Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions (later Paramount Television). Star Trekwas telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969. Although this television series had the title of Star Trek, it has acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: TOS or TOS) to distinguish the show within the media franchise that it began. Star Trek's Nielsen ratings while on NBC were low, and the network canceled it after three seasons and 79 episodes. The show became a cult classic in broadcast syndication during the 1970s, leading to five additional television series, 11 theatrical films, and numerous books, games, and other products.
Star Trek follows the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew, led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), first officer Mr. Spock(Leonard Nimoy), and chief medical officer Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley), in the 23rd century. Shatner's voice-over introduction during each episode's opening credits stated the starship's purpose:
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
In 1964, Gene Roddenberry, a longtime fan of science fiction, drafted a proposal for a science-fiction television series that he called Star Trek. This was to be set on board a large interstellar spaceship in the 23rd century whose crew was dedicated to exploring a relatively small portion of our Milky Way Galaxy.
Some of the influences on his idea that Roddenberry noted included A. E. van Vogt's tales of the spaceship Space Beagle, Eric Frank Russell's Marathon series of stories, and the film Forbidden Planet (1956). Other people have also drawn parallels with the television series Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954), a less sophisticated space opera that still included many of the elements — the organization, crew relationships, missions, part of the bridge layout, and even some technology — that were part of Star Trek. Roddenberry also drew heavily from C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novels that depict a daring sea captain who exercises broad discretionary authority on distant sea missions of noble purpose. Roddenberry often humorously referred to Captain Kirk as "Horatio Hornblower in Space".
Roddenberry had extensive experience in writing for series about the Old West that had been popular television fare earlier in the 1960s and the 1950s, and he pitched his new show to the networks as "Wagon Train to the stars." In 1964, Roddenberry signed a three-year program-development contract with a leading independent television production company, Desilu Productions. In Roddenberry's original concept, the protagonist was Captain Robert April of the starship S.S.Yorktown. This character was developed into Captain Christopher Pike.
Roddenberry first presented Star Trek to CBS, which turned it down in favor of the Irwin Allen creation Lost in Space. Roddenberry next presented his concept to the head of Desilu Studio—Herb Solow—who eventually accepted it. Solow then successfully sold Gene's vision of Star Trek to NBC, which paid for but turned down the first pilot "The Cage", stating that it was "too cerebral".
However, the NBC executives had still been impressed with the concept, and they understood that its perceived faults had been partly because of the script that they had selected themselves. The NBC executives then made the unusual decision to pay for a second pilot, using the script called "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Only the character of Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was kept from the first pilot, and only two cast members, Majel Barrett and Nimoy, were carried forward into the second pilot. This pilot proved to be satisfactory to NBC, and the network selected Star Trek to be in its upcoming television schedule for the fall of 1966.
The second pilot introduced the rest of the main characters: Captain Kirk (William Shatner), chief engineer Lt. Commander Scott (James Doohan) and Lt. Sulu(George Takei). Paul Fix played Dr. Mark Piper in the second pilot; ship's doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) joined the cast when filming began for the first season, and he remained for the rest of the series, achieving billing as the third star of the series. Also joining the ship's permanent crew then was the communications officer, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), the first African-American woman to hold such an important role in an American television series. Walter Koenigjoined the cast as Ensign Pavel Chekov in the series' second season.
In September 2006, CBS Paramount Domestic Television (now known as CBS Television Distribution, the current rights holders for the Star Trek television franchises) began syndication of an enhanced version ofStar Trek: The Original Series in high definition with new CGI visual effects. Under the direction of long-time Star Trek technical consultant Mike Okuda, the visual and special effects were recreated to give Star Trek: The Original Series a more authentic feel and modern look. Special attention was given to such elements as the Enterprise, alien planets and their images depicted from space, planets seen from orbit, alien spacecraft, and technology such as computer readouts, viewscreen images, phaser beams, etc.
The restoration and enhancement was performed by CBS Digital. All live-action footage was scanned in high definition from its first-generation 35 mm film elements. While it was possible to retouch and remaster some visual effects, others were recreated.
As noted in the "making of" DVD feature, first generation "original camera negatives" were used for all live-action footage but not for external shots of the ship and planets, etc. Notable changes include new space shots with a CGI Enterprise, and other new models (for example, a Gorn ship is shown in Arena), redone matte background shots, and other minor touches such as tidying up viewscreens.
A small number of scenes have also been recomposed, and in some cases new actors have been placed into the background of some shots. In addition, the opening theme music has been re-recorded in digital stereo. The first episode to be released to syndication was "Balance of Terror" on the weekend of September 16, 2006. Episodes were released at the rate of about one a week and broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Despite the HD remastering, CBS chose to deliver the broadcast syndication package in Standard Definition (SD TV). The HD format is currently commercially available through Blu-ray, or by download such as iTunes,Netflix, and Xbox Live.
While the CGI shots have already been mastered in a 16:9 aspect ratio for future applications, they are currently broadcast in the U.S. and Canada – along with the live-action footage – in the original 4:3 aspect ratio television format to respect the show's original composition. If the producers chose to reformat the entire show for the 16:9 ratio, live-action footage would have to be recropped, widening the frame to the full width of the 35 mm negatives while reducing its height. Although this would add a marginal amount of imagery on the sides, much more would need to be eliminated from the tops and bottoms of the frames to fit.
On July 26, 2007, CBS Home Entertainment (with distribution by Paramount Home Entertainment) announced that the remastered episodes of TOS would be released on a HD DVD/DVD hybrid format. Season 1 was released on November 20, 2007. Season 2 had been scheduled for release in the summer of 2008, but it was cancelled when Toshiba (which had been helping finance the remastering of the show) pulled out of the HD DVD business. On August 5, 2008, the remastered Season 2 was released on DVD only. For this release, CBS and Paramount used discs without any disc art, making them look like the "Season 1 Remastered" HD DVD/DVD combo discs, despite having content only on one side. Season 3 was released on DVD only on November 18, 2008. On February 17, 2009 – Paramount announced the Season 1 of TOS on Blu-ray Disc for a May release to coincide with the new feature film coming from Paramount.
The second season was released in a seven disc set on Blu-ray in the U.S. on September 22, 2009.The third season was released on Blu-ray in the U.S. on December 15. With the release of the "Alternate Realities" box set, remastered Original Series episodes were included in a multi-series compilation for the first time. It is unknown if future compilation releases will exclusively use the remastered episodes or not. In region 2 and region 4, all three seasons of the remastered Original Series became available on DVD in the slimline edition (in the UK and Germany in steelbook editions) on April 27, 2009 as well as the first season in Blu-ray.