I’m old enough to remember the original Star Trek series when it was broadcast as a fresh, new and exciting break from the dull western/medical/detective shows that were hogging the airwaves at the time. Every week some new adventure grabbed hold of my teen imagination for an hour. These days, 45 years later, I’m able to relive that excitement. Thanks to Netflix, I’m able to see every episode in brilliant color and in high definition.
The shows were originally shot on 35mm film which was then dumbed down to show on the standard definition TVs of the time. If you want to have some fun, look for the many things that show up on Netflix that you never noticed on TV. In fact, if you have a keen eye, you’ll see cigarette smoke wafting across the screen in several episodes. I’m not sure if TV showed the same full frame that Netflix does but in the episode with Frank Gorshin, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”, keep your eyes open for the rope that both Gorshin (Commissioner Beli) and Lou Antonio (Lokai) are holding as they run through the passageways of the Enterprise. The rope, of course, was to keep them within focus distance of the camera, making sure they ran at the same speed at it did.
Part of the reason I’m writing about Star Trek is to describe how much the show was ahead of its time. Not only did they have an African-American woman as a star, Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, but the Enterprise crew itself represented many different ethnic groups and nationalities. In fact, the very first interracial kiss occurred between Nichols and William Shatner in November 1968. Since it’s November 26th today, I thought it was about time I wrote about this historic event as well as the show that changed television.
On the same theme, in the episode ‘By Any Other Name”, the current popular theory that ‘the black dude always dies first’ is reversed. When two crew members are turned into ‘porous cubotahedron solids’, only one is brought back to life. The other is crushed into dust. For once, it was the African-American who survived. It is seemingly insignificant things like this that make Star Trek a game changer, a show that dared to go ‘where no man has gone before’.
While the Star Trek series has built up a huge fan base over the years and has been examined and dissected in incredible detail, I think there is always something to discover if you have the time to watch it again, episode by episode. Look for the advanced themes that other shows of the time were ignoring, for instance. Note the different characterizations, depending on who was directing the show. See if you can spot errors, things such as Spock lying. He’s not supposed to be able to lie but he does a few times.
While the stories may be thin in places, overall the Star Trek series is well worth the time to watch again. If you haven’t seen it, or if you’ve only seen a few episodes, check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.