Last week Star Trek turned 50. The fabled Enterprise joins the club.
Star Trek and Doctor Who have more in common than just their venerable age. Both have captured the imagination of generations. Both inspire fans to achieve new heights. Both have impacted their culture far beyond their original expectations.
Doctor Who, of course, was an accident. The BBC needed to fill a half hour on Saturday evenings. The network’s first female producer and one of its first directors of color, both of them young and untried, took on the challenge and created something that turned out to be magic.
Star Trek, on the other hand, was intentional. Gene Roddenberry had a vision for his creation. He wanted to demonstrate that humanity could achieve peace and equality. Still, it’s unlikely he anticipated the reaction he got.
The art that is Star Trek – a television show made by actors and costumers and set people and lighting people, and made possible by the intervention of a certain famous comedian – inspires science. Fans grow up to be engineers, explorers, astronauts. The magic that is Doctor Who – the mad man in a box – inspires art. Writers, painters, producers, musicians, all touched with that fantastical brush. Together, they make up the right and left sides of the human brain.
The Doctor and all the various Star Fleet captains are scientists. They use their science to seek out wonder and magic across the boundless universe. We live in a world of physical laws and engineering miracles – and we do it with the magic of imagination.
Welcome to 50 years, Star Trek. May we prosper many more together.