Fifty-three years ago today I was 13 years old. The first episode of Star Trek was screened, at 8:00 p.m. local time in Denver, and by 9:00 p.m. I had a new favorite television show. I was an instant trekkie.

In those days the show was called “Star Track” by functional illiterates, at least the ones in my eighth grade glass, and they resented me correcting them. There was also a rumor that Mr. Spock had green skin. Bear in mind that color television sets were just going mainstream, so the first episodes of Star Trek that I saw were in black and white. I was completely thrilled when my one friend with a color TV, Pam, invited me over to her house to watch the show in color. Listen to this clip and walk down memory lane.

Rod Serling was not happy when Star Trek was cancelled. But then he wasn’t happy fighting with CBS the five years and three cancellation threats that he endured over Twilight Zone. On the last go round, he just let them have their way. Serling was a visionary, and he appreciated the same in Roddenberry, although Serling was far and away the better writer. And neither of them was particularly loved by the “legitimate” science fiction writing community. Serling had an epic falling in the 60’s with Ray Bradbury, who strongly inferred that Serling was a plagiarist and said that he “didn’t understand the genre” of science fiction.

Roddenberry was called a “third rate hack” by Harlan Ellison and while that was considered a bit over the top, it was generally acknowledged that other, better writers, such as Theodore Sturgeon and Norman Spinrad helped Roddenberry’s concept reach it’s full potential, most definitely in the many spin off series. Ellison said, “Star Trek can turn your brains to pure puree of bat guano,” and he went completely bonkers about the show on an interview with Tom Synder in 1976. Roddenberry told him that he agreed with him that “Star Trek is neither scripture and certainly is far from being great literature. I understand that you use ‘overstatement’ in order to shake up the audience and jolt them into thinking. But in your enthusiasm to slay the dragon your sword begins to slice up a lot of fellow warriors who are fighting the same battle as you but are simply using different methods.”

The letter is worth reading in full and is at this LINK.For some reason it’s now a PDF and I can’t copy and paste it, but it is extremely worth reading.

I met a few of the actors from Star Trek. In 1976 I was working at talk show radio station KWBZ in Denver and George Takei was a guest one afternoon. I also met James Doohan in the produce department at Ralph’s in Van Nuys in 1979. He was gong through the green beans and that’s where I was headed, so I just started chatting with him. Very nice, congenial fellow, as was Takei. I almost met Leonard Nimoy, but that would not have been a good thing to happen. Nimoy was driving his beautiful brown Mercedes with a very fancy grill right behind me on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. The car in front of me slammed on the brakes, I had to slam on mine, and Nimoy had to slam on his. I guestimate that we both were about four inches away from hitting the bumper of the car in front of us.

I thought I was at least acquainted with every corner of the Star Trek universe, but apparently not. I had never heard of Star Trek Cats until today.

Mouse long and purrs-per, everybody. Happy Star Trek Day!

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  1. I think the ending of the last movie starring the original cast had a line (by Spock: If I were human; I believe my response would be Go to Hell. If I were human”) in the closing scene that I wonder about being a possible summing up of all their feelings about the cancellation of the TV series – a sort of last laugh “fuck all y’all to those who cancelled them back in the sixties. That whole sequence was a fitting end to Star Trek with the original cast.

  2. Keep in mind Harlan Ellison could the compleat flaming asshole. In any event, I recommend the books “These Are the Voyages,” one for each season, a deep dive into the writing and production of every episode. ‘Fascinating,’ one might say.

    • I can’t agree more about Harlan. I met Harlan in person, at a writer’s conference, and he didn’t like me. He insulted me in the coffee shop, in front of one of his friends, who was a writer that I was dating at the time. (unbeknownst to Harlan.) It was horrifically embarrassing. Then the second time I met him, was over the phone, and we spoke about writing and he was a perfect gentleman and told me I was “very kind.” So, he could blow hot and cold, you never knew if he was in Jekyll or Hyde mode on any given day. Very strange dude, no question. I loved his work. Was a bit intimidated by him, but loved his work.


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