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Retro : A Quarter-Century of Trekkin’ : KCOP’s celebration of ‘Star Trek’ series includes viewers’ picks and anniversary special

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Captain’s Log, Starship Enterprise.

Stardate: Sept. 28, 1991.

Mission: To boldly go where no anniversary celebration has gone before.

Don your party hats, dust off your Tribbles, charge your phasers and beam over to your sofa! This Saturday on KCOP, “Star Trek” is throwing itself a 25th birthday party and every Trekkie in the universe is invited to participate. The 12-hour celebration will feature “The ‘Star Trek’ Viewer’s Choice Marathon” and “ ‘Star Trek’: Anniversary Special.” Both are hosted by the enterprising William Shatner who plays Capt. James T. Kirk, and Leonard Nimoy, best known as the all-knowing half-Vulcan Spock.

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And for those viewers who have been hiding in a cave for the past 25 years, “Star Trek” began inauspiciously Sept. 8, 1966, on NBC opposite such entrenched favorites as CBS’ “My Three Sons” and ABC’s “Bewitched.”

The ratings were far from out of this world and the network canceled the series after its third season, despite a deluge of complaints from the series’ fanatic fans, a.k.a. “Trekkies” (today they call themselves Trekers).

During the 1970s, though, “Star Trek” took on a second life in reruns. The series spawned the syndicated series “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which is entering its fifth season, and five enormously successful feature films. A sixth, “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” is set for release Dec. 13.

The episodes featured in the “Star Trek” marathon were picked by Trekkies themselves, who cast votes in July by phone.

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Highlights of the marathon include:

“The Menagerie” (first aired Nov. 17 and 24, 1966). A two-part thriller where Spock is accused of mutiny when he takes control of the Enterprise and kidnaps its crippled former commander, Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter). “The Menagerie” also contains scenes from the series’ first pilot, “The Cage,” which was considered “too cerebral” back in 1965.

“Space Seed” (Feb. 16, 1967). Kirk matches wits with a race of superman led by Khan (Ricardo Montalban). “Space Seed” became the basis for the 1982 film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

“Amok Time” (Sept. 16, 1967). Spock must return to Vulcan to mate or die. The episode marks the first time Spock did the Vulcan salute and uttered “Live long and prosper.”

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“The City on the Edge of Forever” (April 6, 1967). Kirk falls for a woman (Joan Collins) who is doomed to die when he and Spock time-travel back to the 1930s to rescue McCoy.

“The Trouble with Tribbles” (Dec. 29, 1967). The Enterprise is overrun with furry creatures known as Tribbles. The most popular episode, according to the Trekkies.

Following the marathon is the two-hour “The ‘Star Trek’ 25th Anniversary Special,” which will feature a profile of the series’ creator, Gene Roddenberry, plus anecdotes from cast members and guest stars who’ve appeared on both “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Also on tap is a preview of the latest “Star Trek” feature film and an insider’s look at “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and star Patrick Stewart (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard).

“The ‘Star Trek’ Viewer’s Choice Marathon” airs Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on KCOP. “The ‘Star Trek’: Anniversary Special” airs Saturday 8-10 p.m

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