ontinuing to go where no
cartoon had gone before, Filmation’s Star Trek was beamed
down to Saturday morning audiences in the fall of 1973.
Following in the footsteps of its live-action predecessor,
Star Trek chronicled the voyages of the USS Starship
Enterprise. Set in the 23rd century and still following
the Prime Directive set by the United Federation of
Planets, the Enterprise’s main mission was to discover and
befriend life forms on other planets, without disturbing
the growth of those planets’ civilizations.
The cartoon was basically a rehash of the series,
employing many of its original plot lines, writers,
characters, and executive producer Gene Roddenberry. Still
helmed by Captain James T. Kirk, the ship saw the return
of all of its principal crew members, voiced by the
original actors: Vulcan/human Mr. Spock (Kirk’s first
officer), “Bones” McCoy (the ship’s doctor), Nurse Chapel
(Bones’ assistant), Uhura (communications officer), Sulu
(helmsman), and Scotty (chief engineer). The only original
member not on board was Walter Koenig’s Lt. Pavel Chekhov,
though Koenig did come on board as a writer. Other
characters from the series made cameo appearances, like
the lovably annoying Tribbles and con man Harry Mudd, and
the stars also lent their voices to several other crewmen,
aliens and the like.
While the cartoon proved to be a bit over the heads of
its intended younger audience, it was both critically and
popularly received by adults, winning an Emmy Award in
1975 in the Outstanding Entertainment Children’s Series
category. Perhaps more impressive was its acceptance among
the original Star Trek’s super-critical, cult-like fan
base. The animated series was also at an advantage over
its live-action predecessor, in that it was able to employ
a wider variety of aliens, lizards, creatures, and
Klingons without spending exorbitant sums on actors, sets,
make-up and wardrobes.
The animated series lasted only two seasons, but the
franchise continued well on into the next decades, with
new syndicated variations and several feature films.