To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and the release of the Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection on Blu-ray on 5th September, we have taken a look back over the decades to see how this iconic franchise has inspired modern entertainment.
One of the most recognisable series in the history of television, Star Trek has certainly left its footprint on planet earth. The socio-political ramifications of the original series set a benchmark for the modern entertainment industry, and although it struggled to lift-off with viewers originally, it soon amassed an astronomical cult following.
The creators of Star trek embarked on a mission to the final frontier and launched television into a dimension that viewers had never before experienced. Light years ahead of its time, Star Trek was the first American live action series to feature an interracial kiss.
Nichelle Nicholas, who played Uhura – an African American woman working alongside the men (and aliens) – also made a huge impact in her own right. Her importance rippled through the entertainment world with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg citing Nichelle as her inspiration to become an actress. Nichelle was even approached by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. who praised the importance of her role on television in the battle against racism and sexism.
At the time Star Trek first aired in 1966 the visual effects were superior to anything else depicted on TV and Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan is reputable for the first major use of computer graphics in a feature film. The graphics were created by the Lucasfilm Computer Division and Industrial Light & Magic, the original founder of animation studio Pixar.
Star Trek isn’t just a television series, or just a franchise. It has become a pervasive part of the identity of millions of people who watch, read, and consume the films, television episodes, network specials, novelisations, and fan fiction. Star Trek has spawned many parodies, inspired spin off characters and even infiltrated the music industry. The music video of Eminem’s song ‘We Made You’ released in 2009, features Eminem as Spock and Dr Dre as Kirk.
Star Trek does not stand in isolation, with over a dozen actors from various Star Trek series, including John Billingsley and Ronny Cox, having made guest appearances on one or the other of the Stargate series. Recent television shows have also capitalised on the popularity of the franchise by casting Star Trek actors and writing “Trek” mentions into scripts and storylines. The most famous example of this today is the role of Wil Wheaton in The Big Bang Theory. Wil, who portrayed Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, appears as a dramatised version of himself in the immensely popular American sitcom, taunting the characters about his Star Trek history!
Outside of The Big Bang Theory Star Trek continues to prove itself an undying phenomenon and is constantly referenced on shows such as Futurama, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Beavis and Butthead and even children’s shows such as The Backyardigans and Veggie Tales. Revisit this franchise for the ages with the 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection on Blu-ray this September.