Out today on DVD is 50 Years of Star Trek, a documentary celebrating the golden anniversary of the iconic franchise that has inspired delight (and in some cases obsession) in fans worldwide for the last five decades. The original Star Trek series premiered on NBC in September of 1966, pitched by Gene Roddenberry as a cross between classic mythology and the galactic version of Wagon Train. Although not popular with television executives, the show acquired fans so loyal that when the series was threatened with cancellation (in only its second season), they pulled off a letter-writing campaign of such impressive proportions that NBC renewed it (remember, these were the days where you actually had to put stamps on things if you wanted people to get your message—-truly impressive). Even though the original series only lasted three years, it was the spark that became the media inferno we know and love today, including multiple television shows, movies, toys, games, books, a Las Vegas attraction, and of course conventions. (And as those of you who attended the 50th anniversary panel at Comic-Con this year know, we will soon have the prequel series Star Trek: Discovery to enjoy when it premieres this coming May on CBS All Access.)
50 Years of Star Trek first aired on the History Channel in August of this year, created by self-proclaimed “fan boys” Ian Roumain (director) and Brian Volk-Weiss (executive producer). It is good to note that this documentary is only 85 minutes long (and wasn’t approved or endorsed by Paramount or CBS), so if you’re expecting an exhaustive examination of the franchise with epic amounts of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with everyone who was anyone on the series, etc., that’s not what this is. That being said, it’s impressive that creators were able to get archival footage and the broad reach of speakers that they did—-the film features roundtable discussions and interviews with cast and crew from each of the television series and the movies (including Whoopie Goldberg, D.C. Fontana, Ronald D. Moore, Jeri Ryan, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Sarah Silverman, Simon Pegg, and others)—-many fans will likely find the most precious of these to be the last complete interview (on film) with the late great Leonard Nimoy. (When speaking about making the documentary, Volk-Weiss said that right before Nimoy’s interview he quickly finished up a task on his iPhone and said “I remember when these were props.”)
The documentary is available on DVD on Amazon for $14.98 (and as of this writing is not available on Amazon Video, Netflix, iTunes, or the History Channel’s website). If you’re a die-hard Trekkie who wants a complete collection of everything Star Trek (or even if you just want to ensure that you have Leonard Nimoy’s final interview on hard copy somewhere), you may want to check it out.