star trek was – and still is – one of the most influential television and film franchises of the 20th century. It originated as a television series in 1966 to much fanfare and success. It’s become such a popular franchise that its die-hard fans have made a name for themselves: “Trekkies.”
The intellectually savvy and often eccentric franchise continues to be one of the most pioneering in television and film history. Sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly, the original series was very progressive on the American civil rights front. The show’s cast was multiracial, one of the first of its kind. Star Trek: The Original Seriespresented the first multiracial kiss on television in 1968. star trek is also known for its cast of quirky and well-balanced characters. Perhaps the most interesting of these characters is Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan member of the starship USS Enterprise.
Spock’s rank on the USS Enterprise rose from ensign to ambassador during his tenure in all star trek Properties. He is best known for being a very logical character, highly intelligent, and more than capable of his assigned tasks on the USS Enterprise. However, there is more than one iteration of Spock. Although he is arguably the most recognizable character in star trek lore, it has seen something of an evolution over the years.
Spock’s original concept is not what average Trekkies or even the general public think of when they imagine it today. Producer Gene Roddenberry knew he wanted Spock to be part alien and part human. However, he originally envisioned Spock to be reddish in hue with pointy ears, to appear evil. He thought it would be a great juxtaposition to Spock’s real nature, subverting expectations an audience would form based on visuals. The idea of Spock being reddish in color was later dropped, although the pointy elf-like ears remained.
Roddenbery was also drawn to Spock’s emotionless nature. It was a way for the character to embrace his non-human (or Vulcan) side. Although the turn to logic would prove a strength for Spock that his fully human companions lacked, Spock had a weakness: a feverish curiosity for all that was alien in nature. Spock’s propensity for logic was an immediate attraction for actor Leonard Nimoy, who later portrayed Spock from 1966 to 2013 on various star trek projects.
At Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock was the first mate on the USS Enterprise. He performed a variety of duties, ranging from deck management and on-board chief to more modest duties.
In star trek tradition, Vulcans do their best to avoid emotions. They regard them as a weakness, even in bad taste. Spock’s high intelligence and half-Vulcan genetics served him well on the USS Enterprise. His position on the bridge of the USS Enterprise was at his computer, where Spock could use his vast intellect for the betterment of the ship and its mission.
The premiere of the second season of Star Trek: The Original Series depicts Spock as undergoing a sort of Vulcan blood fever. The only cure is a ritual mating act on the planet Vulcan. It was believed that if Spock did not engage in this mating act, he would be dead within eight days. It was one of the first examples of the show exploring the Vulcan side of Spock’s biology.
Spock was also capable of Vulcan “mind melding”. This act would allow Spock to somehow enter the mind of a being or entity in order to better understand their nature and motivations. This would, however, force Spock to reveal more of himself than he intended, ironically revealing his more human side at times.
In Star Trek: The Movie, Spock ceased to be a member of Starfleet and the USS Enterprise. Instead, he returned to the planet Vulcan to undergo the Vulcan discipline of Kolinahr. In Kolinahr, Vulcans are able to purge themselves of all emotion.
Over the next few films, Spock endures quite a bit. He becomes the commanding officer of the USS Enterprise. Moreover, he is killed at the end of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, to be resurrected in the next movie. Generally, movies can’t explore Spock in the same way Star Trek: The Original Series did so simply because of the pacing of movies versus TV shows; however, he remains an essential character throughout.
Interestingly, Leonard Nimoy had some influence over who would portray Spock in 2009 star trek movie. He pointed to Zachary Quinto, suggesting the actor had Spock’s “look” and could understand the character’s complex inner workings.
Leonard Nimoy returned as “Spock Prime”, the original and older Spock in 2013 Star Trek: Into the Darkness. The actor had plans when he returned for the 2016 film, but sadly passed away before it was produced. In this movie, young Spock mourns the loss of “Spock Prime” in a little meta nod to Spock and Leonard Nimoy. Spock was recast again in 2019 to Star Trek: Discoverythe second season of, this time by actor Ethan Peck.
Spock had a huge impact on the pop culture zeitgeist, especially with the phrase “Live Long and Prosper.” Treks and mainstream fans will see Spock return in 2023 star trek film, where they will see how his character continues to evolve.
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