Star Trek (1966-1969)(NBC) | Entertainment Blog
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To boldly go where no man has gone before – Star Trek Revisited

 

I, as most fans of Science Fiction, began my life-long love of the genre by watching “Star Trek”. I honestly didn’t
discover the series on my own. I was “persuaded” to watch the series by my older cousin Rick, who was an avid
fan. The first episode I ever saw was “Arena” which pitted Captain Kirk against the lizard-man captain of the
Gorn species in a fight to the death orchestrated by yet another unseen alien species. Being a young man who
was in love with Dinosaurs the reptilian Gorn first captured my interest, but it was the intelligent and well-written
story that brought me back for more episodes. My own youthful spirit of adventure combined with a longing to
travel beyond the boundaries of my own back yard were a perfect match for the series exploration storylines and
charismatic characters. What six-year-old boy doesn’t long to pilot a starship across the vast unexplored regions
of infinite space? Thus I became a Trekkie and a Sci-fi fan for life.

Although the show did enjoy a loyal fan following during its initial run on prime-time television it never was a
ratings success. The network that aired the program, NBC, often switched the shows time slot and many times
placed it opposite the competitions most popular programs. As is the case almost every time a show receives
this form of shuffling, it spelled doom for “Star Trek” and the series was soon on the road to cancellation. A mass
letter writing champagne organized by the shows loyal fans did persuade the network to extend the series one
more season, but ultimately the ratings figures just weren’t high enough to keep the show on the air.

Syndication was the saving grace for “Star Trek”. Soon after the show had been canned by NBC, Paramount,
who had purchased the rights to the show from Desilu, began shopping the show around to local TV affiliates.
The show gained a huge following when it was marketed to younger viewers as part of their after school
programming. Soon “Trek” toys began appearing on store shelves and a mass marketing snowball began
rolling. Lunch boxes, posters, miniature starships and even an animated series were all hurriedly put into
production. Fans began to organize fan clubs and conventions that quickly grew into large-scale star-studded
events. Never before had a series been reborn in the manner “Star Trek.” did after it was syndicated. “Star Trek”
quickly moved from a mere TV series to a cult phenomenon.

Originally the concept of Gene Roddenberry’s brainchild was a much different series all together. The show was
initially conceived as a sort of “Wagon Train” in space that would have given the shows writers a vast variety of
story concepts. Anyone who has seen the shows pilot episode “The Cage” understands that the original concept
for “Star Trek” was a much different creature than what finally ended up on network television. In a lot of ways the
show would have more resembled “Trek’s” offspring “Star Trek: The Next Generation” than the “use diplomacy
while we charge the phasers” program we have all grown up with. The executives at NBC, however, believed that
the show as too cerebral for the general American populous and only agreed to air the show if the scripts were
“dumbed down”. Also the shows writers decided to streamline the plot to a basic “spaceship in trouble” format.
Ultimately Roddenberry would have to make these changes in order to see his creation reach the airwaves.

“Star Trek” would employ some of the best writers in the genre including Robert Bloch and Jerome Bixby.
(Fantastic Voyage, It! The Terror from Beyond Space) This talent pool would be responsible for some of the best
series writing in the history of Sci-Fi TV. Ultimately many of these writers would come to resent the constant
interference of both producer Gene Coon and consultant Dorothy C Fontana who were both responsible for
adapting each screenplay. Many times the writers complained that what ended up on television didn’t live up to
what they had put to paper. In fact Jerome Bixby’s son mentioned to me how much his father disliked the way his
scripts had been reworked. He also stated that his father became visibly upset each time the episodes aired.
Such is the television and movie business I suppose.

The show was designed to center around the Enterprises charismatic girl-chasing captain James T Kirk (William
Shatner) however the focus of attention would belong to the ships second in command the always logical and
unemotional half Vulcan half human Science Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). This came much to the surprise
of the series producers. Spock, it would seem, would become an unintentional sex symbol and icon to the shows
female audience. It may be hard to believe but in the late 1960s’ Spock was considered the ultimate symbol of
cool. Spock cooler than Captain Kirk? Initially yes. This factor would ultimately find its way into some of the
series later episodes. Who’s cooler than someone who doesn’t seem to give a damn? Don’t tell Shatner. He still
thinks it’s his show.

So now here we sit forty years (+) after “Star Trek” made its debut on American television. The show still enjoys
the same popularity and loyal fan following it did after it entered into syndication. The franchise it spawned is still
going strong with four spin-off television series and ten motion pictures (the 11th is in the concept stages) to its
credit. There are still fan clubs and conventions. People still build life size replicas of the Enterprise Bridge in
their living rooms and still many yet try to conquer the complex Klingon language. “Trek” is unique pop-culture
phenomenon that perhaps only comes around only once in a lifetime. Maybe twice if you count “Star Wars”.
Could a television series ever again achieve this kind of a cult following? Only time will tell. It is however certain
that in another forty years there will be “Trekkies” somewhere out there.

Star Trek (1966-1969)
Aka: Star Trek The Original Series, Star Trek TOS
Desilu/Paramount (TV)

Created By: Gene Roddenberry
Written By: Gene Roddenberry

Cast:
William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk
Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock
DeForest Kelley as Lt. Cmdr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, M.D.
James Doohan as Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
George Takei as Lt. Hikaru Sulu
Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Nyota Uhura
Walter Koenig as Ensign Pavel Chekov (1967-1969)
Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel / Number One (Pilot Episode)

Runtime: 79 – 60 Minute Episodes
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Sound: Mono
Air Date: September 8, 1966

Season 1

The Cage ST:TOS 1 (originally un-aired) Unknown
The Man Trap ST:TOS 6 9/8/1966 1513.1
Charlie X ST:TOS 8 9/15/1966 1533.6
Where No Man Has Gone Before ST:TOS 2 9/22/1966 1312.4
The Naked Time ST:TOS 9/29/1966 1704.2
The Enemy Within ST:TOS 5 10/6/1966 1672.1 Mudd’s Women ST:TOS 4 10/13/1966 1329.1
What Are Little Girls Made Of? ST:TOS 10 10/20/1966 2712.4
Miri ST:TOS 12 10/27/1966 2713.5
Dagger of the Mind ST:TOS 11 11/3/1966 2715.1
The Corbomite Maneuver ST:TOS 3 11/10/1966 1512.2
The Menagerie, Part I ST:TOS 16 11/17/1966 3012.4 The Menagerie, Part II ST:TOS 16 11/24/1966 3013.1
The Conscience of the King ST:TOS 13 12/8/1966 2817.6
Balance of Terror ST:TOS 9 12/15/1966 1709.2
Shore Leave ST:TOS 17 12/29/1966 3025.3
The Galileo Seven ST:TOS 14 1/5/1967 2821.5
The Squire of Gothos ST:TOS 18 1/12/1967 2124.5
Arena ST:TOS 19 1/19/1967 3045.6
Tomorrow is Yesterday ST:TOS 21 1/26/1967 3113.2 Court Martial ST:TOS 15 2/2/1967 2947.3
The Return of the Archons ST:TOS 22 2/9/1967 3156.2
Space Seed ST:TOS 24 2/16/1967 3141.9
A Taste of Armageddon ST:TOS 23 2/23/1967 3192.1
This Side of Paradise ST:TOS 25 3/2/1967 3417.3
The Devil in the Dark ST:TOS 26 3/9/1967 3196.1
Errand of Mercy ST:TOS 27 3/23/1967 3198.4
The Alternative Factor ST:TOS 20 3/30/1967 3087.6
The City on the Edge of Forever ST:TOS 28 4/6/1967 3134.0
Operation: Annihilate! ST:TOS 294/13/1967 3287.2

(Excerpted from orders to Captain James T. Kirk)

III. You are therefore posted, effective immediately, to command the following: The U.S.S.
ENTERPRISE

Cruiser Class – Gross 190,000 tons.
Crew Compliment – 430 persons
Drive – space-warp
Range – 18 years at light-year velocity
Registry – Earth, United Space Ship

IV. Nature and duration of mission:

Galaxy exploration and investigation: 5 years

V. Where possible, you will confine your landings and contacts to Class “M” planets
approximating Earth-Mars conditions.

VI. You will conduct this patrol to accomplish primarily:

(a) Earth security, via explorations of intelligence and social systems capable of galaxial threat,
and
(b) Scientific investigation to add to the Earth’s body of knowledge of alien life forms and social
systems, and
(c) any required assistance to the several Earth colonies in your quadrant, and the enforcement
of appropriate statues affecting such Federated commerce vessels and traders as you may
contact in the course of your mission.

From the very beginning “Star Trek” was something different. Never before had a ‘true’ sci fi
series of it’s magnitude been attempted on television. True, there were plenty of sci fi series
that proceeded it like “Lost in Space”, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and most notably,
“The Twilight Zone”, but Trek was in a different class, and the scared the crap out of the suits at
NBC.

From the get go NBC wasn’t sold on the show, the pilot episode that Gene Roddenberry
delivered to the network, ‘The Cage’, wasn’t what he had promised them, a western set in
space, but a pure sci fi story. More “Forbidden Planet” than “Waggon Train”, and the execs
didn’t like it. Well, to be honest, they didn’t understand it, feeling that the episode was “too
cerebral” for your average American TV viewer.

At this particular time in television history, the people in charge of the big networks didn’t ‘get’
sci fi. Westerns they understood, comedies and dramas they could get their minds around.
Spaceships, lasers, Vulcans and other worlds were way out of their league. Sure that kind of
stuff worked in movies made for kids, but would a grown-up working man want to come home
after a long day at work and want to watch a model space craft zooming around?

There were two things that they did know about sci fi, it was risky and expensive and they
weren’t about to loose advertising dollars on anything that they believed wouldn’t hit a home run.

Despite their better judgement, NBC gave Roddenberry another shot, and his second pilot
episode for “Star Trek”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, was a little more in line with what
the network thought sci fi TV should be like.

Reluctantly NBC agreed to air “Star Trek”, but behind closed doors the network still had major
doubts about it and ultimately wished that Roddenberry and his ‘space-opera’ would simply just
go away.

It is safe to say, now at this juncture, that making “Star Trek” fail seemed to be NBC’s plan
when it announced that it would place the show on Thursday night opposite the very popular
“Bewitched ” on ABC and “My Three Sons” on CBS. Throughout the series three-year run
NBC repeatedly placed the show opposite other such high rated programs on rival networks
before dumping it in the legendary Friday night “death slot” at 10pm EST.

Surprisingly, NBC opted not to open the series with the pilot episode, leaving Roddenberry
and his crew in an awkward position. With only a few episodes in the can there weren’t many
options for a debut episode. Out of the episodes in hand producer Robert Justman suggested
that the episode “The Naked Time” would fit due to it’s strong character driven story. NBC, on
the other hand, selected “The Man Trap” because it was action packed and had a monster in it.

So, on September 8th 1966 “Star Trek” made it’s television debut, and surprisingly won it’s
time slot against the comedy series reruns it was up against. That success would be short
lived, however. The very next week “Trek” would fall to second place when ABC aired a new
episode of “Bewitched”.

Here is the plot for “The Man Trap”:

Stardate 1513.1: The Enterprise arrives at planet M-113 for routine medical exams of
archaeologist Professor Robert Crater and his wife Nancy. First Officer Mr. Spock is left
temporarily in command. Kirk, McCoy, and Crewman Darnell beam down and Kirk gives
McCoy a friendly hard time that he and Nancy Crater were an item ten years ago. Nancy
arrives and each of the three men seems to see her differently: McCoy as she was ten years
ago, Kirk as she should look age-wise, and Darnell as a totally different attractive younger
woman. Kirk sends the dazed Darnell outside and when Nancy goes out to fetch her husband,
she beckons Darnell to follow her.

Professor Crater arrives and doesn’t appear happy to see them, telling them that he and his
wife don’t need a medical examination. But then, he adds that he’s glad to see McCoy as an
old friend of his more social wife. Nancy appears, nervously insisting they restock their salt
tablets. Kirk orders Crater to submit to the medical exam but before McCoy can proceed they
hear a scream from outside. They go out to find Darnell, dead, with red ring-like mottling on his
face. There’s a plant root in his mouth and Nancy comes up, saying she saw Darnell taste the
plant and she couldn’t stop him. Kirk is skeptical that an experienced crewman would taste an
unknown plant. Kirk has Darnell’s body beamed up to the ship.

Spock analyzes the plant, the Borgia root (named for Lucrezia Borgia, a notorious poisoner)
and confirms records showing it’s poisonous but skin mottling is not a usual symptom. McCoy
conducts the initial exam but can’t find any cause of death, poisoning or otherwise. Kirk and
McCoy compare notes on Nancy, and McCoy admits he might have been seeing her the way
he imagined her from ten years ago.

Kirk decides to remain to investigate Darnell’s death. McCoy, along with Spock, finally
determine that Darnell had every bit of salt drained from his body. Spock adds that he would
die almost instantly. Kirk beams back down to the planet with McCoy and two crewmen, Green
and Sturgeon. They spread out but Crater slips away and calls out to Nancy saying he has salt.
Kirk and McCoy find Sturgeon’s body, unaware that Nancy is nearby over Green’s corpse.
Both the bodies have the same red rings on the faces. She pauses and then changes her
shape, turning into a duplicate of Green. He meets with Kirk and McCoy and they beam back
up to the ship to conduct a search from orbit.