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It wasn't a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — that's a whole different franchise — but the television world into which "Star Trek" was born on Sept. 8, 1966, was very different from the one in which we live today.

Cable networks didn't exist. Online steaming wasn't even a far-off dream. Commercial TV was three broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC.

When "Star Trek" launched a half a century ago, the networks' schedules included a dozen variety shows and 11 Westerns — two genres that have disappeared from broadcast TV.

The staying power of "Star Trek" is even more astonishing when you compare it to everything else that was on TV in September 1966. Of the 92 shows on that schedule, only two have any descendants on the air or in theaters in 2016. And you've got to stretch a bit to realize that the goofy '60s version of "Batman" has anything to do with the dark, ultraviolent "Gotham."

"Star Trek," meanwhile, is still going strong. The latest movie ("Star Trek Beyond") was released this summer, and a new series ("Star Trek: Discovery") launches in January.

Oh, lots of other shows on that September 1966 slate returned in other incarnations. "Tarzan" and "Batman" have reappeared repeatedly in various incarnations.

"Andy Griffith," "Bonanza," "Gilligan's Island," "Green Acres," "Gunsmoke," "I Dream of Jeannie," "I Spy" and "Wild Wild West" all spawned TV movies.

"The Beverly Hillbillies," "Flipper," "The Fugitive," "Get Smart," "The Green Hornet," "The Fugitive," "I Spy," "Lost In Space," "Man from U.N.C.L.E," "Mission: Impossible" and "Wild Wild West" all became theatrical films.

"Bewitched," "Bonanza," "Family Affair," "Flipper," "Get Smart," "The Lucy Show," "Mission: Impossible" and "The Monkees" all inspired series remakes or spinoffs.

And there have been other versions of "Candid Camera," "I've Got a Secret," "Lassie," "What's My Line" and "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color."

But none of them can match the ongoing cultural influence of "Star Trek," which has carried through 725 episodes of six television series, 13 films, countless books, videos, toys and games — and endless reruns.

Yes, "Lassie" has a long history in film and TV dating back to 1943, but nobody goes to conventions to talk about that collie.

We use phrases that originated in "Star Trek" without even thinking about their origins. "Warp speed." "Phasers on stun." "Resistance is futile." "Live long and prosper." "Beam me up." "Highly illogical."

Even "Where no man/one has gone before."

"Star Trek" and its message of hope — of a better humanity centuries in the future — continue to capture new generations of fans and retain those of us who loved it from the beginning.

Half a century from now, they'll be writing about the franchise's 100th anniversary.

Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.