Happy 50th Anniversary To Star Trek

To say that I’m a Star Trek fan is a bit of an understatement.

When a person is growing up there are a lot of things in their environment that leave an imprint on them. People, voices, smells, and sounds leave their fingerprint on your brain as they surround you in your formative years. Decades later you might catch a whiff of banana bread baking in an oven and have a synapse fire off deep in your brain that carries you back to your grandmother’s kitchen when you were six. You might see a picture of a statue that your family visited when you were twelve and suddenly remember that vacation with perfect clarity.

One of the things that has been a part of my life from my earliest memories was Star Trek.

Even before I called myself a fan I remember seeing the images of a man with pointed ears come across my TV. I remember the sounds of the computer beeps and boops and the phasers when the Enterprise was firing on an enemy. I never sat down and watched the whole thing but whatever adult was watching might stop me now and again to watch an especially interesting special effect.

When I was a pre-teen I started to spend a lot of time by myself. My dad was a firefighter. My mom was a nurse. Both of them had jobs that kept them away from home a lot. And at night they’d be so tired that it was not uncommon for me to be up after they’d already gone to sleep. And there was this show that started to come on every night called Star Trek: The Next Generation. By this point I had seen episodes of the original and had even gone on a binge at my local video store to watch the four movies that had been made up to that point. So, naturally, I thought that this was a show about the children of those characters.

Of course it wasn’t. And I can’t really say that I fell in love with the show on the first viewing. It had a lot of things that I liked. The ship was cool. They had a robot…a term for Commander Data that I would soon grow to hate and correct you if you said it. And I thought Q was the coolest things ever.

So, I started watching the show on a pretty regular basis. I won’t say that I saw it every single night, but more often than not it was what I was watching between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. By the time season 3 came around I was hooked.

By the time I’d become a sophomore in high school I had been baptized in the church of Star Trek. I watched the show every single night. I wasn’t reading anything but Star Trek novels. I wore a TNG t-shirt a couple of times a week. I wrote stories about the characters that often got turned in as creative writing assignments. I was a full on Trekker (not a Trekkie…that was condescending).

If you’ve read my blog before then you know that I had a difficult time in high school. I was picked on a lot. I wasn’t really accepted by my peers mostly because I was overweight. Of course the Star Trek novel I had my nose in at lunch didn’t help things. But by this point the show was much more than just something that entertained me. These characters were my friends. Their stories were important to me.

Star Trek has been there during some of the darkest times of my life. When my parents got divorced, those characters comforted me through it. When I had been picked on relentlessly at school, I felt better by watching the show. I had a crappy signal and most of the time it was one that I’d seen before, but it still made me feel better.

And the show grew and lasted well into my adulthood. I began watching reruns of The Original Series. And over time the entire franchise became important to me. I used to sit up late at night rocking my daughter when she couldn’t sleep while an episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager would flicker on my TV screen.

For several years they were gone. I’d catch a rerun on TV every now and then, but the comfort I took in knowing that I could watch the show every night dissipated over time. But now, they’re on Netflix. All of them. Every episode of all five series as well as the first 10 movies are all there for me, any time that I need them.

Today is September 8, 2016. On September 8, 1966 the first episode aired on American television. It was very different from what we have now. The captain was different as was most of the crew. Spock was there, though he looked and acted a little different. But it was the beginning of something that would become huge. And if TNG was my first real friend…then “The Cage” was its grandfather. So that makes it important to me as well.

That show lasted three years and went away. It later came back in a second phase with several movies. Its third phase was the spinoffs which lasted about thirteen years in their own right. And now we’re in the middle of the fourth phase with the new films that JJ Abrams has put out and the birth of a new series that we’ll be getting in January. If you’ve been a Star Trek fan for life, this is a good time to be around. It’s like being an adult and being allowed to play in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese again.

My love for the show has led me to create a podcast all about the fandom. Through this show I’ve met a lot of people who love Star Trek as much if not even more than I do. I’ve been able to share my story as well as listen to the stories of other people who feel that Star Trek has been a very large part of who they are. I hope that show continues for a long time.

So, happy anniversary to Star Trek. But the show is not the one celebrating. We are celebrating. We are the ones that get to have this in our lives. We are the ones that have learned about the hope that could be in our future…a future where we don’t look at each other as colors or religions, or sexual preferences. We’ll be looking at each other as equals and joining hands to boldly go where no one has gone before.

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