See A Bizarre Star Trek Original Series Commercial That Got Unearthed
This strange commercial from Star Trek: The Original Series gives some serious Twilight Zone vibes.
It can sometimes be a little mind-blowing to see how TV shows were advertised in previous eras, and that’s no more true than in an ancient Star Trek commercial posted to YouTube by a user going by the name morlockmeat. The spot for what has since become known as Star Trek: The Original Series has a surprisingly dark tone, and seems to have possibly been patterned after Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. With Serling’s show concluding two years before Trek‘s debut, the point may very well have been to tease that the series was filling the void The Twilight Zone left behind.
The Star Trek commercial refers to the crew of the Enterprise “probing the immeasurable blackness of space.” The narrator calls William Shatner‘s Captain Kirk “an Earthman with no fear” while calling Leonard Nimoy’s Spock “a stranger with no heart.” It ends with a shot of the show’s title carved into the side of a mountain on a distant planet, as if the show were something left over by a long dead alien civilization.
Overall, the ad feels much bleaker than how we think of Gene Roddenberry’s supposed utopian vision now. It’s particularly shocking to hear a beloved character like Leonard Nimoy‘s Spock referred to as “a stranger with no heart.” While the script of the narration is obviously referring to the Vulcan’s discipline against emotion, between that unkind description and the shots used of Nimoy’s face, it’s almost as if the ad is setting Spock up as some kind of villain.
Speaking of Spock; it’s interesting to note that Leonard Nimoy’s wardrobe indicates the shots in the Star Trek commercial come exclusively from “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which was the show’s second pilot though it aired as the third episode. In spite of the legendary Trekkie attention to detail, in those early days the franchise details tended to change frequently with little or no narrative explanation. In “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Spock is wearing command colors just like Kirk, but by “The Man Trap” they had changed to blue.
The Star Trek commercial may seem strange — and even a little mean to Spock — to us, but it clearly was doing something right because it helped launch a cultural phenomenon. The first series may have ultimately been canceled, but it made enough of a footprint to spawn a massive franchise. Ten more series have followed since Trek’s debut 56 years ago, along with 13 films, as well as plenty of other related media.
We should point out that while the audio of the Star Trek commercial seems 100% legit, it does seem likely the video of the ad has been edited at least a little bit since its original air date. You’ll notice the shots of the Enterprise between the 21 second mark and 23rd are in widescreen, while the rest of the ad is in standard full screen format. Whether this was an official edit by Paramount or done by a fan, we don’t know.