It is a amazing to think we are approaching the 50th Anniversary of STAR TREK.
Next year, the latest in the reboot, STAR TREK BEYOND, is due to be released on the very day the original series debuted in 1966 – and it is an exciting milestone for both creators and fans.
When the original series was cancelled in the late 1960’s by the network, nobody could have foreseen that it would be still around in some shape or form with a total of thirteen films to date. It is a rarity of brands – and one that even went beyond the stratosphere, with NASA even making various references to it as time went on. The fourth film, THE VOYAGE HOME (1986). paid tribute to the then-recently deceased crew of the Challenger, that exploded on blast off on January 28th, 1986, witnessed by audiences around the world.
The movie era of STAR TREK began in 1979 with STAR TREK – THE MOTION PICTURE. Originally titled PHASE II and intended as an updated TV series featuring the original cast, it became a movie once STAR WARS (1977) demonstrated that Science Fiction could be viable box-office. It was directed by Robert Wise, who had previously helmed two sci-fi classics, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971), an adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel (check out also WESTWORLD (1973), a terrific futuristic classic starring James Brolin and Richard Benjamin, as tourists who go to a self-contained theme park run by robots who eventually malfunction to devastating effect) (There was a world before JURASSIC PARK)
STAR TREK – THE MOTION PICTURE was unfairly criticised at the time for not encompassing the spirit of the original series. It is a pretty good effort for all that and it’s plot-line, in which the revamped Enterprise crew confront a mysterious alien cloud on it’s way to Earth, has an intriguing pay-off (not going to reveal here if you haven’t seen it).
If you get a chance, check out Jerry Goldsmith’s Anniversary edition of the Soundtrack, as it not only features the most complete version of the classic score, but a second disc has a neat interview with creator Gene Roddenberry.
Still, it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) – and as time went on, the likes of THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK (1984), THE VOYAGE HOME (1986), THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) and THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) would ensure fans would be kept happy.
Inevitably, all good things came to an end, but the advent of a new TV show, THE NEXT GENERATION, enabled Paramount to relaunch the brand with a new series of films, starting with GENERATIONS (1994), which saw Captain Kirk pass the baton to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and subsequent films, FIRST CONTACT (1996), INSURRECTION (1998) and NEMESIS (2002) did their bit to encompass what this incarnation of characters could do. FIRST CONTACT – in which the old enemy of Picard, The Borg, try to alter history by stopping a key moment of human evolution amongst the aliens, remains the best and most exciting of this set of films.
So, we are now full-circle.
According to key sources, not only will STAR TREK BEYOND continue the exploits of the younger Enterprise crew led by Chris Pine’s Kirk, but apparently will bring the series full circle to events before the very earliest episodes of the original 1960’s show.
Without a doubt, the most loved episode of the original show is Episode 44, THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES, in which Kirk and co arrive at a space station in response to a distress call. They also encounter a trader who owns a rather unusual alien life-form called a Tribble, furry balls with an incredible desire to reproduce and evolve. Here’s a clip:
It is the best episode for characterisation and action and has some terrific lines of dialogue – an exchange between Kirk and Scotty at one point is worth the watch. Tribbles were featured briefly in THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, but I do think a film dedicated to them would be fun.
HAPPY 50TH STARFLEET!!