Many Star Trek followers say that the unique collection’s crowning achievement was the penultimate episode of the present’s first season, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Some fans go additional than that by saying it’s the best episode of all the Trek collection. While I wouldn’t exactly rank it that prime in either case (for reasons I’ll get to shortly), one factor that’s definitely added to the story’s mystique is the proven fact that the episode’s writer, the late Harlan Ellison, famously expressed his dislike for the episode itself, a la Stephen King with Stanley Kubrick’s model of The Shining.
Ellison’s unique script had quite a few variations from how the episode itself turned out. Gene Roddenberry would go on to add to Ellison’s dissatisfaction by stating for years afterward that the unique script would’ve been too costly to shoot, as well as infamously saying that the story had Scotty dealing medicine.
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Just some years after Roddenberry’s dying in 1991, Ellison would publish a e-book containing his unique “City” screenplay. Ellison also used the e-book to precise his displeasure at how Roddenberry painted him throughout the intervening years since “City” was first televised in 1997. I just lately bought the unique “City” script in comic guide type. This prompted me to draw a comparability between the teleplay and the episode it was become. As most people are more conversant in the episode itself, I’ll start with a quick recap of that.
The episode begins with the Enterprise tracking waves of time displacement, which have led them to an unknown planet. These waves are inflicting the ship to violently rock as the crew tries to navigate via it. One such wave knocks Sulu out, prompting Kirk to call McCoy. Bones administers a particular drug which revives Sulu. The doctor is placing his medical package again so as when another wave hits, causing the hypo Bones is holding to pump a shit-ton of that same drug into him. After a couple of seconds, Bones leaps up ranting like a maniac, and violently pushes everybody away earlier than taking off.
After the title sequence, Kirk has security looking the ship for McCoy. However Bones shortly knocks out the transporter chief before escaping the ship by beaming right down to the planet the place the time waves are originating from. Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, and two redshirts go after him. On the floor, they’re surrounded by ruins of a former city. In the middle of that is the supply of the time waves: a glowing ring, which quickly speaks to them, figuring out itself as the Guardian of Perpetually. Our heroes understand that the Guardian is a time portal as it exhibits them pictures from the distant past.
McCoy seems, still batshit loopy, but Spock shortly nerve-pinches him. Kirk wonders if they will take McCoy back briefly in time to stop his accident, though Spock poo-pooh’s the concept, given how fast the Guardian is displaying the pictures. However the playback is sluggish enough for Spock to start out recording the imagery enjoying in front of him. It’s at this level that McCoy revives and shortly disappears after leaping into the Guardian.
The Guardian states that McCoy is in the previous. Uhura tells Kirk that she out of the blue can’t get anybody on her communicator, leading to the revelation that the Enterprise, to not mention the Federation, is gone as a result of McCoy has changed historical past. I’m assuming the touchdown social gathering nonetheless exists because of their shut proximity to the Guardian.
Kirk and Spock determine to chase after McCoy, ensuring they arrive at some extent earlier than he does. The two leap by means of and end up in New York City in 1930. They shortly grab some interval clothes, which results in police chasing them, after Spock nerve-pinches one. They discover refuge in the basement of a seemingly deserted building. But as they start to make plans, a lady (Joan Collins) finds them after coming down from the upper flooring. Kirk tells her that he and Spock haven’t any cash and stole the garments they’re now sporting. The woman introduces herself as Edith Keeler, and tells them that they’re in the 21st Road Mission (which she runs), and presents them employment. Edith later provides them an condo to remain directly she sees how good Kirk and Spock are at upkeep.
Weeks begin to move whereas Spock uses some of his and Kirk’s earnings to crate a makeshift pc as a way to interface with the knowledge he recorded together with his tricorder before and after McCoy changed history. At the similar time, Kirk is turning into smitten with Edith, especially together with her predictions and lectures on where humanity is heading in the many years to return.
One night time, as Kirk takes a romantic walk with Edith, Spock is able to get some information. This information is Edith’s obituary. Kirk arrives however the information that’s proven this time is of a meeting she’ll have with FDR in 1936. That’s when the pc burns out. Spock informs Kirk that he saw her obituary, which is dated 1930. They understand McCoy made considered one of these events happen, and Kirk tells Spock to get his gear going again.
Extra weeks cross as Spock repairs the gear, during which era McCoy arrives and scares the dwelling bejeezus out of a bum who loiters around the mission. The heavy medicine ultimately cause McCoy to cross out, giving the bum a chance to swipe his phaser, which he shortly uses to vaporize himself with. The subsequent morning, McCoy weakly makes his strategy to the mission, the place Edith takes him to a room to let him relaxation, although Kirk and Spock just miss him.
Spock and Kirk are soon capable of get extra information from the tricorder. They study that McCoy saved Edith from getting hit by a truck. This led to her turning into the head of a peace movement, which can forestall the U.S. from getting into World Conflict II. This, in turn, will give Germany extra time to develop its weapons, allowing Hitler to get the atomic bomb first, which he’ll use to subsequently conquer the world. Kirk is agonized over the realization that Edith should die in order for history to be restored.
Because of Edith, McCoy is again to his regular self, although he seems to be taking the incontrovertible fact that he’s in one other time fairly nicely. Edith and Kirk are heading to a film when she mentions McCoy. Kirk frantically tells her to remain put while he goes to get Spock. They’re reunited with McCoy, but their joyful reunion is minimize brief as all of them notice a truck heading towards Edith as she’s crossing the road. Kirk prevents McCoy from saving her, and as a crowd gathers around her physique, Spock assures Bones that Kirk knew what he was doing.
Our heroes return to the future, where only a quick period of time has handed. The Guardian says that the timeline has been restored and the landing get together returns to the ship.
Ellison’s unique teleplay begins with the ship orbiting an unknown planet, while Kirk realizes that considered one of his crewmen, Beckwith, is influencing different crewmembers with medicine. Beckwith escapes by beaming right down to the planet. Kirk, Spock, Janice Rand, and some redshirts go after him and see an actual city embedded in mountains, which Kirk describes as “a city on the edge of forever”.
The inhabitants of this city determine themselves to our heroes as the Guardians of Ceaselessly, who shield a time portal. As they present Kirk and the others photographs from the past, Beckwith leaps by means of the portal, changing historical past. The Enterprise is now overrun by area pirates. As Rand and the others cope with them, Kirk and Spock undergo the portal after Beckwith, ending up in 1930 New York Metropolis.
They meet Edith, whom Spock realizes, because of her surname Keeler, is the key time limit that may deliver them to Beckwith. Spock is ready to access information from his tricorder and speculates that Beckwith might have saved Edith from dying, which in flip might have led to Nazi Germany conquering the world.
Beckwith later makes his look, and makes use of his phaser to beat back Kirk and Spock as they try and nab him, killing a legless warfare vet named Trooper in the course of. However Kirk and Spock achieve apprehending Beckwith, as Spock prevents Kirk from saving Edith from an approaching truck.
They return to their own time, with Beckwith escaping again, however the Guardians state that a nova has sent him right into a cycle of steady suffering.
Back on the ship, Kirk tells Spock that he beloved Edith whereas they mourn Trooper as properly. Spock assures Kirk that his love for Edith meant that she wasn’t irrelevant.
The unique script has some good concepts, corresponding to Beckwith and his unscrupulous drug dealing. It’s also nice to see Rand in a much bigger position than she had in lots of the episodes she appeared in. It’s also noteworthy that Spock seems a bit more emotional than typical in the story (yes, he’s half-human and all, however I needed to note that). I also acquired a kick out of how Trooper resembles Harlan Ellison.
But one facet of the televised model that’s superior to the unique script is that Spock should take the time to create a interface in an effort to get info, which adds pressure to the story as our heroes must wait to see what they need to do. There’s also an enormous deal made at the end about Spock addressing Kirk by his first identify for the first time, regardless that he did so in the pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”.
Ellison was a writer Roddenberry needed on Star Trek from the beginning, as Ellison was already a respected, award-winning writer in the ’60s. But after Ellison submitted his unique script, Roddenberry eliminated the characters of Beckwith and Trooper, among different modifications. Ellison tried to remove his identify from the ultimate product, however Roddenberry threatened to blackball him from the business if he did so. Regardless, “City” would deliver Ellison numerous accolades, together with the prestigious Hugo Award. This acclaim was tempered by Roddenberry telling the world that he principally saved the “City” script together with his modifications.
I wouldn’t exactly say “City” is the franchise’s best achievement per se. This can be a petty remark, nevertheless it all the time bugged me that it by no means seems to occur to Kirk or Spock to simply take Edith back to their time with them (a la Star Trek IV and Back to the Future Half III), thus saving the world from Nazi rule and Kirk loads of heartache.
But “City”, in each its unique and televised type, has fantastic moments, and I all the time beloved how Shatner delivers the episode’s ultimate line (“Let’s get the hell out of here!”). So I don’t assume it’s a nasty episode by any means. I’d just be extra more likely to rank, say, “Space Seed”, “Mirror, Mirror”, or “The Enterprise Incident” larger.
Still, while this wasn’t Star Trek‘s first time-travel story (that honor went to “Tomorrow is Yesterday”), it’s comprehensible why it turned the yardstick by which all of the franchise’s subsequent time-travel stories have been measured.