Evolution of Science Fiction in Television: The Legacy of Star Trek

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), from Paramount Pictures, directed by J.J. Abrams grossed $156,013,879 (USA) in its’ opening weekend. The plot revolves around the main characters, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), Pike (Bruce Greenwood), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Marcus (Peter Weller). Upon arrival back home, the crew find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for.

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This is personal for Captain Kirk, who then leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. In an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices made for the only family Kirk has ever known.

The world’s fascination with Star Trek started in 1966, yes, there are actually really good shows that don’t include the word ‘reality’ in it. The series followed the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Bones (Deforest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Chekov (Walter Koenig), and Sulu (George Takei) in the 23rd century aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.

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Their mission was to explore the galaxy on behalf of the Starfleet Command. With a crew of 430 men and women, Captain Kirk sought out new life and undiscovered civilizations and boldly go where no man has gone before. And that they did. The Enterprise encountered many worlds that held populations that were psychic, capable of removing people’s emotions, project realistic illusions, and control matter.

Along the way, the crew learned to overcome obstacles and rely of each other. Perhaps the biggest test of loyalty occurred between Mister Spock and Captain Kirk, don’t you agree? Mister Spock, the most mysterious of all the characters, had many trials in which his loyalty had to be proven. Perhaps it was his half-Vulcan, half-human heritage, or the fact that he provided an often emotionally detached, logical perspective to any situation.
How could Kirk or the rest of the crew fully trust him? Many episodes posed that question. I often wonder if the depiction of Spock as an ‘outsider’ had something to do with America’s inherent disapproval of ‘mixed relationships’ and the children those unions would create.

Later, the question of Spocks’ loyalty was put to rest with his refusal to attend the Vulcan Science Academy which basically was like a slap to the face of his Vulcan father, to join the Starfleet Command. This act represented his rejection of the unfamiliar, foreign part of him, for the more human, and therefore ‘acceptable’ part of himself.

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Another pivotal and controversial character of the U.S.S. Enterprise for me was Uhura. She was not only a part of the crew, making her character as central as Scotty or Sulu, but she was the only African-American member of the crew. Her role wasn’t the secretary, nor a servant, she was involved in every mission, saw danger, and was respected by her all-male crew mates.

For many girls, especially those of color, Uhura’s character meant girls didn’t have to be the nurse, like when boy’s played Cowboys and Indians, or stick to the sidelines as we so often had to do during Cops and Robbers. We could be a part of the fun, imagining ourselves in space, encountering aliens, taking command of the Enterprise and at the speed of light zipping to a new and unchartered planet.

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Star Trek has a long and notable legacy. For any unbelievers, just attend one of the many conventions devoted to this historical series. There you will find those who speak a curious language called Klingon, costumes made by people who genuinely love the series that rival any costume design in any big budget movie. You will also find men and women who can tell you the history of any character without looking it up, or referring to a handwritten cheat sheet. If there is any legacy worth celebrating, it is the wonder and amazing this show has brought to generations regardless of gender or race.
Now, Beam me up Scotty!

Evolution of Science Fiction in Television: The Legacy of Star Trek

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