Star Trek 101: A beginner's guide to following Enterprise on its 50th anniversary

By: H&I Staff     Posted: September 8, 2016, 10:20AM

Star Trek can seem intimidating. It's a big universe with deeply devoted fans. For years, its brainy content was associated with Dungeons & Dragons and Rush. However, with new blockbuster movies and a wealth of other media, Star Trek is for everyone. 

The thing is, Star Trek was always for everyone. Any fan of classic television can latch onto the meaty plots, strong characters, brilliant actors and colorful design. Sure, some characters have blue skin and head antennae, but they could just have easily fit into any Twilight Zone or Western.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. "The Man Trap" premiered on September 8, 1966. There's no better time to kickstart your love of Star Trek.

We had one of our resident Trekkie's whip up a primer for newcomers, seven reasons why Star Trek matters.

Star Trek is…

1. Our Bright Future

What sets Star Trek apart from other well-known space operas is that it is a bold, optimistic view of our future. This isn't the story of another culture on the other side of the universe, this is about us and where we are going.

2. United

Star Trek is a story of a unified Earth that put global conflict to rest in order to take to the stars. This is an important story, and a goal worth working towards, especially with the world we are living in today.

3. Friendship

Kirk is supported by two great friends: Bones and Spock. They could not be more different, yet it is Spock’s calm logic and Bones’ fiery passion that inform the two greatest aspects of Kirk. They help him to be the great leader that we know.

4. Connectivity

Before Marvel movies made shared universes a thing, Star Trek had been there, done that… and sold the T-shirt! Star Trek: Enterprise takes place over a hundred years before Kirk. The Original Series takes place starting in 2266 with Kirk and his crew. They occupy the first two Enterprise starships. The fourth Enterprise, the USS Enterprise-D, is helmed by Captain Picard almost 100 years later. The beginning of Deep Space Nine occurs during the time Picard is the Enterprise’s captain and Voyager takes place just a short while after that.

5. "Wagon Train to the Stars"

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, pitched the show to the networks as an interstellar version of the program Wagon Train. Instead of a wagon train exploring the Wild West, Star Trek is the story of a starship exploring the final frontier — deep space.

6. Fun

Just like normal people, the crews of these starships (and that one space station) like to have a good time. The original Star Trek had shore leave every so often. The Next Generation would make good use of a holodeck (a room where you can use holograms to create any environment you desire) and also played quite a bit of poker. Deep Space Nine had a casino and even had an episode where the crew played baseball on the holodeck. Star Trek: Voyager would use the holodeck to recreate old 1930s serials, and Star Trek: Enterprise had a cute dog on board!

7. Just Beginning

The best part about Star Trek is that what we’ve seen can be only the beginning. The only limitations are the imaginations of their creators and our appetite to be shown a brighter tomorrow where we can boldly go where no one has gone before…

Tell us what Star Trek means to you!