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Friday, May 10, 2013

The Voyages of the Starship Enterprise

Written by Jon Williams

Despite the fact that the solstice is still over a month away, the summer movie season is in full swing with Iron Man 3 opening last weekend, The Great Gatsby this weekend, and Star Trek Into Darkness coming to theatres next week.

The Star Trek phenomenon began in 1966 with the original television series starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan as the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise. Set in the 2260s, the series dealt with the crew’s adventures as they explore the galaxy in the name of the United Federation of Planets.

Creator Gene Roddenberry’s original series ran for three seasons, totaling 79 episodes (80 if you count the series pilot, which was originally rejected by NBC and went unaired until 1988). That wasn’t enough to satisfy fans, though, and it was followed up with an animated series in 1973. This show featured the voices of the original cast in the same roles, and ran for two seasons.

At that point, the small screen was no longer big enough for the further voyages of the Enterprise. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the series’ first foray onto the silver screen in 1979. It was followed by five sequels (released every 2-3 years and culminating in 1991) that featured Captain Kirk and his original crew.

As it turned out, even this wasn’t enough for Star Trek fans. So, in 1987, the franchise spun off with an entirely new television series. Star Trek: The Next Generation starred Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, and Wil Wheaton as the Enterprise’s new crew, set about a century after the original.

The Next Generation was well received by both critics and fans, and it received a longer run than the original series, spanning seven seasons and 178 episodes. It also carried on into a theatrical run, beginning with the film Generations, which released soon after the series finale in 1994. William Shatner, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig reprised their roles from the original crew as a means of passing the torch to the new crew. Three other films were made featuring the Next Generation crew.

Following The Next Generation, three more television series were set in the Star Trek universe. Beginning in 1993, Deep Space Nine was set concurrently with The Next Generation, and took place aboard a space station orbiting the planet Bajor. Voyager, which premiered in 1995, deals with a different Federation starship returning home to Earth from 75,000 light years away. Then, 2001 brought Enterprise, a prequel series detailing humanity’s first voyages into interstellar space.

As popular as these series have been, nothing has captured Trek fans’ imaginations in quite the same way as the original crew. That set the stage for 2009’s theatrical reboot, featuring a time-travel plot that allowed the familiar characters to be brought back with new actors portraying them. Star Trek Into Darkness will pick up where that film left off, as the second adventure for the “new” crew of the Enterprise.

With the new film coming into theatres, Trek fever is sure to be at an all-time high. Make sure you have plenty of Star Trek series and movies on your shelves for patrons to enjoy. SmartBrowse ‘Star Trek’ on our website for a complete selection of films and TV seasons on DVD and Blu-ray.

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