August 21, 2006

"The City on the Edge of Forever" part 1 of 2

Originally broadcast on April 6, 1967, "The City on the Edge of Forever" is simply the best of the original Star Trek episodes. There were many great ones, but it is the cream of the crop. It just goes to show what was possible when a gifted writer like Harlan Ellison provided the story to go with Gene Roddenberry's carefully thought out characters and universe.

As the Enterprise investigates ripples in time which are resulting in spatial disturbances, Lt. Sulu has a heart flutter after his control panel short circuits. Dr. McCoy gives Sulu cordrazine, a mind-blowing drug at high dosages but a valuable cardiac medicine in small dosages.

"Better risk a few drops of cordrazine."

"It's tricky stuff. You sure you want to risk it?"

Sulu (George Takei looking quite lovely in heavy eye makeup) before and seconds after two drops of cordrazine. Looks like it worked.

McCoy accidentally injects himself with the remainder of cordrazine in the hypo (one hundred times what Sulu received) when the Enterprise passes through a particularly strong time ripple.

As quickly as Sulu recovered, McCoy becomes paranoid and psychotic, yelling "murderers!" and "assassins!" as he overcomes bridge security to escape to the transporter room, where he knocks out the transporter chief. Forget about the Vulcan nerve pinch, don't mess with McCoy when he's had 200 drops of cordrazine pumped into him:

Fortunately, the transporter had been focused in on the center of the time ripples, and Kirk, Spock, and a landing party follow McCoy down.The landing party discovers 10,000 century-old ruins surrounding an annulus-shaped structure from which the time distortions are emanating.

The Guardian of Forever

The Guardian has waited for 10,000 centuries to be asked a question, and it takes every opportunity to insult Spock's intelligence in answering it. You gotta love it:

As the crew stands transfixed, watching thousands of years of Earth history pass before their eyes, McCoy (who has been found and subdued by Spock's nerve pinch) recovers and rushes through the portal before anyone can stop him.

The Guardian: He has passed into...what was...

Communication with the Enterprise immediately ceases. The Guardian tells them "your vessel, your beginning, all that you knew is gone." The landing party concludes that McCoy's actions changed the past, affecting the present.

Lt. Uhura: Captain, I'm frightened.
Captain Kirk: Earth's not least not the Earth we know. We're totally alone.
To return the present to what it was, Spock and Kirk enter the time portal at a time shortly before McCoy did so that they may find McCoy and prevent him from changing history. Kirk tells the red shirts to wait for a time, and then to enter the portal themselves, so at least they'll be somewhere in time.

They materialize in America during the 1930s Depression, and are forced to steal clothes so as not to draw attention to themselves. After escaping from a policeman who observes the theft, they hide in what they think to be a deserted building. It turns out to be the 21st Street Mission, and here they meet its guiding light, Edith Keeler.
I don't know enough about her career to know where it took its turn that lead to her being typecast as the scheming bitch in roles like this or this, but Joan Collins was perfect for the role of Edith Keeler. I can't imagine anyone else in her place.
Kirk and Spock agree to do odd jobs for Keeler to obtain the funds necessary for Spock to construct a mnemonic memory circuit to read the information in the tricorder (Spock recorded much of what The Guardian showed them) and discover what historical events McCoy has changed.

Edith Keeler turns out to be a very progressive and forward thinking, highly enlightened person (lucky for them!):

Keeler compliments Kirk on his and Spock's cleaning abilities (they cleaned up the basement in which she discovered them), and offers more work, as well as a "flop" (an apartment) in the very building where she lives. And of course, just as every female (be it human or not) who came into contact with James T. Kirk experienced, she is powerless to resist his charm and good looks.

Meanwhile, Spock is hard at work on his mnemonic memory circuit, which he manages to construct, as he puts it, in "this zinc-plated, vacuum-tubed culture."

Construction is slow going, and Spock complains to the Captain about how he is having to use "equipment which is hardly very far ahead of stone knives and bearskin."

Kirk and Spock resort to theft for a second time when an opportunity to "obtain" tools for more precise work presents itself. The tools will speed up Spock's work on his device, important because they do not know exactly when McCoy will turn up. They must know what it is they are to prevent him from doing.
Edith Keeler discovers their theft, but is willing to overlook it (after Kirk tells her Spock really needed those tools), on one condition: that Kirk walks her home. She has more questions about who they are.
Edith Keeler: You know as well as I do how out of place you two are around here.
Spock: Where would you estimate we belong Miss Keeler?
Edith Keeler: You? At his side, as if you've always been there and always will...

...And another place...I don't know...where

Sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do. And Kirk is a man, man. In fact, it's safe to say he's a man's man, man.

COMING UP in part 2:


Anonymous said...

SWEET. I loved this episode but I haven't seen it in like 20 years.


Fuzzball said...

Ohhhhhh you know just what a girl needs on a Monday morning.


On a similar note: heehee

Chris said...

Yeah, it's a classic, Lisa. It's the best one, without a doubt.

Fuzzball--Wow. Just. Wow on the video. That woke me up! Some thoughts: The girl in that video looks like the actress who took over Kirstie Alley's part in Search for Spock. I have that very same phaser (it makes an appearance in part two of this recap), and would never use it as humorously suggested in the video. I didn't know Romulan ale was green. The "Go Where No Man Has Gone Before" button is classic.