By Mary O’KEEFE
Friday, Sept. 8, was Star Trek Day. I had no idea it was Star Trek Day until a fellow Trekkie reached out to share the celebration. Quite honestly I thought every day was Star Trek Day because there is not one day that I don’t see a reminder of one of its many episodes. From the Shakespearian tragedy that is our present political landscape to the terrifying “planet eating” weather issues, “Star Trek” can be related to everything that happens.
So on Sept. 8, 1966 “Star Trek” – the original and most perfect – series debuted with its pilot “The Man Trap.” It was the first time we would hear Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) say those words: “Space – the final frontier.”
I am not a child who watched this series when it was on in prime time but my cousin was a fan. He watched the original series during its brief three-year run. It was canceled on June 3, 1969. There has been a lot of hype about the multiple spin-offs, and I have watched them all; as a loyal Trekkie, I feel it is my duty to support. But in a special that was on television to commemorate Star Trek Day a lot of time was spent advertising Paramount Plus and the numerous “Star Trek” spin-offs; however, very little time was spent on the reason why, after 57 years, we are still talking about “Star Trek.”
As I stated, the original series was canceled after only three years and for most series that would be the end; however, to say “Star Trek” found a new life in reruns would be an understatement.
This series didn’t just capture the imagination of the viewers; it also gave people a positive look at a future when there was very little positivity in the world. Creator Gene Roddenberry showed us a world that could be, where diversity was not something that had to be highlighted because it was just the way things were. Women were in positions of power and, yes, they were also dressed in incredibly unrealistic outfits, but still this was the ’60s and ’70s, so it was liberating seeing women who were not in roles portraying the perfect housewife. Not only was one of the central characters a woman but a woman of color. This was a world that, as a young person at the time of the first reruns, I wanted to live in.
The characters all worked together to create a series that honored everyone, but it was the writing that made this series survive the test of time and provide a strong foundation for future series.
I am honored to say one of the early writers, Dorothy [DC] Fontana, was a friend and mentor. Watching the television series in the basement of my Iowa home, I never would have dreamed that one day not only would I be able to go on the set of a “Star Trek” movie, when I had one of my OMG moments, but to be on a first name basis with DC Fontana.
Dorothy passed away in 2019. One of the last times we were together was at a taping of the “Big Bang Theory,” which honored “Star Trek” a lot. In fact, as we were walking onto the stage Dorothy pointed out a framed napkin that hung above the entrance. One of the “Big Bang” episodes had Penny give Sheldon – a true Trekkie/Trekker – a gift – a napkin.
Sheldon read the inscription on the napkin: “To Sheldon: Live long and prosper … Leonard Nimoy.”
I can’t believe I have to explain this but Nimoy portrayed “Star Trek’s” Vulcan Mr. Spock.
Penny then said, “He came into the restaurant. Sorry the napkin’s dirty – he wiped his mouth with it.”
Sheldon, his “face twitching with excitement,” said, “I posses the DNA of Leonard Nimoy?”…. “Do you realize what this means? All I need is a healthy ovum and I could grow my own Leonard Nimoy.”
Apparently the napkin was just a prop when used on that episode. Dorothy pointed to it and said, “I asked them if they really wanted Leonard’s DNA. So I called him and got the napkin.”
When she said this to me I tried not to be the small town Iowa nerd that I actually am. I just smiled but inside my heart was racing. This icon, who was now my friend, can actually call other icons and get their DNA?
Just like “Star Trek” teaches us, anything is possible.
For our future, we will be seeing this cool weather trend continue with temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s, lower than our normal temps of 90 at this time of year.
We will be experiencing a kind of June Gloom in September, according to NOAA, with low clouds and fog in the mornings clearing to sunny skies in the late morning.
In the next few days, the hottest temps will be on the weekend with temps in the low 80s. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will cool back down to the mid 70s.