Star Trek is one of the two biggest space franchises on the , the other being Star Wars. Whilst Star Wars origins are in films with the first one being Star Wars - A New Hope, Star Trek was a television series that first premiered in the 1960s. The pilot episode 'The Cage' was shown to television executive who described the show as being a disaster. Rather than completely forgetting about it, Gene Roddenberry was given a second chance to make a Star Trek series. Gene got rid of the Star Trek cast with the exception of Mr. Spock and came up with a new pilot episode 'Where No Man Has Gone Before'.
The first episode of the revisioned Star Trek went out on television on 8th of September 1966. Captain Christopher Pike, the captains of the first pilot was replaced by Captain James Tiberius Kirk, played by Canadian actor William Shatner. Mr Spock character was kept, his role changing slightly in the new Star Trek pilot. The female character in 'The Cage' was played by Majel Barrett who would later become Mrs Gene Roddenberry was removed. The actress, Majel Barrett would later be cast as the blonde Nurse Christine Chapel in the Original Series and as the flirtuous Lwaxana Troi, mother of Deanna Troi, the Star Trek, Next Generations Counsellor.
Star Trek episode Plato's Stepchildren caused controversy which nowadays would cause many people to not bat an eyelid. It was the first time two people from different racial groups kissed on television. The kiss was supposed to be between Lt. Uhara and Mr. Spock but in the end, Captain James T. Kirk carried out the kiss instead.
The idea of the Star Trek series is to present a future where man has finally made it and got into space and is communicating with aliens both friendly (Vulcans) and hostile (Klingon). At that time in real life, the furthest we had gotten was to get the first man Yuri Gagarin and woman Valentina Tereshkova into space. Neil Armstrong would not reach the moon for another three years after the Star Trek series was broadcast. The closest we have come to meeting aliens are so called UFO encounters and finding extrasolar planets.
Earth belonged to United Federation of Planets more commonly known as simply Starfleet Federation, an alliance of alien races that provided each other with respect and support. Starfleet Federation headquarters are in San Francisco, United States, Earth, yup, Earth, you read right. The Starfleet Academy where Starfleet Federation officers came and learnt was also in San Francisco. Federation buildings can be seen in the rebooted films, Star Trek X and Star Trek - Into Darkness.
At the beginning of Star Trek episode, Captain Kirk would address his diary with a stardate. At the time, no one thought any one would bother wondering what the stardate meant and so the number he says is a random number. Episodes were also introduced by Kirk saying :-
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
They only made three Star Trek series, the other two years are classified I guess. The third Star Trek series was only made because of pressure by Star Trek fans, known as either Trekkies or Trekkers. It was not until the arrival of Star Wars in 1977 that interest picked up again and the first Star Trek movie was made. A new series was greenlit eventually and The Next Generation series was made in the eighties with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a Frenchman played by an Englishman in charge of the Enterprise. The word introduction was only slightly different from the original, no mention of five year missions. The Next Generation had seven years of missions.
Space... The final frontier... These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds... To seek out new life; new civilisations... To boldly go where no one has gone before!
Along with a new cast, the Enterprise was introduced to new aliens such as the Borg, Q, Cardassians and Ferengi to name a few. The original series aliens were also back, Klingons, Vulcans and Romulans. The Enterprise now had a Klingon, a once feared alien race of the Federation, now amongst its loyal crew. Also in the crew was a humanoid robot who wanted to be human like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz story. There were a number of Star Trek Stories revolved around the holodesk, the latest in 24th Century entertainment where you run into Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books.
The first spin off of the Star Trek franchise came with Deep Space 9, a space station in the Alpha Quadrant. Classed as a Star Trek spin-off because the adventures aren't set around the Enterprise but in and around a space station. The space station was commanded by Captain Benjamin Sisko who came with his son Jake. The series introduced us more to Cardassians, reptilian like humanoids and Bajoran, one of the alien races with ridges on their noses to differentiate between them and Earth humans. Starfleet had taken over the space station which had been built by the Cardassians during their occupation of the Bajorans. Also on the space station were a group of Ferengi who operated the main bar on the station.
Whilst most of the adventures are based on the station, the Deep Space 9 is given the USS Defiant to visit planets and travel through the Gamma Quadrant wormhole which is located not far from Bajor. The wormhole introduced the Dominion although they had been mentioned before, this was the first time we got to see them. The Dominion became the main enemy in Deep Space 9. The Dominion are a group of alien races led by the Founders or Changelings with a military Jem Hadar force to do their dirty work.
Chief Miles o'Brien who had a bit part in the Next Generation had a much greater role in Deep Space 9. Also Lt. Worf, the Next Generation Klingon joined the crew of the Deep Space 9 in season 4 when Sisko needed help to determine why the Klingons had despatched a large force near the station. Worf returned to the Enterprise for the films.
A second Star Trek spin-off series is based around the adventures of the USS Voyager who gets lost in the Delta Quadrant, the only quadrant that has not been investigated before. The Delta Quadrant is home to the much feared and unknown Borg which the space craft under the captaincy of Kathryn Janeway have to deal with. Voyager is the first and only space ship of the Star Trek ships to be captained fully by a female. The Voyager is sent to investigate the disappearance of a Maquis space ship. The Maquis are a group of aliens and humans who are opposed to the treaty between the Federeation and the Cardassians.
The Maquis ship is teleported to the Delta Quadrant where an alien is trying to find a new occupant for his space station. The caretaker as the alien became known holds himself responsible for the destruction of the Ocampa home world and as the Caretaker knows he is dying, he wants someone to look after the place after he's gone. As no one is suitable on board the Maquis ship, he captures the Voyager. Again, no one is suitable. Voyager encounters the Kazons which are an aggressive alien race. The Spacestation is capable of sending Voyager back but as Janeway does not want the technology to fall in the Kazon's hands, Janeway orders the stations destruction.
The series follows the Voyager as they head home and encounter many alien races, some for the odd one or two episodes such as the Swarm, some feature for a long time such as the Kazon, Borg and Hirogen. The series bypasses the origins of the Borg, the Voyager is transported through the Borg area by Kes, the Ocampa that travels with them. During the series, they make a pact with the Borg when the enemy Species 8472 is more deadly than the Borg. After the defeat of Species 8472, the Borg renege on their side of the deal but Janeway anticipates this and escapes with a lone Borg with whom the Doctor, the medical hologram is able to turn back to near human.
There are a number of chances of getting back to Earth but they eventually return back to Earth when Admiral Janeway from the future travels back in time to persuade the Captain Kathryn Janeway to use a Borg transwarp core. Transwarp is many times faster to travel through space than just using warp. The episode creates a paradox but you don't really need to think about that too much.
Instead of making a Next Next Generation series, the producers decided to create a prequel to the Star Trek Original Series. The adventures follow the Enterprise under its first captain, Captain Jonathon Archer as they set out on the first voyagers of adventure. The crew consists mainly of humans plus T'Pol, a female Vulcan and a Denebulan Doctor. The series only lasted four series before being axed.
The series tried to avoid references to alien races that appeared after the Original Series such as the Borg, Ferengi and Cardassians. The Ferengi do appear in an episode where they have taken control of the Enterprise to loot it. The series featured the Andorians, the blue skinned aliens with antennae which had features in the Original Series and made appearances in future series. The Andorians appeared both friendly and hostile to the crew of the Enterprise. The series featured the Klingons as they looked post-Original Series. The Klingons change in appearance was explained by episodes in the fourth series by way of a virus that changed their looks. The series also introduced us to the Xindi and the Suliban, both of whom were never seen again.
Unlike the previous Star Treks series, this one revolves solely around films. In 2009, J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek X, a re-imaging of the Star Trek franchise. It took the series back to when James Kirk became a Federation captain. It turned the whole storyline upside down, the antagonist in the first film was Nero, a Romulan who is sent back in to the past by means of a time tunnel who then goes on to destroy Vulcan, the home planet of Spock. The old Spock also appears in the film from the future. The Star Trek timeline is now messed up, there is no Vulcan so when Spock visits home in the future, he can't. Nero destroyed Vulcan because he wanted revenge for the inability of Spock saving Romulus.
The second film, 2013 sees the main antagonist being John Harrison, a Federation secret agent who sets out to destroy the Federation. John Harrison turns out to be the re-imagined Khan Noonien Singh who originally appeared in the episode Space Seed and then returned in Wrath of Khan film. The cast have been signed up to do three movies, two done, one more to do as of 2013 when I wrote this.