Netflix notes the 50 year anniversary of Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS), by its streaming appearance, sparklingly remastered, with approbation on many fronts of Star Trek's value to generations of fans. Created by Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) TOS ran 1966-69 on NBC. Five more series followed, 13 big-screen films, web sites, Trekkie followers, books, comics, encyclopedia, toys et al (below) -- Star Trek is industry.
Star Trek TOS, our focus here, based its subject matter on the space race, cold war, atomic fear, anger at endless war, dated 1950's social morays, and gender/race inequities; it drew its energy and optimism from JFK's New Frontier, LBJ's Great Society, and confidence in our ability to solve anything. It was a time in American life when it seemed the family of man could unify in Gene Roddenberry's humanist federated world government that would be multi-cultural, interracial, moral, embracing of science, learning, and the spread of freedom. Some of the subject matter was controversial in the late 60's -- tactics were employed to foil the script censors such as pushing boundaries in one area to distract from another knowing the former would be cut and the latter let stand.
William Shatner, still working in his mid-80's. Pointy-eared First Officer Spock, half-human/half Vulcan scientist from Federation planet Vulcan is much beloved; his emotionless affect steered the crew thru problem-solving with beams of logic -- Leonard Nimoy, actor/director, deceased in 2015. Nimoy/Spock was eulogized by NASA and influential in inspiring space science and travel. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, was chief medical officer, an emotional Irishman -- DeForest Kelley, died at 79 in 1999. The perpetual heat between Bones and Spock underlined the tension between emotion and logic in problem-solving.
Nichelle Nichols is now in her 80's. While Scottish Engineer Scott, James Doohan, is also deceased, two other command crew are busy today: Russian Ensign Pavel Chekov, the placement of whom on the bridge previewed a peaceful end to the Cold War -- Walter Koenig, 80, his parents Russian Jewish emigres, has had a long career as writer, director, teacher, actor; and Sulu, George Takei, 79, is an activist and spokesperson for gay rights and politics, especially as an advocate for former internees of Japanese-American internment camps following Pearl Harbor. His busy life and bits of Star Trek are documented in "To Be Takei" on Netflix.
here in a recent article by NASA physicist, David Allen Batchelor, Goddard Space Flight Center, a Star Trek fan, along with colleagues. Batchelor lists the devices familiar to series watchers such as communicator (below), transporter, tricorder, warp drive, cloaking device, replicator, phaser, et al -- describing what came true, is in the pipeline, or is still wishful thinking. His article includes a 1976 photo of the unveiling of NASA's space shuttle named 'Enterprise' in honor of the series and in the presence of many original cast attired in their 1970's bell-bottomed best.
In later iterations of the Star Trek universe, mid-century optimism has struggled, the mood frayed around the edges, no longer suitable for kids but aimed at those who have matured in a world of roiling threat.
Ron D. Moore and Ira Steven Behr of Outlander were major contributors to both. Behr, showrunner for DS9, will release a documentary about it in 2017 and he wrote the Ferengi sacred code-- 285 'Rules of Acquisition', the bedrock of Ferengi society. A few of the code's uncanny tenets are: 'when in doubt, lie'; 'once you have their money, never give it back'; 'always exaggerate your estimates', and the formula for the velocity of wealth is 'rate divided by time = profit'.
The Ferengi of Planet Ferenginar were entirely devoted to unregulated capitalism, profit, trade, and swindling of the innocent. Workers benefits were frowned on -- they would interfere with worker exploitation. The Ferengi were unremorseful misogynists; they pressed women into the sex trade. After a Ferengi died he would meet up with the Blessed Exchequer who would dispatch him to the Devine Treasury or the Vault of Eternal Destitution, depending on his net worth. The alt-right Ferengi were too ridiculous to be political threats to the Federation. Likewise our 2016 comic-book villainy now requires similar dispatch to footnote status plus regulation to minimize harm to victims.
President Obama talks to WIRED about the true meaning of Star Trek....