These Are The Voyages-Star Trek TOS Remastered and Reconsidered


#924

I rank this the worst TOS episode in the series run, and a contender for the top 10 worst ST episodes overall. Yes, there’s potential for an interesting story there, but it certainly whiffs the execution. The plot holes are enormous and it just makes no sense - I mean, why does anti-matter Lazarus not destroy everything in the matter universe he touches when it’s already been established at least once earlier in the series that matter and anti-matter go kaboom? They try and hand-wave it away but it’s just silly, as is the idea that both universes would be destroyed. Raising the stakes much! And switching requires Lazarus’ ship, yet he doesn’t? I, uh, it’s just all over the place and needed at least another one or two script passes. It also annoyed me how this highly suspicious character is basically allowed to wander the ship.

But it doesn’t matter when set against its failure of execution. Terrible direction, acting, set design and special effects - even by the series standards - make it borderline unwatchable at times. The guy they wanted to play Lazarus left the production, and his replacement doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with the role (understandably as he had no time to prepare for it). His infinitely variable facial hair was the source of some amusement, as was the “oh no, not again!” shot of him falling off that damn cliff with the same canned “arrgh!” sound effect. And the dimensional effects are enough to need an epilepsy warning in those who don’t suffer from it.

The story behind why this was such as disaster is far more interesting than the episode itself, which feels more like one of those early YouTube fan-fiction Star Trek videos where they somehow went back in time to get the real cast to play their roles.


#925

Ha, I can’t argue with any of that, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as it did you. I was sure at the beginning of the episode that this was going to end up being another all-powerful entity toying with the Enterprise and I think I felt such relief that it wasn’t that I looked on the whole thing a little more favorably than I otherwise would have. Even not really understanding how the interaction of matter and antimatter would work - they point out that Lazarus is only really a threat to the universe if he should come into contact with his anti-self - they leave themselves a lot of room to waltz over the details. And I was kind of disturbed by the implications of the climax of the episode, and that final reverse shot of the Enterprise leaving the dead planet in its wake, I may be guilty of being blinded by the form over the substance of the episode.

But man, Lazarus’s facial hair was really, uh, something -


#926

That’s just a cheat written into the script to write themselves out of a scientific corner, worse because they’ve already established what antimatter / matter does in (ok, I have to Google this!) The Naked Time, so not only does the science make no sense it doesn’t follow their own rules. That annoyed me. There were quite a few headscratchers but I’d have to rewatch or read a synopsis to remind myself. Still, I can watch goofy shit if it’s fun or has other redeeming qualities, but this was painful from start to finish.

The most dodgy fight sequence in the history of Star Trek!


#927

First of all we can create antimatter right now. In the world that we have right here. Antimatter can be held in a vacuum in a magnetic bottle. The issue is the amount of energy that it takes to create it. And the theory of one guy being antimatter is bullshit. The moment that they… aw forget it.

Bad episode.

Fuck me.


#928

“Spock, I think that I’m in love with Edith Keeler.”
“Jim, Edith Keeler must die.”

Gather round kids, it’s time for another episode of Star Trek - in fact one might say that it’s time for THE episode of Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever. This episode consistently ranks as one of the highest regarded episodes of the original series’ run, often considered the very best. Let’s talk about why that is.

First, it’s definitely got an interesting and dramatic structure. It starts off innocently enough, but soon enough the stakes grow immensely - Kirk and the landing crew are stranded in front of an ageless alien artifact, with no Enterprise in orbit. McCoy, in his cordrazine-induced madness, has managed to travel through time and change everything somehow. Kirk and McCoy must go back and stop him. But in order to stop him, they have to allow a terrible action to take place. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few.

There’s no real villain this time around - McCoy sets the action in motion, but he’s not at fault just under the influence of an accidental injection. Keeler herself has big dreams and could potentially put them into action, but she exists in the wrong place at the wrong time, ironically enough. Her death allows the Allied war efforts to continue so that they can beat the Nazis and one day, far in the future, the peace she envisions will come to pass.

Nice performances here too. I like what Kelley does with McCoy, and the makeup does a good job of making him look you know, unwell. Shatner displays enough doubt over Edith’s fate that you can wonder what might happen, though you know that duty will win in the end. The ending doesn’t show us a tidy wrap up, with a laughing bridge crew. Kirk is haunted by what he’s experienced, and just says, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

As mentioned upthread, Harlan Ellison wrote the story and it’s obviously an interesting story told well. Harlan has a lot of experience with time travel stories - I remember seeing an episode of The Outer Limits called “Demon with a Glass Hand” that totally floored me. Set me on the path of reading all his stories I could get my hand on. There’s another episode he did centered around time travel called “Soldier”, which he much later would accuse Jim Cameron of plagiarizing when he wrote “The Terminator.” But that’s another story. For this particular episode, Harlan carried a long grudge against Roddenberry for butchering his story, and it did have multiple credited writers. I plan to read this (I haven’t yet, because I wanted to see the episode without any influence) and I’ll report back on the differences in this thread.


#929

This episode is great television, never mind great Star Trek. All the performance are terrific, and the guest star (Joan Collins) brings so much to the show. It’s an incredibly deep story for 50 minutes of run time, so the writing team did a great job getting it down to the essentials to fit into that format.

And yes, the Ellison story is different, and unfilmable as a Star Trek episode. I love Ellison’s stories, but he was wrong to hate this episode.


#930

Agree with everything said so far. And this. So not to spoil, Scott and I pmed a bit when the Ellison hate of the changes in this episode were discussed last week. So the stuff that he hated seeing changed, were things like having Scotty be a drug dealer. Basically things that couldn’t occur for script editing/continuity reasons. Typical unreasonable Harlan Ellison.


#931

Is there a bad scene, or an unnecessary one, in this episode? I don’t think so. It’s scriptwriting gold.


#932

No, there is no “wasted motion” in this one.


#933

I wouldn’t call it bad or unnecessary, but what was up with the bum that McCoy accosts? He steals McCoy’s phaser, cranks it up to overload and then just … dies?


#934

I think it underlines, thematically, how history could be changed in the wink of an eye by their mere presence.


#935

That, and it is setting the tone of the episode: People are going to die.


#936

If that’s the intention, then I think the scene might undermine that intention. Edith Keeler’s existence and death have weight and consequence, but the bum’s does not?


#937

Well, we don’t know that yet. Until “stone knives and bearskins.”


#938

OK, now I’m imagining a new ending to the episode - the gang gets back up to the Enterprise and discovers that instead of phaser banks, they now have giant rock launching mechanisms. Everyone turns to look at McCoy, who says only “oh shit.”


#939

Lol. Really, if you approach the episode pretending no foreknowledge it is very taut. We have no idea how history was altered. It could be any action taken. The whole episode has a tension of walking on eggshells.


#940

Sure, and I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel finding anything to complain about. But that bit stood out at me, since we’re throwing around words like perfection and all that. It didn’t really take me out of the episode or anything.


#941

It isn’t my favorite episode, thought it is a great one, and it is an amazing script.


#942

No actually it’s never been one of my favorites either, more an episode that I admire, leaves me thinking “yeah, that’s pretty clever” rather than one I’d watch over and over like, for example, “Balance of Terror”. It does just about everything right and it’s never boring and it does what I consider to be the Prime Directive of Science Fiction: it has an idea and it uses the medium to express the idea effectively. You couldn’t repurpose this episode to be an episode of Bonanza, for instance, which you can’t really say about every Star Trek episode.

Speaking of the prime directive - it’s interesting to me that this episode presents a kind of “temporal prime directive” situation - the necessary outcome requires taking no action, and allow things to happen “properly” without intervention. It’s another interesting point to me that while McCoy sets the whole episode in motion, he’s taking what he believes to be the right action to try to save Edith, what should be the proper action. The healer has to forego saving a life in order to “heal” the timeline. Not that later episodes, not to mention movies, take as much care with the timeline but that too is another story.


#943

So I picked up my kindle to start thumbing through the screenplay and got caught up in Harlan’s foreword, as I have in so many of his other books. And having gotten sucked into the twisty accounting of all the perspectives and various histories of what’s happened and who screwed who and who got credit for what, I reached the end of the foreword.

My kindle tells me I’m 28% of the way through the book now.