Originally released back in 2021/2022, The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek originally aired on the History Channel. It was created to celebrate the franchise’s 55th anniversary. As a fan of Star Trek, the mini-series intrigued me. I generally enjoy watching a good documentary. I thought the history of the Star Trek franchise could make for a compelling story. When the mini-series originally came out I was intrigued to watch it. I never got to it though. Now with the mini-series making its way to DVD thanks to Mill Creek Entertainment, I finally got a chance to check it out. While there are parts of the series that I think could have been better, I thought The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek was a compelling mini-series that fans of the series should enjoy.
The premise of the documentary is pretty straightforward. It starts at the very beginning with how the show first came into being. It then discusses its early struggles, and most of the series/movies (basically ends at Enterprise). Gates McFadden (Doctor Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) narrates. The series features clips from the show and behind the scenes clips. There is also a lot of interviews with cast and crew from the various shows including new and old interviews. The mini-series for the most part follows the chronological path through the history of the franchise.
I generally enjoyed watching The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek. For the most part the series is what I expected it to be. It is a chronological look at the Star Trek franchise with various stories from the cast and crew mixed in. I would say that it is mostly focused on behind the scenes of how the shows/movies were made. It does occasionally talk about some of the most popular episodes, or ones that had interesting stories behind them.
I would consider myself a pretty big fan of Star Trek. I am not the type of fan that has actively searched for behind the scenes information though. The show is pretty informative in my opinion. There are some things that I was aware of. The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek had information that was completely new as well. I am guessing that there are some sides of the story that aren’t told. I think the show usually seems pretty fair though. It talks about the good things and the bad things. After watching the mini-series I had a better understanding of what it was like behind the scenes of the various shows.
Naturally I think the show is going to appeal most to fans of Star Trek. That was pretty obvious based on the subject matter. If you are a huge fan of Star Trek that actively searches out behind the scenes information, you may already know quite a bit of the information presented in The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek. Otherwise I think you will find the show pretty compelling and informative. I think most Star Trek fans will enjoy the mini-series, and should check it out. It won’t have the same appeal to people that don’t care for Star Trek. I could still see people who enjoy learning about how shows are created enjoying parts of the mini-series as well.
Probably my biggest issue with The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek is what it decides to focus on. While I found the show to be entertaining and informative, it is obvious that the documentary put a much greater emphasis on the original series rather than the sequels. The mini-series consists of 11 episodes. Five of the episodes are about the original series, the animated show, and its various movies. Meanwhile The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise each only get one episode each. The final two episodes are more overview episodes about the various starships and actors who were part of the franchise.
With such an emphasis placed on the original series, those portions of the documentary are the best parts of the mini-series. There is a lot of good information in those episodes. The documentary does a good job telling how the original series was created, how it was run, and how it became more popular once it went off the air. If you are mostly just interested in the original series content, you will likely be pleased with The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek.
Those also interested in the other Star Trek series will probably be a little disappointed. These episodes are still entertaining and have some interesting information in them. Cramming an entire series into one episode (around 40-50 minutes each) though leads to these episodes feeling rushed. While there is a great deep dive into the original series, these episodes feel like more of a brief overview with a few interesting tidbits thrown in. I know the mini-series couldn’t have had too many more episodes. I just wish there was a little more to the other series in the franchise.
The other complaint I had with The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek is that at times it feels a little “whiny”. What I mean by this is that it is not afraid to feature the faults and complaints from the cast and crew of the various shows. I can see why some of this was added. If the documentary had no complaints at all, it would feel unauthentic where it was covering things up. At times The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek focuses a little too much on the faults/complaints. I don’t mind that these problems are in the mini-series, but I wish they were a little more balanced out by some positive things. At times it feels like it is just issue after issue. I would have appreciated some more positive breaks.
As for the DVD release of The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek, it is about what you would expect. It includes all of the episodes of the mini-series. The video quality is solid. Some is obviously better than others mostly due to it including new and old footage. As for special features, it includes one additional disc which features the complete interviews with Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and Kirstie Alley. These interviews are around 3.5 hours long.
In general I enjoyed The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek. The mini-series is for the most part what you would expect. It mostly moves chronologically through the history of the franchise from its creation through most of the series that it spawned. Unless you are an expert of the franchise, there is likely some new and interesting information to learn watching the mini-series. I thought it was put together pretty well, and was entertaining for the most part. Fans of Star Trek should enjoy it. My main complaints with the mini-series is that I wish it focused a little more on the shows other than the original, and that it can be a little too negative at times.
I think The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek is a good mini-series about the history of the Star Trek franchise. If you are a fan of Star Trek and want to learn more about how the franchise was created, I think you should consider checking out The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek.
Buy The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek DVD online: Amazon
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.