Theme music composer
First episode date
8 September 1966
"Theme from Star Trek"
Also known as
Star Trek: The Original Series (retronym)
Science fictionAction adventure
William ShatnerLeonard NimoyDeForest Kelley
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry that follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew. It later acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: TOS or simply TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began.
- Top 10 star trek the original series episodes
- Season 1 196667
- Season 2 196768
- Season 3 196869
- Remastered edition
- Characters cameo appearances in later series
- Notable guest appearances
- Notable episodes
- Star Trek Memories
- Theme song
- Dramatic underscore
- Episodes with original music
- Home media
- Blu ray
- Online distribution
- Action figures
- Comic books
- Cultural influence
- Fan productions
The show is set in the Milky Way galaxy, roughly during the 2260s. The ship and crew are led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer and science officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley). Shatner's voice-over introduction during each episode's opening credits stated the starship's purpose:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
The series was produced from September 1966 to December 1967 by Norway Productions and Desilu Productions, and by Paramount Television from January 1968 to June 1969. Star Trek aired on NBC from September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969 and was actually seen first on September 6, 1966, on Canada's CTV network. Star Trek's Nielsen ratings while on NBC were low, and the network cancelled it after three seasons and 79 episodes. Several years later, the series became a bona fide hit in broadcast syndication, remaining so throughout the 1970s, achieving cult classic status and a developing influence on popular culture. Star Trek eventually spawned a franchise, consisting of five additional television series, thirteen feature films, numerous books, games, and toys, and is now widely considered one of the most popular and influential television series of all time.
The series contains significant elements of Space Western, as described by Gene Roddenberry and the general audience.
Top 10 star trek the original series episodes
On March 11, 1964, Gene Roddenberry, a long-time fan of science fiction, drafted a short treatment for a science-fiction television series that he called Star Trek. This was to be set on board a large interstellar spaceship S.S. Yorktown in the 23rd century, whose crew was dedicated to exploring a relatively small portion of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Some of the influences on his idea that Roddenberry noted included A. E. van Vogt's tales of the spaceship Space Beagle, Eric Frank Russell's Marathon series of stories, and the film Forbidden Planet (1956). Other people have also drawn parallels with the television series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954), a less sophisticated space opera that still included many of the elements—the organization, crew relationships, missions, part of the bridge layout, and even some technology—that were part of Star Trek. Roddenberry also drew heavily from C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels that depict a daring sea captain who exercises broad discretionary authority on distant sea missions of noble purpose. Roddenberry often humorously referred to Captain Kirk as "Horatio Hornblower in Space".
Roddenberry had extensive experience in writing for series about the Old West that had been popular television fare earlier in the 1960s and the 1950s. Armed with this background, the first draft deliberately characterizes the new show as "Wagon Train to the stars." Like the familiar Wagon Train, each episode was to be a self-contained adventure story, set within the overarching structure of a continuing journey, rather than being bound to the same location. With the notable exception of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, all future television and movie realisations of the franchise would adhere to the "Wagon Train" paradigm of the continuing journey.
In Roddenberry's original concept, the protagonist was Captain Robert April of the starship S.S. Yorktown. This character was developed into Captain Christopher Pike, first portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter.
In April 1964, Roddenberry presented the Star Trek draft to Desilu Productions, a leading independent television production company. He met with Herb Solow, Desilu's Director of Production. Solow saw promise in the idea and signed a three-year program-development contract with Roddenberry. Lucille Ball, head of Desilu, was not familiar with the nature of the project, but she was instrumental in getting the pilot produced.
The idea was extensively revised and fleshed out during this time – "The Cage" pilot filmed in late 1964 differs in many respects from the March 1964 treatment. Solow, for example, added the stardate concept.
Desilu Productions had a first-look deal with CBS. Oscar Katz, Desilu's Vice President of Production, went with Roddenberry to pitch the series to the network. They refused to purchase the show, as they already had a similar show in development, the 1965 Irwin Allen series Lost in Space.
In May 1964, Solow, who previously worked at NBC, met with Grant Tinker, then head of the network's West Coast programming department. Tinker commissioned the first pilot – which became "The Cage". NBC turned down the resulting pilot, stating that it was 'too cerebral.' However, the NBC executives were still impressed with the concept, and they understood that its perceived faults had been partly because of the script that they had selected themselves.
NBC made the unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, using the script called "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Only the character of Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was retained from the first pilot, and only two cast members, Majel Barrett and Nimoy, were carried forward into the series. This second pilot proved to be satisfactory to NBC, and the network selected Star Trek to be in its upcoming television schedule for the fall of 1966.
The second pilot introduced most of the other main characters: Captain Kirk (William Shatner), chief engineer Lt. Commander Scott (James Doohan) and Lt. Sulu (George Takei), who served as a physicist on the ship in the second pilot but subsequently became a helmsman throughout the rest of the series. Paul Fix played Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot; ship's doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the cast when filming began for the first season, and he remained for the rest of the series, achieving billing as the third star of the series. Also joining the ship's permanent crew during the first season were the communications officer, Lt. Nyota Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), the first African-American woman to hold such an important role in an American television series; the captain's yeoman, Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney), who departed midway through the first season; and Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett), head nurse and assistant to McCoy. Walter Koenig joined the cast as Ensign Pavel Chekov in the series' second season.
In February 1966, Star Trek was nearly killed by Desilu Productions, before airing the first episode. Desilu had gone from making just one half-hour show (The Lucy Show), to deficit financing a portion of two expensive hour-long shows, Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. Solow was able to convince Lucille Ball that both shows should continue.
Once the series was picked up by NBC the production moved to what was then Desilu Productions Gower street location. It was previously the main studio complex used by RKO Pictures and is now part of the Paramount Pictures lot. The series used what are now stages 31 and 32. The show's production staff included art director Matt Jefferies. Jefferies designed the starship Enterprise and most of its interiors. His contributions to the series were honored in the name of the "Jefferies tube", an equipment shaft depicted in various Star Trek series. In addition to working with his brother, John Jefferies, to create the hand-held phaser weapons of Star Trek, Jefferies also developed the set design for the bridge of the Enterprise (which was based on an earlier design by Pato Guzman). Jefferies used his practical experience as an airman during World War II and his knowledge of aircraft design to devise a sleek, functional and ergonomic bridge layout.
The costume designer for Star Trek, Bill Theiss, created the striking look of the Starfleet uniforms for the Enterprise, the costumes for female guest stars, and for various aliens, including the Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, Tellarites, Andorians, and Gideonites among others.
Artist and sculptor Wah Chang, who had worked for Walt Disney Productions, was hired to design and manufacture props: he created the flip-open communicator, often credited as having influenced the configuration of the portable version of the cellular telephone. Chang also designed the portable sensing-recording-computing "tricorder" device, and various fictitious devices for the starship's engineering crew and its sick bay. As the series progressed, he helped to create various memorable aliens, such as the Gorn and the Horta.
Season 1 (1966–67)
NBC ordered 16 episodes of Star Trek, besides "Where No Man Has Gone Before". The first regular episode of Star Trek, The Man Trap, aired on Thursday, September 8, 1966 from 8:30–9:30 as part of an NBC "sneak preview" block. Reviews were mixed; while The Philadelphia Inquirer and San Francisco Chronicle liked the new show, The New York Times and The Boston Globe were less favorable, and Variety predicted that it "won't work", calling it "an incredible and dreary mess of confusion and complexities". Debuting against mostly reruns, Star Trek easily won its time slot with a 40.6 share. The following week against all-new programming, however, the show fell to second (29.4 share) behind CBS. It ranked 33rd (out of 94 programs) over the next two weeks, then the following two episodes ranked 51st in the ratings.
Star Trek's first-season ratings would in earlier years likely have caused NBC to cancel the show. The network had pioneered research into viewers' demographic profiles in the early 1960s, however, and, by 1967, it and other networks increasingly considered such data when making decisions; for example, CBS temporarily cancelled Gunsmoke that year because it had too many older and too few younger viewers. Although Roddenberry later claimed that NBC was unaware of Star Trek's favorable demographics, awareness of Star Trek's "quality" audience is what likely caused the network to retain the show after the first and second seasons. NBC instead decided to order 10 more new episodes for the first season, and order a second season in March 1967. The network originally announced that the show would air at 7:30–8:30 pm Tuesday, but it was instead given an 8:30–9:30 pm Friday slot when the 1967–68 NBC schedule was released, making watching it difficult for the young viewers that the show most attracted.
Season 2 (1967–68)
Star Trek's ratings continued to decline during the second season. Although Shatner expected the show to end after two seasons and began to prepare for other projects, NBC nonetheless may have never seriously considered cancelling the show. As early as January 1968, the Associated Press reported that Star Trek's chances for renewal for a third season were "excellent". The show had better ratings for NBC than ABC's competing Hondo, and the competing CBS programs (#3 Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and the first half-hour of the #12 CBS Friday Night Movie) were in the top 15 in the Nielsen ratings. Again, demographics helped Star Trek survive. Contrary to popular belief among its fans, the show did not have a larger audience of young viewers than its competition while on NBC. The network's research did, however, indicate that Star Trek had a "quality audience" including "upper-income, better-educated males", and other NBC shows had lower overall ratings. The show was unusual at the time in its serious discussion of contemporary societal issues in a futuristic context, unlike Lost in Space which was more "campy" in nature.
The enthusiasm of Star Trek's viewers surprised NBC. The network had already received 29,000 fan letters for the show during its first season, more than for any other except The Monkees. When rumors spread in late 1967 that Star Trek was at risk of cancellation, Roddenberry secretly began and funded an effort by Bjo Trimble, her husband John and other fans to persuade tens of thousands of viewers to write letters of support to save the program. Using the 4,000 names on a mailing list for a science-fiction convention, the Trimbles asked fans to write to NBC and ask ten others to also do so. NBC received almost 116,000 letters for the show between December 1967 and March 1968, including more than 52,000 in February alone; according to an NBC executive, the network received more than one million pieces of mail but only disclosed the 116,000 figure. Newspaper columnists encouraged readers to write letters to help save what one called "the best science fiction show on the air". More than 200 Caltech students marched to NBC's Burbank, California studio to support Star Trek in January 1968, carrying signs such as "Draft Spock" and "Vulcan Power". Berkeley and MIT students organized similar protests in San Francisco and New York.
The show, according to the 6,000 letters it draws a week (more than any other in television), is watched by scientists, museum curators, psychiatrists, doctors, university professors and other highbrows. The Smithsonian Institution asked for a print of the show for its archives, the only show so honored.
Much of the mail came from doctors, scientists, teachers, and other professional people, and was for the most part literate–and written on good stationery. And if there is anything a network wants almost as much as a high Nielsen ratings it is the prestige of a show that appeals to the upper middle class and high brow audiences.
NBC—which used such anecdotes in much of its publicity for the show—made the unusual decision to announce on television, after the episode "The Omega Glory" on March 1, 1968, that the series had been renewed. The announcement implied a request to stop writing, but instead caused fans to send letters of thanks in similar numbers.
Season 3 (1968–69)
NBC at first planned to move Star Trek to Mondays for the show's third season, likely in hopes of increasing its audience after the enormous letter campaign surprised the network. But in March 1968, NBC instead moved the show to 10:00 pm Friday night, an hour undesirable for its younger audience, so as not to conflict with the highly successful Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on Monday evenings, from whose time slot Laugh-In producer George Schlatter had angrily demanded it not be rescheduled. In addition to the undesirable time slot, Star Trek was now being seen on only 181 of NBC's 210 affiliates.
Roddenberry was frustrated, and complained, "If the network wants to kill us, it couldn't make a better move." He attempted to persuade NBC to give Star Trek a better day and hour, but was not successful. As a result of this and his own growing exhaustion, he chose to withdraw from the stress of the daily production of Star Trek, though he remained nominally in charge as its "executive producer". Roddenberry reduced his direct involvement in Star Trek before the start of the 1968–69 television season, and was replaced by Fred Freiberger as the producer of the television series. NBC next reduced Star Trek's budget by a significant amount per episode, as the per-minute commercial price had dropped from $39,000 to $36,000 compared to the Season 2 time slot. This caused a significant decline in the quality of many episodes for the 1968–69 season, which emphasized "monster of the week" stories. Nichols described these budget cuts as an intentional effort to kill off Star Trek:
While NBC paid lip service to expanding Star Trek's audience, it [now] slashed our production budget until it was actually ten percent lower than it had been in our first season ... This is why in the third season you saw fewer outdoor location shots, for example. Top writers, top guest stars, top anything you needed was harder to come by. Thus, Star Trek's demise became a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I can assure you, that is exactly as it was meant to be.
The last day of filming for Star Trek was January 9, 1969, and after 79 episodes NBC cancelled the show in February despite fans' attempt at another letter-writing campaign. One newspaper columnist advised a protesting viewer:
You Star Trek fans have fought the "good fight," but the show has been cancelled and there's nothing to be done now.
In 2011, the decision to cancel Star Trek by NBC was ranked #4 on the TV Guide Network special, 25 Biggest TV Blunders 2.
Although many of the third season's episodes were considered of poor quality, it gave Star Trek enough episodes for television syndication. Most shows require at least four seasons for syndication, because otherwise there are not enough episodes for daily stripping. Kaiser Broadcasting, however, purchased syndication rights for Star Trek during the first season for its stations in several large cities. The company arranged the unusual deal because it saw the show as effective counterprogramming against the Big Three networks' 6 pm evening news programs. Paramount began advertising the reruns in trade press in March 1969; as Kaiser's ratings were good, other stations, such as WPIX in New York City and WKBS in Philadelphia, also purchased the episodes for similar counterprogramming.
Through syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it had on NBC, becoming a cult classic. Airing the show in the late afternoon or early evening attracted many new viewers, often young. By 1970, Paramount's trade advertisements claimed that the show had significantly improved its stations' ratings, and the Los Angeles Times commented on Star Trek's ability to "acquire the most enviable ratings in the syndication field". By 1972, what the Associated Press described as "the show that won't die" aired in more than 100 American cities and 60 other countries, and more than 3,000 fans attended the first Star Trek convention in New York City.
Fans of the show became increasingly organized, gathering at conventions to trade merchandise, meet actors from the show, and watch screenings of old episodes. Such fans came to be known as "trekkies", who were noted (and often ridiculed) for their extreme devotion to the show and their encyclopedic knowledge of every episode. Unlike other syndicated reruns, prices for Star Trek rose, instead of falling, over time, because fans enjoyed rewatching each episode many, often dozens of, times; People in 1977 stated that the show "threatens to rerun until the universe crawls back into its little black hole". By 1986, 17 years after entering syndication, Star Trek was the most popular syndicated series; by 1987, Paramount made $1 million from each episode; and by 1994, the reruns still aired in 94% of the United States.
From September 1 to December 24, 1998, the Sci-Fi Channel broadcast a "Special Edition" of all The Original Series episodes in an expanded 90-minute format hosted by William Shatner. About 3–4 minutes of each episode that had been edited out of the syndicated shows for additional commercial time were restored for the "Special Edition" broadcast. In addition to introductory and post-episode commentary by Shatner, the episodes included interviews with members of the regular production team and cast, writers, guest stars, and critics (titled as "Star Trek Insights"). The episodes were broadcast in the original broadcast sequence, followed by "The Cage," to which a full 105-minute segment was devoted. (For details on each episode's original airdate, see List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes.) Leonard Nimoy hosted a second run from December 28, 1998 to March 24, 1999, but not all the episodes were broadcast because the show was abruptly cancelled before completion.
In September 2006, CBS Paramount Domestic Television (now known as CBS Television Distribution, the current rights holders for the Star Trek television franchises) began syndication of an enhanced version of Star Trek: The Original Series in high definition with new CGI visual effects.
Under the direction of Star Trek producer David Rossi, who consulted with Mike and Denise Okuda, the visual and special effects were recreated to give Star Trek: The Original Series a more modern look. Special attention was given to such elements as the Enterprise, alien planets and their images depicted from space, planets seen from orbit, alien spacecraft, and technology such as computer readouts, viewscreen images, and phaser beams.
The restoration and enhancement was performed by CBS Digital. All live-action footage was scanned in high definition from its first-generation 35 mm film elements. While it was possible to retouch and remaster some visual effects, all new exterior ship, space and planet shots were recreated under the supervision of Emmy-nominated visual effects supervisor Niel Wray.
As noted in the "making of" DVD feature, first generation "original camera negatives" were used for all live-action footage but not for external shots of the ship and planets. Notable changes include new space shots with a CGI Enterprise, and other new models (for example, a Gorn ship is shown in "Arena"), redone matte background shots, and other minor touches such as tidying up viewscreens.
A small number of scenes have also been recomposed, and sometimes new actors have been placed into the background of some shots. In addition, the opening theme music has been re-recorded in digital stereo.
The first episode to be released to syndication was "Balance of Terror" on the weekend of September 16, 2006. Episodes were released at the rate of about one a week and broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Despite the HD remastering, CBS chose to deliver the broadcast syndication package in Standard Definition (SD TV). The HD format is commercially available through Blu-ray, or by download such as iTunes, Netflix, and Xbox Live.
While the CGI shots were mastered in a 16:9 aspect ratio for future applications, they are broadcast in the U.S. and Canada – along with the live-action footage – in a 4:3 aspect ratio to respect the show's original composition. If the producers were to choose to reformat the entire show for the 16:9 ratio, live-action footage would have to be cropped, significantly reducing the height of the original image.
On July 26, 2007, CBS Home Entertainment (with distribution by Paramount Home Entertainment) announced that the remastered episodes of TOS would be released on an HD DVD/DVD hybrid format. Season 1 was released on November 20, 2007. Season 2 had been scheduled for release in the summer of 2008, but it was cancelled when Toshiba (which had been helping finance the remastering of the show) pulled out of the HD DVD business. On August 5, 2008, the remastered Season 2 was released on DVD only. For this release, CBS and Paramount used discs without any disc art, making them look like the "Season 1 Remastered" HD DVD/DVD combo discs, despite having content only on one side. Season 3 was released on DVD only on November 18, 2008. On February 17, 2009 – Paramount announced the Season 1 of TOS on Blu-ray Disc for a May release to coincide with the new feature film coming from Paramount. The second season was released in a seven disc set on Blu-ray in the U.S. on September 22, 2009. The third season was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. on December 15. With the release of the "Alternate Realities" box set, remastered Original Series episodes were included in a multi-series compilation for the first time. It is unknown if future compilation releases will exclusively use the remastered episodes or not.
In region 2 and region 4, all three seasons of the remastered Original Series became available on DVD in the slimline edition (in the UK and Germany in steelbook editions) on April 27, 2009 as well as the first season in Blu-ray.
While still casting the roles, Gene Roddenberry did not mandate Bones McCoy and Spock be male. According to Nichelle Nichols, "They gave me a three-page script to read from that had three characters named Bones, Kirk and somebody called Spock, and they asked me if I would read for the role of Spock. When I looked at this great text, I said to myself, 'I'll take any one of these roles,' but I found the Spock character to be very interesting, and I asked them to tell me what she [Spock] was like."
It was intended that Sulu's role be expanded in the second season, but owing to Takei's part in John Wayne's The Green Berets, he only appeared in half the season, with his role being filled by Walter Koenig as the relatively young, mop-topped Russian navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov. When Takei returned, the two had to share a dressing room and a single episode script. The two appeared together at the Enterprise helm for the remainder of the series. There may be some truth to the unofficial story that the Soviet Union's newspaper Pravda complained that there were no Soviets among the culturally diverse characters. This was seen as a personal slight to that country since the Soviet Russian Yuri Gagarin had been the first man to make a spaceflight. Gene Roddenberry said in response that "The Chekov thing was a major error on our part, and I'm still embarrassed by the fact we didn't include a Russian right from the beginning." However, documentation from Desilu suggests that the intention was to introduce a character into Star Trek with more sex appeal to teenaged girls. Walter Koenig noted in the 2006 40th anniversary special of Star Trek: The Original Series that he doubted the rumor about Pravda, since Star Trek had never been shown on Soviet television. It has also been claimed that the former member of The Monkees, Davy Jones, could have been the model for Mr. Chekov.
In addition, the series frequently included characters (usually security personnel wearing red uniforms) who are killed or injured soon after their introduction. So prevalent was this plot device that it inspired the term "redshirt" to denote a stock character whose sole purpose is to die violently to show the dangerous circumstances facing the main characters.
Star Trek made celebrities of its cast of largely unknown actors. Kelley had appeared in many films and television shows, but mostly in smaller roles that showcased him as a villain. Nimoy also had previous television and film experience but was also not well known. Nimoy had partnered previously with Shatner in a 1964 episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Project Strigas Affair", and with Kelley (as a doctor) in a 1963 episode of The Virginian, "Man of Violence", both more than two years before Star Trek aired for the first time. Before Star Trek, Shatner was well known in the trade, having appeared in several notable films, played Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway, and even turned down the part of Dr. Kildare. However, when roles became sparse he took the regular job after Jeffrey Hunter's contract was not renewed. After the episodes aired, many performers found themselves typecast because of their defining roles in the show. (Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Michael Dorn stated in 1991, however: "If what happened to the first cast is called being typecast, then I want to be typecast. Of course, they didn't get the jobs after Trek. But they are making their sixth movie. Name me someone else in television who has made six movies!")
The three main characters were Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, with writers often playing the different personalities off each other: Kirk was passionate and often aggressive, but with a sly sense of humor; Spock was coolly logical; and McCoy was sardonic, emotional, and illogical, but always compassionate. In many stories the three clashed, with Kirk forced to make a tough decision while Spock advocated the logical but sometimes callous path and McCoy (or "Bones," as Kirk nicknamed him) insisted on doing whatever would cause the least harm. McCoy and Spock had a sparring relationship that masked their true affection and respect for each other, and their constant arguments became popular with viewers. The show so emphasized dialogue that writer and director Nicholas Meyer (involved with the Star Trek films) called it a radio drama, showing an episode to a film class without video to prove that the plot was still comprehensible.
The Spock character was at first rejected by network executives, who were apprehensive that his vaguely "Satanic" appearance (with pointed ears and eyebrows) might prove upsetting to some viewers, and (according to Leonard Nimoy) they repeatedly urged Roddenberry to "drop the Martian". Roddenberry was also dismayed to discover that NBC's publicity department deliberately airbrushed out Spock's pointed ears and eyebrows from early publicity stills sent to network affiliates, because they feared that his "demonic" appearance might offend potential buyers in the religiously conservative southern states. Spock, however, went on to become one of the most popular characters on the show, as did McCoy's impassioned country-doctor personality. Spock, in fact, became a sex symbol of sorts—something no one connected with the show had expected. Leonard Nimoy noted that the question of Spock's extraordinary sex appeal emerged "almost any time I talked to someone in the press…I never give it a thought…to try to deal with the question of Mr. Spock as a sex symbol is silly."
Characters' cameo appearances in later series
The sequel to the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which premiered in 1987, was set about 100 years after the events of TOS. As that show and its spin-offs progressed, several TOS actors made appearances reprising their original characters:
Besides the above examples, there have been numerous non-canon novels and comic books published over the years in which The Original Series era crew are depicted in the The Next Generation era, either through time-travel or other means. In addition, many actors who appeared on The Original Series later made guest appearances as different characters in later series, most notably Majel Barrett, who not only provided the voice for most Starfleet computers in episodes of every spin-off series (including a single appearance on Star Trek: Enterprise, where the computers normally did not speak at all), but also had the recurring role of Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Diana Muldaur, a guest star in the episodes "Return to Tomorrow" and "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" of the original Star Trek series, played series regular Dr. Katherine Pulaski in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Notable guest appearances
Guest roles on the series have featured actors such as:
In its writing, Star Trek is notable as one of the earliest science-fiction TV series to use the services of leading contemporary science fiction writers, such as Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison, and Theodore Sturgeon, as well as established television writers. Series script editor Dorothy C. Fontana (originally Roddenberry's secretary) played a key role in the success of Star Trek—she edited most of the series' scripts and wrote several episodes. Her credits read D.C. Fontana at the suggestion of Gene Roddenberry, who felt a female science fiction writer might not be taken seriously in the majority-male field.
Roddenberry often utilized the setting of a space vessel set many years in the future to comment on social issues of the 1960s United States, including sexism, racism, nationalism, and global war. In November 1968, just a few months after the first televised interracial touch, the episode "Plato's Stepchildren" went incorrectly down in history as the first American television show to feature a scripted interracial kiss between characters (Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura), although the kiss was only mimed (obscured by the back of a character's head) and depicted as involuntary. "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" presented a direct allegory about the irrationality and futility of racism. Anti-war themes appear in episodes such as "The Doomsday Machine", depicting a planet-destroying weapon as an analogy to nuclear weapons deployed under the principle of mutually assured destruction, and "A Taste of Armageddon" about a society which has "civilized" war to the point that they no longer see it as something to avoid.
Episodes such as "The Apple", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "The Mark of Gideon", and "The Return of the Archons" display subtle anti-religious (owing mainly to Roddenberry's own secular humanism) and anti-establishment themes. "Bread and Circuses" and "The Omega Glory" have themes that are more pro-Christian or patriotic.
However, the show experienced network and/or sponsor interference, up to and including wholesale censorship of scripts and film footage. This was a regular occurrence in the 1960s and Star Trek suffered from its fair share of tampering. Scripts were routinely vetted and censored by the staff of NBC's Broadcast Standards Department, who copiously annotated every script with demands for cuts or changes (e.g. "Page 4: Please delete McCoy's expletive, 'Good Lord'" or "Page 43: Caution on the embrace; avoid open-mouthed kiss").
The series was noted for its sense of humor, such as Spock and McCoy's pointed, yet friendly, bickering. Certain episodes, such as "The Trouble with Tribbles", "I, Mudd", and "A Piece of the Action", were written and staged as comedies with dramatic elements. However most episodes were presented as action/adventure dramas, frequently including space battles or fist fights between the ship's crew and guest antagonists.
Several episodes used the concept of planets developing parallel to Earth, allowing reuse of stock props, costumes, and sets. "Bread and Circuses", "Miri", and "The Omega Glory" depict such worlds, and three other episodes, "A Piece of the Action", "Patterns of Force", and "Plato's Stepchildren" are based on alien planets that have adopted period Earth cultures (Prohibition-era Chicago, Nazi Germany, and ancient Greece, respectively). Two episodes depicting time travel ("Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and "Assignment: Earth") conveniently place Enterprise in orbit above 1960s Earth; a third ("The City on the Edge of Forever") places members of the crew on 1930s Earth.
Several publications have ranked the ten best episodes of Star Trek:
Of the sixteen episodes listed above, ten – "Where No Man Has Gone Before," "The Enemy Within," "The Naked Time," "Balance of Terror," "The Galileo Seven," "Arena," "Space Seed," "This Side of Paradise," "The Devil in the Dark," and "The City on the Edge of Forever" – are from the first season and five – "Amok Time," "The Doomsday Machine," "Mirror, Mirror," "The Trouble with Tribbles," and "Journey to Babel" – are from the second season. Only one – "The Enterprise Incident" – derives from the third season.
"Star Trek Memories"
In 1983, Leonard Nimoy hosted a one-hour special as a promotional tie-in with the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in which he recounted his memories of working on the original series and explained the origins of things such as the Vulcan nerve pinch and the Vulcan salute, as well as a re-airing of TOS episode of Space Seed
The show's theme tune, immediately recognizable by many, was written by Alexander Courage, and has been featured in several Star Trek spin-off episodes and motion pictures. Gene Roddenberry subsequently wrote a set of accompanying lyrics, even though the lyrics were never used in the series, nor did Roddenberry ever intend them to be; this allowed him to claim co-composer credit and hence 50% of the theme's performance royalties. Courage considered Roddenberry's actions, while entirely legal, to be unethical. Series producer Robert Justman noted in the book Inside Star Trek The Real Story, that work on the film Doctor Dolittle kept Courage from working on more than two episodes of the first season. However, Justman also believed that Courage lost enthusiasm for the series because of the "royalty" issue. Courage did not score any episodes of the second season; however he did conduct a recording session for about 30 minutes of "library cues" for the second season, on June 16, 1967. Courage returned to score two episodes of the third season.
Later episodes used stock recordings from Courage's earlier work. Jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson recorded a jazz fusion version of the tune with his big band during the late 1970s, and Nichelle Nichols performed the song live complete with lyrics.
For budgetary reasons, this series made significant use of "tracked" music, or music written for other episodes that was reused in later episodes. Of the 79 episodes that were broadcast, only 31 had complete or partial original dramatic underscores created specifically for them. The remainder of the music in any episode was tracked from other episodes and from cues recorded for the music library. Which episodes would have new music was mostly the decision of Robert H. Justman, the Associate Producer during the first two seasons.
Screen credits for the composers were given based on the amount of music composed for, or composed and reused in, the episode. Some of these final music credits were occasionally incorrect.
Beyond the short works of "source" music (music whose source is seen or acknowledged onscreen) created for specific episodes, eight composers were contracted to create original dramatic underscore during the series run: Alexander Courage, George Duning, Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan, Samuel Matlovsky, Joseph Mullendore, and Fred Steiner. The composers conducted their own music. Of these composers, Steiner composed the original music for thirteen episodes and it is his instrumental arrangement of Alexander Courage's main theme that is heard over many of the end title credits of the series.
The tracked musical underscores were chosen and edited to the episode by the music editors, principal of whom were Robert Raff (most of Season One), Jim Henrikson (Season One and Two), and Richard Lapham (Season Three).
Some of the original recordings of the music were released in the United States commercially on the GNP Crescendo Record Co. label. Music for a number of the episodes was re-recorded by Fred Steiner and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the Varèse Sarabande label; and by Tony Bremner with the Royal Philharmonic for the Label X label. Finally in December 2012, the complete original recordings were released by La-La Land Records as a 15-CD box set, with liner notes by Jeff Bond.
Episodes with original music
Listed in production order. Episodes that were only partially scored are in italics.
- "The Cage" (Alexander Courage)
- "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (Alexander Courage)
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" (Fred Steiner)
- "Mudd's Women" (Fred Steiner)
- "The Enemy Within" (Sol Kaplan)
- "The Man Trap" (Alexander Courage)
- "The Naked Time" (Alexander Courage)
- "Charlie X" (Fred Steiner)
- "Balance of Terror" (Fred Steiner)
- "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (Fred Steiner)
- "The Conscience of the King" (Joseph Mullendore)
- "Shore Leave" (Gerald Fried)
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" (Fred Steiner)
- "Catspaw" (Gerald Fried)
- "Metamorphosis" (George Duning)
- "Friday's Child" (Gerald Fried)
- "Who Mourns for Adonais?" (Fred Steiner)
- "Amok Time" (Gerald Fried)
- "The Doomsday Machine" (Sol Kaplan)
- "Mirror, Mirror" (Fred Steiner)
- "I, Mudd" (Samuel Matlovsky)
- "The Trouble with Tribbles" (Jerry Fielding)
- "By Any Other Name" (Fred Steiner)
- "Patterns of Force" (George Duning)
- "The Omega Glory" (Fred Steiner)
- "Return to Tomorrow" (George Duning)
- "Spectre of the Gun" (Jerry Fielding)
- "Elaan of Troyius" (Fred Steiner)
- "The Paradise Syndrome" (Gerald Fried)
- "The Enterprise Incident" (Alexander Courage)
- "And the Children Shall Lead" (George Duning)
- "Spock's Brain" (Fred Steiner)
- "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" (George Duning)
- "The Empath" (George Duning)
- "Plato's Stepchildren" (Alexander Courage)
Note: Although "The Way To Eden" had no original score, the episode had special musical material by Arthur Heinemann (the episode's writer), guest star Charles Napier and Craig Robertson. "Requiem for Methuselah" contains a Johannes Brahms interpretation by Ivan Ditmars.
Although this series never won any Emmys, Star Trek was nominated for the following Emmy Awards:
Eight of its episodes were nominated for one of science-fiction's top awards, the Hugo Award, in the category "Best Dramatic Presentation". In 1967, the nominated episodes were "The Naked Time", "The Corbomite Maneuver", and "The Menagerie". In 1968, all nominees were Star Trek episodes: "Amok Time", "Mirror, Mirror", "The Doomsday Machine", "The Trouble with Tribbles", and "The City on the Edge of Forever". Star Trek won both years for the episodes "The Menagerie" and "The City on the Edge of Forever", respectively. In 1968, Star Trek (the T.V. show) won a special Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation. No episode was named. This was the show's 3rd Hugo Award.
In 1967, Star Trek was also one of the first television programs to receive an NAACP Image Award. In 1968, Star Trek's most critically acclaimed episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever," written by Harlan Ellison, won the prestigious Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Teleplay, although this was for Ellison's original draft script, and not for the screenplay of the episode as it aired.
In 1997, "The City on the Edge of Forever" was ranked #92 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
In 2004 and 2007, TV Guide ranked Star Trek as the greatest cult show ever.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked Star Trek #12 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.
Episodes of the Original Series were among the first television series to be released on the VHS and laserdisc formats in North America in the 1980s, with all episodes eventually being released on both formats. With the advent of DVD in the mid-1990s, single DVDs featuring two episodes each in production order were released. In the early 2000s, Paramount Home Video reissued the series to DVD in a series of three deluxe season boxes with added featurettes and documentaries. In February 2009 Paramount announced that they would release the Original Series on Blu-ray. Season one, two, and three were released on April 28, September 22, and December 15, respectively. The Blu-ray releases let the user choose between "Enhanced Effects" or "Original Effects" via technique called multi-angle.
All 79 episodes of the series have been digitally remastered by CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount) and have since been released on DVD.
Paramount released season one of The Original Series on Blu-ray on April 28, 2009. The Blu-ray release contains both Original and Remastered episodes by seamless branching.
CBS Interactive is presenting all 3 seasons of the series via the tv.com iPhone app. The full-length episodes, without the new CGI but digitally processed to remove the original celluloid artifacts, are available to users in the USA at no charge but with embedded ads. Short clips from the shows are also viewable at their web site. The company has recently presented all 3 seasons of the series via their CBS All Access premium streaming service. It has all full-length episodes, without the new CGI, like the tv.com app, and is available to users in the USA with subscription without ads interruptions.
In January 2007, the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series became available for download from Apple's iTunes Store. Although consumer reviews indicate that some of the episodes on iTunes are the newly "remastered" editions, iTunes editors had not indicated such, and if so, which are which. All first-season episodes that had been remastered and aired were available from iTunes, except "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which remains in its original form. On March 20, 2007, the first season was again added to the iTunes Store, with separate downloads for the original and remastered versions of the show, though according to the customer reviews, the original version contains minor revisions such as special effect enhancements.
Netflix began online streaming of five of the six Star Trek television series on July 1, 2011; Deep Space Nine followed on October 1, 2011.
Star Trek: The Original Series has inspired many commercial products, including toys, comic books, and many other materials. The comics are generally considered non-canon.
In the early 1970s the Mego Corporation acquired the license to produce Star Trek action figures, which the company successfully marketed from 1974–1976. During this period, the company produced a line of 8" figures featuring Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Leonard McCoy, Mr. Scott, Lt. Uhura, "Aliens" (a Klingon, a Neptunian, the Keeper, a Gorn, a Cheron, a Romulan, a Talosian, an Andorian, and a Mugato), and numerous playsets. (Mego also produced a "life-size" toy tricorder.)
In the mid-2000s, Paul "Dr. Mego" Clarke and Joe Sena founded EMCE Toys (pronounced "MC") to bring Mego toys back to the marketplace. (Mego went out of business in 1983.) Working with Diamond Select Toys, current holders of the Star Trek license, these figures have been selling in comics shops. New characters are currently being produced that Mego did not originally make, such as Lt. Sulu, Ensign Chekov, and "Space Seed" villain Khan Noonien Singh. The Gorn that Mego produced had a brown Lizard head (identical to the Marvel Comics villain) on a brown body wearing a Klingon outfit. Star Trek fans had frequently wished that Mego had made a "TV-accurate" Gorn; EMCE Toys and DST produced a new green Gorn based on the TV episode "Arena". EMCE Toys hired original Mego packaging artist Harold Schull to illustrate new artwork for Sulu, Chekov, Khan, and the Gorn. EMCE Toys is continuing the Mego revival with the production of more Star Trek figures, including Captain Pike and the Salt Vampire.
The first Star Trek comics were published by Gold Key Comics between 1967 and 1978. These comics were highly stylized and diverged wildly from the TV series continuity. Most storylines used in the Gold Key series featured original characters and concepts, although later issues did include sequels to the original series episodes "The City on the Edge of Forever", "Metamorphosis" and "I, Mudd". Writers included George Kashdan, Arnold Drake and Len Wein. Originally they were illustrated by Alberto Giolitti, an Italian artist who had never seen the series and only had publicity photos to use as references. Since Giolitti didn't have a publicity photo of James Doohan, early issues of the series had Mr. Scott drawn differently. The original issues, most of which featured photographic covers showing images from the series, are highly collectable. They are fondly remembered by fans, and a series of reprints ("The Key Collection") of these original titles began to appear in 2004, published by Checker. The Gold Key series had a run of 61 issues. Gold Key lost the Star Trek license to Marvel Comics in 1979 (although Marvel's license from Paramount prohibited them from utilizing concepts introduced in the original series).
From 1969 to 1973, a series of weekly Star Trek comic strips ran in the British comics magazine eventually known as TV Century 21. A total of 258 issues were produced, as well as various annuals and specials. All were original stories. Two more annuals, under the Mighty TV Comic banner, also produced original Star Trek materials. In addition, the weekly TV Comic reprinted serialized versions of the U.S. Gold Key comics.
In 1977–1978, before home video was widely available, Mandala Productions and Bantam Books published FotoNovels of TOS that included direct adaptations of actual color television episode frames (with word balloons) in comics format.
From February 1984 through February 1996, DC Comics held the license to publish comic books based upon the Star Trek franchise, including Star Trek: The Original Series. The main DC Comics Star Trek title was published in two series, comprising 136 issues, 9 annuals, and a number of special issues, plus several mini-series that linked TOS and the subsequent series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).
Marvel Comics again obtained the Star Trek license in 1996. Marvel (under the "Marvel/Paramount comics" imprint) published various one-shots and the quarterly Star Trek Unlimited series, which covered TOS as well as TNG. They also introduced the new series Star Trek: Early Voyages, which dealt with Christopher Pike's adventures as captain of the Enterprise (as depicted in the rejected TOS pilot "The Cage"). Fan acceptance of these comics got off to a shaky start when Marvel's inaugural publication of its new Star Trek line turned out to be a crossover between TOS and Marvel's popular superhero team, the X-Men. However, the series turned out to be relatively popular, registering strong sales.
Beginning in 2006, Tokyopop published two projects based upon the original series. The new comic anthologies, produced by Joshua Ortega, were released annually in September 2006 (Shinsei Shinsei) and 2007 (Kakan ni Shinkou). Five artists and writer teams presented five new stories, per volume, based on the original series.
Roddenberry was "committed to a liberalism that believed in prosperity, technological progress, and universal humanity" and at odds with the New Left, which "saw the evils of society as the consequence not merely of capitalism but of technology and reason itself."
The Original Series has been parodied many times in other television series. Saturday Night Live produced two famous sketches parodying The Original Series, "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise" in 1976 and William Shatner's own "Get a life" sketch in 1986 (which parodied the show's "trekkie" followers). "The Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise" is a twelve-minute sketch, written by Michael O'Donoghue. It was described by TrekMovie.com as "one of the best Star Trek parody sketches of all time". TVSquad ranked Shatner's "Get a life" sketch alongside "The Last Voyage..." as one of the most famous parodies of the show.
The Canadian comedy duo Wayne and Shuster parodied Star Trek as Star Schtick in the late 1970s. An entire Finnish parody series Star Wreck was produced starting in 1992, culminating with Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning in 2005, all available as legal downloads on the web.
The series has also been parodied on The Simpsons, Family Guy and notably in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", which was described by Wired magazine as a "touchstone" for fans. The 1999 film Galaxy Quest portrays the lives of a once-popular television space-drama crew who are kidnapped by real aliens who have mistaken the fictional series for reality. The main characters are parodies of Star Trek characters, and many of the plot elements refer to or parody popular 1960s TV-series customs.
John Scalzi's novel Redshirts, winner of the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel, uses the theme of red-shirted Star Fleet officers as cannon fodder.
Star Trek has inspired many fans to produce stories for free Internet distribution. Many of these are set in the time of The Original Series, including Star Trek: Phase II which was nominated for a Hugo Award and received support from actors and writers who were involved with The Original Series.
Rod Serling said of Star Trek, "Star Trek was again a very inconsistent show which at times sparkled with true ingenuity and pure science fiction approaches. At other times it was more carnival-like, and very much more the creature of television than the creature of a legitimate literary form."
Isaac Asimov and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry developed a unique relationship during Star Trek's initial run in the late 1960s. Asimov wrote a critical essay on Star Trek's scientific accuracy for TV Guide magazine. Roddenberry retorted respectfully with a personal letter explaining the limitations of accuracy when writing a weekly series. Asimov corrected himself with a follow-up essay to TV Guide claiming despite its inaccuracies, that Star Trek was a fresh and intellectually challenging science fiction television show. The two remained friends to the point where Asimov even served as an adviser on a number of Star Trek projects.