The ratings were low, and Star Trek clung to the airwaves for just three seasons until canceled in 1969. It wasn't until syndicated reruns in the mid-1970s that the series began to ascend in popularity. Now, of course, it's a phenomenon. It's difficult to imagine American pop culture without Star Trek. Without catchphrases like "beam me up, Scotty"; without devices like the flip-up communicators (the basis for today's cell phones).
Personally, it's Star Trek that has shaped so much of my life and my feelings about science fiction media. I was infatuated with Star Wars when I was in the second grade, but it is Star Trek that I have always returned to; again and again, over the years. The stories and characters are deeper; the universe...more endlessly fascinating; the tapestry - ultimately - wider.
I realize that puts me in the minority opinion. Star Wars features better special effects, a more operatic and concise story through-line, and is generally considered more mainstream and entertaining, I guess.
But me? I'm a Trekker.
And, by a cosmic coincidence, my wife Kathryn and I celebrate the seventeenth anniversary of our first date today, on September 8. On the very day that Star Trek turns forty.
So let's hear it for Star Trek, and the Great Bird of the Galaxy (the late Gene Roddenberry). His original series has probably shaped more lives across the globe than any entertainment in modern history, and that achievement deserves some hosannas.
Live long and prosper, Star Trek.