'Star Trek' aired 45 years ago today [videos]
I know we're all supposed to be working, but you deserve a YouTube break. I took one preparing this post; so should you.
Star Trek is 45 years old. The series was sold as "wagon train to the stars" at a time when Westerns dominated US network TV. I've pulled together some video spoofs and others for your viewing pleasure and some trivia -- all accurate from memory; I was a Trekkie in my youth. They're called Trekkers now, I believe.
No television series predicted more future technologies than Star Trek -- everything from touchscreens to cell phones -- although much sooner than the 23rd century. It's the original series for gadget geeks. However, "Star Trek" got some things way wrong. Humanity has fled from the stars rather than reached out to them. When the series aired, the United States planned to put man on the moon by decade's end (and did). There's no space program at all today -- is there really?
1. "Star Trek" debuted on NBC, Sept. 8, 1966; a Thursday, like today. There's some confusion about the network because CBS now owns the rights.
2. CBS had a chance to take "Star Trek" -- creator Gene Roddenberry pitched there first -- but the network wanted just one Scifi drama, family-oriented "Lost in Space".
3. The first episode to air was "Man Trap" about a creature capable of sucking all the salt from a human's body. But it wasn't the first episode filmed.
4. Roddenberry filmed two pilots for NBC executives. While they were impressed with "The Cage", execs viewed it as too cerebral for viewers. So, in a first for television at that time, they requested a second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which later aired as the series' third episode. The video below features the pilot's original opening that never aired.
5. The original pilot featured actor Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike; the second pilot William Shatner as James Tiberius Kirk. In the series lexicon, Pike preceded Kirk, although he could have been the captain had NBC accepted the original pilot.
6. "Beam me up, Scotty" is folklore. While the sentence is popular vernacular, no one spoke it during the series' three seasons on NBC. Captain Kirk said, "Beam me up, Mr. Scott".
7. The first interracial kiss on television came during the third season of "Star Trek" (episode "Plato's Stepchildren").
8. One of the series' best episodes -- "City on the Edge of Forever" was most disputed. Harlan Ellison's script varied dramatically from the one aired. Both are excellent works of art, but producers made the right call on the rewrite. Ellison disagreed and still fumes about it, in mid-1990s book The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay that Became the Classic Star Trek Episode and a lawsuit filed two years ago against CBS. In 1967, the teleplay won a Hugo Award, Scifi's highest honor.
9. Apple is having a merry-old time suing seemingly everyone developing a tablet, claiming the devises imitates iPad, but they first appeared on "Star Trek" 45 years ago.
10. Amazon Instant Video now carries every episode from every Star Trek series -- free for Prime members. CBS started streaming the original series years ago.
My Trek Tale
I grew up in Aroostook County, sometimes referred to as the Crown of Maine, but commonly called "The County" statewide. Aroostook is the largest county east of the Mississippi River; it's one-fifth the state of Maine but has only one-fifth the population. During the 1960s only one US TV station served The County and had the unique distinction of being the only one anywhere permitted to be multiple network affiliates -- ABC, CBS and NBC. So the program director chose which programs on which networks would air. "Star Trek" wasn't one of them.
One Sunday afternoon in December 1966, I flipped the channels and came across an exciting science fiction movie. Some guy had been zapped by some force that turned his ESP abilities into God-like powers. I was enthralled but disappointed when the movie ended, then excited: The announcer said: "Tune in next week for more adventures of "Star Trek". I was 7 years old. The episode: "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
The CBC TV station across the border in New Brunswick, Canada, carried "Star Trek" but chose to air it Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Within weeks, the whole family would gather just to watch Trek. Hey, what else to do on snowy Sundays in Maine?
Have you got a Trek tale to share? Please take a moment to do so in comments.