Thursday night, September 8th, 1966 from 8:30pm-9:30pm on NBC is a sacred, historic time in television history. It’s the debut of Star Trek. Viewers were treated to the saga of the Enterprise visiting Planet M-113 and crossing paths with a monster that has come to be affectionately known as the “Salt Vampire.”
I can’t help but think after watching this show that the audience, unless they absolutely knew what they were watching, would be left bespectacled, but a tad confused. Nobody had ever seen a show like this on television before.
To be quite honest, I probably would have felt the same way. But, knowing my penchant for unusual ideas, I would have been fascinated to tune in again. Just to see what they were cooking up next.
I always have a false impression that you always should be introducing characters in a series premiere. One has to remember however, that Star Trek was never like that at all. Even in the two pilots, there are little morsels here and there revealing character traits, but the background of all characters is something that was gradually added to over time. As to whether or not this episode needed more introductory material, not really. The plot is the point of this episode, any expository stuff is merely here to pad out the episode.
Speaking of opportunities for exposition, I call attention to a scene in the middle of the episode. It’s when Yeoman Rand visits Sulu in the Botanical section. I call your attention to the plant, named “Beauregard” (or “Gertrude” according to Sulu) in the center of the room.
I don’t need to tell you that it is obviously someone’s hand. Remember the show has a limited budget, folks. It adds to the charm.
So, in summary. From an average TV viewer’s perspective, what is my impression? I would be encouraged by what I seen. I would have probably hoped for a more spectacular story then a melodramatic monster-fest that this episode was to open the show. But, not knowing the production challenges going on behind the scenes at the time to even get the show on the air by its airdates.
Next Week: “Charlie X”.