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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old July 9 2014, 07:14 PM   #1
JimZipCode
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The City On The Edge Of Forever

Here, let's try a new City thread, with a couple of actual topics.


1.
I'm a fan of Harlan Ellison, have a few collections of his short stories. But he's dead wrong about his script. I mean, Roddenberry may have screwed him; but the episode that aired is stronger than his original script. Tighter and more dramatic.


2.
I wrote elsewhere, in the Tribbles thread, that I don't get fans who think that comedy is the "soul of Star Trek." The first season is steeped in tragedy. It starts with the two pilots: Vina has to stay on Talos IV with no human contact; Kirk has to kill Gary Mitchell. It continues with most of the first ~dozen episodes: the salt vampire goes extinct, and Nancy was never there; Charlie can't stay with his own kind; Roger Corman is dead and gone; Lenore accidentally kills her dad; the bridegroom dies.

We think of City as an exceptional episode, with much stronger emotional overtones than most episodes. But I think maybe that's not the case. I think Ellison homed in on something central to the roots of the series. City falls right in line with the "tragedy" aspects of the pilots and other early episodes. It's powerfully done, but not really a departure. Instead it heightens elements already strongly present in the series.

Basically, City is just like Where No Man. With Edith, Kirk has to do pretty much exactly what he had to do with Gary Mitchell.

I never noticed that before. What I'm saying is, City is so good not because it ventured into such new territory, but instead because it hewed so closely to the show's roots – dug more deeply into them.



Thoughts?
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Old July 9 2014, 07:19 PM   #2
Dennis
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

I agree, more or less. There are moments in Ellison's script that go deeper and are more touching than the improvised final version - and not just those involving the main story. It was a shame to lose the character of the WWI veteran - Trooper? Some of the best moments. Was there time in that hour for it all? Guess not. It goes back to the "why is television called a medium?" joke.
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Old July 9 2014, 08:04 PM   #3
JimZipCode
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

Why is television called a medium?
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Old July 9 2014, 09:11 PM   #4
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

Building off of the OP, I've always thought of Kirk as a tragic hero. All of his big character moments revolve around him losing something- Gary Mitchell, Edith, his brother, command in TMP, Spock in WoK, David and the Enterprise in Search for Spock. Early TOS is definitely full of tragic endings too, as you said. One you didn't mention is The Alternative Factor, while being a so-so episode, is one of the saddest .
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Old July 9 2014, 09:41 PM   #5
Maurice
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

JimZipCode wrote: View Post
Why is television called a medium?
"Television is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well done.”
Fred Allen, on his radio program “The Big Show” in November 1950
I think the problem with comparing the Ellison "City" to the aired version is all we have access to is his first draft (at least, that's all I've ever seen), and most first drafts are a mess.

I have to put at least a little blame on the Trek writing staff here. They had detailed treatments from Ellison and they could have fixed a lot of the structural issues before he even went to first draft if they'd simply pointed out things like "you cannot introduce Edith interest in act 3 because there will not be enough time for Kirk, and the audience, to grow fond of her...suggest she be one of the first people they meet, which goes along with the idea that they and Beckwith will be drawn straight to her."

Trooper was a loss because he was such a counterpoint to Edith and Beckwith. He was a "Bo" who would go out on a limb for you just because you treated him with respect, but his death (and his sacrifices in the war) meant and changed nothing. He didn't matter to history, but he mattered in that he saved Kirk and thus helped save history. Humbling stuff.
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Old July 10 2014, 12:19 AM   #6
BillJ
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

I guess I should read Ellison's version of the story at some point.
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Old July 10 2014, 02:08 AM   #7
T'Girl
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

^ I have. Thank God the story was heavily re-written, in it's original version it was crap, and couldn't possible have been fit into a single episode.

In it's improved form it was great, while not my favorite TOS episode (that's Balance of Terror) it is in the top ten. The chaste relationship between Kirk and Keeler was refreshing, it added significance to the romance.

And sure I have some nitpicks.

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Old July 10 2014, 02:12 AM   #8
Maurice
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

We have very different definitions of "crap". Also, as I recall, Bob Justman felt the first draft might run short because Ellison's descriptions were so lengthy.

And, again, first draft.
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Old July 10 2014, 05:32 AM   #9
Dennis
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

T'Girl wrote: View Post
^ I have. Thank God the story was heavily re-written, in it's original version it was crap.
Nope.

I just now went to Amazon and bought a copy of "Six Science Fiction Plays," an anthology published in 1975 that includes Ellison's script for the episode - that book is where I first read it, over thirty years ago. I don't know if it's the same draft that Ellison published more recently.
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Old July 10 2014, 06:24 AM   #10
Maurice
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

I believe it is.
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Old July 10 2014, 06:43 AM   #11
Harvey
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

Well, there's another draft at UCLA.

I'll wait patiently for donations to the "let Harvey transcribe Ellison's 71 page teleplay fund."
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Old July 10 2014, 09:40 AM   #12
Maurice
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

Harvey wrote: View Post
Well, there's another draft at UCLA.

I'll wait patiently for donations to the "let Harvey transcribe Ellison's 71 page teleplay fund."
Where's my checkbook?
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Old July 10 2014, 03:31 PM   #13
Kamdan
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

They need to digitize all of that stuff to give others more easy access. What if all of that stuff goes up in a fire?
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Old July 10 2014, 05:23 PM   #14
urbandefault
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

JimZipCode wrote: View Post
Here, let's try a new City thread, with a couple of actual topics.


1.
I'm a fan of Harlan Ellison, have a few collections of his short stories. But he's dead wrong about his script. I mean, Roddenberry may have screwed him; but the episode that aired is stronger than his original script. Tighter and more dramatic.


2.
I wrote elsewhere, in the Tribbles thread, that I don't get fans who think that comedy is the "soul of Star Trek." The first season is steeped in tragedy. It starts with the two pilots: Vina has to stay on Talos IV with no human contact; Kirk has to kill Gary Mitchell. It continues with most of the first ~dozen episodes: the salt vampire goes extinct, and Nancy was never there; Charlie can't stay with his own kind; Roger Corman is dead and gone; Lenore accidentally kills her dad; the bridegroom dies.

We think of City as an exceptional episode, with much stronger emotional overtones than most episodes. But I think maybe that's not the case. I think Ellison homed in on something central to the roots of the series. City falls right in line with the "tragedy" aspects of the pilots and other early episodes. It's powerfully done, but not really a departure. Instead it heightens elements already strongly present in the series.

Basically, City is just like Where No Man. With Edith, Kirk has to do pretty much exactly what he had to do with Gary Mitchell.

I never noticed that before. What I'm saying is, City is so good not because it ventured into such new territory, but instead because it hewed so closely to the show's roots – dug more deeply into them.



Thoughts?
I think Roger Corman will be surprised to find out that he's dead.
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Old July 10 2014, 05:24 PM   #15
Green Shirt
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Re: The City On The Edge Of Forever

TheAdmiralty wrote: View Post
Building off of the OP, I've always thought of Kirk as a tragic hero.
Kirk did say he needs his pain. It makes him who he is.
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