Can you believe Star Trek premiered on September 8, 1966 and would launch a mega franchise of television programs, films, and infamous characters that are still going today?
Series creator, Gene Roddenberry first had the idea for the show in 1964 and pitched it to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s company Desilu Productions.
The idea was based on TV westerns of the time period exploring the galaxy instead of the “Wild West.”
Although the first pilot was not received well and ultimately rejected, Roddenberry was determined his ideas and characters were strong and forged ahead with a mostly new cast consisting of Captain Kirk, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy and the only returning character from the original pilot, a Vulcan named Mr. Spock.
It focused on the misadventures of Captain Kirk and crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 as they explored the galaxy on a “five-year mission.”
Roddenberry wanted the show to entertain as well as echo the political and social issues facing the world at the time including racism, war & peace and human rights.
The show started with high ratings which declined quickly and only lasted three seasons during its initial TV run from 1966 – 1969.
After 50 years and countless movies and TV episodes, let’s hope Star Trek will “live long and prosper” for another 50 years and more!
In November 2015, a new Star Trek TV series was announced to begin airing in 2017 as well as the third modern film “Star Trek Beyond” hitting theatres on July 22nd, 2016. The trailer does not do much for me, so we’ll see what is in store for us.
There were so many great moments, episodes, characters, story elements, etc. to choose from, it was even difficult to narrow the selection down to 50 entries.
Hope you enjoy them!
(Since everyone’s memories of Star Trek are different, these entries are in no particular order)
1. Star Trek: The Animated Series
After the cancellation of The Original Series (TOS) in 1969. There were a lot of fans who were clamoring for the return of “Trek.” Filmation studios decided to produce a low-budget animated series which only aired 22 episodes and premiered in 1973. The best element of the series was the return of almost the entire series cast as voice actors other than Walter Koenig as Chekov.
2. Star Trek Deep Space 9 – The Defiant
The U.S.S. Defiant (NX-74205) was a game changer on DS9. One of the first Starfleet warships, it was also equipped with a cloaking device courtesy of the Romulan Empire. It enabled the crew of DS9 to leave the station on missions and venture into the Gamma Quadrant of deep space. It was also invaluable in the second half of the series in the war against The Dominion.
3. Star Trek Deep Space 9
Bringing Back Lieutenant Worf – The modern day series all had new characters which entered the run midway through to inject new life and dynamics into their prospective shows, but none better than everyone’s favorite Klingon. Michael Dorn really came into his own and was able to deepen the character’s emotions and passions especially when he hooked up with Jadzia Dax.
4. Star Trek Deep Space 9 – Morn
Morn was the equivalent to Norm on Cheers. He had no life and always hung out at Quark’s bar never saying a word. There was even an entire episode called “Who Mourns for Morn” devoted to revealing some of the characters actions and emotions we never got to see.
5. Star Trek Deep Space 9 – Elim Garak
The Cardassian “tailor” may be one of the most complex characters ever to be on a Trek series. Aside from having lunch with Dr. Bashir, he was always popping up when you least expected him, never knowing which side he was on.
He was played beautifully by actor Andrew Robinson from “Hellraiser” and “Dirty Harry”. His mysterious past with the Obsidian Order and whether he was a double agent working for the Cardassian Empire kept Commander Sisko and others constantly challenged.
6. Star Trek Deep Space 9 – Gul Dukat
Some may argue The Borg or Khan are the best villains in Star Trek history. My money is on Gul Dukat. Equally as complex as Cardassian Garak, Dukat goes through many incarnations and transformations before becoming truly evil and shows his true selfish colors in the series climax episode. Actor Marc Alaimo deserved an Emmy Award which Trek shows never got for his performance as it was truly well deserved.
7. Star Trek Deep Space 9 – “Trials and Tribble-ations”
Bordering on perfection, the fifth season episode where the DS9 crew travels back in time and interacts with several members of the original Enterprise crew is truly nostalgic indeed.
The episode begins with Commander Sisko being questioned by the Department of Temporal Investigations and he having to explain his actions and the actions of his crew as to have not interrupted or changed the current space-time continuum. The splicing of the new and original scenes was done very much in the spirit of “Forrest Gump” and leaves you smiling while you watch the entire episode.
8. Star Trek deep Space 9 – “Far Beyond The Stars”
As previously stated, Star Trek was always known for tackling social issues along with its storytelling. None more so in this episode directed by Commander Sisko himself, Avery Brooks.
The episode takes place in 20th century 1950s New York City and revolves around the DS9 crew working for the magazine Incredible Tales. They have to deal with racism and sexism in their workplace and ultimately decisions are made they do not agree with. One of the great aspects of this episode is you get a rare glimpse of some of our favorite characters like Odo, Quark, etc. playing human characters without make up.
9. Star Trek Voyager – Enter 7 of 9
In the tradition of Ensign Ro and bringing Worf to DS9, Voyager’s fourth season begins with the introduction of a female Borg character (the still-gorgeous Jeri Ryan) whose full designation is actually “7 of 9, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One” (whatever that means).
Producers were criticized for adding her as eye candy only as a way to attract new viewers since they needed a new cast member as Jennifer Lien as Kes was dropped from the show. 7 of 9 provided antagonism to Captain Janeway and an interesting relationship between them developed. It also added some new blood and interesting story ideas as well.
10. Star Trek Voyager – The Doctor
The most interesting and entertaining character throughout Voyager’s seven-year run was, by far, The Doctor, or the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) played amazingly by actor Robert Picardo.
The Doctor was only designed for short-term use; however, this had to be modified with having to deal with Voyager’s exile in the Delta Quadrant. His bedside manner, approach to every situation and witty quips made every scene he appeared in interesting and fun.
11. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Q
The Next Generation original adversary, actor John DeLancie portrayed the omnipotent member of The Continuum with such charm and elegance, he hardly came off as a villain.
More someone who was just out to entertain himself and The Enterprise was just his toy. He appeared in bookended stories in the very first and very last episode as well as numerous vignettes throughout the series run evening turning the crew into Robin Hood and his Merry Men in one episode.
12. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Even though they killed Tasha Yar, they brought her back in other episodes. – No doubt Denise Crosby as Security Chief Lieutenant Tasha Yar, was not everyone’s favorite as the show began.
It was still surprising; however, when the show decided to kill off her character even before the end of the first season. Crosby did return to several notable guest appearances including “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and as Romulan Commander Sela, the half-human, half-Romulan daughter of Yar.
13. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Geordi finally gets rid of his visor
It’s hard to believe actor LeVar Burton wore his signature eyewear for all 176 episodes of the show’s seven-year run. It was not until “Star Trek: First Contact” in 1996 that his VISOR was replaced with cybernetic eyes. The first VISOR was actually based on a hair barrette and restricted the actor’s vision, so one could only assume he was thrilled when he no longer had to sport it.