Or, Why The City on the Edge of Forever Isn’t the Best Trek Episode Ever…
Every day between now and 9/8 — the 50th anniversary of Star Trek’s debut — we’re counting down our TOP 13 EPISODES.
For the full STAR TREK Top 13 Episode Countdown INDEX — updated daily — click here.
Now, #5 …
The City on the Edge of Forever
The City on the Edge of Forever is the Stairway to Heaven of Star Trek episodes.
Used to be — and maybe it still is — that whenever your typical FM station did a Top 500 countdown, Led Zeppelin’s staple would inevitably top the pack. It was almost reflexive. You could bank on it.
And so it is with this superb episode written by Harlan Ellison and co-starring Joan Collins as Edith Keeler, Kirk’s great star-crossed love.
But to me, The City on the Edge of Forever was never the Platonic ideal for a Star Trek episode. Now before you come at me with your phasers, understand that I recognize the pathos of this episode, its role in deepening our fearless captain and the more cosmic “what if” questions it wants us to answer.
It’s just that there are several more episodes that to me speak more clearly to what makes Star Trek what it is: Derring-do, exotic locales, the Enterprise, action, humor, drama, sci-fi tech, suspense with some social enlightenment thrown in for good measure.
The City on the Edge of Forever provides only some of these and while the romance at the heart of it — and how it’s resolved — is moving and ultimately painful, this is an episode that in large measure stands apart from the important ingredients that make Star Trek what it is.
That’s not to say it isn’t good. It’s just not the best.
NOTE: By the way, I do recommend IDW’s adaptation of Harlan Ellison’s original version of The City on the Edge of Forever, written by 13th Dimension contributor Scott Tipton, his brother David Tipton and illustrated by J.K. Woodward. If you want to see Ellison’s unadulterated vision for this story, this is as good as it gets.
NEXT: Balance of Terror. Click here.
For the full STAR TREK Top 13 Episode Countdown INDEX — updated daily with new entries and other features — click here.