Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its' five year mission: to explore strange new worlds to seek out new life and new civilisations to boldly go where no man has gone before! Episodes Comprise: 1. The Man Trap 2. Charlie X 3. Where No Man Has Gone Before 4. The Naked Time 5. The Enemy Within 6. Mudd's Women 7. What Are Little Girls Made Of? 8. Miri 9. Dagger Of The Mind 10. The Corbomite Maneuver 11. The Menagerie (Part 1) 12. The Me
Improvements in special effects and a greater sophistication in television over the passage of time has made Star Trek seem a lttle 'innocent'.
In actuality, this is the definitive version of the Star Trek franchise and, in that sense, cannot be bettered (only copied). It is more than a classic - it"s a worldwide phenomenon. Sure, the special effects are creaky in this first series, as were the sets and sexist costumes, but hey, this is the 1960s!
The series was made on a shoestring budget and was nearly axed after the first series (viewing figures were not big enough). In the UK, however, it was a huge hit (even in black and white, when first shown in the autumn of 1969 on the BBC) and remains the most repeated American made tv series in British television history (amazing when you consider that the BBC had to keep buying the syndication rights for each repeat package).
So why is the original Star Trek series so revered? For one thing, William Shatner must be a pretty good actor to pull off the role of Captain Kirk with the success he did and it is true to say that the series mostly succeeded on the quality acting by all of the cast and the palpable chemistry between the main characters. Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (Spock) were to be the main characters, but it is interesting to note that the unexpected strong impact that DeForrest Kelly (Dr. Leonard "Bones" Macoy) had on the first season led to him (very quickly) to be written into bigger and bigger parts and he was ultimately elevated to equal main billing with Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy for the second and third series. Also, Star Trek had intelligently written scripts, but never set out to take itself too seriously. Unusualy for sci-fi, a quality orchestrated theme was used for the main title and incidental music, which went against the common standard of using cheap electronic music and sound effects for sci-fi programmes (like Dr. Who and many more of the time).
If so revered, why was it axed so quickly? Well, in America, Star Trek was not that popular. It was being made in parallel with Mission Impossible, which was in production in the adjacent studios at Desilu. Unlike Star Trek, Mission Impossible never went over budget and was immediately both a huge critical success and a wow with the viewing public (always being in the top ten of viewer ratings, whereas Star Trek never got higher than position 52!!!!!!!). As a result, Star Trek was axed after only 3 years whilst Mission Impossible went on for a further five years (seven years in total), with Leonard Nimoy moving across to join the series when Star Trek finished.
Also, Star Trek was a networked show, i.e. made, financed and shown on just one broadcasting station - in this instance: NBC (part of the Paramount company), so audiences were limited to only those in America who could receive NBC broadcasts.
After the show was axed, NBC decided to sell the Star Trek series as a package to smaller stations who could not afford to produce such shows themselves (the BBC was one such overseas station who bought the package) - this is called syndication: when enough episodes have been broadcast (usually 100 episodes) by the owner of the copyright (Paramount), they are then packaged as "second hand" shows and sold to other television networks who are, in effect, buying the repeat rights. This can be very profitable. As a result, many more Americans and a huge worldwide audience were seeing the series for the first time at a more sensible teatime slot (rather than the original NBC late night slot) and, as they say, the rest is history..........................
Of the 29 episodes in this Series 1, which ones stand out? Hard to say as they are all good, but perhaps the edge goes to:
04. The Naked Time
05. The Enemy within
10. The Corbomite Manoeuvre
14. The Balance of Terror
19. Tomorrow is Yesterday
25. The Devil in the Dark
28. The City on the Edge of Forever
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