Captain Kirk saves the Universe, with his love life in ruins…
Captain Kirk does an Outlander as he goes back in time, meets a lovely Englishwoman and then he hopes to stop the Germans winning World War II.
Classic Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, TrekTV, http://www.youtube.com
Stuck for a wee something to watch on telly – that streaming channel can sometimes have too much choice – Darlin’ Husband recommended this particular episode of Star Trek from 1967. He knows I
was am a bit of a Dynasty (1981-89) fan, and this episode is priceless as it stars the lovely Joan Collins. So hearing of this famous co-star, I thought it was one of Darlin Husband’s infamous wind ups. But if you think I’m joking, do check it out yourselves and you’ll see Joan alongside the Star Trek crew in glorious Technicolor. She stars – surprise, surprise – as one of Kirk’s many love interests. This man appears to have a love interest in every planet, but this time he claims he’s in love (again). Cue quizzical arched eyebrow from the Vulcan one, his crew and probably the Star Trek audience.
The episode tells of how after an explosion and subsequent turbulence – cue shaky camera and blurred effects – Dr McCoy (Deforest Kelley) accidentally injects himself with an extra-large dose of Cordrazine meant to calm an injured Sulu. McCoy turns a shade paranoid, calling the crew murderers leading to concerns about his mental health. With Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sounding like he’s quoting from the Mental Health Act. So McCoy zooms off and hides from the totally inept crew who don’t spot him hiding behind one of the few props
in the room on the set. McCoy then transports himself onto a planet.
On the crew beaming down to find him on this planet, again the inept ones can’t find him in what should have been the quickest game of hide and seek ever. However, the crew discovers some old stone ruins with a bagel shaped, speaking time portal. With lights. Which shows ye olde filme footage showing
black and white history as we know it at its centre. This Guardian appearing to be connected to those time distortions. The historical movies bagel Guardian of Forever then asks for questions. And then answering them cryptically like that mentor dude in Mystery Men (1999). Outlander‘s Claire Fraser never had it this good.
And then as if from nowhere McCoy appears, then disappears after he jumps – quite niftily – through the portal. However, it then appears he’s jumped back in time and altered it according to the Guardian. The crew now note they can’t contact the ship due to this time distortion. So it’s up to Kirk (William Shatner) to take charge. So Kirk and the Vulcan also jump through the centre of the Guardian, and aim to arrive before McCoy arrives on the scene and changes history. (Still with me?)
They turn up before McCoy does, in 1930 and a Depression hit America. Cue a familiar looking movie set, or am I just skeptical? And after stealing some clothes – with both their sizes and requirements conveniently hanging up on a washing line for them – they disguise themselves. But a cop is on their tail, but Spock does the Vulcan grip on said cop. As Vulcans do. Then the pair hide in a basement of a nearby Mission. At the Mission they meet social worker and local hottie, Edith Keeler (Collins) who – after checking Kirk out – offers them a job. The Star Trek two then wait for McCoy as Spock does the science bit – working out just how McCoy changes history – while Kirk falls in love with Edith. And she for him. Aw. And Kirk woos her, falling for her uncanny empathy and understanding of his Star Trek back story without him even saying. Sigh.
Then Spock sees two versions of history. Due to McCoy altering things, history is not how it is now (and in the normal Star Trek storyline) but now one with the Germans win the war. This after a delay in the Americans entering World War II and leading to a win for Nazi Germany. And this despite Edith starting a Pacifist movement. Spock notes the butterfly effect – with Edith as our butterfly – as this scenario can only be prevented if Edith dies as she was supposed to in a traffic accident. Which will occur very soon. But her death will save the lives of millions. Hearing about this, leads to some serious angst
and overacting from the Shatner one. And then, as if by magic, McCoy arrives… and meets Edith.
I love this episode not just because of those lovely performances from Collins and Star Trek acting crew. But also because of their time travelling story line, as this a genre I’ve enjoyed in many a movie such as Somewhere in Time (1980) or in TV such as Ashes to Ashes (2008-10).
Also in Shatner’s wonderful acting, I genuinely felt for Kirk in his dilemma and subsequent choice as he weighed up the alternatives surrounding his love for Edith. Which is something that was sadly overlooked (unless I missed these scenes) in Claire in Outlander Season 2‘s dilemma on if she should stop Culloden as our wee Jamie might be killed. However, this Star Trek plot it made me also long for a number of time travelling themed film and TV to show their alternative histories. And those repercussions on their characters. And the world. As surely if its really that bad can’t the writers just change things back to how they were before that episode that they went back in time to and altered everything. It worked for Dallas (1978-91) didn’t it?
And it was lovely to read that Collins reportedly asked for a role in this sci-fi show at her eldest daughter’s insistence. Collins playing Kirk’s love interest showed her as a likable character and as a woman with the best of intentions. It was nice seeing Collins with Shatner in their sweet on-screen dalliance. This Collins and Shatner chemistry reminding me of her role with David Hasselhoff in The Cartier Affair (1984). Both members of the cast – including Shatner and Nimoy – crew and fans often cite this tragic love story as their favourite episode.
However it is also interesting to read about this episodes writers’ inspiration in this episode. In this the writer pondered on what would the results be should Kirk fall for a love interest with more honest and good motives. (Star Trek showing her character in her alternative life having the wholesome idea of founding a pacifist movement). But who would have to be killed to keep history from changing for the worse (as she prevented America taking a greater part in the war). And it was almost worth seeing her obvious demise in this story line, for Shatner’s wonderful acting response. And then the motives behind the big McCoy time twist revealed.
I was interested to read that many movie and TV sets were reused in accordance with this storyline. And was amused to read that in relation to the stone ruin set, that a request had been made for “ruins” and this mistaken for “runes” when the set was made. However the truth of this story is much debated by those behind the scenes. This reminding me of those scenes in This is Spinal Tap (1984). In this scene the size of a rock bands requested stage set of Stonehenge is reduced significantly due to a written error with comic results. But now can’t keep from wondering what would have happened if a smaller set size had also been the Star Trek’s prop design error.. and how the then 60s special effects would have got round it. But then you can’t really change history can you?
Weeper Rating:😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
This review was added to Shroud of Thoughts Favourite TV Episode Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast written about in this site include Star Trek cast in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. William Shatner also appears in Horror at 37,000 Feet. Joan Collins in Dynasty, The Time of Their Lives, 80s Prime Time Soap Adverts and The Cartier Affair.