majel Barrett changing from "Number One" to Nurse Chapel. To see the changes, I was trying to decide whether to watch it in production order or as-aired.

The salt-eating creature impersonates Dr. McCoy.
Netflix made the decision for me: they sequence episodes in the order in which they aired.

I'm going to enjoy watching how the now-famous characters grow in these early episodes. In "The Man Trap," Lt. Uhura starts out at the helm or nav station, and later tries to flirt with Spock as he mans the captain's chair. The first casualty is...a blue shirt! Then another blue, and a gold (no red shirts!). Missing from this episode: there's no sign of James Doohan or Majel Barrett.

Will you celebrate Star Trek's anniversary by watching episodes, watching movies, reading fan fiction, or any other way?

Source: Allan Asherman, The Star Trek Compendium, Pocket Books, 1993.

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