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

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Old June 1 2009, 10:55 PM   #1
Gorn Captain
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Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

I have a huge problem with "The City on the Edge of Forever" which is generally considered to be one of the best, if not the best, Star Trek episodes ever.

My problem is this: When Kirk and Spock are trying to figure out how McCoy changed history, Spock says something to the effect of "If I could only tap into the ship's computers" and proceeds to build a device that does that, if briefly.

WHAT?!?

Does this device reach through time and space? It's not like the Enterprise in orbit above 1930's Earth. In fact, the Enterprise isn't in orbit around the Guardian's planet, or any planet, at any time. That's the problem they're trying to solve! Forget whether or not Spock could earn enough money sweeping floors to buy enough parts to build the stupid thing, or whether the sorts of parts he would need are available in that time period, he's trying to contact a ship that DOESNT EXIST IN THAT OR ANY TIME.

I'm sure this is a huge plot hole that others must have noticed. If this has been discussed prior to this, my apologies. But that gaping plot hole really harms that episode.
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Old June 1 2009, 11:02 PM   #2
M
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

I always assumed the tricorder had the memory banks of the Enterprise computer, no?
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Old June 1 2009, 11:04 PM   #3
Gep Malakai
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Alright, it's been years since I last saw CotEF, but I seem to recall that what Spock was saying was that he'd have to plug his tricorder into the ship's computer's to retrieve the information stored in the tricorder itself; his "mnemonic memory circuit" was designed as a replacement for the Enterprise's computer so he could pull the data from the tricorder. No reaching into the future involved.

Which raises the other question of why one would need a second device to retrieve information stored on a piece of field equiptment, but....
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Old June 1 2009, 11:12 PM   #4
deck5
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
My problem is this: When Kirk and Spock are trying to figure out how McCoy changed history, Spock says something to the effect of "If I could only tap into the ship's computers" and proceeds to build a device that does that, if briefly.
SPOCK: Frustrating-- locked in here is the place and moment of his arrival, even the images of what he did. If only I could tie this tricorder in with the ship's computers for a few moments.
KIRK: Couldn't you build some form of computer aid here?
SPOCK: In this zinc-plated, vacuum-tubed culture?
KIRK: Yes, well, it would pose an extremely complex problem in logic, Mr. Spock. Excuse me. I sometimes expect too much of you.


Spock wishes he could tie in with the ship's computers in order to search the tricorder's memory and isolate the key piece of information he needs from the tremendous amount of information recorded in the tricorder from the playback of history provided by Guardian of Forever. Because he can't do that, he must instead build a computer aid himself from available materials.
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Old June 1 2009, 11:16 PM   #5
Gorn Captain
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Ah, Deck5! I see! Thank you, I don't mind feeling stupid for missing that detail, I am happy to have my former admiration for the episode restored.
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Old June 1 2009, 11:17 PM   #6
Alrik
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

deck5 wrote: View Post
Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
My problem is this: When Kirk and Spock are trying to figure out how McCoy changed history, Spock says something to the effect of "If I could only tap into the ship's computers" and proceeds to build a device that does that, if briefly.
SPOCK: Frustrating-- locked in here is the place and moment of his arrival, even the images of what he did. If only I could tie this tricorder in with the ship's computers for a few moments.
KIRK: Couldn't you build some form of computer aid here?
SPOCK: In this zinc-plated, vacuum-tubed culture?
KIRK: Yes, well, it would pose an extremely complex problem in logic, Mr. Spock. Excuse me. I sometimes expect too much of you.

Spock wishes he could tie in with the ship's computers in order to search the tricorder's memory and isolate the key piece of information he needs from the tremendous amount of information recorded in the tricorder from the playback of history provided by Guardian of Forever. Because he can't do that, he must instead build a computer aid himself from available materials.

DING DING DING. Winner. Give that poster a candy cigar.
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Old June 1 2009, 11:47 PM   #7
hofner
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

One unanswered question is when Kirk, Spock and McCoy returned to their time, what happened to the contraption Spock built?

My pet theory is it was tossed into the basement and decades later some computer nerd found it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...

Google!

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Old June 1 2009, 11:54 PM   #8
Gorn Captain
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

I guess we can assume that the hobo who vaporized himself with mccoy's phaser didn't alter the timeline at all, or stop wwII.
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Old June 2 2009, 12:27 AM   #9
Captrek
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
I guess we can assume that the hobo who vaporized himself with mccoy's phaser didn't alter the timeline at all, or stop wwII.
Yup. In fact, this was explicitly discussed in Ellison’s original teleplay. This character (who was a little bit more developed in Ellison’s teleplay) got killed by a phaser and Spock told Kirk that it didn’t matter because that person wasn’t really relevant to history.
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Old June 2 2009, 01:18 AM   #10
Nuveena
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Seeing the thread title made my heart leap a bit, but for a very different reason:

The romantic subplot that COTEoF hinges on for emotional resonance with the viewer is rushed, frequently cliched, corny, and I never believed Kirk was in love with Edith Keeler. 50 minutes is not enough time for such a substantial payoff.

There, I said it. I feel better. Don't get me wrong, it's likely in my top 20, but it falls heartbreakingly short of greatness.
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Old June 2 2009, 01:49 AM   #11
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

Yeah you'd think that if he loved her that much, she'd be the one in the Nexus with him, not Antonia (who?).
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Old June 2 2009, 02:03 AM   #12
Trekker4747
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

"I am attempting to build a mnemonic memory circuit from stone knives and bear-skins."

Ah the invention of the great mnemonic memory circuit. A memory circuit that doesn't actualy remember anything. Instead it remembers cute little phrases, stories or words to help it recall things.

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Old June 2 2009, 02:26 AM   #13
Albertese
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

I was trying to detail TOS tricorders for a home made RPG some friends and I were working on. Based on this info from this episode, I decided that the sciences tricorder has a little used feature where it can overwrite it's "functions" in order to flash record information at mind boggling speeds. This essentially uses all the tricorders circuitry in in memory and, once the recording session is ended (only a few minutes worth) the device can no longer be used normally. It requires the computer to unload the data, "unzip" it, and restore the normal functionality to the device.

This is such a weird feature that it is often overlooked and hence Spock felt foolish for forgetting he could have been recording the whole time. I'd have to watch the ep again, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't use his tricorder again between his jump and his "stone knives and bear skins" project.

Nothing official here, just my two cents.

--Alex
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Old June 2 2009, 02:29 AM   #14
Captrek
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

McCoy wrote: View Post
Yeah you'd think that if he loved her that much, she'd be the one in the Nexus with him, not Antonia (who?).
He was in love with Edith Keeler, and he was in love with Antonia. There was also the robot from “Requiem for Methuselah,” the Indian girl from “The Paradise Syndrome,” Ruth from “Shore Leave,” the blond lab technician (Carol Marcus?) mentioned in “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and so forth. Kirk apparently fell in love often and easily. (That’s even if you don’t count “Dagger of the Mind” and “Elaan of Troyius,” which were kind of cheating.) But each one, at the time, felt very real and very intense and was as important to Kirk as anything in the world.
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Old June 2 2009, 03:49 AM   #15
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Re: Okay, Star Trek Blasphemy, but....

captrek wrote: View Post
Gorn Captain wrote: View Post
I guess we can assume that the hobo who vaporized himself with mccoy's phaser didn't alter the timeline at all, or stop wwII.
Yup. In fact, this was explicitly discussed in Ellison’s original teleplay. This character (who was a little bit more developed in Ellison’s teleplay) got killed by a phaser and Spock told Kirk that it didn’t matter because that person wasn’t really relevant to history.
A friend had a slightly more elaborate theory which I think goes against Ellison's intent but has a remarkable dramatic economy to it:

What if ... the guy who kills himself, whom I'm told is the guy Kirk talked to at the soup kitchen who had some ideas of how Keeler really could help a fella instead of delivering space-enthusiast speeches, would have gone on were he not killed by McCoy's phaser to instead kill Keeler? It was quite by chance of Kirk's timing that she was anywhere near that truck at that moment, after all. What if in the original timeline where she never knew Kirk, she had instead got into a quarrel with the phasered guy and in a moment of rage he shoved her into traffic?

It's almost certainly not what Ellison had in mind; his idea of there being some essential-but-not-obviously-so people and some irrelevant people is chilling in a way that's rather Ellison (and it offers a lot of dramatic freedom in time-travel plots while still allowing for some reasonable rules). But that interpretation does enjoy a certain unity of narrative not otherwise present.
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