The History of Star Trek
STAR TREK began in 1966 as a science fiction television show created by Gene Roddenberry. More than thirty years, four television series, and NINE theatrical releases later, STAR TREK is still a powerful franchise that is going strong. Although STAR TREK's primary mission has always been to entertain, in the process it has become a phenomenon in and of itself. The combination of STAR TREK and its loyal fans are much more than the sum of the parts; together, they represent a distinctive element in popular culture.
In addition to being terrific entertainment, STAR TREK may attribute its longevity and popularity to its optimistic vision of a future in which humankind not only prospers, but has also fostered a world of peace and equality for all -- certainly a desirable and uplifting outlook.
Achievement of the vision presented in STAR TREK may at times seem unattainable to those of us locked into this century, but as more than one STAR TREK captain has said, "There are always possibilities." Perhaps it is hope for those possibilities that reinforces the appeal of STAR TREK.
The first step in understanding STAR TREK is learning about the evolution of the television shows.
"These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...Its five year mission..." (setting -- the 23rd century)
This is where it all began. The founding STAR TREK series ran from 1966 through 1969, for a total of three seasons and 79 episodes. Sometimes referred to as "a Wagon Train to the stars, "classic STAR TREK features the adventures of the crew of the Constitution-class Starship Enterprise on its five year mission to explore outer space.
On board the starship is a diverse set of shipmates, which include many varieties of human and non-human individuals, including Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), followed by his half-Vulcan first officer Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy), the opinionated Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" (James Doohan), navigator Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (George Takei), security officer Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and communications officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols).
The five year mission lasted only three years in Earth time. But the legacy of those three years of STAR TREK gave the world a phenomenon yet to be matched by any other single television series. While STAR TREK lasted only three seasons on first-run television, in syndication the series spawned a fan following that numbers in the millions. An incredible number of spin-offs have sprung from that first series such as: an animated series, three television series, numerous feature films, and hundreds of novels and consumer products.
At the present time, the original STAR TREK series is broadcast regularly in over 100 different countries around the world.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
"These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...Its continuing mission..." (setting -- the 24th century)
From 1987 until 1994, the producers of the second STAR TREK series dared to try in first-run syndication what had only been done once before on the television screen. This time, they produced a weekly series focusing on the adventures of the crew of a newer and bigger starship, the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D. This ship would fly under the command of a new captain, support a larger crew, and feature, on a weekly basis, some of the most technologically advanced special effects seen on television today.
The series stayed in production for a total of seven seasons, thanks to an ever-increasing populous of loyal STAR TREK fans, and ended with a total of 178 episodes. As its run progressed, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION became the highest-rated syndicated dramatic series on television, and it is still in high demand today, running in syndication around the world.
The Galaxy-class Starship Enterprise is guided by a leader who is both an intellectual and an explorer, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). The second in command -- often referred to as "Number One" -- is First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), with their science officer, the android, Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner). Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) serves as the ship's psychologist, and seeing that all is well with the warp engines is Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton). Overseeing sickbay is Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), who is joined for 3 1/2 seasons by her precocious son Wesley (Wil Wheaton) before his departure for Starfleet Academy. An interesting twist, Chief of Security Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn) serves as the only Klingon in Starfleet. Down below, in Ten Forward lounge, Whoopi Goldberg appears in a recurring role as the empathetic hostess Guinan. Frequently taunting the crew is the seemingly omnipotent being known simply as "Q" (John de Lancie).
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
"The adventures near a wormhole on the edge of the final frontier." (setting -- the 24th century)
Deep Space Nine is commanded by Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), alongside Science Officer Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell), a "joined" Trill (the host Jadzia and the symbiotic invertebrate Dax); Medical Officer Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig); the shape-shifting Founders expatriate Security Officer Odo (Rene Auberjonois); Chief Operations Officer Miles O'Brien -- formerly of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D -- (Colm Meaney); former Bajoran resistance fighter and now First Officer, Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), and the Ferengi bartender Quark (Armin Shimerman). Also along for the ride is the widowed Captain's son, aspiring writer Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton), and a host of recurring characters from the many cultures who cross paths at DS9. In the fourth season the crew was joined by a STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION veteran, the Klingon Lieutenant Commander Worf (Michael Dorn), as Strategic Operations Officer.
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE aired for seven successful seasons, first in syndication and later for the United Paramount Network, and still continues to air in syndication as well in a multitude of international markets.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER
"These are the voyages of the Starship U.S.S. Voyager." (setting -- the 24th century)
The fourth and newest STAR TREK series, which hit U.S. airwaves in January 1995, is the first to feature a female captain -- Kathryn Janeway. Set aboard the starship U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656, the ship and crew were marooned over 70,000 light years from Federation space and are struggling to find a way home. The U.S.S. Voyager was carried beyond the explored limits of space while in pursuit of a rebel Maquis vessel, and out of necessity, the two stranded ships combined into a mismatched crew of Starfleet officers and Maquis rebels. The series' debuts in syndication in Fall '99, along with a sixth season network return on UPN.
The main crew members of the U.S.S. Voyager are: Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), Vulcan Starfleet Tactical/Security Officer Tuvok (Tim Russ), a Holographic Doctor (Robert Picardo), and the former rebel leader as Janeway's First Officer Chakotay (Robert Beltran). A native of this region of space takes on the roles of guide/cook/handyman, Neelix (Ethan Philips), originally with his Ocampa companion Kes (Jennifer Lien) alongside. During the series' fourth season, as Kes shed her physical body while outgrowing her telepathic powers, a de-assimilated Borg drone dubbed Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) became a reluctant member of the crew. A half Klingon ex-rebel serves as Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Biggs-Dawson), and recent Academy graduate and Voyager's Ops/Communications Officer Harry Kim (Garrett Wang). The ship's pilot is field-commissioned Lieutenant Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill).
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURES
STAR TREK: The Motion Picture
Released in 1979, the first motion picture is the story of Kirk, reunited with his original crew, and a refitted U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, which endeavor to save Earth from the powerful machine life form V'ger, which is systematically destroying everything in its path on its way toward Earth.
STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan
Released in 1982, the second motion picture finds Kirk and crew sent on a mission to protect the Genesis Project, an important scientific experiment. Spock is killed when genetic superman Khan Noonian Singh escapes planetary exile and seeks revenge on Admiral Kirk by using the secret Genesis Device.
STAR TREK III: The Search For Spock
In the third film, released in 1984, Kirk and crew jeopardize their careers by stealing the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 in an attempt to rescue Spock's body from the Genesis Planet and reunite it with its katra (or spirit).
STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home
Released in 1986, the fourth feature tells of Kirk and crew, with only a hijacked Klingon Bird-of-Prey in which to return to Earth; they must eventually time travel to 20TH century Earth to save the future from the catastrophic effects of a mysterious alien probe.
STAR TREK V: The Final Frontier
In the 1989 release of the fifth motion picture, Spock's half-brother hijacks the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A and its crew to pursue his visions of God, who he believes exists at the center of the galaxy.
STAR TREK VI: The Undiscovered Country
Released in 1991, the sixth film finds Kirk and McCoy wrongly convicted of the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon; they must escape imprisonment in order to find the real killers and stop them from derailing a Klingon-Federation peace initiative.
STAR TREK VII: Generations
Released in 1994, the seventh motion picture was the first STAR TREK film to feature the cast of the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION series as well as to bring together the two captains of the U.S.S. Enterprise, James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard; they join forces to stop evil Dr. Soran from destroying an inhabited star system in his quest to reenter the Nexus.
STAR TREK VIII: First Contact
Released in 1996, the eighth motion picture was the first feature to star only the principal cast of the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION television series. Captain Picard and the crew of the newly-commissioned U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E battle the insidious Borg to restore the rightful future of Earth after the Borg travel back to the 21st century and attempt to prevent Zefram Cochrane, inventor of warp drive technology, from making his historic first flight.
STAR TREK IX: Insurrection
When Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise gets word that Lt. Commander Data has run amok and taken a cultural survey team hostage, his first concern is to save Data--who will have to be destroyed if he cannot be repaired. But the Enterprise command team discovers that there is more to the supposed cultural survey than they had been told. Soon, Captain Picard is forced to choose between disobeying a direct order and violating the Prime Directive of the Federation.