50 Years of Star Trek (2016)

by | Oct 26, 2016 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

A wonderful documentary celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.

50 Years of Star Trek (2016)

Cast: Interviews with Leonard Nimoy, Michelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Whoopi Goldberg, D.C. Fontana, Ronald D. Moore & others
Studio: A & E History Channel/ Lionsgate (11/1/16)
Director: Ian Roumain
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 screens, color
Audio: English, English SDH, DD 2.0
Length: 85 min.
Rating: ****1/2

A delightful documentary on would-you-believe 50 years since the first Star Trek series debuted on national TV in 1966. Included is the last interview with Leonard Nimoy – who played the famous Spock – before his recent death. It covers both the various TV series and the many feature films and promotes again the fact that Star Trek was saved by Lucille Ball because she really liked it. Some of the episodes of the various series are titled wrongly, but no matter. The Wrath of Khan is considered the best of the earlier feature films, and the Deep Space Nine TV series was darker than the general Star Treks, but kept up the positive outlook on life in the future, which most sci-fi films portray as total chaos (Mad Max and Blade Runner are mentioned). (DP9 was also my personal favorite of the whole series.)

Much of the documentary focuses on a panel of talking heads that discuss Trek-related stuff. Too much time is spent on Sarah Silverman, who had only a small part in one Star Trek. The first interracial kiss was on an original Star Trek episode, and the mini-skirt was introduced on Star Trek before it was part of American culture. They also delved into black/white relations, abortion, and homosexual issues.  The original NBC TV series was cancelled after three years, and then four years later – partly due to Lucille Ball and Desilu Studios – it was back and became a major part of American culture. The effects of Gene Roddenberry’s original ideas for Star Trek (he died in 1991) are discussed and especially how many gadgets like the cell phone and iPad were predicted years earlier in his vision of a positive 24th century and not a chaotic one. It’s unique message of true coexistence in the future inspired many people over the 50 years, including NASA astronauts and engineers. Footage is shown of NASA technicians at one time all wearing Spock pointy ears.

The Seven of Nine character from the show as well as Walter Koenig who played Chekov are featured among the many talking heads.  Whoopi Goldberg speaks about her wanting greatly to be a part of Star Trek. Then there are also the comments by Leonard Nimoy. This fine documentary should appeal to more than just Trekkies.

—John Sunier

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