Star Trek is a pop culture giant. But due to its rich mythology, the franchise is rather intimidating for newcomers to get into. As Star Trek turns 50 years old this week, we want to beam you up with the knowledge that will help you get started in your voyage from newbie to a full-fledged Trekkie. Let’s get to it!
The Star Trek Phenomenon
First off, you must be wondering: Why has Star Trek lasted this long and why is it loved by so many? Well, there’s the fact that it made an indelible mark in the realm of science fiction. But more importantly, Star Trek helped shape our own non-fictional world—it’s been cited as an inspiration for inventions such as cellphones and tablets. The franchise also made its voice heard on social and political issues. In fact, it’s one of the first shows to feature a multiracial cast. Star Trek is remarkable because it built an out-of-this-world universe that served as a reflection of our own society.
The Original Series
It all began with the Original Series in 1966. The TV show centered on the starship Enterprise’s exploration of space, led by Captain James T. Kirk and Spock (played by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy respectively). The show only lasted for three seasons, but it managed to leave such a huge impression on fans. To this day, the Original Series is still regarded by Trekkies as the ultimate Star Trek experience.
The Spinoff Series
Because of the sizeable cult following generated by the Original Series, Star Trek spawned several spinoffs in the succeeding years:
- The Next Generation: This takes place a century after the original series and features entirely new characters led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart of X-Men fame). It ran from 1987 to 1994 and garnered the highest ratings out of all Star Trek series.
- Deep Space Nine: Fondly referred to as DS9, the show began its run in 1993. It was set during the last few years of The Next Generation; but like every other Star Trek series, DS9 introduced us to new characters. This was the only series in the franchise that had a space station instead of a starship for its setting.
- Voyager: This marked the first time the franchise featured a woman as the lead, with Kate Mulgrew starring as Captain Kathryn Janeway. Voyager took place in the same timeframe as DS9 and ran from 1995 to 2001.
- Enterprise: Created as a prequel to the Original Series, the show consisted of elements that fans loved from the franchise’s previous series. After a four-year run, Enterprise aired its last episode in 2005, which also stands as the final Star Trek TV episode broadcasted—for now.
- Discovery: This is a new Star Trek series that will debut in 2017. Start the countdown!
For most millennials, the films serve as the entry point to the Star Trek Universe. But prior to the rebooted movies that premiered in 2009, there were already 10 Star Trek feature films in existence. The latest batch of Star Trek films features the Original Series characters (albeit in a new timeline), with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto taking over William Shatner’s and Leonard Nimoy’s iconic roles as Captain James T. Kirk and Spock.
After five decades, the franchise isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The latest Star Trek film was released just a few months ago and as mentioned, a brand-new TV series is slated to debut next year. Here’s the good news: Every single episode of the previous series will be on Netflix soon! As for the films, you may catch these on Blu-ray. All of these mean that you didn’t miss the Trekkie train—you can hop on it right now!
Live long and prosper, future Trekkie!
ALSO READ: Trending Pick: The Immersive Comedy/Theater/Rock Concert/Dance Party You Just Have To Experience