September 8, 2016

50 years ago today: The TV show "Star Trek" premiered.

Lots of tributes and memories around the web today — links collected here.

I was extremely interested in new TV shows in 1966, but this one didn't reach me. I was more of a "Twilight Zone" person. I was up for science fiction, but I wanted more interesting ideas, more mysterious phenomena, not campy adventure. To see the same cast of characters in their tight-fitting outfits might have worked on me if I'd perceived Kirk or Spock as virtual boyfriends. But they were not. Too old. And their hair was too short. For cute boys, I was watching "The Monkees."

Here are the TV listings from half a century ago. "Twilight Zone" wasn't on anymore, but "The Monkees" were. I know I gave "Star Trek" a chance, but can see that it had to compete with "Bewitched." I'm sure I watched "Bewitched" (and "That Girl"). I'd still choose "Bewitched" over "Star Trek" if I had to watch one of them right now.

138 comments:

Hagar said...

Star Trek was about very liberal ideas and ideals.

Bewitched was about what?

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'd still choose "Bewitched" over "Star Trek" if I had to watch one of them right now.

Me too. Star Trek had a few excellent episodes. City on the Edge of Tomorrow, written by Harlan Ellison, is an example of one of those. Some goofy to mediocre ones, and a lot of badly written preachy ones.

Bewitched had Elizabeth Montgomery and I don't recall an unfunny episode.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Bewitched was about what?

Uncle Arthur, obviously.

smitty said...

I never took a liking to Star Trek; the science was bad, the special effects second rate (even by 60s standards,)the aliens looked like Earthmen in pancake makeup and alien worlds all looked like Hollywood back lots.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

make that "good to mediocre"

traditionalguy said...

Do you mean that Jim Kirk's body was not sexy enough. Maybe it his command presence that offended 15 year old Althouse. Are you sure?

Back to the drawing board, since I'm often accused of being a Wm Shatner look alike.

rehajm said...

Bewitched ran after The Monkess in afternoon syndication where I lived, too. An excellent after school duo.

Sydney said...

I was four years old in 1966. The only TV show I know I watched at that age was Batman. Batman and Robin became my imaginary friends and I would run around all day having adventures with them. My parents worried I was crazy. I was an only child and we lived in the country with no other children around. They may have kept me sane.
I watched most of the other iconic shows in syndication, I'm sure. I know I watched Star Trek as an older child, in the 1970's. The McCoy character stimulated my interest in medicine. I really believed a doctor could come up with cures by studying and working really hard. Not the reality, alas, but I do owe my starting down this pathway to Star Trek's Dr. McCoy. There is one doctor in America who is close to a modern day Dr McCoy- Holmes Morton. That guy has his own gene sequencer.

Leslie Graves said...

The Monkees. You and me both. Hey hey...

Kathryn51 said...

I was an avid watcher of Star Trek in high school. If I recall correctly, Bewitched and The Monkees (both favorites) were later seasons by the time Star Trek arrived.

When I went of to college, Star Trek had just ended its 3 year run and it went into syndication. My sorority had ONE TV and the rule was that freshmen were to go to "study room" right after dinner. We rebelled - we wanted to watch Star Trek reruns (which were every night at 6:00 on local station).

We all had a crush on Walter Koenig.

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: I was up for science fiction, but I wanted more interesting ideas, more mysterious phenomena, not campy adventure.

Star Trek had plenty of ideas and ideals.

smitty: ...alien worlds all looked like Hollywood back lots.

I beg to differ. A good number of them looked like Agua Dulce.

rhhardin said...

Get Smart was the only TV series that was good. Every other one was proof that TV was a wasteland.

EDH said...

Too young, I didn't follow Star Trek until it was in syndicated reruns.

Then, I remember how distraught I was taking out the trash the night after the end of the first episode of the two-parter (mute captain on trial) that made me think the show was "cancelled" -- even though the series had actually been cancelled years before.

Kids are funny, even looking back at myself.

Brando said...

Monkees holds up surprisingly well--decent music and the comedy, while incredibly goofy, is better than most comedy from that era.

Star Trek was great, but I think what made it great was how much they were able to do with poor special effects. The modern versions lose something in that.

Plus, Shatner's overacting. That's essential.

Robin Eatmon said...

Star Trek...watched first run and after school in re-runs. Loved Bewitched and Dream of Jeannie, as well. The Monkees are better in retrospect than when they were first created for the TV series. I thought they were hokey and didn't appreciate them being Beatles knockoffs.

traditionalguy said...

Star Trek was a knock off of Forbidden Planet.That was a pretty good Freudian SciFi flic.

And you have to admit Leslie Nielsen was a sexy guy as he carried off the Professor's sexy blonde daughter, Ann Francis. Of course she was the only female on Altaira and none were in the Spaceship crew circa 1956.

Brando said...

"The Monkees are better in retrospect than when they were first created for the TV series. I thought they were hokey and didn't appreciate them being Beatles knockoffs."

I remember watching some Monkees reruns as a little kid and finding it hilarious--over the years I assumed that I'd only liked it because I was immature. But lately my wife had me rent a bunch of Monkees episodes and I find them just as funny as I did then. Conclusion--I'm still immature.

But a lot of the songs on there (the ones that didn't get tons of airplay on oldies stations) were actually quite good. I was surprised to see Mickey was more often the lead singer compared to Davey.

Laslo Spatula said...

Socially Awkward Guy Who Makes No Eye Contact says:

I really liked Star Trek when I was younger. I was happy about a future where everyone was accepted, and I liked the uniforms. I like uniforms. I particularly like German WW2 uniforms a lot, but you have to be careful when talking about that, people get the wrong idea.

I had hoped that in That Future I would be seen as just a regular guy on a Starship, not a creep on the street with untied shoes to be avoided and ignored.

As I got older I realized, of course, that Star Trek was a lie: the Future will not be like That Accepting Future, the REAL Future will just be filled with pretty much the same asshole people that are already around today.

Still, I wonder if Captain Kirk ever peed on a woman. Or a female alien that looked like a woman, but maybe she was green or blue or whatever.

It wouldn't be weird if Kirk did it. Especially with Uhura.

I can picture Captain Kirk peeing on Uhura.

Like, REALLY picture it.

Like no one else thinks these things.

I hope the Girl with the Blue Hair is working at McDonalds today.


I am Laslo.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

No lust for Chekov? Actually, he didn't appear until season 2 - probably added to seek the Althouse demographic.

I recently watched the original pilot, The Cage. Majel Barrett played the first officer, Number One. She was demoted to Dr. McCoy's nurse in the series. Number One was more Ripleyesque, 13 years before Alien.

Paul Snively said...

Brando: Plus, Shatner's overacting. That's essential.

To be fair to Mr. Shatner, it was 1964, and he came, as most actors at the time did, from the stage tradition. And as a beloved high-school drama teacher once pointed out to me, "That's (makes wrist-flipping motion) not a gesture! That's a twitch! This (makes arm-sweeping move) is a gesture!"

Thank you, Mr. LeBlanc.

If you want to at least hear what Mr. Shatner is capable of when being subdued is called for, please rent or buy Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb Movie.

Brando said...

"To be fair to Mr. Shatner, it was 1964, and he came, as most actors at the time did, from the stage tradition."

Yeah, but he did have a way of taking it to new heights. I always found it enjoyable, as well as his guest spots on Twilight Zone.

mockturtle said...

Sci-Fi was a genre that never captured my interest. I did like the first years of Sanford & Son and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Yancey Ward said...

One of my earliest memories is of watching Star Trek on television- I am only a couple of months older than the show itself, so it was probably near the end of its run or maybe one of its very first runs in syndication. I rediscovered the show in syndication when I was around ten years old when a local station started running it one Summer at 5:00 p.m. Have been hooked ever since.

cubanbob said...

Here are the TV listings from half a century ago. "Twilight Zone" wasn't on anymore, but "The Monkees" were. I know I gave "Star Trek" a chance, but can see that it had to compete with "Bewitched." I'm sure I watched "Bewitched" (and "That Girl"). I'd still choose "Bewitched" over "Star Trek" if I had to watch one of them right now."

Suppose there had been VCR's back then? What would have watched back then?

Hunter said...

When I was a kid The Next Generation was already on, and I started watching it toward the end of its run. For that reason I never got very closely acquainted with the original series and cast.

Having seen a lot of the original, I prefer TNG for the same reason Prof. Althouse preferred the Twilight Zone. With TNG, post-Roddenberry, they really dialed up the philosophy and speculation and dialed down the "campy adventure".

TNG's best and most idea-heavy episodes are still great viewing. "Darmok", "Chains of Command 1&2", "The Drumhead" to name a few.

YoungHegelian said...

We all had a crush on Walter Koenig.

Actually, he didn't appear until season 2 - probably added to seek the Althouse demographic.

Which is exactly why the character of Chekov was added to the cast second season. He was Roddenberry's answer to ---- wait for it! --- Davy Jones of the Monkees!

It's fun to remember Koenig as Chekov & then to see him over & over again as the oh-so-exquisitely evil telepath Bester in "Babylon Five".

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

If the essence of Star Trek was campy adventure, then the essence of The Twilight Zone was a person surprised by mental illness and/or magic.

I mean that as an observation, not a criticism.

I like them both.

buwaya said...

Kids were fans of the new Dr. Who, like most kids a few years ago.
The writing eventually drove them off, the excellent British actors could do a lot with poor material, but that only goes so far.
They saw the difference with Star Trek, it is vastly better written than Dr. Who .
The actors, not so much for the most part.

Balfegor said...

Star Trek is one of those things I'm broadly familiar with as a result of nerd-cultural osmosis, but I don't think I've ever watched through a full episode of any of the TV series. It's one of those things where you could imagine someone who really loved the series when he (or she) was young going back and cutting and polishing the raw material of the original series into a really splendid remake.

Not going to happen, though.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

My go-to description of Star Trek is: The biggest ideas in the world all mixed up with absolute shlock.

You have to know what to look for.

buwaya said...

Twilight Zone was almost always much better than Star Trek.
It is a hard sell to kids these days though.

Start Trek TNG was pointless from the first day. It was colorless mush.

YoungHegelian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Gee, when I think of Chekhov, I think of 'Uncle Vanya' or 'The Seagull'. I never knew it was a character on Star Trek. [Spelled differently, though].

YoungHegelian said...

@Hunter,

TNG's best and most idea-heavy episodes are still great viewing. "Darmok", "Chains of Command 1&2", "The Drumhead" to name a few.

TNG did have its moments as well as its lead balloons.

In my opinion, the consistently episodes best of the franchise were seasons 4-7 of Deep Space Nine. Many episodes that explored the nature of evil with almost Biblical depth.

buwaya said...

Re Star Trek, if you can't stand the production or the ham acting, pick up the short story versions of the original episodes, by James Blish. Thats not a "novelization" if its short stories is it? Anyway, its good stuff for what it is, Blish was a good writer (get his other stuff too, "Cities in Flight", etc). I read them all as a teenage geek.

YoungHegelian said...

@mockturtle,

Gee, when I think of Chekhov, I think of 'Uncle Vanya' or 'The Seagull'.

And speaking of Star Trek & Russian classics --- taa-daah!

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

In one of his autobiographies, William Shatner was dismissive of Star Trek but said he was proud that he interjected human interest into what was otherwise "some pretty dry material," IIRC.

Carol said...

Next Generation is really bad. DH watches it nearly every night on Netflix. Gah.

The original probably came along too late for me. I did love Forbidden Planet, and dearly wanted my own robot to impress the kids at school.

Lost in Space was droll.

Professional lady said...

I hated Bewitched, but I watched it with a kind of contemptuous fascination. I was only 11 when it first came on and I would think: why doesn't Darren just accept Samantha as she is? Why does she have to pretend she's something she's not? Why all the dumb stereotypes? Why does Samantha even like Darren - he's not even cute or particularly smart? Are they making fun of Aunt Clara - isn't that kind of mean to make fun of an elderly lady? Why does Endora have to be such a bitch? Just because she's a mother in law? Deep thoughts for an 11 year old I know.

n.n said...

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

Who could have predicted that the Penumbra would be the basis for a State-established Church.

mockturtle said...

YH And speaking of Star Trek & Russian classics --- taa-daah!

It wasn't a bad film version of the novel. Yul Brynner was compelling as Dmitri. My favorite Dostoyevsky novel was Crime and Punishment and, because of that, I am afraid to see a film version.

Paul Snively said...

Brando: Yeah, but he did have a way of taking it to new heights. I always found it enjoyable, as well as his guest spots on Twilight Zone.

I didn't intend to be as critical as my reply earlier ended up sounding. I completely agree, having enjoyed the original Star Trek greatly, and whether Mr. Shatner was merely following old stage instincts, making a deliberate stylistic choice, or following direction, I don't care as much as I think I made it sound. And of course, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is deservedly a classic, perhaps in large part because it has a built-in justification for Mr. Shatner's brand of mania.

Amexpat said...

I was 10 when the Monkees was on TV and it, along with Get Smart, were my favorite shows. "More of the Monkees" was also the first album I owned. A few years later, I didn't want that in my record collection because it wasn't cool enough.

I watched "Bewitched" because I had a crush on Elizabeth Montgomery, but I didn't find it funny. I didn't watch "Star Trek" until it went into syndication. It wasn't must see TV for me, but I found it campy and watchable.

Paul Snively said...

Re: Twilight Zone, I have ridden Disney's Tower of Terror, and the first time, after watching a video of Rod Serling introducing the ride, it took me about 10 minutes (yeah, I'm slow) to realize that Rod Serling couldn't possibly have recorded that introduction. He'd been dead for years.

So I did a little research, and it turns out they took some existing footage of Mr. Serling describing a show, got some animators to re-animate his lips to match the dialogue for the ride introduction, and auditioned several Rod Serling impersonators with his widow. Mark Silverman got the role, and of course knocked it out of... er, actually, I guess into... the park.

Robert Cook said...

I remember well sitting in front of the tv with my brothers, waiting to watch the premier of this new tv science fiction program. I remember even earlier, reading about it in the issue of TV GUIDE that featured previews of the new season's shows. I was 10 years old, about to turn 11.

We loved it!

I never would have thought it would be still be talked about 50 years later.

Brando said...

"I didn't intend to be as critical as my reply earlier ended up sounding. I completely agree, having enjoyed the original Star Trek greatly, and whether Mr. Shatner was merely following old stage instincts, making a deliberate stylistic choice, or following direction, I don't care as much as I think I made it sound. And of course, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is deservedly a classic, perhaps in large part because it has a built-in justification for Mr. Shatner's brand of mania."

Yeah, I sort of feel like his acting technique helped fill the set in a way that the special effects couldn't.

I also got a kick out of how female starship personnel in the future would be wearing late-'60s style miniskirts and go go boots. It was the show's way of saying "what's hip now will be hip for hundreds of years!"

Robert Cook said...

"Star Trek was a knock off of Forbidden Planet.That was a pretty good Freudian SciFi flic."

FORBIDDEN PLANET was sort of based on, or inspired by, Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST.

Darrell said...

I always imagined that I would marry Elizabeth Montgomery one day. It never happened.

Jacinto said...

Re: Ron Wikleheimer at 10:56 AM

City on the edge of Forever is also my favorite episode. Especially with the young Joan Collins in it.

Darrell said...

I loved Star Trek TOS, too. It was a weekly event and I even started recording the sound on a Wallensack tape reel-to-reel recorder I had purchased with my brother. I still have the tapes in a metal box I purchased from Olson Electronics.

SukieTawdry said...

I was in college in 1966 (too old for the Monkees). In those days we had only one television set (black & white as I recall) in each dorm and there was a small group of us who would gather faithfully every Thursday night for the show (as a kind of kickoff to our weekend). We loved it although I don't think any of us would have predicted it would spawn the empire it eventually did. We just hoped it would stay on the air until we graduated (which it did for me at least). I did perceive Spock as a "virtual boyfriend." Breaking through his icy Vulcan control to stir that core of human emotion beneath in a manner sufficient to disturb the seven year mating cycle was the ultimate challenge (hey, whaddya want--we were college girls). I still stream the occasional OS episode today.

My favorite things about Kirk were his ability to seemingly straighten out centuries of alien bad behavior with an impassioned speech and his devotion to duty which held fast even when everyone else, including Spock, went off the rails. Captain James T. Kirk would never have allowed himself to be absorbed by the Borg.

buwaya said...

"FORBIDDEN PLANET was sort of based on, or inspired by, Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST."

Explicitly based on.

The Tempest is my favorite Shakespeare. It was his Sci Fi episode.
Midsummers Night Dream was his Fantasy episode.

My wife likes the girly stuff like Twelfth Night.

Our kids have Shakespearean names.

Brando said...

One of my favorite Star Treks was when they landed on the planet where two primitive tribes were fighting and it eventually became clear that one group was the descendants of the "Yanks" and the other the "Comms" (Communists). Great twist!

I also like how they basically violate the Prime Directive in every episode.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

@Paul Snively

Star Trek had plenty of ideas and ideals.

Interesting read. The decline can be attributed to the rejection of the idea of objective truth and morals. Picard refuses to act because all outcomes are equally valid.

Also, I haven't seen this as a fan theory anywhere, but I think its pretty obvious that the reason genetic engineering is against the law in the Star Trek universe isn't because the human race was so traumatized by the genetics wars, but because genetically engineered super humans are secretly in charge and they don't want any competition created.


buwaya said...

"I also got a kick out of how female starship personnel in the future would be wearing late-'60s style miniskirts and go go boots. It was the show's way of saying "what's hip now will be hip for hundreds of years!"

And this won't come back?
I'm waiting for ancient Egyptian styles to come back. I had some hopes back in Chers heyday, but it didn't happen.

One day there will be a popular TV series about ancient Minoans. Just you wait.

Robert Cook said...

"'I also got a kick out of how female starship personnel in the future would be wearing late-'60s style miniskirts and go go boots. It was the show's way of saying "what's hip now will be hip for hundreds of years!'

"And this won't come back?
I'm waiting for ancient Egyptian styles to come back."


Heck, I saw a woman walking around here in NYC just yesterday in roman sandals!

Ron Winkleheimer said...

why doesn't Darren just accept Samantha as she is? Why does she have to pretend she's something she's not? Why all the dumb stereotypes? Why does Samantha even like Darren - he's not even cute or particularly smart? Are they making fun of Aunt Clara - isn't that kind of mean to make fun of an elderly lady? Why does Endora have to be such a bitch? Just because she's a mother in law? Deep thoughts for an 11 year old I know.

Those are all very good questions, the answer is because it is a goofy TV show. I kind of looked at it the same as the 60's Batman series. Its just fun. After all, the premise of the show is utterly ridiculous.

A woman with god like powers and who will live for centuries decides to marry a not very attractive or successful man with a bad temper who arbitrarily demands that she not use her power for any purpose whatsoever.

Sam's parents should have just killed derwood. Sam would have gotten over it after 50 years or so.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I mean she can time travel, endow animals with human level intelligence and appearance, turn humans into animals and objects, levitate things, have inanimate objects perform tasks without human intervention, mind control, teleport, etc.

And she is hot.

Why would this woman spend 5 seconds with a man who is powerless and yells at her?

tom swift said...

First SF show with a space ship that didn't look like a cigar with fins. Hey, not even George Pal had been able to get away with that. Though the little "whoosh" sound it made as it flew past the titles at the start I could do without.

As for stories, I had no idea what the hell was going on. The first one I saw was Part II of "The Menagerie", which followed a pretty tortured story line to let them use most of the footage from the first pilot. Coming in cold on the second half was a bit ... puzzling. But as a big Laurel Goodwin fan, I stayed with it.

buwaya said...

"Why would this woman spend 5 seconds with a man who is powerless and yells at her?"

Daddy issues?

Paddy O said...

Anyone watching Better Late than Never, the travel show with William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman, Henry Winkler, and Jeff Dye? Hilarious.

GRW3 said...

I watched the first two seasons on Thursday night religiously. For the third season, they moved it Friday night. Being a typical teenager, I had things to do on Friday night. Since the target audience was young adult males, moving Star Trek to Friday night was the proverbial, probably intentional, Kiss of Death.

Darrell said...

Why would this woman spend 5 seconds with a man who is powerless and yells at her?

I always assumed she was feeding on his lifeforce. That would serve me well when it came time to marry Elizabeth/Samantha.

Brando said...

"And this won't come back?
I'm waiting for ancient Egyptian styles to come back. I had some hopes back in Chers heyday, but it didn't happen."

True enough--that '60s mod look sort of came back in the late '90s. The Egyptian look had a bit of a comeback in the 1920s.

Sadly, the "mom jeans" look is trying to make a comeback, and hopefully it will be confined to the ash heap of history where it belongs.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I always assumed she was feeding on his lifeforce.

That would explain the two Darrens. She has to replace them as she uses them up.

bagoh20 said...

I was 8 - 11 years old at the time of Star Trek, and I loved everything science or science fiction. Star Trek was a godsend to the young boy I was. I was in absolute heaven if my parents went out for the night bowling or something and my older siblings went running with their friends. I was left alone to watch and eat whatever I wanted: Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Outer limits, The Invaders, Time Tunnel, etc., and my choice of cans of Chef Boyardee, pizza, soda, chips and absolutely no vegetables. I get that same feeling even today when I'm home alone. Not loneliness - peace and freedom.

boycat said...

How Star Trek Changed the World

SukieTawdry said...

I considered Samantha a bloody fool when she actually did housework even when Darrin wasn't around.

D. B. Light said...

My introduction to televised SF was "Science Fiction Theater" with Truman Bradley.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I considered Samantha a bloody fool when she actually did housework even when Darrin wasn't around.

The only possible explanation is that he had some sort of hold on her. She was a witch, not a genie, but he must have had some way to compel her to obey his commands. Otherwise why didn't she just blast him into a bloody paste?

SukieTawdry said...

From boycat's link: "I loved Spock," said President Obama after the death of the man who played him. "Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy."

Well, that's our president for you. Spock was never a nerd. Far from it, in fact.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

When you can clean the house from top to bottom by just twitching your nose, why in world would you push a vacuum cleaner around, or mop floors?

Christy said...

I wanted to grow up to be Scotty, so became an engineer, but I had a major crush on Spock. Still, DS9 was the best incarnation. One of the few explorations of faith on TV, characters that grew, the fabulous Avery Brooks....

Darrell said...

My introduction to televised SF was "Science Fiction Theater" with Truman Bradley

The theme started playing in my head when I read your comment. Loved it!

Babaluigi said...

I was just a kid in elementary school, but I fast became enthralled by the original Star Trek! Maybe it had something to do with living a few minutes downrange from Cape Canaveral, with family somewhat involved in the space program. Brevard County was steeped in the Space Race. The schools would send us outside to watch the flare from the second stage of the rockets splitting off, and we were taught the metric system in elementary school.

The Barbie Doll-playing part of me loved the exotic and "glamorous" ladies of Star Trek, whether from the Enterprise crew or elsewhere. The adventurer in me easily tied the exploration to the very real space program we were experiencing, and the future it could bring!

Kids don't particularly notice schmaltz or overacting (which is why those are elements of "Children's Theatre"), but the absolute diversity of characterizations added so much to the fun! Plus, at least for me, there will never be another "fantastic four" like Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scottie!

Ron Winkleheimer said...

At least in I Dream of Genie there was some plausibility to Genie's attraction. Larry Hagman was a good looking guy and an astronaut. He let Genie out of the bottle she had been imprisoned in for a couple of hundred years. She was from a culture were women deferred to men. She had to obey the commands of whoever owned the bottle.

Amexpat said...

When you can clean the house from top to bottom by just twitching your nose, why in world would you push a vacuum cleaner around, or mop floors?

Because Samantha believed that she could find true happiness by being an authentic 1960's American housewife. In order to achieve that she couldn't cheat. Her attraction to Darren was his normality. Sort of makes sense when you come from a dysfunctional family of witches.

sinz52 said...

Most of Star Trek's fans, myself included, were young.

That's why it was canceled after only 3 years.

Back then, Nielsen ratings were about total viewing households. Star Trek never appealed much to the over-50 crowd who liked rural-type shows like Green Acres and older-type shows like Lawrence Welk.

In 1970, one year after Star Trek went off the air, in response to sponsor pressure, the networks started employing demographic ratings, emphasizing the under-45 viewers (because they bought the most products). The change was obvious. Gone were the rural type shows like Mayberry RFD and older shows like Lawrence Welk. Young, hip shows like All in the Family replaced them.

Had NBC been employing demographic ratings just a few years earlier, they would have seen that Star Trek was a hit with younger viewers--and it might not have been canceled so soon.

William said...

I saw Star Trek in reruns in the seventies. There were a few clunkers, but many of the plots were literate and interesting, and the girls wore sexy outfits. It was good to see that in the future, there would be no middle aged women with weight problems. Oh brave new world. The stories were unimpeachably liberal, but there was an undercurrent of sexism to the show--thank God........I watched Bewitched occasionally. You had to suspend credibility from a skyhook, but Elizabeth Montgomery was fun to watch. I'm still not sure if this show acted out a male or female fantasy. More women than men watched it. Maybe the ability to transform your man into a swine makes it easier for a woman to endure the ups and downs of married life.....I looked through the tv listings. No wonder I was such a bookworm back then.

Darrell said...

being an authentic 1960's American housewife. In order to achieve that she couldn't cheat

When you live for multiple centuries, a few years of role playing tends to pass quite quickly. Her little experiment was no great concern in the general scheme of things.

sinz52 said...

"FORBIDDEN PLANET was sort of based on, or inspired by, Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST."

The Brits got the point, even though many Americans had never read or seen "The Tempest."

When "Forbidden Planet" premiered in Britain, the headlines of the newspaper reviews there read, "Shakespeare in Space."

Smilin' Jack said...

Star Trek was hackneyed, completely predictable plots summed up at the end by some preachy moralizing from Kirk and/or Spock. The sci-fi setting only served to emphasize how utterly lacking in imagination the show was. Same was largely true of Twilight Zone, especially the episodes written by Serling. Not until Barbarella did sci-fi become interesting.

jdniner said...

It work we draw a geek line between Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans. Oil and Water.

jdniner said...

Star Trek was awesome in its time. State of the art sci fi.

Char Char Binks said...

My how tastes have changed!

Original Mike said...

"TNG's best and most idea-heavy episodes are still great viewing. "Darmok", "Chains of Command 1&2", "The Drumhead" to name a few."

I'm a huge TNG fan. I hate "The Drumhead".

jdniner said...

In Bewitched Samantha needed a better back story as to why she wanted to be a suburban housewife. Some type of karma.

It is odd that in that time there were stories about women with magical power and the men who couldn't accept them as they were. Signs of times to come.

Ann Althouse said...

"I remember well sitting in front of the tv with my brothers, waiting to watch the premier of this new tv science fiction program. I remember even earlier, reading about it in the issue of TV GUIDE that featured previews of the new season's shows. I was 10 years old, about to turn 11."

My friends and I scoured the fall preview issue of TV Guide. You had to make a lot of decisions and get ready. The descriptions of the new shows were so tantalizing. It seems the shows were invented to sound great as squibs in TV Guide. Looking back, that may have been the most intense reading experience of my life. The fall preview TV Guide of 1966!

Ann Althouse said...

"'Star Trek was about very liberal ideas and ideals.' Bewitched was about what?"

"Bewitched" was an allegory about a smart, capable, energetic woman constrained by social norms.

Professional lady said...

Those are all very good questions, the answer is because it is a goofy TV show. I kind of looked at it the same as the 60's Batman series. Its just fun. After all, the premise of the show is utterly ridiculous.

I guess I took Bewitched too seriously because it never seemed that funny to me. It's kind of like how I used to watch Brady Bunch reruns after my law school exams just to marvel at the horrible 1970s decorating and architecture of the Brady house.

Paddy O said...

"an allegory about a smart, capable, energetic woman constrained by social norms."

Does every post around here have to be about Hillary?

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you mean that Jim Kirk's body was not sexy enough. Maybe it his command presence that offended 15 year old Althouse. Are you sure?"

He was obviously too mature to belong with a 15-year-old girl... even as a fantasy. The Beatles and The Monkees were too old for me to have an actual relationship with, but they acted and looked boyish.

But I must say that I loved Ben Casey (Vince Edwards)... even as my older sister preferred Dr. Kildaire (a much less macho seeming man, played by an actor who, we learned later, was gay). Ben Casey was very manly and adult and I did have a crush on him.

Somebody said that the doctor on Star Trek made them interested in medicine, but the medicine was much more significant on other shows.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

"Bewitched" was an allegory about a smart, capable, energetic woman constrained by social norms.

I never thought of that. Sam would have been way better at Darrin's job than he was. She was usually the one who saved the day by coming up with a marketing campaign. And she had superpowers.

Ann Althouse said...

"Star Trek had plenty of ideas and ideals."

I didn't watch it enough to get into the political stuff. It was presented as science fiction and didn't hit that spot for me.

Ann Althouse said...

"We all had a crush on Walter Koenig. Actually, he didn't appear until season 2 - probably added to seek the Althouse demographic."/"Which is exactly why the character of Chekov was added to the cast second season. He was Roddenberry's answer to ---- wait for it! --- Davy Jones of the Monkees!"

Yes, he was very much like Davy Jones. I guess that could have worked on me if I'd given the show a second chance, but it got categorized as boring to me. It was an hour-long drama, and generally half-hour shows were better in those days, unless they were variety shows broken up into segments.

I can remember liking some of the hour-long shows of the era: Ben Casey, Dr. Kildaire, Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Defenders, The Man from UNCLE.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

It's kind of like how I used to watch Brady Bunch reruns after my law school exams just to marvel at the horrible 1970s decorating and architecture of the Brady house.

Think about this. Mr Brady was an architect. He apparently had a huge room that he used as a office/studio for working at home. They had a master bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. They had a maid who had her own room and presumably her own bathroom. Yet six kids, 3 boys and 3 girls, had to share a single bathroom. And the boys had to share a bedroom as did the girls.

Ann Althouse said...

"I never thought of that. Sam would have been way better at Darrin's job than he was. She was usually the one who saved the day by coming up with a marketing campaign. And she had superpowers. "

But most women were not out working and were not thinking of themselves as belonging in a career. They were on the home front and supporting the husband who was supposed to do a good job of supporting the family. If she were in fact more capable, that could be very frustrating. What a great subject for a comedy!

By contrast, in "I Love Lucy," Lucy wanted to get out into the world, but she really wasn't capable, just energetic and optimistic. And she always got into trouble and had to realize over and over that she belongs in the home accepting the housewife role. But she just wouldn't.

These were the stories of the time before the woman's movement took off.

Professional lady said...

I Love Lucy was and is genuinely funny because the humor is so based on human nature. Lucy was unafraid and creative. She was confident in her own abilities and personality. I still laugh out loud when I see a rerun.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

The story ark on most Bewitched episodes was that Darrin would give a presentation to a client and the client wouldn't like it. So Larry would talk them into going to the Stevens' house so that Larry could try to get them liquored up (they drank more on that show than on Mad Men) and get them to sign a contract anyway. At the house the client sees something strange brought about by magic. Hi-jinks then ensue, but the strangeness is explained away at the end by Samantha who explains it was all just part of a clever marketing ploy. A marketing ploy that she makes up on the spot. And the client always buys it. Of course Samantha is gorgeous. And is as obsequious about flattering the client as Larry, but in her case it doesn't seem to be sleazy.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I would not have bought a used car from Larry. And what was the deal with his hair?

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: By contrast, in "I Love Lucy," Lucy wanted to get out into the world, but she really wasn't capable, just energetic and optimistic. And she always got into trouble and had to realize over and over that she belongs in the home accepting the housewife role. But she just wouldn't.

Art imitates life. As I've written before, "Desilu Studios" was, as the name suggests, "Desi Arnaz" and "Lucille Ball," and after Lucy bought out Desi's stake in 1962, Lucy green-lit productions like "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible."

I think it's great that people remember and respect Lucy for being a ground-breaking comedian. I only wish people remembered and respected her more for being one of the most powerful and innovative businesspeople in Hollywood.

Freeman Hunt said...

The Twilight Zone is on Netflix. Our family watches one or two episodes nearly every weekend. If we only watch one, then we also watch an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.

(My favorite Andy Griffith performance is the decidedly less kid-friendly A Face in the Crowd. Wow! He's fantastic in that.)

And that's currently it for television shows for our family.

n.n said...

Samantha was rebelling against the liberal establishment. She rejected the female chauvinists' movement to keep women barren, taxable, and serviceable. She rejected class diversity schemes that discriminated based on "skin color" rather than merit (e.g. principles). She recognized her husband as equal and complementary, and they each played a role in a time and space context. She did not support baby trials (i.e. "final solution"), planned parenthood, and other population control schemes to force sex equivalence, euthanasia, eugenics, or to address prophecies of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, etc.

Freeman Hunt said...

This summer we met another family who watches the same two shows! That was fun.

n.n said...

Well, we didn't boldly go anywhere new, but established a decaying orbit around the dark fringes of the penumbra.

Paul Snively said...

Freeman Hunt: (My favorite Andy Griffith performance is the decidedly less kid-friendly A Face in the Crowd. Wow! He's fantastic in that.)

Or a chilling turn as Judge Julius Sullivan in Crime of Innocence.

My other seared-in-my-mind nice-guy-actor-in-a-villain-role: Leslie Nielsen in Nuts. At my age, I only remembered him as the hilarious Lt. Frank Drebin from the "Naked Gun" movies. I had no awareness of his long dramatic career—even though, at a very young age, I had seen him in (to bring this full circle, it seems) Forbidden Planet.

J. Farmer said...

Weren't most Trekkies turned on by The Next Generation? I remember the documentary about those delightfully wacky goofballs, and I recall a lot more references to TNG than the original series.

SukieTawdry said...

My friends and I scoured the fall preview issue of TV Guide.

I did that well into adulthood (when I finally cancelled, they continued to send it to me for over 2-1/2 years). I vividly recall reading about the new FOX show The X-Files and thinking well, what, really??! Didn't even bother to check it out until word of mouth prompted a look-see. It became my all-time favorite show. So you never could tell about those TV Guide blurbs.

Think about this. Mr Brady was an architect. He apparently had a huge room that he used as a office/studio for working at home. They had a master bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. They had a maid who had her own room and presumably her own bathroom. Yet six kids, 3 boys and 3 girls, had to share a single bathroom. And the boys had to share a bedroom as did the girls.

In the feature film about the Brady's (which I thought was very funny), every project Mike designed looked exactly like the Brady home.

Peggy Coffey said...

I also loved Twilight Zone. I was very young when it was on but I have seen all of them in reruns. My parents thought it would give me nightmares. I loved Star Trek but I wasn't allowed to watch tv at my house so I would go to my grandmothers to watch it. I had to watch in the back of the house but I didn't care, I was hooked.

Freeman Hunt said...

I couldn't get into Bewitched because I couldn't understand why anyone who could do magic would agree not to do it. Darrin was annoyingly bossy. Why would a powerful witch marry such a boring, bossy person? Maybe that puts me on Team Endora. Or if she did marry him out of love, why would she do what he said?

"Don't use any magic."
"Yeah, sure, Darrin."
Darrin leaves.
All chores instantly done.
And they lived happily ever after.

SukieTawdry said...

Remember when Ricky would take Lucy over his knee and spank her?!

One of the writers on the show said it was a dream job because there wasn't anything Lucy wouldn't do nor anything Desi wouldn't pay for.

mockturtle said...

Sukie, I Love Lucy was simply the best!

mockturtle said...

I also loved Twilight Zone. Oh, yes, the original series was very good! Remember the mannequin episode? I scared my sister for years by striking a mannequin-like pose.

buwaya said...

"Weren't most Trekkies turned on by The Next Generation?"

Nope. There was a generational switch there. There was a rather pathetic remnant "fan" base of overaged teenagers. SF/Fantasy attracts this type, who don't get the need to put away childish things.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you like The Twilight Zone, you will probably like certain episodes of Black Mirror, which is also on Netflix. Black Mirror, is not, however, kid-friendly at all.

The good episodes of Black Mirror:

"Fifteen Million Merits"
"The Entire History of You"
"Be Right Back"
"White Christmas"

(Note that "White Christmas" is incredibly dark. Excellent, but incredibly dark. Even darker than, for example, Seconds, the 1966 film with Rock Hudson, and that's the darkest film I can think of off the top of my head.)

Episodes of Black Mirror, like episodes of The Twilight Zone, are not related to one another, so you can watch the good ones and skip the bad ones.

Brando said...

"Weren't most Trekkies turned on by The Next Generation?"

I was of age that I should have been into TNG, as I was a pre-teen when it came out, but I always preferred the original series reruns. They could never recreate what made it special--the Shatner, the "subtle" social commentary, the cheap special effects.

rhhardin said...

Series that were uniformly tedious: I Love Lucy, Bewitched, Gilligan's Island, Jackie Gleason, My Favorite Martian. That's all the TV I can remember offhand. My TV got thrown out in 1971 so nothing after that in any case.

I think the uniform problem was that they had no good moments.

Get Smart on the other hand had a lot of good moments. It was actually a romantic comedy.

Sydney said...

There was a chemistry between the three main characters/actors on Star Trek that made the show work- Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Without them it would not have had the staying power it did in reruns.

~ Gordon Pasha said...

I was a big fan of the 1965-68 Wild, Wild West. It may be due in part to the fact that I fenced with Ross Martin a few times when I was an undergraduate at UCLA.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

He was obviously too mature to belong with a 15-year-old girl... even as a fantasy.

There was an episode that played off of that

Looked like the girl with the crush was going to die of some alien disease as she became a woman but science finds a cure 7 minutes before the final commercials.

If he were James Bond, Kirk would have banged the living crap out of her, she would have then been totally fulfilled as a woman, and then she would have died soon thereafter, horribly.

viator said...

Captain Kirk's new ship:

Capt. James Kirk

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The generation gap, mediated.

The grownups at home watching TV can now relax after the nightly news report.

There's still time for another Manhattan.

And the purchase of advertised products.

SukieTawdry said...

Any Trekkie who hasn't already done so should check out the feature film Galaxy Quest currently streaming on Netflix. Even if you aren't a Trekkie, check it out.

n.n said...

Samantha moderated self-indulgence and instant gratification (i.e. witchcraft). She doted on her senile aunt despite her mother and the establishment's advice to put her "out to pasture" (i.e. euthanasia). She rebelled against the establishment that constructed class diversity schemes (e.g. racism) and married a mortal man. She reconciled moral, natural, and personal imperatives with this man in order to live on equal and complementary terms. There is no evidence that she advocated or supported abortion rites, baby trials, and baby hunts.

Robert Cook said...

"Somebody said that the doctor on Star Trek made them interested in medicine, but the medicine was much more significant on other shows."

The electronic vital signs monitors commonplace in hospitals today did not exist before STAR TREK. The vital signs monitors in the STAR TREK sick bay preceded and probably inspired the real life tech in use today.

SukieTawdry said...

The electronic vital signs monitors commonplace in hospitals today did not exist before STAR TREK. The vital signs monitors in the STAR TREK sick bay preceded and probably inspired the real life tech in use today.

The Smithsonian channel has an interesting program about Star Trek devices as precursors to medical and technical innovations.

YoungHegelian said...

The vital signs monitors in the STAR TREK sick bay preceded and probably inspired the real life tech in use today.

Not to mention the common usage of the phrase "He's DEAD, Jim!" to patients' families & loved ones.**

**I remember some time ago sitting through many episodes of a ST marathon, & it became clear via continuous viewing that the use of this phrase over & over again was some sort of "In" joke between Shatner & Kelly.

Dave in Tucson said...

> Here are the TV listings from half a century ago

Good Lord, that cyan/magenta/yellow color scheme needs to be taken out and given the Ol' Yeller treatment.

The blue links on the magenta background are borderline unreadable.

Guildofcannonballs said...

All that matters on the damned TV are Broncos.

After repeated ass-kickings, the media still say Super Cam Newton is the Man.

They have learned nothing and I intend to profit from their stupidity in earnest this very eve. You people had better un%^^* yourselfs and listen up: We Broncos are dominate leaders immensely pissed off at your and their lack of respect. We are gonna Nail Your Ass!!!!

Out-of-breath-wounded-mongeese is the best description you will hope for after you leave Mile High plastered.

Eric Landgraf said...

Really, you should have watched BABYLON 5 if you wanted a science fiction show that dealt with BIG IDEAS. And one that exhibited very professional acting. Good writing and an interesting story arc.

Check out the scene between Gkar ( the NORN Ambassador) and the Centurian Ambassador Molari during a when they are trapped in an elevator during a fire and after a terrorist act. It deftly portrays the exercise of inter-species hatred as no other TV show has done since. You can google it.

The actors followed the text of the script but adjusted their performance to produce a result that the director had not anticipated. What was intended to be a funny scene became a dramatic one because the actors chose to play it straight up.

rcocean said...

I watched these shows in re-runs. As stated, Star Trek is a really a kids show compared to the twilight zone. Somehow, some of these TV shows got imprinted on my young brain, and I can still watch crap like "Mission Impossible", "Family Affair" "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" or "Batman" and enjoy it. As long as I don't watch too long.

As for "Bewitched" - even as a kid I got tired of them old plots. They had about Five basic plots and replayed them constantly. Not even a visit from Uncle Arthur
or seeing Darrin turned into a Giraffe could stave off the boredom.

rcocean said...

Looking at the comedies for '67, I can see why "All in the Family" made such an impact.

Little did anyone realize that it wasn't a "Breath of fresh air" or "something different" but just the first wave in the coming tsunami of vulgarity, profanity, explicit liberal politics and overall dumbness.

Peter said...

How to make a fortune: sell autism pills at a Star Trek convention.

How to go broke: sell condoms at a Star Trek convention.


Peter

mockturtle said...

How could I forget one of the best? The Carol Burnett Show, with Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence. Some of their skits were real classics.

coupe said...

I seem to recall that Laugh-In was opposite Star Trek. We wanted to watch Star Trek and my parents wanted to watch Laugh-In.

It didn't matter really, we had a 19" black and white TV, and most of us kids were outside in the yard. Everything sucks in B&W except maybe Cronkite.

YoungHegelian said...

FYI: BBC America is now running a Star Trek marathon, which seems to have started at 8:00PM EDT.

As of this posting, they're running episode 4, "The Naked Time".

Anglelyne said...

smitty: I never took a liking to Star Trek; the science was bad, the special effects second rate (even by 60s standards,)the aliens looked like Earthmen in pancake makeup and alien worlds all looked like Hollywood back lots.

That's the charm of it. (Along with Shatner's inimitable bad acting.)

But basically, for those of us of a certain age, it's intensely nostalgic. Don't know what the charm is for younger people. One of my kids always references "Star Trek TOS" as "Star Trek POS".

Alex said...

I think Star Trek is relevant for the creation of Spock alone. What a fascinating character.