Gene Roddenberry: Creator of Star Trek
GENE RODDENBERRY - CREATOR OF STAR TREK
StarTrek, the famous science fiction series, was created by Gene Roddenbury. Some fans regard this as one of the great humanist stories, while other people often consider it a moralising programme. Roddenberry's original idea was to produce an intelligent science fiction show with a full cast. Let's examine how close he came to his vision of the future.
Roddenberry worked on a variety of successful TV series in the 1950s and 1960s such as 'Have Gun Will Travel' and 'The Lieutenant'. He had his idea for a mature science fiction series for many years before it came to the screen.
Captain Kirk & Mr Spock
The first pilot, 'The Cage', was rejected for being too complicated. The second introduced the important Kirk and Spock characters and gave the series the possibility to continue. However the original Star Trek only lasted three seasons. Nevertheless, with continued repeats, it began to find a loyal fanbase, who appreciated the positive outlook of the series.
Roddenberry's vision can be criticised as being naive and innocent but Star Trek was an extremely political programme for its time. The choice of a multi-racial crew (African, Asian, American, Russian, Scottish and even alien) was difficult to show on US television in the 1960's. It was supposed to show humanity's progress and was certainly a step forward from previous series such as Lost in Space.
The series is often criticised for sexism, particularly in the clothing of the female characters. However Roddenberry's wanted a woman as second-in-command of the Enterprise. This was not accepted by the NBC television channel. It thought this was too much for viewers.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Roddenberry saw the Next Generation as a chance to correct some of these problems. So the captain was no longer automatically in charge in all situations, and women had more important roles. His improvements showed maturity. This can be seen especially in the character of Jean-Luc Picard, the new captain. Patrick Stewart was recognised as a Shakespearian actor and brought a new level of intellectuality to the role. The captain was no longer a typically American hero. There were also signs of political progress with Lieutenant Worf, a part of the senior crew of the Enterprise. As a Klingon, he represented reconciliation with former enemies.
The creator died in 1992 during the fifth series of the Next Generation. Although later series moved away from his original idea, they and also the Star Trek films continue to follow in his spirit.
Star Trek Voyager