On this day half a century ago we joined millions of other kids across the nation and tuned in to an exciting new television show focusing on the exploits of a diverse crew of futuristic space voyagers – all incredibly buff, the women wonderfully mini-skirted, and one dude with these pointy ears.
Any kid worth his or her dogeared copy of Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov stories was in heaven, the Starship Enterprise taking us to strange planets we knew in our young hearts were out there – waiting to be discovered.
And, it being Hollywood and all, Star Trek wasn’t all space exploration, with its creators throwing in plenty of skin and veiled references to current culture to keep our bright little minds engaged and our tweener libidos throbbing.
It must have been warm on the Enterprise because all the women ran around in skimpy outfits that left us wondering where they kept their phasers – and how Yeoman Rand spent her off-duty time. During the course of an episode Capt. Kirk could be counted on to remove his shirt, Scotty would be called on to work his magic in the ship’s engine room, “Bones” would have to save an alien creature in sick bay and Spock, wonderful Spock, would lift his eyebrows like a bascule bridge and utter some profound Vulcan nonsense that left us gasping.
Loved the show, particularly the early episodes, which kept to a interesting, science-based story line. We drifted away as it became more cartoonish, a shirtless Kirk battling a rubber-suited Gorn on a planet laden with just the right chemical elements for Kirk to find and build a mini-howitzer to finish off the snarling, drippy alien. How he found that bamboo on a desert planet we’ll never know but that was part of the magic.
Of course most of those kids who tuned in that day are grown up now, their interest in Star Trek and the show’s impact on them profound as snotty-nosed nerds in Coke-bottle glasses grew up to run NASA and stuff – naming their favorite space hardware after their favorite 60’s TV show.
So here we are, trying to take care of a fragile planet and visiting our moon, Mars, pressing in on Jupiter and out into our galaxy – just like the crew of the Enterprise so many years ago.