‘Star Trek’ Movies, TV Shows Began 50 Years Ago: Has The Franchise Lived Long And Prospered?

Star Trek movies and several TV series have come and gone where no one had gone before, and 50 years later, we’re way beyond the five-year mission which was the premise of the show. Now Captain Kirk and Mister Spock are household names which hold an irreplaceable place in the fans’ hearts.

It all really started with an idea nobody wanted to try. Back before anyone had heard about Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry had tried to market the idea of space exploration in an era when the Western was still king. Nobody wanted to try it until he had the idea of pitching it to NBC as a “Wagon Train to the stars.”

When it finally caught on, the rest was put into motion for far longer than anyone could have predicted. The franchise has lasted longer than many of its original cast, including Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, and Deforest Kelly, who played Spock, “Scotty,” and McCoy, respectively. George Takei, the much-loved icon of the Star Trek movie and TV world, had joked with Doohan about the series’ success, according to NPR.

“When we were shooting the pilot, Jimmy Doohan said to me, ‘Well, George, what do you think about this? What kind of run do you think we’ll have?’ And I said, ‘I smell quality. And that means we’re in trouble.’ “

Takei had predicted that the series would last one season, but it actually continued for two more. After the original series ended, Star Trek: The Motion Picture brought everybody back while The Next Generation introduced us to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and a whole new crew with a new intro theme and everything. Star Trek movies have helped perpetuate the franchise for decades now, continually expanding on a concept nobody originally wanted to touch.

George Takei stated that the franchise has remained such a beloved concept due to its focus on diversity in its cast. Lieutenant Uhura was a black female, probably the first to gain fame over a possibly controversial decision (like the latest Ghostbusters), while Takei was the first Japanese actor to land a major role where he wasn’t a villain or expected to perform martial arts combat most of the time. James Doohan and Walter Koenig had been a symbol that even Caucasians with a history of adversity could work together. Having a Russian and an American work together became even more remarkable after the start of the Cold War.

Sadly, as the Star Trek movies continued, the quality dropped and eventually required a reboot to rejuvenate the series. Instead of a complete reboot, though, Leonard Nimoy agreed to help tie J.J. Abrams’ films in with the original by appearing as the original Spock opposite Zachary Quinto.

When Into Darkness hit, fans were outraged and started calling the director “JarJar Abrams,” a reference to how the Star Wars prequels had nearly ruined the rival franchise. Though Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan had actually been given more of a story than the one portrayed by Ricardo Montalbán, fans weren’t happy that the most iconic villain in Star Trek movie history had been changed.

While Star Trek Beyond has garnered some of the respect back for the franchise, it has unfortunately undersold its potential, possibly due to fan reaction to the previous film. Much like Transformers: Age of Extinction, Chinese audiences were much more enthralled, according to Xinhua, and might help continue the series.

Unfortunately, with the death of Anton Yelchin, there is a possibility that Chekov might end up quitting Starfleet before the next Star Trek movie. This is because it seems like an insult to simply kill him off or recast the character.

Star Trek might still be a strong franchise, but its future is uncertain as it enters its sixth decade.

[Image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com]

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