'Star Trek' Lives Long and Prospers on 50th Anniversary | NBC Chicago

'Star Trek' Lives Long and Prospers on 50th Anniversary

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Elaine Thompson/AP
    In this photo taken on May 18, 2016, a Starfleet insignia appears on the original tunic worn by Capt. James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, in the exhibit, "Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds," as part of a 50th anniversary celebration of the "Star Trek" franchise at the EMP Museum, in Seattle.

    Fifty years ago Thursday Gene Roddenberry's visionary TV series "Star Trek" debuted on NBC.

    It was not an instant success — in fact, it was canceled just three years later — but a devoted fan base kept the sci-fi epic alive and it has since spawned numerous hit TV spin-offs and over a dozen blockbuster films that have dominated the box office for 35 years.

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    The show, which followed the exploits of a 23rd century crew of interstellar explorers, distinguished itself with its intricate plot lines that often featured prescient social commentary, and its colorful cast of characters including the logical half-human Spock, the compassionate Dr. "Bones" McCoy and the purely passionate Captain James T. Kirk.

    And, like so many other pop culture phenomenons, fans have projected all sorts of sociopolitical meanings onto "Star Trek" in the decades since it first aired, NBC News reported.