Read this article! "Exploring the Universe, One B-Movie at a Time" by David Hadju.
I've never before read an article that completely and concisely explained what was so immensely entertaining and importantly different about Star Trek: The Original Series. Hadju, a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, author, and music critic at The New Republic magazine, totally nails what made ST:TOS unique.
It sounds like Hadju grew up like many of us did, devouring television and movies and making connections between everything we saw. His appreciation and understanding of the special pastiche of cultural influences which came together in Roddenberry's original vision for Star Trek is dead on and faultless. Explaining Trek's special magic doesn't ruin the illusion, it makes it even better.
What a delightful and insightful article! Hadju nails it and in the process actually makes Star Trek even more culturally relevant than ever.
The sketch at the top of the post is artist Ted Mcgrath's witty illustration for the piece. Hilarious!