Just a quick entry today, while it still is September 8th in my part of the world.
As this entire blog focuses on Star Trek, I would be remiss in my duties as the blog host if I didn’t make an effort to commemorate the 45th anniversary of my beloved sci-fi franchise. It was, after all, on this very date in 1966 that the original, and still best IMHO, Star Trek series premiered on NBC with the episode “The Man Trap”.
As anyone reading this who hasn’t been living under a rock these past 4 decades knows, that original show struggled to survive while it was on network television and was cancelled after a mere 3 seasons. Interestingly, it took a monumental effort by fans even to keep it alive for its third year. Yet, the simple fact that I am writing this over 40 years later is a testament to the staying power of the show’s concept and the depth of its fans undying devotion to it.
That devotion was never more keenly felt than in 1973, for it was in February of that year that the first fully realized International Star trek Convention was held in New York City. As far as I am aware, similar large conventions were held in other major cities, too. Yes, there had been smaller gatherings of fans in previous years, but 1973 saw thousands show up when only hundreds were expected. I believe it was that outpouring of affection for Star Trek that led its creators to try once again to “boldly go” to the final frontier; this time in animated form in a Saturday morning, half hour cartoon format.
I don’t know how long it took for Gene Roddenberry and company to go from concept to production but I do know that the bulk of the original cast was reassembled and was in the studio doing their voice-over recordings for several episodes at a time by early summer. In addition, many of the great writers who had worked on the original live-action series returned and contributed scripts to the new animated version. Even Walter Koenig, who had portrayed Ensign Chekov in the original series and was the lone original actor not to return, wrote a story for the cartoon show. In an elegant twist of fate, the 8th of September 1973 fell on a Saturday. At 10:30 that morning, I and many other devotees like me had the great pleasure of seeing the first brand new Star Trek show in nearly 5 years.
Although the animated series was very much aimed at children, it did appeal to adults on many levels and even won an Emmy. There are questions to this day how much of it, if any, is considered canonical by the producers and fans. Nevertheless, it was extremely and indescribably significant because it was the first of many re-imaginings of Star Trek and, as such, proved that it could be done and done well. For my money, that’s worth celebrating almost as much as the “birth” of the original live-action show.