Star Trek - the Science Fiction Phenomenon
Created | Updated May 19, 2017
The science fiction phenomenon Star Trek began in 1966. The television series was created by Gene Roddenberry, and despite its low budget, was action-packed.
Star Trek - The Original Series
Star Trek was all about the Federation Starfleet vessel Starship Enterprise, its crew, and their five-year mission to 'boldly go where no man has gone before'.
- Captain James Tiberius Kirk (played by William Shatner)
- Science Officer Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy)
- Doctor Leonard 'Bones' McCoy (DeForest Kelley)
- Communications Officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nicholls)
- Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott - also known as 'Scotty' - (James Doohan)
- Helmsman Hikaru Sulu (George Takei)
- Navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig)
...and about 300 other crewmembers.
Captain James T Kirk was the captain who always got the women and acted upon his emotions. Commander Spock was the emotionless half-Vulcan who always saw the logical point of view. 'Bones' McCoy was the hot-tempered doctor who continuously insulted Mr Spock. He was famous for phrases like: 'Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not an engineer!' This entire crew flew across the galaxy leaving an infinite trail of dead (red-shirted) ensigns from dangerous away-missions. In 1969, after three seasons, the last episode of Star Trek aired. In 1972, the first Star Trek convention took place. The original series ('TOS') remained quite popular thanks to reruns.
Star Trek - The Animated Series
In 1973, due to the increased public demand for Star Trek, the creation of the animated series began. The concept of animation instead of special effects made it possible to shoot scenes that couldn't be done in 1960s live-action television. Most of the original cast returned to provide the voices for their character, though Walter Koenig was not invited back. Instead, a new character, an alien called Lieutenant Arex (voiced by James Doohan) was introduced. This animated Star Trek ran for 22 episodes and in 1975 was awarded an Emmy award for Best Children's Series.
Star Trek II
In 1977, the plans for a new series began - Star Trek II. But due to the popularity of the Star Wars motion picture, and the lacklustre response to the prospect of a new Star Trek series, it was cancelled two weeks before scheduled initial production.
Star Trek - The Motion Pictures
1979 saw the release of Star Trek - the Motion Picture. The new special effects, and the remodelled USS Enterprise were indeed impressive, although many people thought that the story itself was quite dull. But it did lead to a number of sequels being made. Here is a list of the Star Trek movies to date, and for further info check out Star Trek - the Movies:
- 1979: Star Trek - The Motion Picture
- 1982: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- 1984: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- 1986: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- 1989: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- 1991: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
- 1994: Star Trek: Generations
- 1996: Star Trek: First Contact
- 1998: Star Trek: Insurrection
- 2002: Star Trek: Nemesis
Star Trek - The Motion Picture through to Star Trek VI starred the original crew. Star Trek: Generations starred Captain Kirk (with cameos from Scotty and Chekov), but introduced the crew of The Next Generation to the movie series.
Star Trek - The Next Generation
Star Trek - The Next Generation first aired in 1987. It was set about 80 years after the time of the original series. Next Generation featured a new ship, larger then the original Enterprise (revealed to be the fourth ship after the original, named USS Enterprise-D), a new crew and new aliens, including the entity known as 'Q' and the cybernetic scavengers The Borg. Taking more risks than the original series ever did, it saw the death of a regular character, Tasha Yar, in its first series, and included guest appearances from Whoopie Goldberg as the enigmatic 'Guinan'. Next Generation came to an end in 1994 after seven series.
- Captain Jean-luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)
- Commander William T Riker (Jonathan Frakes)
- Counsellor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis)
- Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner)
- Lieutenant Commander Worf (Michael Dorn)
- Commander Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton)
- Doctor Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden)
- Lieutenant Natasha 'Tasha' Yar (Denise Crosby)
- Chief Miles Edward O'Brien (Colm Meaney)
- Ensign Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes)
- Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started in 1993 and ended in 1999. Unlike the other series, 'DS9' took place on a space station in the far reaches of federation space. The station had been taken over by a race known as the Bajorans in reparation for their occupation by the Cardassians, another alien race. The Bajorans had then asked the Federation to help them. After discovering the first stable wormhole (a sort of gateway between two Quadrants) known to exist, DS9 became the Federation's most vital outpost against a new, dangerous race known as the Dominion. But there is a small ship there too; the USS Defiant, an experimental craft designed to fight the Dominion, and naturally several other ships, just passing by. The events of DS9 run alongside the last two seasons of Next Generation and then continue on from there. Following the pattern set by Next Generation, DS9 ran for seven years.
- Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks)
- Chief of security Odo (Rene Auberjonois)
- Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax - a gestalt formed of a slug, Dax, housed inside a Trill woman, Jadzia (Terry Farrell)
- Lieutenant junior grade Ezri Dax - Dax's new host after the murder of Jadzia (Nicole deBoer)
- Lieutenant Commander Worf (Michael Dorn, recreating his Next Generation character)
- Chief Engineer Miles O'Brien (Colm Meany, also from Next Generation)
- Doctor Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig - AKA Siddig El Fadil)
- Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor)
- Quark (Armin Shimerman)
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager began in 1995 and again ran for seven years, ending in 2001. There were two new concepts in this series. Firstly, the captain was a woman - although many female admirals had been seen in previous series, a woman hadn't headed a Star Trek series before. Secondly, in the first episode, the ship, Voyager became stranded in the Delta Quadrant, 75,000 lightyears from Earth thanks to an alien force known as the Caretaker. Voyager had been launched to find a group of missing federation rebels known as the Maquis, in an unstable area known as the Badlands. It was from there the Caretaker pulled both Voyager and the escaping Maquis ship into the Delta Quadrant. The Maquis crew then reluctantly joined Voyager's crew in search for a way home. After the crew come into contact with the Borg, they find themselves accepting one of their number aboard Voyager, the surprisingly glamorous 'Seven of Nine'.
- Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew)
- Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran)
- Lieutenant Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson)
- Lieutenant Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill)
- Chef and morale officer Neelix (Ethan Phillips)
- Emergency medical hologram - 'the doctor' (Robert Picardo)
- Chief of security, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok, (Tim Russ)
- Ensign Harry Kim (Garret Wang)
- Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan)
- Kes, nurse (Jennifer Lien)
Some of these (at the time of writing) will be starring in the film Star Trek: Nemesis.
Enterprise is the latest series, which began in 2001. This series goes right back to basics, set a century before the original series, with the crew getting to grips with the very first, experimental Enterprise.
- Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula)
- Doctor Phlox (John Billingsley)
- Science officer T'Pol (Jolene Blalock)
- Lieutenant Malcolm Read (Dominic Keating)
- Ensign Travis Mayweather (Anthony Montgomery)
- Ensign Hoshi Sato (Linda Park)
- Commander Charles Trip Tucker III (Connor Trinneer)
The original series had a Vulcan (an alien race who gave up emotions centuries ago to become fully logical) Mr Spock, Next Generation had Mr Data, an android incapable of feeling emotions, Voyager had another Vulcan Mr Tuvok as well as Seven of Nine, the Borg. So it's no surprise that Enterprise features another character of limited emotional range, the Vulcan T'Pol.
Star Trek - An Overview
In 1966, Star Trek was just another good show; today, there are people who worship it and literally millions who follows the different crews' every moment, and they will continue to watch Star Trek long after the last episode has been made. Star Trek is, according to some people, all about being nice to each other, and although the entire show has got a very high moral, the 'being-nice-to-each-other thing' is simply part of the plot, and the future vision that the creators of Star Trek have in the show in all its forms.
Star Trek Conventions
All over the world, regular Star Trek conventions are organised so that fans of the series - also known as 'Trekkers' or, slightly more derogatively, 'Trekkies' - can meet other Trekkers/Trekkies and discuss different things about the many versions of the Star Trek concept. Conventions are also a good place to buy, trade or sell Star Trek souvenirs.
Star Trek's creator, Gene Roddenberry, was born in 1921, in El Paso, Texas. In 1941, he volunteered to the US army and he became a second lieutenant in the US Army Air corps. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. After the war he became a policeman in the LAPD to gain experience that he could use in the growing television industry. He then began his writing in Hollywood and he also produced a series he called The Lieutenant. In 1964, the first Star Trek pilot 'The Cage' was filmed. When Roddenberry died in 1991 after a series of heart attacks, Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor took over the producing of the ongoing Star Trek series. The ashes of Gene Roddenberry were brought onboard the American space shuttle, Columbia, in 1992. The Next Generation episode 'Unification' is dedicated to his memory.
Gene Roddenberry's widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry (who has played a number of roles throughout the show's history, including Nurse Chapel and the voice of the ships' computers) continued his work after his death, bringing a number of his unfinished concepts to the screen, including Andromeda and Earth: Final Conflict, ensuring Roddenberry's visions of the future live on outside of the Star Trek universe.