Now a popular television franchise, Star Trek's trek started as a long, hard won battle in television's movement towards adult science fiction. Creator and writer of many of the early episodes, Roddenberry, thought that America was ready for a new look at reality, a venture into the stars founded, to some degree, on predictive history.Ff2 (MgE) - C1Ri1 X M = L/So
"The television producer faces an almost impossible task when he attempts to create and produce a quality TV series," he writes. "Assuming he conceived a program of such meaning and importance that it could ultimately change the face of America, he probably could not get it on the air or keep it there."
A veteran writer/producer, Roddenberry knew the network producers would at first consider his new idea too risky, too different, and too impossible to produce. Which is precisely what they said. Undeterred, he went back to his Underwood typewriter and modified the idea. He realized that if he could engineer around the first objections, he might be able to put together a package that the networks would like.
First Roddenberry decided that he had to make Star Trek appear on the outside as nothing more than a safe, acceptable action adventure program. He built in a few surprises, here and there, but mainly stayed away from getting too technical or "jargony." Convinced that the American TV audience was not populated by the low-common denominator that the networks envisioned it to be, Roddenberry allowed the setting and character development to carry of most the deeper and compelling content.
By disguising his science fiction as "yarns on far away planets," he discovered that he could bury the fact that he was actually writing about politics, sex, economics, the stupidity of war, and other vital subjects otherwise prohibited by censors and producers who considered them too "high brow" or inflammatory for the viewing public. What Roddenberry and his typewriter completed is now considered a masterwork in television format pitches:
Star Trek will be a television first. A one-hour science-fiction series with continuing characters, combining the most varied in drama-action-adventure with complete production practicality and with almost limitless story potential.
Star Trek is a new kind of television science fiction with all the advantages of an anthology, but none of the limitations. How? Astronomers express it this way:
Or in simpler terms: the number of stars in the Universe is so infinite that if only one in a billion is a sun with planets and if only one in a billion of all these planets is of Earth size, the Universe would still contain approximately 2.8 trillion trillion planets capable of supporting oxygen-carbon life or (by the most conservative estimates of chemical or organic probability) something like 3 million worlds with a good possibility of intelligent life and social evolution similar to our own.
Or to put Star Trek into the language of television...
The format is "Wagon Train to the Stars" -- built around characters who travel to other worlds and meet the jeopardy and adventure which become our stories. The time could be 1995 or even 2995 -- close enough to our times for our continuing cast to be people like us, but far enough into the future for galaxy travel to be fully established.
Roddenberry successfully launched his new series on September 8, 1966. Unpopular with the Nielson families and hobbled by poor airtime positioning, the last "original" series episode aired on March 29, 1968. Today, Star Trek is considered one of the most successful entertainment franchises in American television history.