Why We Love STAR TREK
As told to Nicola Bridges When Star Trek took to the TV airwaves on Sept. 8, 1966, it famously set out on a mission to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” And it certainly did, capturing the imagination of multiple generations of fans and becoming the world’s most iconic sci-fi entertainment franchise, an ongoing, multibilliondollar spinoff of TV shows, blockbuster
movies, games, books and other merchandise. Why has Star Trek endured for 50 years? We went right to the source: Capt. James T. Kirk of the starship USS Enterprise. Actor William Shatner, 85, who starred in the original TV series and in several ensuing movies, was happy to dig back into his “captain’s log.” I think Star Trek, like science fiction in general, is mythology. It offers a look into the future that’s written by imaginative, creative artists whose vision may or may not be true, but we don’t know until the future arrives. It’s not unlike religion—we don’t know for sure, but we take it on board.
We adhere to the multiple positive stories that Star Trek suggests—that there’ll be a future, that technology will have gotten us out of the hole that it had gotten us into, the future will be bright and the Earth will still be here. And that’s the future people want to embrace.
Star Trek offers a look into that future. It’s what makes Star Trek endearing, and enduring.
Storylines That Got You Thinking
Star Trek was driven by science fiction. It wasn’t Buck Rogers. At its best, it was complex. Many great science fiction writers suggested story ideas for the television series. Creator Gene Roddenberry had the vision to hire the right people to tell and dramatize those stories, and
viewers were captivated.
For example, one of the most memorable life-forms in the TV series was the tribbles: small, cute, furry creatures. Without the rules and regulations of nature, these tribbles multiplied beyond belief and consumed exponentially more food, indicating the potential of annihilation because of overwhelming reproduction, which is what we’re seeing in overpopulation right now.
At its best, Star Trek tackled global issues and clumped them into science fiction so that somebody might say, “Tribbles are quirky and funny,” but they had an underlying meaning.
The Nostalgia Factor
Another reason I believe we love
Star Trek— and it’s a reason I love— is people come up to me all the time and say, “I watched your show with my parents.” There is this wonderful element of nostalgia attached to it.
The Quirky Cast of Characters
Of course, we also love the unusual mix and dynamic of the
Enterprise’s characters and crew: Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov. The captain was written as a hero dealing with people or a situation and coming out on top. It was heroic writing, leading-man writing. I was delighted to be given the opportunity as the captain to be in some
situations where the character had to deal with unusual things and had unusual cast members who were his friends to aid him. When Captain Kirk ended up with a girl, of course I didn’t object to that either!
And there’s actor Chris Pine, who plays Kirk in the latest movie installments of the
Star Trek film franchise, set in the 23rd century: Star Trek Into
Darkness and Star Trek Beyond [released in July]. He’s tall. Handsome. He’s wonderful! Shatner stars in the NBC reality series Better Late Than Never, Tuesdays at 10 p.m., and his latest book, Zero G: Book 1 (Simon & Schuster), will be released Sept. 20. Set in the year 2050, it follows FBI agents policing espionage beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.