Posted in College, Entertainment, Movies, Technology, TV, tagged College, DeForest Kelley, Entertainment, James T. Kirk, Leonard McCoy, Leonard Nimoy, Montgomery Scott, Movies, Mr. Spock, Star Trek, Technology, TV, William Shatner on September 9, 2011 |
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45 years ago — on September 8, 1966 — Star Trek first beamed across the airwaves of American television sets.
On that day, viewers first began to know Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Montgomery Scott, Lieutenant Uhura, and the other regular members of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley became well-known faces and names. Equally important, fans were introduced to the inspiring concept of the United Federation of Planets, with its concepts of brotherhood, and science, and peaceful exploration and coexistence with alien races. The series offered the promise that better days lay ahead, when the human race could move beyond the racial division, strife, and savagery of the 20th century and realize its true potential.
Has any TV show been more influential to our society than Star Trek? Not only did it captivate legions of devoted fans, it created a durable franchise that spawned multiple TV shows and movies that populated various points in the back story and front story of the original series. It also introduced a host of sayings and gestures — “Live long and prosper,” the Vulcan split-fingered greeting, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and the Vulcan neck pinch, among others — that became, and remain, deeply engrained in popular culture. The show’s vision of future vessels and devices also influenced design of military vessels and technological concepts.
For all of its influence and inspiration, Star Trek was, at bottom, a pretty darned good TV show. (OK, some of the episodes stunk, but the good shows were really good.) When 4:30 came on a weekday afternoon on the Ohio State University campus in the late 1970s, you’d find countless students — me and Flameface included — gathered around their TV sets, cold beers in hand, ready to watch once more the familiar, classic exploits of Kirk, Spock, and Bones and revel in being part of their world.
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You can make a lot of arguments about James Tiberius Kirk. You can point out that he put on a few pounds over the years. You can contend that no rational Captain of a Starship would routinely beam down to an unknown planet with the initial exploring party, equipped only with a phaser and tricorder and a security guy in a red shirt who inevitably would be killed within seconds. You can argue that there is no way that Kirk could have defeated the Gorn, or could realistically have battled Spock to a draw in the thin, hothouse atmosphere of Vulcan. You can dispute whether, when all characteristics and traits are taken into account, James T. Kirk was a better Starship Captain than Jean-Luc Picard.
So, yes . . . you can make a lot of arguments about Captain Kirk — but I don’t think you can reasonably argue that Kirk was not attracted to women and instead harbored secret passions for his friend Mr. Spock. The only reason we didn’t see more obvious sexual activity between Kirk and his various female partners is that the original Star Trek was filmed in the 1960s, when TV shows were much less sexually explicit than they are now. After all, this was in the same time period when a young married couple, Rob and Laura Petrie, was depicted sleeping in separate twin beds on The Dick Van Dyke Show. In that time and place, Star Trek was pushing it with scenes where Kirk was shown sitting on a bed putting his boots on.
The best thing about Richard’s link, though, is that it is a good reminder of how there were many really crummy episodes of Star Trek. Some of the worst (or perhaps, most annoying) that I can think of right now are Charlie X, And The Children Shall Lead, the episode where Jason Bolt from Here Come The Brides was fighting himself from a parallel universe, the episode where the “Yangs” were fighting the “Comms,” and the episode where two guys who were literally half-white and half-black turned out to be bitter enemies because one was black on the right side and the other was black on the left. I’ll take an episode where Kirk is getting some action — even if implicit — over the episodes that hit you over the head with an overt political message any day.
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