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"Star Trek" turns 40


Still boldly going

On September 8, 1966, the starship U.S.S. Enterprise launched its maiden voyage into viewers' homes as the original Star Trek series debuted on NBC. Featuring a fresh-faced crew led by a young William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, the series would struggle in the ratings (it never climbed higher than No. 52) before being cancelled three years later after 79 episodes. But that false start was only the beginning of one of the greatest sci-fi franchises in history.

A big-screen movie adaptation hit theaters in 1979 and performed well enough to eventually score six sequels. Back on the small screen, the franchise got new life in 1987 with the birth of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which featured Patrick Stewart as Captain James Picard and his even more futuristic crew of space explorers. The show lasted for seven seasons and four films, and spun off into TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. The most recent Trek show, Enterprise, went back in time to show the early days of the Star Fleet prior to Kirk and Co.'s missions. After it tanked in 2005 after four seasons, the future of the future was in question.

But Gene Roddenberry's vision endures, and in 2008 expect a new Star Trek filmed helmed by Lost mastermind J.J. Abrams. The film will focus on the early days of Kirk and Spock's relationship, and Matt Damon has been rumored to take over as the young Shatner (get that...crazy paused...speech pattern ready!). In the meantime, fans of the original series can rejoice as TV Land rebroadcasts every episode starting in November, and digitally remastered episodes will go into syndication. And tech-savvy Trekkies can geek out over the impending Star Trek: Legacy game that features the actors behind all five Trek captains, which should hit stores this fall.