Star Trek: An Oral History

Posted on May 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm

The Smithsonian has paid tribute to Star Trek, one of the most beloved and influential television series of all time with an excerpt from a series a series of oral history interviews conducted over 30 years. The first volume of the oral history, will be published next month:
The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years.

It was the most wildly successful failure in television history. First shown on NBC 50 years ago this September, the original “Star Trek” lasted just three seasons before it was canceled—only to be resuscitated in syndication and grow into a global entertainment mega-phenomenon. Four live-action TV sequels, with another digital-platform spinoff planned by CBS to launch next year. A dozen movies, beginning with 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture and resuming this July with the director Justin Lin’s “Star Trek Beyond.” It finds Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) in deep space, where they are attacked by aliens and stranded on a distant planet—a plot that may make some viewers glad that at least the special effects are new. Over the decades “Star Trek” merchandise alone (because who does not need a Dr. McCoy bobblehead?) has reportedly brought in some $5 billion.

Creator Gene Roddenberry described it as an outer space western, and he included allegories that directly addressed cultural and political issues. It featured not only the first television series character who was an African-American woman in a professional position but the first interracial romantic kiss on television as well.

The richness and persistence of the original vision are what make an extensive oral history of “Star Trek” so compelling.

And so are the stories behind the scenes.

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