How ‘Star Trek’ explored social frontiers

Image: Uhura and Kirk
Lt. Uhura and Captain Kirk (played by Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner) embrace in a controversial episode of “Star Trek.” (Courtesy of CBS Television Studios)

Fifty years ago, “Star Trek” pushed the frontiers of technology with 23rd-century smartphones – also known as communicators – but the TV show pushed social and political frontiers as well.

“While the original premise of the show may have been, ‘Let’s just have some adventures with a spaceship,’ very quickly it became social commentary as well,” screenwriter David Gerrold observes in “Building Star Trek,” a Smithsonian Channel documentary about the show and its legacy.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” premiere, we’re listing five ways in which the show’s scripts – and its creator, Gene Roddenberry – went where few 1960s-era TV sagas had gone before.

Get the top 5 on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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