Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 28

The City on the Edge of Forever

Aired Unknown Apr 06, 1967 on NBC
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9.4
out of 10
Average
294 votes
  • Arguably the series' finest outing.

    9.5
    Most science fiction fans, by now, have been exposed to time travel stories of one sort or another. But in 1967, this type of story was far less common. The time travel "sub-genre" is difficult to write well, but here, Ellison pulled it off. Roddenberry's changes led to a feud with Ellison that lasted decades, but it can be argued that at least some of those changes improved the story.

    In the original, problems arise because of a drug using crewman. Although it seems unlikely that man will abandon this vice any time soon, Roddenberry's vision of the future describes a society in which people strive to excel, and it is the best of these who are put in charge of starships. Even a crewman is unlikely to be a drug addict for long.

    Ellison's distaste for unwanted collaboration aside, the final product is a taut, gripping story. It starts with curiosity, the great motivator of man. From there, we have concern for McCoy's health, which quickly becomes deep concern for the fate of the galaxy. And the only way to correct what McCoy has done is to do what he did -- visit the past -- and thereby expose it to even more chances for alteration.

    Set against the backdrop of the American depression of 1929 and beyond, the sequences in the past offer a nice contrast between the idealistic future of Roddenberry's dreams, and the grim reality which will one day evolve into that future. This setting also ratchets the tension up as we see how difficult it is just to survive, much less obtain the expensive and delicate parts Spock needs to decipher his tricorder's jumbled memory.

    And Kirk, always the womanizer, meets and falls in love with a woman of the past -- a relationship we know is on some level doomed. But we don't realize how doomed until McCoy's alteration becomes apparent. McCoy saves the woman's life, and dooms the future. To put it right, Kirk must allow the woman to die, as she was "meant" to. This personal sacrifice is an exemplar of Roddenberry's idealistic future.

    Overall, this is an episode that catches the viewer, and pulls him along on a thoroughly enjoyable ride.