Enterprise computer log, Stardate 2022.4 – Captain Kirk. Spock, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura and Chekov: great names. The actors are now dead or well into their 80s. But the legend lives on – and is celebrating an anniversary: On May 27, 1972, the first episode of the hit series “Star Trek” (Spaceship Enterprise) was broadcast on ZDF.
“Space – endless expanses. (…) These are the adventures of the spaceship Enterprise, which, with its 400-strong crew, travels five years to explore foreign galaxies, new life and new civilizations. Many light-years from Earth, the Enterprise is entering galaxies never before seen by man.”
For fans (“Trekkies”), this opening credits, with which each episode begins, has lost none of its fascination. “Starship Enterprise”, one of the most iconic TV series of all time, is set in the year 2200; at a time when humanity survived World War III and peacefully joined forces with other extraterrestrial life forms to form the “United Federation of Planets”.
The “Space Fleet” sends the “USS Enterprise” on a mission to explore foreign planets and galaxies and to get to know unknown life forms. The original crew is led by Captain James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner, 91), First Officer Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy, d. 2015), Chief Engineer “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan, d. 2005), Helmsman Sulu (George Takei, 85), communications officer Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols, 89), navigator Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig, 85), and ship’s doctor Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelly, d. 1999).
The fairly simple view of man, who breaks through boundaries on his expeditions and seems to surpass himself, must always remain anthropocentric. There are human limits to his cognitive abilities. “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) deliberately chose the supposedly galactic perspective: Go further away from yourself so that you can see yourself better!
In fact, the “distant worlds” and supposedly unknown societies are always a fairly crystal-clear reflection of terrestrial designs for society. What are the aggressive Klingons of the Cold War but backward-looking, militaristic Soviets? Matriarchal planets reflect the women’s movement in America. And the devious Romulans, who are always difficult to interpret, probably pass for a threat from distant China.
Racial segregation in the USA is also addressed – and overcome. In an episode deemed unacceptable in some Southern states, Captain Kirk kisses black officer Uhura.
The Enterprise trio embody three archetypes: the doer (Kirk), the rational (Spock), and the emotional (“Bones”). They all need each other; everyone does not reach their goal with their own style alone.