Image hosted by
Random thoughts of a Tennessee fan on life, sports and more TV shows than any one person should be allowed to watch.
About me
Name: Michael
Location: Nashville, TN
E-mail me!

View My Complete Profile
100 Things About Me
My Facebook Profile
My Wish List
Syndicate Big Orange Michael

The Latest News on the Vols

Also For Your Reading Pleasure
The Rocky Top Brigade
Image hosted by

For Your Listening Pleasure (Podcasts)
Slice of SciFi
Two Insane Fans: The Statler and Waldorf of Doctor Who commentaries

04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
10/01/2017 - 11/01/2017
11/01/2017 - 12/01/2017

Thursday, September 07, 2006
Star Trek's Top Ten #2: City on the Edge of Forever
"City on the Edge of Forever" is widely regarded as not only the best episode of the original series but as the single best episode of any of the five Star Trek shows.

Interestingly enough "City on the Edge of Forever" is one of those stories that not only deserves every accolate its has received over the years but it actually lives up to and exceeds them. This is one of those rare episodes of television that transcends the genre.

"City on the Edge of Forever" has one of the most colorful histories of any episode of Star Trek as well. The original story was written by respected science-fiction author, Harlan Ellison. (Classic Trek had lots of "big name" sci-fi writers pen episodes for the show.) Ellison's original script (which you can purchase and read for yourself) involved a drug dealer on the Enterprise who goes back in time though the Guardian of Forever. Kirk and Spock follow him back when the drug dealer changes history to put the timeline back on course.

Over the years, a lot of stories have cropped up about the original premise for the show. One rumor had it that Scotty was the drug dealer in question (he was not...the script had it being a not before seen red-shirt character). A lot of these rumors were allegedly propogated by Gene Roddenberry at fan conventions, according to Ellison. As I've said, the original story is available for you to purchase and read, including a 50 or so page forward by Ellison that I can sum up for you like this. "Gene Roddenberry is a bastard and I hate him for changing my script, which you can soon read after I'm done with all my ranting."

The script itself is a bit bleaker and darker than what Star Trek normally is and reading it, I can see why changes were made. Of course, there are also stories (verified by other Trek sources on the set) that Ellison took so long to write the script that it almost never got made.

To me, the funny thing is that a lot of the kiss and tell Star Trek books from ten years ago all had an entire chapter devoted to this episode. That should tell you something about how big it is in the Trek canon.

The funny thing to me about Ellison's book is after 50 pages of "Gene Roddenberry is a bastard" we get an essay from script editor and writer D.C. Fontana who admits she did much of the re-write of the script herself under Roddenberry's supervision. So it wasn't Gene who "butchered" Harlan's script it was Fontana, who in between ranting about how much he hates Roddenberry, Ellison has high praise for.

The thing is despite the massive re-writes by Roddenberry, Fontana and I'm going to assume producer Gene Coon done to this script, Ellison still gets sole writing credit on it.

That said, the changes actually make the script better and make for a better, overall episode of Star Trek. Instead of a drug dealer on the ship, we have McCoy accidentally injected with an overdose of cordazine. He becomes manic, thinking everyone is out to get him. The Enterprise is orbiting a world where waves of time distortion are eminating, looking into this. McCoy beams down and the landing party follows him.

On the planet, the landing party discovers an arch that is the Guardian of Forever. It's a portal to the past. As Spock is studying it, McCoy jumps through it and vanishes into history. The timeline then alters and the Enterprise is gone. Kirk and Spock must now go back and repair what McCoy has done. If they do so, they will return home and it will be as if nothing happened.

Kirk and Spock go back in time to Depression era New York. There Kirk meets and falls in love with Edith Keeler, as played by Joan Collins. Keeler runs a soup kitchen and believes in helping her fellow human being. As the story goes along, Spock finds out that Keeler in the lynchpin...she dies in an auto accident (she's hit by a truck), thus creating the future he and Kirk now. If Keeler doesn't die, her movement keeps the U.S. from entering the second world war until it's too late and Hitler has the bomb.

Kirk is now faced with a choice--sacrifice the universe he knows or the woman he loves.

For all the times that Kirk romances the alien girl of the week and how cliched it can be, the romance with Edith Keeler is anything but. There are those who say Shatner can't act but to those critics I say--watch this episode. The man can do it and his performance here is nothing short of superb. As are the performances of everyone in the cast. Again, watch the scene in which Keeler dies. Kirk must stop McCoy from saving her and the look on Shatner's face as he has to let the woman Kirk loves die is heartbreaking. It also features some great dialogue as McCoy asks if Kirk knew what he was doing and Spock replies, "He knows, Doctor. He knows."

As I've said before, this episode really transcends the genre and is more than just a Star Trek episode. It's a story grounded on a science-fiction premise (traveelling in time) but as with all good Trek, it's about more than that. It's about the characters, who all shine through here. At this point, Star Trek is humming on all cylinders with the cast firmly in touch with who these characters are. Shatner, Nimoy and DeForest Kelley all deliver solid, amazing peformances and Joan Collins is well cast as well.

The scene where Keeler dies is heart wrenching and horrifying. It was made in the time when less is more...we don't see the wreck but instead hear it and see character's reactions to it. It's far more effective than showing the wreck and its results on screen.

(In an interesting bit of trivia....I notice that Kirk has to sacrifice a lot this first season...first his best friend to start the series and now he has to let the woman he loves die.)

It ends with the (then) risque line of Kirk saying "Let's get the hell out of here" as the crew beams up.

The one nitpick you could have is that this is clearly an epiosde that is driven by character over plot. Kirk has to sacrifice Keller but we get no resolution to what brought them to the planet to start with--the time waves that are affecting the whole universe. I guess we can assume the Guardian was malfunctioning or something and its now somehow fixed, but we're not given any answers. Much in the same way another episode from this list did with "Mirror, Mirror." Once Kirk and company escape the mirror universe, we never find out what happened with the Halkans and, in fact, Kirk orders the ship out of orbit at episode's end. So, I guess they completed the mission..but we're not sure.

Again, this is not one of those things that really matters that much. But when you watch these things a million times over the years, these things tend to jump out at you on the thousandth or so viewing...

"City on the Edge of Forever" is a true classic---not only of Star Trek but all of TV drama. And it's place as one of the most reverred and respected episodes in the Star Trek canon is well deserved. If you are looking for a good way to see why Trek has endured for 40 years, this episode is worth viewing or viewing again.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/07/2006 09:14:00 AM | |
Comments: Post a Comment

Follow me on Twitter!

    Follow me on Twitter!
    This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from bigorangemichael. Make your own badge here.

    Recent Comments

    Best Middle Tennessee Blogs

    Web Sites I Visit
    Daily News Journal
    Doctor Who News
    Go Vols
    Go Titans
    The Tennessean
    The Tennessean's Titans Coverage
    Trek Today
    TV Guide On-Line
    Washington Post Redskins Coverage
    USA Today

    2007 Team Schedules
    Tennessee Vols
    Tennessee Titans
    Washington Redskins

    Favorite Authors on the Web
    Orson Scott Card
    Peter David's Blog
    Keith R.A. DeCandido's Blog
    Neil Gaiman
    Elizabeth George
    Philip Gulley
    Stephen King
    Donald Miller
    Lisa Samson's Blog
    Robert Whitlow

    Musical Links
    Carolyn Arends
    Sherrie Austin
    Lee Domann
    Dust And Ashes
    Fleming & John
    Sara Groves
    Jennifer Knapp
    Jars of Clay
    Carolyn Dawn Johnson
    Cindy Morgan
    The Monkees
    Nickel Creek
    Nothin' Fancy
    Rebecca St. JamesRay Stevens
    Steep Canyon Rangers
    Williams and Clark Expedition
    Rhonda Vincent and the Rage
    Jaci Velasquez

    Blogging Links

    Powered by Blogger Weblog Commenting and Trackback by Listed on Blogwise
    << ? Blogaholics Anonymous # >>

    My Blog Chalk

    Michael/Male/31-35. Lives in United States/Tennessee/Smyrna, speaks English. Eye color is brown. I am in shape. I am also creative. My interests are Reading/Swimming laps.
    This is my blogchalk:
    United States, Tennessee, Smyrna, English, Michael, Male, 31-35, Reading, Swimming laps.

    You Are Visitor

    Free Web Counter

    Looking For Something Specific?
    Search this site or the web powered by FreeFind

    Site search Web search

    Powered by Blogger