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Star Trek
Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies

When was first Star Trek episode on TV?

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June 04, 2011 2:57PM

The first episode of Star Trek (the original series) was shown as a "season preview" on NBC television on September 8, 1966. The episode "The Man Trap" was written by George Clayton Johnson.

The first episode intended to be shown was the second pilot, called "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (with Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman), but it was switched with another episode called "The Man Trap." NBC liked the idea for Star Trek, but they feared it was too brainy for audiences. This was one problem with the first pilot in 1965 (The Cage, with Jeffrey Hunter) and they ordered another pilot (Where No Man Has Gone Before, with Shatner and Nimoy, but not DeForest Kelley).

NBC bought the show, but later decided the second pilot was still "too brainy" to be the first episode seen. By this time other episodes were taped, so it was switched it with "The Man Trap" which had a space monster and was considered more accessible. Two other potential pilots, "Mudd's Women" and "The Omega Glory" were later taped as regular episodes, and many scenes from "The Cage" were reused for a two-part episode called "The Menagerie."

Network showing of episodes out of order is a trick to grab ratings (in Star Trek's case, "Man Trap" easily beat reruns on other networks). Another example was on the CBS series "Kojak." The episode "Out of the Shadows" was intended to be the second-season opener, and it was a very intelligent episode. But it was switched with "Birthday Party," which was a standard cops-and-robbers episode. So although "The Man Trap" was not the first Star Trek episode made, it was the actually the first episode seen on television.