Star Trek the television series first debuted in 1966 as what is dubbed ‘The Original Series’ during which the costuming, role allocation and even ethical storytelling both reflected the socio-cultural context of USA, but also challenged and invited complex discussions about morality, ethics and rights. It, and the following original series, walked a fine line of being commercial enough to appeal to audiences as well as being true to the Science-Fiction genre in that it needed to engage in deep discussions about what it means to "be." ‘Enterprise’ was the last of the original broadcasts ending in 2005 before the success of the film "reboot" in 2009. The 2009 film ‘Star Trek’ reinforced a number of stereotypes and cliches that were disappointingly lacking in the nuance of the original series, and for a moment it seemed it was finished with again.
Then came the new television revival with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ that not only again reflected the excitement and challenges of space exploration, but also touched on the same socio-cultural concerns current in contemporary society. It was a show that began to speak about issues we face in our own world. From here spanned out a range of new shows from ‘Picard’ to ‘Lower Decks’ that each began to broaden the world of Star Trek, but also found new ways to engage in important conversations.
An article looking at the different discussions, topics and socio-cultural confirmations and challenges across the timeline of Star Trek would be fascinating. It is one of very few shows to have spanned such a large period of time on television that has not simply reflected back social norms. I would be interested to see a deeper analysis of this topic.
For someone choosing to write an essay on this topic, the issue of interconnected history, binding the seven Star Trek TV shows (the Original, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard) together, presents an interesting way of discussing a narrative that connects the shows and keeps interest in previous Star Trek series alive. For example, in the Original, “The Menagerie” episodes (parts 1 and 2 in Season 1) former Enterprise Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) is brought to Talos IV where he will be re-united with Vina (Susan Oliver). In Discovery, the “If Memory Serves” episode (Season 2), Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) visits Talos IV and meets Vina (Melissa George). Furthermore, in Picard (Season 1) in the “The End is the Beginning” episode, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), when visiting a Borg ship that was disconnected from the hive, is referred to as Locutus. In The Next Generation (Season 3) in the “The Best of Both Worlds” episode (Part 1) Picard is transformed into Locutus. Star Trek’s interconnected history presents a fascinating way of writing about the depth of created history that now runs back through five decades of a television series. As a result of a half century of television shows, there are storylines from the Star Trek series that are known to several generations of TV viewers. That much TV history has made so much of Star Trek part of American Culture.
At the time I loved the new Star Trek movies. They were exciting, full of space travel, linked to nostalgia and full of "larger than life" characters. However, a re-watch of these was almost as painful as re-watching the Fast and the Furious series; instead of vivid I realised the characters were one-dimensional, stereotyped, almost all white and when I actually took note of the ridiculous 70s dresses of the women, actually quite insulting.
Now this realisation did not occur randomly, this was the result of returning to re-watch the films after completing the TV series Star Trek Discovery – and what I discovered was that the films lived up to the franchise (hated by fans, full of over blown situations and lacking the depth of storytelling in the shows). Now with the launch of Star Trek Picard I am blown away by the commitment to storytelling in both the shows. The focus is on personal growth, the difficulty of sticking to your convictions, taking responsibility for your actions, understanding the complexity of dealing with people (human and alien) and it is committed to showing diversity.
I think there is a lot in the new Star Treks that is showing the way forward for all TV – in a post MeToo world, in a post Black Panther world, it is not acceptable to continue to show narrow stereotyped, outdated and offensive perspectives. We often talk about the power of pop-culture and mainstream entertainment because it does offer a platform to not only reflect the world, but offer paths to change. This is a lot of lauding and pressure to place on a set of sci-fi TV shows, but I think Star Trek has more to teach us, even if it is just a better commitment to storytelling. What do you think?
An analysis of the newest addition to the Star Trek franchise. Does the 2017 update to beloved 80/90s spin-offs like DS9 and Voyager really pack the same punch? Or is possible that older TV shows and their newer instalments are want to be affected by nostalgia and fans, as much as they are by new script and plot?
I think this is a relevant discussion to have, although it would be a little tricky as there is so much conjecture even between the original series. It will be interesting to look at how each series actually was received and how the new version relates to that also. As a show that has had a series of iterations and significant changes, I think in a way fans would be more accepting of the "newness" of the Discovery series, however, whether it is meeting the same needs in its contemporary target audience could be a different discussion. – SaraiMW5 years ago
I think I this discussion would be further relevant when the series completes and the whole can be viewed. – alexpaulsen5 years ago
Many episodes of each Star Trek series feature emergent political conflicts. What can the examination of these stories teach us about the principles of diplomacy relevant to our own political struggles? Take one or two episodes and relate them to active conflicts in the real world today.
Cool topic. I think the original Star Trek series, especially, touched on some very interesting political issues. One episode that comes to mind - off the top of my head, anyway - is "The Cage" ("Wrong thinking is punishable; right thinking will be rewarded"). – OBri6 years ago
Explain what the Prime Directive is and its history in ST. Examine how ST: TNG emphasized the guiding principle with Picard’s pontification on the subject using specific examples where the PD was central to the plot. Conclude with a discussion on how and why the PD has fallen to the wayside first under Rick Berman and now with J.J. Abrams and Justin Lin.
Explore Lin’s rise to direct ST: Beyond. Look at how he began as a director and examine what he will bring to the ST franchise. Address the topic of Justin Lin and Star Trek Beyond applied to the rest of the series and how that will effect them. Mention how Lin’s background in the Fast and Furious franchise will either be beneficial or harmful to what J.J. Abrams has done
There are many ways in which the original Star Trek predicted aspects about the future such as the communicators which mimic cell phones. I would like to find out from Trekkie purists how Gene Roddenberry got it right.
Something to consider is that Star Trek has done this as a whole, not just with the Original series. There were many devices in both Voyager and TNG that predict future technology, such as tablets, comm systems, AI computers, and holograms. Perhaps you could compare and contrast each series and their different technology predictions. – Megan Finsel7 years ago
I would like to see an article on the original series since it was 50 years ago or around there as a sort of anniversary of the series when it started Sept. 8, 1966. A kind of homage to the ideas as well as technology that Roddenberry envisioned. One item that comes to mind is the international cast. It is so unusual to have that kink of diversity in terms of a TV series in that time. Referring to specific episodes would also be great when they encountered alien technology that was "ahead." – Munjeera7 years ago
Did Star Trek predict the future or create the future? Are there any modern technologies (i.e., the flip cell phone) that just might have been influenced by Star Trek? – sophiacatherine7 years ago
Finding out what Star Trek influenced in terms of tech would be interesting. I heard that NASA did get some ideas about space technology from Star Trek. – Munjeera7 years ago
Many of those futuristic inventions would not have been possible without people like Tesla.
"We are whirling through endless space, with and inconceivable speed, all around everything is spinning, everything is moving, everywhere there is energy. There must be some way of availing ourselves of this energy more directly. Then, with the light obtained from the medium, with the power derived from it, with every form of energy obtained without effort, from the store forever inexhaustible, humanity will advance with giant strides. The mere contemplation of these magnificent possibilities expand our minds, strengthens our hopes and and fills our hearts with supreme delight." Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – L:Freire4 years ago