Production: USA, 1966-69
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig.
The most known and popular TV show around the world, often considered (not always correctly) the ultimate television science-fiction.
The central idea was very simple and with big potential: as said in
the introduction, “…the voyages of starship Enterprise, its five year
mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek new lives and new
civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before…”
In our galaxy, friendship between people from different planets is a reality since a long time, a “Federation of planets” (which looks too much like the U.S.A.) exists, as well as a Starfleet (quite totally composed by humans, but we must remember we were in the ‘60s).
The “U.S.S. Enterprise” is a starship, the larger and fastest model of the Starfleet (only other 11 exist), and has a 430 people crew.
It can reach “warp speed” (a system which can bend space and make closer two distant points of it) and is armed with phaser batteries and photon torpedoes.
It also has a very original (for those years)
transport system: the transporter beam, capable to de-materialize any
object or person and re-materialize it anywhere else. A very clever and
futuristic idea, but the truth is that it would have been too expensive
shooting the Enterprise take-off and landing…
Stars of the show, obviously, the officers in command: captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), a military commander provided with a right share of humanity; lt. commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy), half alien, strongly logical and totally void of human emotions (which he often blames), the most original character of the serie; the ship’s doctor, Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Deforest Kelley), so emotional and quick-tempered to have often quarrels with rational Spock; ship’s engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan), whose technical ability is similar to his love for whisky; cast is complete with oriental lt.
Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), coloured lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), nurse
Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett, who later married serie’s creator Gene
Roddenberry), yeoman Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney, who disappeared after
11 episodes), and russian ensign Pavel Chekov (who entered in second
Exploring space and planets (known or not), Enterprise’s crew face a large variety of situations: an apparently very hostile alien who reveals as a simpathetic chap (The corbomite manoever), or a planet which materialises all what you think of (Shore leave); very dangerous monsters (The man trap), or unpredictably intelligent (Devil in the dark), or little, tender, furry creatures so prolific to invade the whole ship (The trouble with tribbles); paradoxes in time and space (Tomorrow is yesterday; Assignement: Earth) or faithful reproductions of the past (A piece of the action; The
patterns of force); and a large number of fights against an alien race,
which represents the opposite of Federation: the klingons, an imperialist
race, the real villains of the serie (and the fight against klingon empire
looks terribly like the cold war with all its troubles).
In the second season we meet also Spock’s parents, ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) and his wife Amanda (Jane Wyatt), the episode is “Journey to Babel”; in the episode “Amok time” we had also seen his home planet, Vulcano, and his wife T’Pring (Arlene Martel). There was also an Halloween episode, “Catspaw”, where Kirk and his crew found, quite puzzled, a haunted castle with ghosts, wizards and witches…
In the third season a serie of rather low-quality episodes were shot: first of all
brain”, where an alien race steals the brain of Spock, and dr. McCoy is
forced to drive his body by a remote control… Rather poor also “The way to
Eden”, where the Enterprise meets a group of space hippies. In the third
season, on the contrary, become possible the first inter-racial kiss of
television history: a kiss between Kirk and Uhura, in “Plato’s
The success is undoubtful: four spin-offs, ten
motion pictures, fan clubs all around the world with official magazines,
dedicated TV channels in the USA.
Cleverly, “Star Trek” avoided to be too much forward for its time and kept itself politically correct also when handling difficult topics (like racism, for example).
Its creator Gene Roddenberry was born in El Paso, Texas, on August 19, 1921. He had a long career in the Air Force, and was also decorated. He left the Air Force in 1949 to become a writer, doing also other jobs. After several collaborations for television, in 1960 he created a TV serie titled “The lieutenant”, starring Gary Lockwoood and Robert Vaughn. “Star Trek” idea was taking shape when MGM asked him a script for a new serie for NBC.
So was created the first pilot episode, the famous “The cage”, then re-christened “The
menagerie” (when the episode was broadcasted with
all the necessary adjustements).
”The Cage” showed a different Enterprise with a different crew. Captain was Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter), first officer was a woman called “number one” (Majel Barrett), the doctor was named Philip Boyce (John Hoyt), pilot was lt. Jose Tyler (Peter Duryea), and J.M. Colt (Laurel Goodwin) was a pretty blond-haired girl and captain’s yeoman. There was also a strange man with pointed ears, obviously alien, who looked as if he stood there only for decorative purpouse, and was called Spock. The ship’s exterior was already the definitive one, but inside was rather retrň, with long microphone sticks and bizarre furnishing that would disappear in the regular serie.
Uniforms were the same for alla crew, and women did not wear those nice little dresses of the final version. When exploring planets, officers wore jackets and hats, “laser” guns
looked like certain toy water pistols, and communicators looked rather
The episode, was quite intriguing: captain Pike explored planet Talos IV where lived aliens with strong mental powers. Aliens started projecting their illusions around the captain, because they needed a mate for a human girl, survived to her ship’s crash and crippled for the rest of her life…
The story was undoubtedly good, but was rejected. Too complicate, cast did not work very well, and that satanic character with pointed ears had to be eliminated. But Roddenberry insisted on Spock: he was the real core of the series philosophy, in a world where friendship between humans and alien races had been reached, and so he was untouchable (as we know, he was plenty right).
Anyway, the idea was good, and a second pilot was requested by NBC.
Three other scripts were ready: “The Omega Glory”,
“Mudd’s women” and “Where no man has gone before”. The last became the
second pilot, while the other two appeared in the serie.
Spock remained, while there was a new captain (Kirk) and appeared, for little time and with different duties, also Scott and Sulu. The interior of the ship became more essential (and so more futuristic), jackets and hats disappeared, communicators shrank and entered phaser guns.
In the story Enterprise passed through a misterious energy barrier at the galaxy’s limits. But this had unpredicatable effects: first officer Gary Mitchell (Gary Lockwood, later appeared in “2001: A space odissey”) gained superpowers, which made him dangerous for the whole humanity. Although being his friend, Kirk was forced to follow Spock’s
advice and kill him, risking to be too late.
This time it worked. Dr. Leonard McCoy, lt.Uhura, yeoman Rand and nurse Chapel were added in the final format.
After the first season, hearing that russians had criticized the absence of a russian officer in that multi-racial crew, Roddenberry created ensign Chekov.
Viewers immediately appreciated the series and fans were thousands, but press and ratings were disappointing since the beginning.
Risks of cancellation were real after the first and second season, and the show went on thanks to viewers letters. To get things worse, there were airing hours, more and more absurd in order to find a time not too dangerous for advertisings.
But the end came with third season in 1968, supervised by producer Fred Freiberger
who, in an attempt to make “Star Trek” more interesting for larger
audiences (and then more safe for commercials), cancelled all the good
writers (with their good scripts) of previous seasons, lowering the show
quality and causing its cancellation.
After a 22 episodes animated serie (very good, anyway), and an attempt to start again (sadly without Spock), in 1979 the motion picture hit the big screen, and was the first of a cinema movies serie, with all the old characters (old is the right word…), Spock included.
In the same time were created all the spin offs: “The next generation”, “Deep Space 9” and “Voyager”. In 1996 was released the movie “Generations” where “Next Generation” crew replaced the classic one.
The last spin off was a prequel: in “Star Trek: Enterprise” we could see what
century before captain Kirk and his crew.
2) The corbomite maneuver
3) Mudd’s women
4) The enemy within
5) The man trap
6) The naked time
7) Charlie X
8) Balance of terror
9) What are little girls made of?
10) Dagger of the mind
13) The conscience of the king
14)The Galileo seven
15) Court martial
16) The menagerie (Episode in two parts)
17) Shore leave
18) The Squire of Gothos
20) The alternative factor
21) Tomorrow is yesterday
22) The return of the Archons
23) A taste of Armageddon
|24) Space seed
(Note: this episode continued in the motion picture "The wrath of Kahn")
25) This side of paradise
26) The devil in the dark
27) Errand of mercy
28) The city on the edge of forever
29) Operation: annihilate!
32) Friday’s child
33) Who mourns for Adonais?
34) Amok time
35) The Doomsday machine
36) Wolf in the fold
37) The changeling
38) The apple
39) Mirror, mirror
40) The deadly years
41) I, Mudd
|42) The trouble with tribbles
43) Bread and circuses
44) Journey to Babel
45) A private little war
46) The gamesters of Triskelion
48) The immunity syndrome
49) A piece of the action
50) By any other name
51) Return to tomorroow
52) Patterns of force
The ultimate computer
54) The Omega glory
55) Assignment: Earth
56) Spectre of the gun
57) Elaan of Troyus
58) The paradise syndrome
59) The Enterprise incident
60) And the children shall lead
|61) Spock’s brain
62) Is there in truth no beauty?
63) The empath
64) The tholian web
65) For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky
66) The day of the dove
67) Plato’s stepchildren
68) Wink of an eye
69) That which survives
70) Let that be your last battlefield
71) Whom gods destroy
|72) The mark of Gideon
73) The lights of Zetar
74) The cloudminders
75) The way to Eden
76) Requiem for Metuselah
77) The savage curtain (Sfida all’ultimo sangue)
78) All our yesterdays (Un tuffo nel passato)
79) Turnabout intruder (L’inversione di rotta)
|I: The motion picture (1979)
II: The wrath of Kahn (1982)
III: The search for Spock (1984)
IV: The voyage home (1986)
V: The final frontier (1989)
VI: The undiscovered country (1991)