At 90, Shatner will be the first nonagenarian in space. As a smart reader put it in an email last week, it will once go where no one has gone before. “I’ve been hearing about space for a long time now,” Shatner joked to an interviewer. “I take this opportunity to see it for myself. What a miracle.”
The USS Enterprise’s “five-year mission,” as described by Shatner’s narration in the original show’s opening, only lasted three years on television, reduced by the severity of the low ratings. ‘listen. It would later walk away with many series and spinoff films over the decades, becoming arguably the most successful sci-fi franchise in history.
Science fiction as a genre tends towards dystopia, but Star Trek’s view of humanity 300 years later was sunny and brushed against Pollyanna. In an imagined distant future that also served as a timely commentary on the Cold War, Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights movement, the company’s deck featured the thick-accented Russian ensign Chekov (Walter Koenig), the Asian American Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei) and Kenyan Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols).
In a 1968 episode, Uhura shared with Kirk what was called the first interracial kiss. Nichols said Martin Luther King Jr. had once dissuaded her from leaving the show because he found her rare positive portrayal of a Black TV character to be invaluable to the cause.