by Graham Pierrepoint
Whether you’re a sci-fi buff or not, it’s hard not to appreciate the importance and continued relevance of TV’s original Star Trek on popular culture and even technology. This week, the adventures of Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and the crew of the USS Enterprise turned a half-century old – and these are characters that are still as well-loved and widely-known as they were in the 1960s. The franchise has seen multiple movie adaptations, TV spin-offs and has even inspired some of the devices we use in our everyday lives. Would we be where we are with our tablets and touchscreens were it not for Star Trek? It’s unlikely.
The franchise is also arguably responsible for popularizing the idea of the ‘fan convention’ – circuits which have grown in popularity and have held less of a stigma in recent years – and the concept of fandom itself. Star Trek took novel sci-fi concepts and brought them to our screens with the assistance of a talented cast, unique set design and stories that have stayed with TV viewers for generations. Only this summer, fans have bared witness to the third in the latest run of Hollywood movies, effectively rebooting the original series and telling new stories from a familiar cast of characters.
Science fiction remains a fairly niche genre for TV and movie fans alike, and it is often a genre that is hard to get right – but Star Trek arguably started it all. Without Kirk and company, it’s likely that we’d not be enjoying the likes of Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactica – the list goes on and on. While many may have concerns that the current movie franchise does little to flatter the original series, it is hard not to appreciate the films on their own merit.
It’s stunning to believe that a TV show can still be so heavily ingrained in pop culture and continue to be a formidable influence on media across all genres after so many years – meaning that the 50th anniversary of Star Trek is certainly something to be marked and to be celebrated. With a new TV series in the form of Star Trek Discovery set to launch onto the small screen in the coming months, it’s hard to imagine the franchise leaving our consciousness any time soon – and why not? Happy birthday, Star Trek – it should go without saying, but we hope you continue to live long and prosper!