Captain Kirk saves the Universe, with his love life in ruins…
As he does an Outlander and goes back in time, meets a lovely Englishwoman and then he hopes to stop the Germans from winning World War II.
Classic Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever, TrekTV and photos from Paramount Domestic Television
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 am a bit of a Dynasty (1981-89) fan, and this episode is priceless as it stars the lovely Joan Collins. But hearing of this famous co-star, I thought it was one of Darlin Husband’s infamous wind-ups.
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 on 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. This medication is meant to calm an injured Sulu. McCoy turns a shade paranoid, calling the crew murderers and this also leads to concerns about his mental health. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sounds like he’s quoting from the Mental Health Act.
McCoy then zooms off and hides from the totally inept crew as they 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. This was 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.
The centre of this “bagel “shows ye olde filme footage showing
black and white history as we know it at its centre. This is the Guardian and appears to be connected to those time distortions. The historical movies bagel Guardian of Forever then asks for questions. It then answers the questions cryptically like that mentor dude in Mystery Men (1999). Outlander‘s Claire Fraser never had it this good.
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. The crew now note they can’t contact the ship due to this time distortion. It’s up to Kirk (William Shatner) to take charge. 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 sceptical? 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 the cop. As Vulcans do. The pair hide in a basement of a nearby Mission.
At the Mission, they meet a 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. Luckily, she falls for him. Aw. Kirk woos her, falling for her and she falls for his uncanny empathy and understanding of his Star Trek back story without him even saying it. 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 winning the war. This was after a delay in the Americans entering World War II and leading to a win for Nazi Germany. This is 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. This event is due to happen in the near future. Her death will save the lives of millions. Hearing about this leads to some serious angst
and overacting from the Shatner one. 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 storyline, as this a genre I’ve enjoyed in many a movie such as Somewhere in Time (1980) or on 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. This development is something that was sadly overlooked (unless I missed these scenes) in Claire in Outlander Season 2. There is no dilemma on if she should stop Culloden as our wee Jamie might be killed unless I nodded off and missed it.
However, this Star Trek plot made me also long for a large number of time travelling themed films and TV to show their alternative histories. Or to explore those repercussions on their characters and the world. As surely if it’s 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?
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 likeable 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 reminds 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 that the writer of this episode pondered on what would the results be should Kirk fall for a love interest with more honest and good motives. (Star Trek shows 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 from taking a greater part in the war)?
It was almost worth seeing her obvious demise in this storyline, for Shatner’s wonderful acting response and then the motives behind the big McCoy time twist revealed. I was interested to read that many movies and TV sets were reused in accordance with this storyline.
And was amused to read that in relation to the stone ruin set, a request had been made for “ruins” and this was mistaken for “runes” when the set was made. However, the truth of this story is much debated by those behind the scenes. This reminds me of those scenes in This is Spinal Tap (1984).
In This is Spinal Tap, this fictitious rock bands request a stage set of Stonehenge, but its actual size, in reality, is reduced significantly. This is due to a written error, but 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
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 Incubus and Horror at 37,000 Feet. Joan Collins in Quest For Love, Dynasty, The Time of Their Lives, 80s Prime Time Soap Adverts, I Don’t Want to be Born and The Cartier Affair. Her blogathon is HERE.