Space the Final Frontier…
With those words, on this day fifty years ago, using a new technology called “television”, a new tv show started. Using cardboard, state of the art effects and good storytelling, a new world came into our livingrooms.
Telling science fiction stories in a new way; not the “scary angry alien” stories but stories about life and life struggles where aliens are just “one of the guys”. “Wagon train to the stars”: as creator Gene Roddenberry called it. Telling fun but also controversial stories about racism and world politics. But with a twist; the troubles were not with humans but with the aliens, the only way the studio would accept the stories to be broadcasted.
The serie was not a success. Being too costly the series ended after just three seasons. But that did not ended “Star Trek”. With reruns in the 70’s the series got a steady and growing fanbase.
The first movie
Following the success of the science fiction movies like “Star Wars”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Star Trek transferred from tv to the big screen with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979. Being not the big (commercial) success as expected, still a second movie where ordered. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” hit theaters in 1982 and became the success the studio wanted. It where only natural that in 1984 a third movie came “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and, with maintained succes,”Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” in 1986.
Back to TV
In response to the popularity of the Star Trek feature films, the franchise returned to television with “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in 1987 and again to the big screen in 1989 with “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” in 1991. “The Next Generation” hit the charts and became the #1 syndicated show during the last years of its original seven-season run.
In response to success of “TNG”, a spin-off series were released in 1993 called “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. While never as popular as “The Next Generation”, in 1995, a few months after “TNG” ended, a fourth TV series were released: “Star Trek: Voyager”.
Also the big screen adventures continued with “Star Trek: Generations” in 1994 and the big hit movie “Star Trek: First Contact” in 1996. Ratings start declining in 1998 with “Star Trek: Insurrection”.
The end, but not for long
“Star Trek: Enterprise”, originally titled “Enterprise”, started in 2001 after “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” ended in respectively 1999 and 2001. Ratings for ”Enterprise” started strong but declined rapidly and the series were canceled after only four seasons and ended an 18-year run of back-to-back new Star Trek tv shows. The poor box office performance in 2002 of the movie “Star Trek: Nemesis” made an continuing future of Star Trek uncertain.
In 2009, after running down several proposals to restart the franchise, a new rebooted big screen movie came out named just “Star Trek”. The film featured a new cast portraying the crew of the original show. The film earned considerable critical and financial success and because of that success the crew of the starship Enterprise boldly got a new big screen adventure in 2013 when “Star Trek: Into Darkness” hit the theaters. And jet another adventure in the summer of 2016, on the franchise 50th anniversary, with “Star Trek: Beyond”.
Late 2015 the announcement came that Star Trek would returning to tv in january 2017, with a new series called “Star Trek Discovery”. With all Star Trek series released on tv, “Star Trek Discovery” will be the first series to be released on demand. On CBS All Access in North America and on Netflix on the rest of the world.
My Star Trek timeline
I did not witness 50 years of Star Trek from begin to end. I started watching Star Trek secretly (on a small tv upstairs without my parents knowing) somewhere in the years 1996. I did not know exactly whats where the first episode I saw, but the first memories I have are of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “The Best of Both Worlds”. What’s a great way to start!
I remembered Star Trek being fun, feeling familiar, strange and al little bit scary all together. Positive, exciting and (mostly) just good storytelling. A new world opened for me. I wanted more and because of that I started watching Star Trek three times a week on the BBC. And learning better English in the process.
Being emerged into Star Trek I became excited when on dutch television “Star Trek Voyager” started. “Voyager” became the first Star Trek tv series I watched from beginning to end. Waiting with great anticipation every week and sitting on “the tip of my chair” every episode. Also “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” could be watched on dutch commercial television but, with inconsistent timeslots and with not playing all episodes (or in random order) it where not a success. Because of that I bought the last season of “Deep Space Nine” on VHS tape so I could watch its ending. When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” came to DVD in 2001, I bought an DVD player and surround set from my first salary of my first job. Many episodes of “TNG” I saw for the first time in sparkling dvd quality.
I watched “Star Trek: Enterprise” illegally at first because downloading it every week being the only way to watch it at first. Dvd’s came out but only several months later. From only watching Star Trek it at first, it grown to books and music. The last one I loved particularly so I bought every CD I could get a hand on. The music where exciting and the Star Trek the brings me goosebumps every time.
Being a Star Trek enthusiast for several years, the excitement dropped slowly. Loving “Deep Space Nine” and especially “Voyager”, “Enterprise” where fun but Star Trek fatigue came in. Rating on “Enterprise” dropped and all together my excitement. When “Star Trek: Nemesis” hit only a handful of theaters in the Netherlands the fatigue became visible. “Enterprise” ended after only four seasons and Star Trek became silent.
Return to flight
The silence broke when a completely new rebooted Star Trek movie where announced and hit theaters in 2009. Being wonderfully branded, my enthusiasm for Star Trek sparkled again. Will sitting at the theater and watching the movie start I had the same feeling I had almost 15 years earlier, that of a fun, familiar and strange feeling. Star Trek did it again!
The new USS Enterprise and its new crew got a new adventure in 2013 with “Star Trek: Into Darkness”. Star Trek stumbled to live again!
2016 Star Trek turns 50. Celebrations are underway and Star Trek looks a little bit like the golden years of the 90’s again with the release of cd’s and books. Because of “the 50th”, the new installment of the rebooted original series got a third adventure on the big screen. Being a tribute to the original series it felt like an episode of 50 years earlier in today’s clothing. With a new Star Trek tv series onto the horizon with “Star Trek Discovery” I could only be happy and celebrate the 50 years of Star Trek like I have seen them all.
50 years of Star Trek. 50 years of fun and exciting adventures and 50 years of views of an positive and bright future.
Thank you Star Trek and happy 50th birthday! LLAP!