"Space: the final frontier...
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...
Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds...
To seek out new life and new civilizations...
to boldly go where no man has gone before..."

Roddenberry's Groundbreaking Series a TV Classic...

What can be written about the original "Star Trek" that hasn't been said already? What other television program in history has ever spawned four other successful series, a cartoon show, ten feature films, a score of games, literally hundreds of novels, theme park rides across America, a Las Vegas revue, a major symphonic work, had a spacecraft named after it's starship, influenced the designs of everything from cellular phones to medical equipment, single-handedly created the fan 'convention', and helped popularize Velour, Velcro, and much more? "Star Trek" has been seen, worldwide, by as many viewers as "I Love Lucy", "M.A.S.H.", "Bonanza" or any more 'critically respected' series. And what makes all this TRULY astonishing is that the show itself barely ran three seasons, to mediocre ratings, and was actually on the verge of cancellation at the end of each season it aired!

The story of it's creation is well-known; creator Gene Roddenberry, a WWII vet who had drifted through a variety of jobs before settling into writing scripts for television, envisioned a weekly Science Fiction-themed series about the intergalactic adventures of a starship and it's multi-racial crew. Promoted as "Wagon Train to the Stars", the concept was rejected by both ABC and CBS (although CBS would steal many of Roddenberry's FX ideas for a series they were developing, "Lost in Space"), but NBC was willing to gamble, and approved the making of a pilot. Roddenberry needed another visionary to help 'flesh out' his vision, and Gene Coon, "Star Trek's" unsung hero, came aboard. The two men hammered out the 'look' and 'feel' of the 23rd Century, and the maiden voyage of the Starship 'Enterprise'. The pilot, a unique blend of action and intellect, entitled "The Cage", was aired for NBC executives...and was rejected, as TOO intellectual! NBC, to it's credit, saw promise in the concept, however, and approved the filming of a second pilot, something normally unheard of, for a perspective series. With the network-suggested changes in place, "Where No Man Had Gone Before" got "Star Trek" a 'green light' from the network executives, and the series joined NBC's 1966 fall line up.

William Shatner (Capt. James T. Kirk)

William Shatner (Capt. James T. Kirk)

Leonard Nimoy ("Lt. Cmdr. Spock")

Leonard Nimoy ("Lt. Cmdr. Spock")

DeForest Kelley ("Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy")

DeForest Kelley ("Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy")

35-year old William Shatner starred as the young, charismatic Capt. James T. Kirk, with 35-year old Leonard Nimoy costarring as his half human/half Vulcan Science Officer, the enigmatic Mr. Spock. DeForest Kelley, a highly respected 46-year old character actor, who portrayed crusty Ship Surgeon Dr. 'Bones' McCoy, also achieved co-star status by the start of the second season. The cast of regulars featured veteran radio/TV actor James Doohan, sporting a Scottish accent as "miracle-working" Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, and African/American Nichelle Nichols, and Asian/American George Takei, in groundbreaking roles at a time when minorities were largely ignored or stereotyped. While the program suffered from low ratings from the outset, Nimoy's 'Mr. Spock' quickly achieved 'cult' status, as his repression of his emotional 'human' half made him the epitome of 'cool'.

James Doohan
("Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott")

Nichelle Nichols ("Lt. Uhura")

Despite Spock's popularity, only a massive letter-writing campaign returned the series for a second season, which saw the introduction of a 'Russian' regular (mop-topped Walter Koenig), whose character was created to attract younger viewers (it didn't), and produced some of the finest scripts of the series.

George Takei ("Lt. Hikaru Sulu")

Walter Koenig ("Ensign Pavel Chekov")

Again, low ratings almost canceled the show, and NBC was flooded by even more letters, which saved "Star Trek" yet again. But Gene Roddenberry was bumped up to Executive Producer, and the new line producers lacked his vision, even as the episode budget was cut to the bone. With the show's quality quickly declining, letters would not grant another reprieve, and 1969 saw the end of the network run.

Majel Barrett ("Nurse Christine Chapel")

Grace Lee Whitney ("Yeoman Janice Rand")

"Star Trek" moved to syndication, allowing stations to 'air' the show whenever they chose, and the series' already loyal fan base grew astronomically. In numbers "too great to ignore", an army of "Trekkers" would accomplish the impossible; they would turn a failed '60s TV series into a VERY successful franchise running well into the 21st century.

"Star Trek", and Gene Roddenberry's vision, continues to this day, and in some manner, will probably accompany us when we finally reach the stars!

My Caricatures of 'Classic' "Star Trek"!


Leonard Nimoy and other celebrites (1992)

Three 'generations' of Trek
(Patrick Stewart, Leonard Nimoy, and Armin Shimerman)
from 1994

William Shatner (with Patrick Stewart) in

Nimoy and Shatner in parody of a Priceline ad, from 2005

2008 sketch of William Shatner, as Captain Kirk in the 1960s, and today

2008 sketch of Leonard Nimoy, as Mr. Spock in the 1960s, and today

2008 sketch of DeForest Kelley, as Dr. McCoy in the 1960s, and from 1991;
he passed away in 1999.

My Post-"Classic" Cast Caricatures!

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