Star Trek celebrates its 50th birthday today. It stands as my favorite film and television sci-fi franchise–yes, including Star Wars. Although it also produced a few stinker movies, the entertaining, thought-provoking hours far outnumber quality Star Wars content.
No, I didn’t say I don’t like Star Wars. Between 1983 and 1999, it produced nothing new for viewers, while Star Trek cranked out arguably its finest TV offerings–“The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” Can’t quite lump “Voyager” in there, because it wasn’t as good and it ran until 2001. Likewise for the films, in those years Star Trek delivered its best films since The Wrath of Khan–including The Undiscovered Country and First Contact. So, while I became an adult, moved out on my own, and got married, Star Trek was there. Star Wars was just something I had loved when I was a kid.
I have a sinking feeling that Star Trek has stalled and might never again be the cerebral alternative to its simpleton, swashbuckling cousin. In fact, I think Star Wars has become smarter (or at least regained what brains it had) while Star Trek has been dumbed down.
Whatever the case, Star Trek has inspired many engineers to create real technologies, and has made us think about our place in the universe.
Happy Birthday, Star Trek.