Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Great Television: The City On The Edge Of Forever (1967)
Been watching a lot of Star Trek on DVD recently and one of the featured episodes was the classic time travel story, The City on the Edge of Forever. Now I know a lot of people may not be fans of sci-fi in general or Star Trek, specifically. But this was really good television right here. The story is this: a gas accident causes McCoy to go temporarily insane from accidentally injecting himself with a strong hypo injection, he then escapes to strange planet. There the search party discovers a device left by a superior, vanished civilization, a time portal which plays the history of earth for them- but then Bones jumps through it into the past, causing a change in history important enough to make the Enterprise vanish. So Kirk and Spock must travel through the same portal in hopes of finding Bones first and preventing whatever he causes to change time. They arrive on Earth in the year 1930. America is still reeling from the Great Depression of 1929. Of course the duo draw gawks from onlookers thanks to their Federation uniform. A quick scamper to find themselves some clothes and a run-in with a police officer has the Kirk and Spock on the run. They find shelter in the basement of Sister Edith Keeler (a magnificent performance by Joan Collins). Yes, that Joan Collins of later Dynasty fame. Edith runs a mission shelter and quickly puts Kirk and Spock to work. Kirk is immediately attracted to her, but not in his usual hound dog ways. He is genuinely interested in Edith as a person. So they become close and start to begin a relationship. In the meantime Spock has been able to rig up some equipment using his tri-corder to show significant events in this current timeline. And comes across two different paths that history might take. One showing that Edith Keeler will become a peace ambassador for the world and end up meeting President Roosevelt in 1936. The other shows her dying in an auto accident in 1930. Of course the correct timeline is the one in which Edith Keeler is suppose to die. Kirk is torn about the situation because he has never felt this way about anyone ever. Around this time McCoy finally shows up and Edith takes him as well, nursing him back to good health. But Kirk and Spock doesn't find out about it until the very end. Spock explains to Kirk that Edith Keeler must die..if not the change will cause the Nazis to overtake the entire world. Something about Edith's pacifist ways that allow America to be taken over by the enemies. That is some heavy stuff. And Edith is hopeful about the future: that one day man will travel to other worlds and develop new technology. Kirk is understandably impressed by her thoughts. Suffice to way things must be set right and Kirk will have to live with the decision made for the rest of his life. This is one of the best pieces of television ever created. From the stellar acting by all parties, including a rare stripped down performance by William Shatner, who tones down his usual hamminess and shows that he can be a really good actor when need be. DeForest Kelly gives a gonzo performance as he gets to go off the deep end and play Bones as slighty crazy thanks to the overdose. Leonard Nimoy is solid as usual as Spock. And Joan Collins is positively amazing as Edith. She just radiates a serene quality when on screen. And is totally believable in her role. If you only think of Joan Collins as Alexis from Dynasty, then you need to see her in this episode. This is one of my favorite episodes of Trek. Because it strips away all the effects and techno babble and concentrates on a powerful and intriguing story. I mean if we were in this same situation, what would we do. You can understand the anguish that Kirk is going through with this dilemma. Anyway, just wanted to share this little piece of history and let people know how good this show really was. Even if you're not a Trek fan, I urge you to see this one, as it shows the best qualities of this classic series in full display.