Star Trek Original Series Era Analysis


Star Trek TOS Era Statistics
SeriesAverage Rating# of EpisodesPoints
TOS season 14.4330133
TOS season 24.4226115
TOS season 34.6724112
TOS as a whole4.580360
TOS films6.17637
TOS & TOS films4.6286397
SeriesAverage Rating# of EpisodesPoints
TAS season 141664
TAS season 23618
TAS as a whole3.732282
TOS & TAS4.33102442
TOS, TOS films, & TAS4.44108479

Star Trek TOS was the shining star of the first generation of science fiction television. No other show, not Battlestar Galactica, not Lost In Space, and not even the Star Wars films could hold a candle to the original Star Trek. Star Trek TOS had a vision. Not just a vision of a better future and a united Earth, but a vision of a united Earth working together with aliens. A United Federation of Planets free of racism, greed, bigotry, and corruption working together for mutual defense and the exploration of space. Star Trek TOS was a bigger show than any of the others. It did more with less money than any of the others. Star Trek TOS was a testament to how well a good story on its own stands without the aid of a high production budget. Star Trek TOS created the legacy and well deserved its fame. But despite its greatness it was still easily the worst of the Star Trek shows. There were a number of reasons for this.

Because Star Trek TOS was produced largely in the 1960s, a few of the incorrect sentiments of the day bled into the writing. For one, Star Trek TOS almost totally ignored the metric system in favor of English Imperial Units. This is an unfortunate reminder that TOS was a 1960s American television show. Americans in the 1960s were very hostile toward the metric system. Even to this day, there are a few future-based shows on American TV which ignore the metric system. I was especially surprised that Babylon 5 was one of them, which was produced in the 1990s! Additionally, Star Trek TOS had quite a bit of overt sexism inserted into the series. This was much to Gene Roddenberry's discontent, as the original TOS pilot The Cage presented a much more gender equal setting. The pilot was rejected and Roddenberry was (perhaps in not so many words) asked to make the show more sexist. And so it was. Fortunately, later TOS productions largely removed the sexism during the movie era. Star Trek eventually converted to the metric system as well.

TV networks' requirements though went far beyond a few trivial details. In order to boost ratings, Gene Roddenberry was forced to make many TOS episodes "less cerebral" so as to appeal to the average American more. Plots were simplified, fighting was frequent, technical problems were rampant. TV networks did everything they could to make Star Trek an action show, not a profound story with a science fiction setting. Still though, every once in a while, something profound bled through too. Episodes like All Our Yesterdays, The City on the Edge of Forever, The Day of the Dove, Errand of Mercy, Journey to Babel, Space Seed, and Balance of Terror among others will always leave me with fond memories. Gene Roddenberry struggled against both TV network politics and the cultural norms of the world. In the beginning it looked bleak. TOS was canned in 1969 during its third season. TAS was the wrong approach from the beginning and died during its second season in 1974. Third time was the charm though. The TOS films produced starting in 1979 were nearly all a huge success. No matter how much TV networks and right wing conservatism tried to kill off Trek and its ideals, it just kept coming back. Trek's perseverance won.

Star Trek TOS was not a perfect series. It had more problems than any of its descendants. But in the end, better executed TV shows had less effect on people. Star Trek was the first truly great science fiction television show to be created for it was the first to have a truly optimistic vision for humanity. Had it not been for Star Trek TOS, the second generation of science fiction would have never been born and grown into the glorious era of storytelling that it was. Star Trek TOS was the shining star. It was the undeniably the best of the first generation science fiction television shows. It was way ahead of its time and it set the standard for future science fiction television. For this it has become the most famous science fiction television show of all time. At the time, to quote Star Trek I, the human adventure was just beginning. The legacy Star Trek TOS left behind was extraordinary. Any man would be lucky to leave a legacy behind half as impressive as Gene Roddenberry's.