Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1, Episode 10
Original Air Date: November 10, 1966
|via Memory Alpha|
Since beginning this project, I've wondered what it is that works so well for this show. Nearly half a century after the first aired episode, Star Trek remains a vital force in popular culture. Trek was cancelled after only three seasons but is far better remembered than the more successful programs of its era. The acting is stilted. The stories are frequently hokey and formulaic. And yet few programs in the history of American television have a legacy worth comparing. I won't deny it. I love it, too. But why?!!!
Strength of characters? Check. Solid world (in this case, galaxy) building? Certainly. The same could be said for other shows. What's so special about this one? I think an episode like "The Corbomite Maneuver" offers a clue.
The Enterprise crew find themselves in a jam: they get on the wrong side of Balok, commander of an alien vessel who takes issue with the fact that our heroes destroyed his marker buoy. Apparently, the offense is so severe that the Enterprise must be destroyed. Testy! Through cleverness, Captain Kirk & Co. wiggle their way out of harm, but leaving Balok's ship marooned, too far from the mother ship to even call for rescue. And so, the inevitable dilemma: do our friends scamper off or stick around to help?
For Spock, the obvious, rational choice is get away while the gettin's good. For Kirk, the higher purpose, "to seek out new life and new civilizations" takes precedent. The risk of boarding a hostile ship is outweighed by their responsibility as galactic citizens. A rescue party beams to Balok's ship and...
The writer (in this case, Jerry Sohl) completely drops the ball with the whole Clint Howard thing. Oh well.
While set in the distant future, Star Trek is a product of its own era. The mid-sixties were interesting times in American society. The Civil Rights Act had passed. The Vietnam War raged. By 1966, the counterculture was getting noisier. NASA was preparing to go to the Moon. The message from Gene Roddenberry and his disciples was an important one: if we're serious about space exploration, we'd darn well better get our own act together first. Mind you, Roddenberry was no hippy. As an ex-cop and decorated war vet, he was well acquainted with the world's darker side. His galactic future for humankind was predicated on moral advancement as well as technological. Yes, we were going to venture to the stars. We were also going to be better people once we got there.
That, I believe, is why Star Trek works. It's certainly a big part of why it works for me.
|via Memory Alpha|
Matt Jefferies (art director) was born Walter Matthew Jefferies on August 12, 1921 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He served in the Second World War as a bomber pilot, just part of a lifelong love affair with aviation. Jefferies designed both the interior and exterior of the Enterprise, along with numerous other props and sets. He served as art director for several other iconic television shows, including Mission: Impossible, Little House on the Prairie and Dallas. Jefferies died July 21, 2003 of congestive heart failure.
|via Trek Core|