The City on the Edge of Forever
|"The City on the Edge of Forever"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
The Enterprise crew encounters the Guardian of Forever.
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Joseph Pevney|
|Written by||Harlan Ellison|
|Featured music||Fred Steiner (original)|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||April 6, 1967|
|List of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes|
"The City on the Edge of Forever" is the penultimate episode of the first season of the science fiction television series Star Trek. It is episode #28, production #28, first broadcast on April 6, 1967. It was repeated on August 31, 1967 and marked the last time that NBC telecast an episode of the series on Thursday nights. It was one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the series and was awarded the 1968 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The only other episode with such an honor is the two-part episode "The Menagerie". The teleplay is credited to Harlan Ellison, but was also largely rewritten by several authors before filming. The filming was directed by Joseph Pevney. Joan Collins guest starred as Edith Keeler.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Reception
- 4 Guardian of Forever
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Stardate: Unknown. While the Federation starship USS Enterprise is investigating temporal disturbances from a nearby planet, Lt. Sulu is injured in an explosion. Chief Medical Officer Dr. McCoy gives him a shot of cordrazine and accidentally injects himself with an overdose when the ship is shaken. Delusional, he flees from the Bridge and to the Transporter Room, beaming himself down to the planet.
Captain Kirk beams down with a landing party and finds the source of the time distortions, an ancient glowing ring with an aperture the height of a human. The "Guardian of Forever" explains that he is a doorway to any time and place. McCoy escapes through the portal. Suddenly the landing party loses contact with Enterprise and is informed that the past has been altered and the ship - along with the entire Federation - no longer exists.
Since the timeline must be repaired, the Guardian lets Kirk and Spock go after McCoy. Before the pair depart, Kirk tells the landing party to enter the portal and make new lives for themselves in the past if he and Spock fail to return. Kirk and Spock arrive in New York City during the 1930s Great Depression. After stealing some clothes to blend in, they meet a woman named Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), who runs the 21st Street Mission. They offer to work for her. Spock begins to construct a processor to interface with his tricorder to find out how McCoy altered history.
Kirk begins to fall in love with Edith, whom he finds remarkable. She is interested in man's future and the stars. McCoy stumbles into the mission where Edith takes him in, unbeknownst to Kirk. Spock finishes his work and, reviewing the Guardian's images of the original and altered timelines, discovers that Edith was supposed to have died in a traffic accident, which was prevented by McCoy. Instead, Edith lived on to start a pacifist movement which influenced the United States sufficiently to delay its entrance into World War II, thus allowing Nazi Germany time to develop an atomic bomb and win the war. Kirk knows that Edith must die in order for time to return to normal.
Meanwhile, Edith nurses McCoy back to health, and he tells her his story. Though Edith is skeptical, she tells McCoy that he would like her eccentric new boyfriend.
Later, as Kirk and Edith are walking to the movies, Edith mentions Dr. McCoy. Alarmed, Kirk tells Edith to stay there before running to find Spock. The three friends meet in front of the mission. As a curious Edith crosses the street to join them, she steps in front of a fast-moving truck. Instinctively, Kirk reacts, but freezes when Spock stops him. McCoy is restrained by Kirk as Edith is knocked down and killed. McCoy tells Kirk that he could have saved her. “Do you know what you just did?" he says. Spock responds quietly, "He knows, Doctor. He knows."
With Edith's death, history reverts to its original form. Kirk, Spock and McCoy return to the Guardian's planet where, as far as the rest of the landing party are concerned, the three have only been away for a few minutes. The Guardian then says "Time has resumed its shape. All is as it was before. Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway.". Enterprise contacts the landing party and the traumatized Kirk responds with the instructions, "Let's get the hell out of here."
Original treatments and scripts
In his 1996 book The City on the Edge of Forever, Harlan Ellison provides two treatments, a complete script and a revised first act.
Treatment of March 21, 1966
Lieutenant Richard Beckwith, a drug dealer selling the illegal "Jewels of Sound", kills Lieutenant LeBeque after he threatens to expose Beckwith's activities. This occurs after LeBeque realizes he almost caused a major accident while under the influence of the Jewels. Beckwith's crime is witnessed; he is court-martialled and sentenced to death. The rules also require that he be executed on an uninhabited planet.
The Enterprise locates what seems to be a dead world. Kirk takes Beckwith along with Spock, two other (unnamed) officers and a firing squad of twelve men to the planet's surface. But on the planet they find evidence that there may be inhabitants, which means they cannot dispose of Beckwith there.
Exploring, they encounter the Guardians of Forever, ancient-looking humanoids nine feet tall, who explain that they guard the Time Vortex, a link to the past that can only exist on this one planet. They show Kirk scenes from the past of Earth. They explain it is possible to go back but not wise, a visitor may change everything. Beckwith overhears and enters the Time Vortex to escape. The Guardians of Forever panic: everything has changed, but they do not know how. They vanish back to their city.
Kirk tries to return to his ship, but finds the effects of the time changes cause the Enterprise to become the Condor, a pirate vessel. They manage to get control of the Transporter Room, and Kirk and Spock return to see if time can be repaired.
Back on the surface, the Guardians tell them that the key change is a woman called Edith Koestler, who is scheduled to be run down and killed by a moving van at a specific time. Beckwith will prevent this. They must stop him doing so.
They go into the vortex and arrive in Chicago, 1930. An old street-vendor sees them arrive and the sight of Spock gives him a heart attack. They are blamed and flee. They also have to adjust their translators — Kirk says he can almost understand 1930s English, but it is as difficult for him as Shakespearian English would be for them.
They adjust and find work. They encounter Edith Koestler and Kirk is drawn to her. In this version, she has an admirable character but is not described as preaching or doing good works, nor is she Sister Edith Koestler. There is no indication as to why her death matters to history.
Beckwith arrives, but they fail to capture him. He in turn hunts them and nearly kills Spock. Finally it comes to the moment when Edith Koestler is due to die. But in this version, Beckwith attempts to save Edith, and Spock must tackle and stop him. Captain Kirk, knowing Edith must die, but wanting her to live, as he has fallen completely in love with her, is frozen in indecision and does nothing. Spock stops Beckwith, lets the woman die and then helps Kirk return with their prisoner.
With the timeline set right, Beckwith attempts to escape through the Time Vortex again, but the Guardians of Forever have set a trap for him: he finds himself in an exploding supernova, and just before he dies a fiery death, is pulled backwards in time and forced to relive his agonizing death again and again for all eternity.
The very last scene was a quiet one between Kirk and Spock, where Spock treats his captain compassionately, telling him that "no other woman was ever offered the universe for love". He also addresses him as "Jim": on all other occasions he remains formal and says "Captain".
Treatment of May 13, 1966
This begins with an explanation by Kirk about how one of the crew can go wrong, even though "we have continuous psych-probes". The initial crime is the same. But Beckwith immediately escapes to the planet's surface, with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Yeoman Rand, and five "Enlisted Crewman" close on his heels.
The planet is the same, and the Guardians of Forever guard the Time Vortex. They still find the Enterprise has become the pirate-ship Condor, but leave Yeoman Rand and the five crew men to guard the transporter. Returning to the surface, Kirk and Spock are given no definite explanation of the key change. The Guardians made riddling statements -- "He will seek that which must die, and give it life. Stop him." And "Blue it will be. Blue as the sky of Old Earth and clear as truth. And the sun will burn on it, and there is the key."
They are taken to New York, 1930. A mob attacks them, identifying them as foreigners responsible for taking jobs from good Americans. They escape and hide in a cellar. The (male) custodian finds them and helps them get work. Spock then encounters Sister Edith Keeler at a street-corner revival, preaching love and hope. She is wearing a blue cape with a sunburst brooch, also her name links to key—she is the one.
The rest of the plot proceeds as in the first treatment.
First Draft, June 3, 1966
The plot is the same as in the second Treatment, except that they already know the planet is odd, with clocks running backwards. The landing party consists of Kirk, Spock, Yeoman Rand, and six "Enlisted Crew". They arrive in two shifts, respecting the limit of six transporter pads. Beckwith's escape, the transformation of the Enterprise into the Condor and their return happen as before, and the Guardians give them the same clue.
Initial events in New York are also the same, except that Spock uses his tricorder to try to track down the exact change. It burns out. He then spots Sister Edith Keeler and understands the clue. He then manages to partly repair the tricorder. He also gives the first speculation as to why Sister Edith Keeler needs to die: his first suggestion is that she may give birth to a child who would become a dictator, his second is that perhaps she may keep America out of the coming war for two years longer, allowing Germany to perfect its atomic weapons.
We also encounter an additional character in the person of a legless World War I veteran known as Trooper. They hire him to find Beckwith, which he does. Kirk and Spock try to overpower Beckwith, who fires his phaser at them and kills Trooper. They feel sympathy, but also wonder if he mattered in the time-flow.
As before, Beckwith is about to save Edith, Kirk cannot act but Spock secures him and they return. The Guardian assures them that time has resumed its shape. Spock asks "What of the death of the cripple?" and is told "He was negligible".
As before, it ends with a conversation in which Spock addresses Kirk as Jim. This time he comments that Spock has never previously called him anything but Captain. Kirk also notes that Beckwith, though an amoral killer, was still willing to try to save the woman at the risk of his own life. He sees it as a sign of hope, "The worst among us does the great thing".
Second Revised Final Draft, December 1, 1966
Dr. McCoy is bitten by a toxic animal (that is inexplicably growing younger as they approach an unexplored planet), which causes him to go insane and beam down to the planet. He takes over Beckwith's role of changing the past by saving Edith Keeler. The Guardians are changed from humanoids to a single Guardian, described as "a globe of flickering light... like a shimmering handful of fog..." who guards the Time Vortex of the Ancients.
In his adaptation of the story in the book Star Trek 2, James Blish explained to readers that he tried to preserve the best elements of both Ellison's original script and the final rewrite. In Blish's version, Kirk allows Edith to die, with the result that Spock tells him, "No other woman was ever almost offered the universe for love."
The closing credits of the episode that was ultimately telecast has Edith Keeler identified as "Sister Edith Keeler". She is running the 21st Street Mission, a name that in that time period would only be used of a religious mission. In one scene, before a speech that is more motivational than religious in nature, she was seen carrying a Bible.
The production staff considered Ellison's script to be excellent (though the director Joseph Pevney said, "Harlan had no sense of theater... in the original script's dramatic moments, it missed badly"), but they had several concerns. As originally written, the episode would have been too long for a one-hour show, too expensive to stage, with too many speaking parts and elaborate special effects. Also, several plot elements—such as a member of the crew dealing drugs and Kirk preparing to sacrifice his crew to be with Edith—led the producers to decide that Ellison's teleplay was simply "not Star Trek". Ellison did a number of rewritings himself, delivering his Second Revised Final Draft in December 1966. Gene Roddenberry continued to claim the story was still considered to be too expensive to shoot as written, and instead it was rewritten internally, by a sequence of editors including Steven W. Carabatsos, Gene L. Coon, D. C. Fontana, and Gene Roddenberry himself. Ellison was unhappy with the rewritings, and he considered disowning the script by putting his "Cordwainer Bird" pseudonym on it.
Part of the reason for this controversy was a subtle but important change in Edith Keeler's character. In the original script she was a social worker with a vague hippie philosophical bent whereas, in the final version, she was changed into an all-out war protester. The version that was telecast in the end carried the implication that anti-war movements were harmful to the future of humanity. (Kirk: "She was right; peace was the way." Spock: "She was right... but at the wrong time.") When the associate producer Robert Justman was asked if the episode was intended "to have the contemporaneous anti-Vietnam-war movement as a subtext", he replied, "Of course we did". This new thematic element, which may be interpreted as critical of the anti-war movement, ran counter to Ellison's strongly held anti-war views, established in many of his writings.
According to Ellison, Roddenberry later claimed that Ellison's original script had Scotty dealing drugs, but Scotty did not appear at all in that script. Roddenberry later admitted that when he made the comment, he had not read Ellison's draft in years. Ellison set out his side of the story in a 1995 book, The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay That Became the Classic Star Trek Episode, containing two drafts of his story outline, his first draft teleplay, with the teaser, and first act of his second revised draft (the latter dated December 1966). In the White Wolf paperback edition of 1996, the book also contains a 75 page memoir introduction, replete with photos of legal documents, letters, etc., bolstering Ellison's version of the story behind rewrites of his script, of duplicitous actions by Gene Roddenberry and his supporters.
Before being reprinted in Ellison's book in 1996, the original script of "The City on the Edge of Forever" had been published in 1976 in "Six Science Fiction Plays", edited by Roger Elwood (ISBN 0-671-48766-3).
|Wikinews has related news: Harlan Ellison sues CBS-Paramount, WGA over Star Trek royalties|
On March 13, 2009, Harlan Ellison filed a lawsuit against CBS Paramount Television, seeking payment of 25% of net receipts from merchandising, publishing, and other income from the episode since 1967; the suit also names the Writers Guild of America for allegedly failing repeatedly to act on Ellison's behalf in the matter. On October 22, 2009, the lawsuit was settled with Ellison claiming he was satisfied with the outcome.
Filming of the episode
Filming of this episode began on February 3, 1967, and it finished on February 14, 1967. This episode took seven and one-half days to film, more than was typical for an episode, and—although no financial records are available to back the claim—according to Inside Star Trek, the overall cost totaled $250,000, compared to the weekly average of around $185,000.
With the exception of some stock footage of New York City used on this episode (in which the Brooklyn Bridge can be seen as well as a street in front of the apartment Kirk and Spock live in), all the exterior shots were filmed on "the back forty", Desilu Studios' film backlot in Culver City, California. Previous episodes that were filmed there were "Miri" and "The Return of the Archons". The 21st Street Mission was part of the Back Forty film set known as "Main Street", and it was referred to originally on The Andy Griffith Show as the Grand Theater. In addition, during the scene in which Kirk and Edith are strolling down the street and discussing the stars, the words "Floyd's Barber Shop" are clearly visible in the window of one of the shops.
In addition to the standard Star Trek themes used in many episodes, this episode has some original music by Fred Steiner. Originally, this episode used music from the popular 1931 song "Goodnight, Sweetheart". This music was included, unaltered, in the first home video release, in both Beta and VHS. When the complete series was released on VHS, the "Goodnight, Sweetheart" portion was replaced by generic music because of copyright issues (J. Peter Robinson composed the replacement music). With the release of the first DVD of the episode, the plan was to again avoid copyrighted music and issue the DVD with a disclaimer on the box, "Some music has been changed for this DVD." However, the original "Goodnight, Sweetheart" portion was erroneously included and Paramount reportedly had to pay royalties. Since the royalties had been paid, all subsequent DVD and Blu-ray releases have included the original "Goodnight, Sweetheart" music.
The filmed version of "The City on the Edge of Forever" is considered the best episode of the original series by many critics such as Entertainment Weekly. TV Guide ranked it #68 in their 100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History feature in its July 1, 1996 edition, featured ranked it #92 on the 100 greatest TV episodes of all time, and ranked it #80 on its list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time." IGN ranked it as number one out of their "Top 10 Classic Star Trek Episodes". Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'A' rating, describing it as "a justly revered classic".
It is one of the most widely acclaimed episodes of the original series of Star Trek. It was awarded the Hugo Award in 1968 for the "Best Dramatic Presentation" at that year's World Science Fiction Convention. It was twenty-five years before another television program received that honor again, and the next recipient became the episode "The Inner Light" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Harlan Ellison's original version of the teleplay won the annual Writers Guild of America Award for best dramatic hour-long script. Gene L. Coon reportedly said at the time: "If Harlan wins, I'm going to die", and that "there are two scripts up tonight for the Writers' Guild Award, and I wrote them both." This quotation is of dubious merit, however, since the WGA rules do not allow production companies to submit scripts, but rather only the credited writers, who may submit whichever draft of their scripts that they may choose. Ellison submitted his original first draft for WGA award consideration, and not any version that had been edited by the Star Trek production staff, so Coon's supposed version of the script was ineligible and never submitted. Gene Roddenberry noted that "many people would get prizes if they wrote scripts that budgeted out to three times the show's cost." In the documentary To Boldly Go... included in the Season 1 DVD set, Leonard Nimoy characterizes the episode as a high-water mark in the series, calling it "good tragedy". William Shatner considered it one of his favorite episodes, and it appeared as his "Captain's Pick" in the "Star Trek Fan Collective—Captain's Log (2001)".
Guardian of Forever
|Guardian of Forever|
|Plot element from the Star Trek franchise|
|First appearance||Star Trek: The Original Series
"The City on the Edge of Forever" (1967)
|Created by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Function||Allows the user to travel through time|
The Guardian of Forever, the time portal portrayed in the episode, has since been featured in many spin-offs, tributes and parodies.
In the Star Trek universe, analysis of the ruins on the Guardian's home world suggests it may be billions of years old but no one knows who built the Guardian. The Guardian is able to speak to anyone who asks it a question, though the meaning of its responses is not always clear. For instance, when asked if it was machine or being, it responded, "Both ... and neither". When Spock says "I see no reason for your answers to be couched in riddles", the Guardian states "my answer is simply as your level of understanding makes possible", and continues that the character's "science knowledge is obviously primitive". The Guardian can detect changes in the timeline, but typically provides its users little help in figuring out how to change it back. And being in the vicinity of the Guardian when such changes occur isolates those from the effects of the change in the timeline.
The Guardian's only other on-screen appearance was in the animated episode "Yesteryear" (1973), in which the Guardian's voice was provided by James Doohan (who portrays Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott).
In the unofficial mini-series Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, the Original Series character Charlie Evans used the Guardian to go back in time and change history. The Guardian also appears in an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages, which moreover portrays a second much larger Guardian through which a starship can fly.
|The Devil's Heart||Carmen Carter||The origin of the Guardian is revealed.|
|Federation||Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens||The Guardian apparently stopped responding to questions several years after the events of "The City on the Edge of Forever" but it answers one special question from James T. Kirk.|
|Imzadi||Peter David||The portal serves as an integral feature of the story, creating an alternate timeline in which Deanna Troi died at the hands of a scientist from the future in order to reshape the history of his species. The attempt by a future Admiral William Riker to undo the changes to the timeline drives the novel to conclusion.|
|Star Trek: Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows||David R. George III||This trilogy explores the long-term effects on Kirk, Spock, and McCoy after the events of "The City on the Edge of Forever", in the alternate history before it was corrected. The third book focuses on the life of McCoy, in which the doctor is never rescued and has to adapt to 20th century life. The fate of the Guardian may be indicated.|
|Star Trek: First Frontier||Diane Carey and Dr. James I. Kirkland||The Guardian of Forever is instrumental in helping Kirk and his crew return to just before the extinction of the dinosaurs to correct an altered timeline, from which they were spared due to an unexpected effect of an experimental new shielding system.|
|Yesterday's Son and Time for Yesterday||A.C. Crispin||Kirk, Spock and McCoy use the Guardian to visit Sarpeidon in the past and find Zar, Spock's long lost son with Zarabeth from "All Our Yesterdays".|
|Preserver||William Shatner||Kirk and Tiberius enter an enormous Preserver obelisk and Kirk discovers a Guardian in the final chamber.|
|Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home novelization||Vonda McIntyre||McCoy angers Kirk before their time travel by asking, "What would the Guardian say?"|
|Doctor's Orders||Diane Duane||The obelisk (named ;At), which can perform limited time-shifting, mentions the Guardian as a "colleague".|
|The Q Continuum||Greg Cox||A young Q implies that the ruins around the Guardian were constructed by his and the Q Continuum's organic ancestors.|
|Q's Guide to the Continuum||Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger||Q implies that the Guardian's original purpose was to dispose of trash.|
|Mind-Sifter||Shirley S. Maiewski||Star Trek: The New Voyages||Captain Kirk is stranded on 1950s Earth in a mental hospital, having been abducted by Kor, subjected to a Klingon mind sifter, and transported through the Guardian of Forever. Spock is promoted to Captain and spends a year looking for Kirk.|
|Guardians||Brett Hudgins||Strange New Worlds VII||Set in a future where the Horta are serving as protectors of the Guardian of Forever, preventing any malevolent races from purposely altering the timeline. The story makes use of several popular Trek characters and villains (Odo, Q, the Borg, and Armus (from "Skin of Evil")) during the 50,000 year span of time covered.|
- A 1978 story in an issue of the Gold Key Star Trek comic, entitled “No Time Like the Past”, features the Guardian of Forever.
- DC Comics Star Trek Volume 2, #53 (October 1993) begins a five-part-time travel story involving the Guardian of Forever.
- Star Trek (DC Comics)#Vol. 2 Also, in Star Trek: Engines of Destiny, the Guardian of Forever shows Guinan, a member of the Enterprise-D crew, how to restore an alternate timeline in which the Borg control most of the Alpha Quadrant.
- In the role-playing video game Fallout 2 there is a random encounter in which the player is able to enter a time portal resembling the Guardian of Forever which paradoxically makes him start the plot of the game's predecessor, Fallout.
- In Star Trek Online, the mission "City on the Edge of Never" involves using the Guardian to travel through time to stop Klingons intent on altering history.
- Ellison, Harlan (2009). The City on the Edge of Forever. Edgeworth Abbey.
- Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
- Ellison, Harlan (1996). The City on the Edge of Forever: The original teleplay. White Wolf. ISBN 1-56504-964-0.
- E. Goss; M. Altman (1995). Captain's Logs: The Unauthorised Complete Trek Voyages. Little, Brown & Company, Canada.
- Weil, Ellen; Wolfe, Gary K. (2002). Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press. pp. 114–115. ISBN 0-8142-0892-4.
- "ELLISON SUES STAR TREK" (Press release). March 13, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
- Dave McNary (October 22, 2009). "Ellison, Paramount settle lawsuit". Variety. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
- "FSM Board: PR: La-La Land announces 15CD Star Trek Collection". Filmscoremonthly.com. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Entertainment Weekly Special Edition Jan 18, 1995
- The 100 Greatest TV episodes of all time
- "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time" TV Guide; June 15, 2009; Pages 34-49
- "IGN's Top 10 Classic Star Trek Episodes". [IGN]. Retrieved June 6, 2009.
- Handlen, Zack (April 24, 2009). ""The City On The Edge Of Forever" / "Operation--Annihilate!"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Captain's Logs, p.42
- Inside Star Trek, p. 289
- "Harlan Ellison's The City On the Edge of Forever", 1996 edition, p. 72
- "Harlan Ellison's The City On the Edge of Forever", 1996 edition, p. 41
- George Kashdan (October 1978). "No Time Like the Past". CurtDanHauser.com.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: "The City on the Edge of Forever"|
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" at StarTrek.com
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" at the Internet Movie Database
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" at TV.com
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" Review of the remastered version at TrekMovie.com
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" Screenshots before and after remastering
- "The City on the Edge of Forever" Detailed Review of Ellison's First Draft Script by Dave Eversole
- "Guardian of Forever" - a summary of other stories featuring the Guardian of Forever.
- This archived newsgroup posting is an in-depth review of Harlan Ellison's book The City on the Edge of Forever, which contains the various scripts and a lengthy essay about their writing and revisions.
- Guardian of Forever at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)