As excitement mounts for the debut of the all-new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series this September on CBS, it’s always important to revisit the roots of STAR TREK. I’ve been a faithful Trekkie (I prefer the term Trekkie, not Trekker) since the ’70s, when I had a happy and adventurous childhood fueled by daily reruns of Gene Roddenberry’s original series in syndication on WPIX, Channel 11, in New York state. I was Captain Kirk as far as I was concerned, and spent countless hours playing with my Mego TREK action figures, running around the neighborhood in my Remco star trek utility belt pretending that it was an alien planet, and reading episode adaptations by James Blish on Bantam books.
I also had the privilege of visiting The Federation Trading Post in New York City as a kid (the first fan-created STAR TREK store devoted solely to the show, which doubled as a mini TREK museum), which stands as one of my fondest memories. In a time before VHS, they played full episodes on the loudspeakers and gave fans access to prop replicas, uniforms, show scripts, and more impossible-to-find memorabilia way before the TREK merchandising market was saturated. The Federation emblem on my yellow shirt was a patch bought at The Federation Trading Post (sewn lovingly by my mom, seen in the photo above), and I still have the tribble that I picked out of the store’s barrel marked “TRIBBLES” in my possession. It was a one-of-a-kind place.
Back in 2013 when I was with ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, I had the privilege of filming a personal tour of Roddenberry Entertainment, a company run by Gene’s son Rod, to see rare TREK memorabilia and to talk about how his company is boldly going forward with the multi-billion-dollar media franchise by way of storytelling creativity, philanthropy, merchandising, and historical preservation. The company has a unique take on the legacy of TREK, and Rod is now an executive producer on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, helping to give the new series the street cred it deserves.
Trevor Roth, the COO of Roddenberry Entertainment, walked me through some of the Roddenberry Entertainment archives, highlighted by access to original STAR TREK costumes, props, and a chance to sit in a perfect, working recreation of the original Enterprise captain’s chair.
“Our mission is to continue to create substantive science-fiction for the world and make sure that it’s accessible to people, and real to people, and is something that has the Roddenberry spirit within it,” he said about the company’s directive. “What’s great about STAR TREK is people love different parts of the franchise. … STAR TREK has to grow and evolve, and I think that you have to remember that when you’re watching, because it is a living, breathing entity in some ways, and so you have to let it grow and change.”
In other words, you can’t always have the same thing over and over and over. STAR TREK has to change with the times in order to stay fresh and relevant and new, and that means doing something different; there will always be some fans who are disappointed with the creative choices and directions of the new movies and series (and there are quite a few very vocal ones on the Internet, as we all know). But hey, you can’t please all of the Trekkies/Trekkers all of the time, and there’s plenty of TREK in the archives to revisit over and over and over again for those who struggle to accept change.
Recently, Roddenberry Entertainment unveiled great, never-before-seen STAR TREK footage via THE RODDENBERRY VAULT after painstakingly combing through boxes and boxes of outtakes, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and much more that was lying in a warehouse and then later in the Roddenberry basement. The footage presented is a gold mine for die-hard fans of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES and a real time capsule of the short-lived but prolific Roddenberry production in the ’60s. For those displeased with the casting and/or concept designs of DISCOVERY, there’s always ORIGINAL SERIES reruns and the gems found in THE RODDENBERRY VAULT.
Watch the video of my tour of Roddenberry Entertainment here:
Live long and prosper!