I’ve told this story a million times before, but on Star Trek’s 50th anniversary I’m going to tell it again. Fifty years ago today — well, tonight — I was downstairs in the TV department of G.C. Murphy at Town & Country Plaza in Pensacola, Fla., watching the first episode of a television series that I had been eagerly anticipating for months. My mother was off somewhere in the store, buying school supplies and clothes. (And no, I don’t know why we were school-shopping on a Thursday night.)
Watching “The Man Trap” unfold, the 10-year-old Mike was struck by one thing in particular: This was a grown-up show. This was not “Jimmy Kirk, Space Ranger.” There were no fins on the space ship. The ray guns did not shoot out sparks. This was a tale of monsters, but also one of love and devotion and tragedy and dying races and survival. The space crew wore cool uniforms and everyone walked around as if it were the most normal thing in the world (universe?) to have a tall, greenish guy with bangs and pointed ears among them.
It would be a cliché to say that “The Man Trap” changed my life that night. But imagine what it was like for a chubby, little, 10-year-old science fiction fan and television obsessive to learn that a major TV network was going to start treating him like an adult. Perhaps it didn’t change my life, but it changed my perspective, and that’s just as important if you ask me.
(By the way, I realize I’m cheating a little by using a shot from the digitally restored version of the episode. I beg forgiveness.)