Best TV Shows of the 1950s and 1960s—Part Two: Star Trek




I am continuing the series I began about what I consider to be the best TV shows of the 1950s and 1960s and representative example episodes of those shows. For this post, I am going to talk about Star Trek, the original version, which ran from 1966-1969. I will be dating myself, but this show ran when I had just become a young teenager, and it had huge influence on me.

I remember looking forward all week to the next episode and wondering what that week’s episode would be about.  Star Trek was filled with what were, at the time, wonderful special effects, but much more than that, great stories and deeply developed characters.



I have many episodes that I think were very good, but one, in particular, stands out as excellent: “City On The Edge Of Forever.” It was written by the noted science-fiction author Harlan Ellison and ran towards the end of the first season. It dealt with time travel and insanity, which were always good themes for science-fiction, but it also dealt with an issue that continues to confront our society: what does someone do when seeing the existence of evil? Do they act at the risk of enormous sacrifice, or ignore it? Other questions also emerge from the show: what matters more—the fate of an individual or of society? How do we judge what is necessary to do in a difficult ethical situation? And where is the place of love in our world? These are very heady issues for a young teenager to struggle with; in fact, they continue to influence my thinking and my writing.  It was also a series that infused hope, optimism, and humanism in its message, the idea that humanity can improve itself but always with struggle.

I am wondering: did you like the original Star Trek series, and if so, what episode was your favorite?



54 thoughts on “Best TV Shows of the 1950s and 1960s—Part Two: Star Trek

      • My wasn’t she pretty? There’s many more I liked.
        one that keeps popping in my mind. The Star Trek crew went on a planet and found all the children alone with their parents dead. Going to have to go look it up as to what happened to their parents! Back in those days closed captioned wasn’t provided on TV shows.
        Another one just popped up in my memory bank! The guy named Charlie? He came on a ship and to the surprise of the crew he had some sort of power where he made some of the crews disappear and went crazy then at the end some people came and took him away and he was begging the crew to not let them take him? I can remember what he said when I lipread him saying, No. Please I want to stay. They don’t or can’t love?
        OH my, gots to go look it up!


  1. Friday nights on NBC were a joy with this show. So different for its time. The acting was superb. The camaraderie and affection for each character, especially between Spock, Kirk, and Bones supported the idea that the human element, no matter the time period…will always be the essence of mankind. Like many, my favorite was “The trouble with Tribbles.”

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  2. You know the lady up there was not on the show in the beginning? I think the same with Bones? I remember this one show there was a different doctor?
    I just remembered another of my favorite!! Sally Kellerman? Gosh!
    I agree with GP COX, it was never equaled!


  3. Oh! It is what the crews were doing! It’s their job!
    Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise explore the Galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.
    Found the name of the show. Cool link! It tells everything what the show’s about!
    Miri was the name of the show with Kim Darby. So people die when they hit puberty, side effect from an experiment to prolong human life!
    Thank you so much for posting this! It’s a wonderful trip down the memory lane!


  4. Hi Charles
    Loved the article and it took me also on a welcome trip down Memory Lane. We watched them in the UK, so I think there was a time lag. But I vividly recall The Trouble with Tribbles. The other episode that had a huge impact on me was the one where they encountered a planet where a species of aliens had all but wiped out their civilisation by hunting down each other. They were divided into 2 races. They both were bi-coloured, but one race was black the right side and white the left and the other were reversed – black the left side and white the right. The two final survivors were consumed with hatred for each other and continued trying to kill each other on the ship… It was the first time I realised the enormity of racial hatred and what a fundamentally wrong-headed and evil thing it was. And engendered my love of science fiction and its ability to cause us to re-examine our more stupid behaviours through a slightly different prism that highlights that stupidity… Thank you!


  5. “The Cage” is the first pilot episode of Star Trek. “The Cage” had many of the features of the eventual series, but there were numerous differences. The Captain of the starship USS Enterprise was not James T. Kirk, but Christopher Pike.
    Spock was present, but not as First Officer. That role was taken by a character known only as Number One, played by Majel Barrett.
    It was rejected by NBC in February 1965, and the network ordered another pilot episode, which became “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.


  6. I loved the series but watched much later as re-runs. I was raising children out of the country at that time. No TV. I could not tell you about any one memory since so much of my memory never worked well. My daughter was telling me yesterday that she wore bifocals for awhile as a youngster. I must have been there but could not recall it. So a TV show will never hit the top of the memory list. The struggle with good and evil will be with us throughout time. It’s a given. We would all like to think we would stand up in the face of it but would we if our lives or livelihood were being threatened. I often wonder and am glad I have never been put in that position. I have quite a couple of jobs when I saw management do things that I saw as wrong. I brought it to their attention and was told to keep my mouth shut. You can’t change some things but you don’t have to participate.

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  7. Wasn’t born then and I can’t fully remember the re runs I did watch, but I do believe there are things that happen out of our control. But as to the things in our control, we either ignore them, leave them up to chance or gear up to play the blame game. We as humans like it when things are happening far away from us that way we can empathize without really getting directly involved. Silence is the greatest tool evil uses. When we keep silent in d face of wrong it perpetuates itself from a minor issue to a virus that’s seeping into every thing and every one. I love how you wrote about this and pointed out the issues facing every one from d beginning of time. Society is made up of all of us and that’s how we need to treat issues. As a whole. Good one. I liked reading it.


  8. I love this post and I like how you picked “City on the Edge of Forever” to talk about. It was an emotional one, and like all Trek episodes, was very intellectual. My favorite is probably the one where the Klingons first appeared “Errand of Mercy”. Starfleet, particularly Kirk, and the Klingons despised each other with a passion, but the Organians showed them the futility of war in the end. I loved that one, and also ” Let that be your last battlefield”


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