I enjoyed this episode.
I wrote a 12 page review of it, which is available on my website (which can be found in my sig). I could link you to the exact review, but that feels too spammy, so I'll just copy and paste the review here.
Warning, I have a sick, and unique sense of humor. Also, all my star trek reviews began as just me and a friend emailing each other about movies we seen, and analyzing them scene by scene. Then I decided to build a web site, and stick all my star trek reviews on it. Only two reviews have been added to the site after I built the site. And I wanted to toss that out there in case you notice I have a very unique and unprofessional way of reviewing a movie/show.
Star Trek, Season1, Episode21 – The City On The Edge Of Forever
So after doing a review of Star Trek Voyager, Time And Again, I decided to review an episode of the original Star Trek called City On The Edge Of Forever. This is a similar episode. Well, OK, it's similar in that it involves time travel. Whereas Time And Again sucked, this episode has been hailed as one of the greatest original Star Trek episodes.
I am used to tearing apart Star Trek Voyager, it's so easy, you have lines like “get the cheese to sickbay!”, that show is easy to review, the scenes in early voyager were comically bad, and the technobabble was off the charts. But I've never reviewed a Star Trek TOS episode until now.
Let me open by saying that The Original Series was my favorite Star Trek, and Captain Kirk is certainly my favorite captain.
While The Next Generation had a more modernized version of what the future would look like, and had it's fair share of technobabble, it lacked a really strong imagination, and a charismatic handsome captain like Kirk, a sort of intellectual John Wayne in outer space. Alright, Maybe Kirk isn't John Wayne, but he's more John Wayne than stuffy old Picard, and the psycho prime directive fundamentalist Janeway. Though Benjamin Sisko comes very close to Kirk, there's just no out doing the great William Shatner, who took this character and owned it. Sisko might have been a little more John Wayne than Kirk, but Kirk had that special something that sets him apart from other fictional heroes.
Also, this is probably going to be my longest review, not only because I make a lot of comparisons to my last review of Star Trek Voyager Time And Again, but because this episode of Star Trek just has a lot going on. Normally when reviewing an episode I take it scene by scene, and just summarize an unimportant scene, such as “back in sick bay the doctor talks to the patient, and sends him out with a neck thingy to monitor him” Skipping over the 3 to 5 minutes of filler that took place in that scene.
But in this episode, every scene is so packed with events, it really feels like a 2 part episode that was condensed into 1 hour, but the story doesn't feel too rushed either.
So, with my love of Kirk, and my love of the original Star Trek, and with this being hailed as one of the best original Star Trek episodes, there is no way I am going to pick on this episode right? Wrong.
In spite of this being a good episode, there are a few things that can be picked on, and certainly enough content in the scenes to crack a few jokes.
The episode begins with everyone on the bridge, and the ship has a bit of turbulence. Scotty is sitting on one of the control panels, he says the control circuits are about to overload. All I can think about is “why is he just sitting there on the control panel?” It's an odd place to position a character.
Apparently the ship's turbulence is caused by ripples in time. Who knew temporal ripples actually caused physical friction?
Suddenly Sulu is hurt! You'll never guess how he is hurt. No, you'll never guess... his control panel explodes. Like no one seen that coming?
Anyhow, Kirk has Uhura dictate a message to Star Fleet, basically saying that some one or something has the ability to manipulate time on the planet they are approaching.
Bones makes his way on to the bridge, takes a look at Sulu and... I'm sorry, but is Sulu wearing eye shadow? Ordinarily I'd say this was just lighting and my personal copy of the episode, but with George Takei, I think he really might be wearing eye shadow.
Luckily Bones has medicine to reverse the effects of spontaneous exploding console syndrome. The catch is, the slightest drop can save a man's life, but a little too much could drive him insane or kill him.
Sulu comes out of it with a smile on his face, like he just got to see Liberace naked (oh I tease, but I love George Takei).
Scotty is just happy he now has a place to sit “you snooze you lose Takei!”
As Bones stands back up and fiddles with the hypo-spray the camera shakes (I mean the ship experiences turbulence) and it forces Bones to accidentally inject himself with a whole ton of that dangerous serum. Although, it is hard to believe it's just an accident, it almost looks like he's a junky using this as an excuse to inject himself “oops, captain I loaded the hypo-spray and bumped into the console and simultaneously pressed the activation button while it was pressed against my stomach. And I was so shocked by the experience that I just held it there for a few seconds. Damn turbulence. Hey you all seen it, it was a complete accident! I'm not getting high... this early in the morning. There's nothing to report to Star Fleet I tell ya! It's like that time I was accused of stabbing that guy. Everyone knows I was just whittling a stick with my knife when that guy accidentally walked into the knife, 5 times, backwards... I tell ya I am an innocent man!”
Anyhow, he injects himself with the drug And goes crazy.
Then the opening credits. Afterward we hear Kirk giving a log entry, explaining the situation. Even he says the word “accidentally” a little too emphasized, I don't think Kirk completely buys into this accidental injection. At least not with a man like Bones who typically has either brandy, rum, or whiskey for breakfast.
There is a guy working at the transporters, he has his back turned to the door. Bones walks in nice and quiet, walks up behind him and gives him an impressive karate chop to the kidney and then to the back of the neck, which knocks the guy out. Take that Vulcan neck pinch!
Kirk finds out that Bones has knocked out the transporter chief and teleported himself to the surface of the planet.
Kirk beams down with an away party consisting of himself, Spock, Uhura, Scotty (just when he was enjoying having a seat), and two random Red Shirts... who look around nervously. I mean, by this time they know they are the sacrificial lambs of the away party. But god is smiling on them because they don't actually die in this episode.
On the planet they find an arch. Spock says it is the source of all the time displacement.
Suddenly the arch talks to them. I could have sworn it was Orson from Mork and Mindy, but no, the voice isn't by Ralph James.
The arch defines himself as the Guardian of Forever.
Kirk asks “are you machine, or man?”
The Guardian answers “I am both and I am neither”
Spock mentions there's no need to answer in riddles. The guardian says “my answer is simply at the level your understanding makes possible”
Really? He just dissed Spock? For realz?
The Guardian says he is his own beginning and end. That, is a reference to being self created.
Spock speculates it is a time portal. The Guardian then again gets a little smart mouthed with Spock and refers to his limited understanding. If I were Spock, I'd be like “Look you concrete megalomaniac, does the word 'jackhammer' have any meaning to you?”
But all Spock says is “really?”
Kirk asks “annoyed Spock?”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. Although I think it's safe to say his human side, is internally thinking “I am about to bitch slap the sass right out of this concrete ho”
The Guardian says “behold” and begins showing scenes from history.
Suddenly Bones comes out from behind the rocks yelling and raving like a mad man. Spock puts him down with a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Kirk wonders if it's possible to jump in to the gateway provided by the arch and go back before Bones drugged himself (accidentally of course). Spock mentions that the time frames are moving very quickly, it would be hard to time just right. Kirk asks the Guardian if he can change the speed of the time periods being displayed. The Guardian mentions that he was made to offer the past in this manner, and he cannot change. I think that's interesting since he confesses he was designed, and to do a task, yet said he was his own beginning and end (I can only interpret as meaning self created and self determined). But whatever, it's not really important.
Kirk mentions how tempting it is to jump in. Spock says to himself that he is a fool for not realizing that his tricorder can record the events even at this super fast speed and they can slow it down and study it later.
Just then Bones awakens from his Vulcan nerve pinch and runs through the gate. It happens so fast Kirk and crew can't stop him.
Though I think what is amazing is that the Guardian couldn't stop him, and can't pull him out of that time period, and can't even isolate the time he jumped in and allow the others to rescue him.
Hmm, for a creature named Guardian, he sure doesn't live up to his name.
Imagine being designed to do one thing... and failing. Spock should be raising an eyebrow right about now. Though if I were Spock, I'd do more than raise an eyebrow, I'd look at the guardian and say “Nice job, you know guarding that gate of forever. I mean, you let a crazy psychotic man just jump in to muck about with time. I applaud you sir. In fact, come on everybody, let's applaud the guardian's excellent ability to guard."
Hell, if I were Spock I'd insist that we drink a toast to the guardian and sing “for he's a Jolly Good Fellow”. I'd rub it in his concrete face. Dissin' Spock like that, the nerve.
I mean, that Guardian was designed to guard, he didn't even yell “no” as an effort to stop him. He's about as effective as a safe... that is missing the door. He's about as effective at guarding something as a banker who stores all the money and valuables out on the steps in front of the bank.
Uhura tells Kirk that the communications to the ship went dead. They quickly realize that Bones going back in time must have done something to make the ship no longer exist.
Scotty says “you mean, we're stranded down here?” poor Scotty, the man is never getting a chair.
I should point out if this is true than Kirk and the others shouldn't be standing here because the ship would never have brought them here if it didn't exist.
See, I will pick on bad time paradoxes even when it comes to TOS. I just insist that this is a better story, and less stupid than Time And Again.
I am willing to overlook this logical flaw, because... the episode is actually good, and the issue is something that you may or may not notice. It's not a paradox that is rubbed in your face like “our own rescue caused the explosion which made us decide to come here and get trapped in the past thus needing to be rescued thus causing the explosion ad nauseum.
In this episode it's one minor glitch that many viewers might not even notice. Again, a writer's job is to mask the paradox, lead the viewer away from realizing it, the way a magician can direct your eyes away from the hand reaching into his pocket to pull out a prop. It's a virtue of talent. If you cannot cover up and mask the paradox, than the next thing to do is write a story showing a theoretical outcome to a paradox.
*See Voyager Time And Again episode foot notes for more on time paradoxes.
And I guess it could be argued that the reason Earth has changed, and no Enterprise, yet they still remain, is that they couldn't be altered from time because they are caught in a time displacement field, one of those ripples in time they encountered heading toward the planet. Since they are only standing a few feet away from the source.
And I don't mind making up little things like that to try to justify the time paradox, or assuming these possibilities were inferred in the writing. Again, it's a good episode, and I am more forgiving.
Anyhow, Kirk decided that he and Spock will record the time display on his Tricorder, and they will time the jump to show up slightly before Bones entered.
They jump through the "time portal" (because I am not calling that thing a guardian after what I just witnessed). It appears they are in the 1930's. They stand there in an alley. Some passers look at them like they're from outer space... oh wait, I guess they are.
Spock turns his head away and attempts to cover his pointy Vulcan ears. They realize they're going to have to get disguises to survive here. Walking down the street Kirk spots some clothes on a clothesline. Spock looks at Kirk and says “theft, captain?”
Kirk says “well.. we'll steel from the rich, and... give back to the poor later”.
OK, so obviously this means “yes, we're stealing peoples clothes”.
If you've read my Voyager review of the episode Time and Again, you'll see I go into great detail about “How did Tom and Janeway get those clothes?”
At least in this episode the answer is revealed; they stole them.
Perhaps the writers felt that Janeway wouldn't do anything as dastardly as steal clothes from innocent people (that she was going to let die in a day), and the writers got cornered and just wrote “so they walk out of a clothing store with their new clothes” and was done with it.
Sure, it's not heroic, it's not noble and admirable to steal clothes from people (who are obviously not rich, Kirk) but in a desperate situation, sometimes petty theft is a necessary evil.
I can't help but think of the Star Wars remake/re-edit where Han Solo is in the bar, the bounty hunter wants to collect on him, in the original Han Solo fired the first shot killing the bounty hunter, in the remake they edited it to make it look as if the bounty hunter fired first. Because hero's don't steal, throw the first punch, make mistakes, or fire the first shot. That was George Lucas' take on things. However, heroes actually do steal, fire the first shot, etc, in situations where it is understandable, in situations where it is necessary to survive. If a man comes at you with a chain saw over his head, sure you could run away, or you could pull out your gun and shoot. If you shot him, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who thinks he pulled the trigger because he was cowardly or because he was heartless and cruel.
So yes, Kirk stole clothing, it's understandable. And I only bring all this up because I can't help feeling that in the Voyager episode Time and Again, the clothes weren't stolen, for the same reason that Lucas thinks Han Solo shouldn't have fired first.
Anyhow, Kirk steals the clothes and... gets caught by a police officer. Which is funny because in most cases this sort of behavior goes unnoticed by cops in most shows that put people in this situation.
The best part of the episode comes up. Kirk tries to explain himself and his odd Vulcan friend to the police officer. Kirk turns on his charm, relying on his superior intellect to talk his way out of this situation... OK, he stands there and makes an ass out of himself stumbling over his words to explain this.
He begins by explaining his Vulcan friend is “obviously Chinese” and continues, “I see you've noticed the ears. They're actually easy to explain...”
Spock says “perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child”
Kirk says “the unfortunate accident as a child, he caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker... but fortunately there was an American Missionary there living close by, and was a uh... plastic surgeon in civilian life...”
The cop cuts him off.
I swear, I don't think you can get away with “my friend is Chinese of course, and he got his head stuck in a mechanical rice picker” to explain someone's odd looks in today's sensitive culture.
Or maybe this scene is so good because the smooth talking Kirk was out of luck and had no way of talking his way out of this one.
The cop tells them to get their hands against the wall. Kirk distracts him, Spock comes in with the Vulcan nerve pinch.
I have to confess, Kirk and Spock get out of tight jams with the nerve pinch as much as Janeway gets out of a tight Jam with magic particles. The reason I go easy on Kirk and Spock is, I can relate to a nerve pinch, it's like a karate chop or a strong punch to the face. It's a physical attack that knocks the opponent out. I can't relate to a reverse modulated inverted harmonic resonance of negative proton particles being created by the modified warp nacelle’s plasma relays and amplified by the modified deflector dish and blasted through a negatively polarized ionic tachyon field through subspace in a temporal rift. Or quickly pressing buttons on a control panel to make happen something that was impossible last season, become perfectly easy today, and then to have the problem return in a later episode; that one time pressing buttons and spouting technobabble made something happen, that never happens again in a similar situation in a later episode. The Nerve pinch is simple.
They make a run for it and hide in a basement. They change clothes and Spock mentions that they have arrived about a week before Bones.
Spock mentions that the tricorder has captured the events in time including Bones' leap into time, but unfortunately he can't plug the tricorder into the ships computer to watch the events it recorded. Kirk mentions the possibility of building a device he could plug the tricorder into. Spock mentions that due to the limited technology of this time period, such a task would be difficult. Kirk encourages him to try, by insisting that it would be an extreme challenge in logic, and perhaps he just expects too much from Spock.
When Spock hears that last line his face actually shows emotion. It's like “first that Guardian, now you? What is this pick on the nearest Vulcan day? Maybe you and that Guardian can go fuck yourselves, with all due respect of course captain.”
Well he doesn't say that, but you can tell he was thinking it.
Just then the door opens and a woman's voice says “who's there?”
Spock runs and grabs a cap to put on his head to cover his ears. Kirk says “excuse us Miss, we didn't mean to trespass. It's cold outside."
And then the camera zooms in on the woman, and my god I'm in love. The actress is Joan Collins who plays Edith Keeler.
Here is a picture of Joan Collins as Edith Keeler
Here are two pictures of a younger Joan Collins in a bikini (my personal favorites)
and I only feel it necessary to show you those pictures so that when some philosopher type asks “what, exactly is happiness?” you can show him those pictures and say “happiness is having your dick in her mouth”.
And this answer will certainly satisfy the person asking that question. Unless of course the person asking the question is your wife, than your screwed.
To be Continued...