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Paramount Studios presents

Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #14 (1967)

"One day soon, man is gong to be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom. Energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in... in some sort of spaceship. And the men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope and a common future, and those are the days worth living for."- Edith Keeler (Joan Collins)

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Other Stars: John Abbot, John Colicos, Joan Collins
Director: John Newland, Joseph Pevney

MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 01h:40m:00s
Release Date: 2000-07-11
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+A-B+ D+


DVD Review

Kirk: We have the right...
Ayelborne: To wage war, Captain? To kill millions of innocent people? To destroy life on a planetary scale? is this what you are defending?

Errand of Mercy
Stardate 3198.4
Airdate March 23, 1967
Directed by: John Newland

War with the Klingons! With the audacity of Napoleon invading Russia, the Klingon Empire is preparing to invade a disputed region of space and the Enterprise is ordered to proceed to and secure an innocuous backward little planet called Organia. Kirk and Spock beam down to the planet and attempt to rally the inhabitants against the inevitable occupation by the Klingon forces. This episode introduces the Klingons to Star Trek lore and lays the foundation for a fictional culture that has become a cottage industry within the larger Star Trek universe.

The village elders of Organia are totally unconcerned by the prospect of this occupation and are in fact, more worried about the survival of the two Federation officers. When the Klingon fleet appears in space above the planet (something the Organians are mysteriously aware of immediately), the Enterprise is forced to flee and alert Star Fleet Command. The commander of the Klingon forces, Kor (played by John Colicos, later familiar as Balthasar in the Battlestar Galactica series), makes his way into the council chamber and asserts his new status as Military Governor of Organia.

Spock and Kirk embark on a sabotage program to demonstrate to the seemingly sheep-like Organians that they can fight back. The Organians are shocked by the use of violence and turn the pair over to the Klingons, revealing their identities as Federation officers. Held prisoner by the Klingons and seemingly destined to be tortured and killed, Kirk and Spock are then inexplicably freed by the Organians. When the Klingons kill 200 Organian hostages to force the return of the prisoners, Kirk decides that their only realistic plan is to fight their way into the Klingon headquarters and capture or kill Kor. They succeed against the odds, as approximately calculated by Spock (7,824.7 to 1), and are in Kor's office as the two battle fleets meet in the space near Organia to decide the "destiny of the galaxy."

The fundamental plot of this episode is slightly absurd with its bend towards a classical deus ex machina twist, but this does not detract from the overall entertainment value. Kirk and Spock undercover in the midst of a Klingon invasion is very exciting. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had honed their byplay to a finely tune science by this point and that relationship is the centerpoint of the drama. The Klingons themselves make fine adversaries, ruthless and brutal to the core. This show was broadcast at the height of the Viet Nam war and its message of the uselessness of war could not have been lost on its viewers.

This episode rates 3 out of 5 Enterprises:

McCoy: "You deliberately stopped me, Jim. I could have saved her. Do you know what you just did?"
Spock: "He knows, Doctor. He knows."

The City on the Edge of Forever
Stardate 3134.0
Airdate April 6, 1967
Directed by: Joseph Pevney

City on the Edge of Forever stands as one of the great ST:TOS episodes and is among the most beloved in the whole series. Winner of the highest science fiction award, the Hugo, for best television drama, this episode transcends the medium to become one one of the great science fiction works of all time. There is some controversy in the Star Trek universe over the differences between the original script by legendary science fiction author Harlan Ellison, which actually won the Hugo, and the final version that was substantially altered to better fit the Star Trek style by producer Gene Coon and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Ellisons's disdain for the revisions has been well-documented, most recently in the interviews conducted for the Sci-Fi Channel series. Having read Ellison's original script, seen the broadcast version and read the version created by James Blish for the Star Trek novelizations that was a mixture of the two, I can state that the fundamental story is strong enough to stand in all its versions. The charm of the love story between Kirk and the radiant Edith Keeler, the relationship between Kirk and Spock, the indispensible moments of humor and the sacrifice at the heart of the story's climax are all potent fictional elements.

The story begins as Dr. McCoy accidentally injects himself with an overdose of Cordrazine as the Enterprise is shaken by what seems to be a ripple of time emanating from a nearby planet. Driven insane by the drug, Bones escapes the ship and beams down into the source of the time disturbance. A landing party follows to search for him and discovers ruins that appear to be hundreds of centuries old. There they find an ancient machine calling itself the Guardian of Forever that purports to be a portal into the distant past.

Still crazed by the effects of the drug, McCoy leaps into the portal and disappears into the distant past. Uhura loses contact with the Enterprise and the Guardian tells them that McCoy has somehow changed history and all that they know is gone. Spock and Kirk are forced to follow him into the past and somehow prevent the catastrophe. Spock has recorded the approximate place in time that McCoy might have gone to, so he and Kirk jump into the portal and end up in the 1930's United States. After dodging a policeman, they meet the proprietor of the 21st Street Mission, Edith Keeler.

As time passes, Spock struggles to tap into his tricorder with tools that are "barely better than stones and knives" and finds out that Edith is the focal point in history they are seeking. It is her fate upon which the future of human history hinges. As they struggle to know which events are the ones that must happen , Kirk confesses he is in love with Edith. Joan Collins' performance as Edith is very nearly perfect. She is certainly beautiful, but she also captures a certain nobility of spirit that makes Edith the "uncommon" woman that Kirk could fall for and possibly, just possibly sacrifice the future for.

The finale of City on the Edge of Forever is one of potent emotion and great drama. It has lost very little of its impact over time. This is certainly an "essential" episode of the Star Trek series.

This episode rates 5 out of 5 Enterprises:

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: This disc benefits from a fine digital remastering. There is very little to complain about, for the most part a clean, excellent transfer. Fine color gradiations are revealed in some scenes that generate a new respect for the work of the original technical crew of the series. The overall look of ST:TOS is the quality that set it apart and high above other television shows of the genre. Again, the detail of the instrument boards is enough reason to go back over scenes again and again.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Errand of Mercy lends itself well to remixing and takes great advantage of surrounds in the battle sequences. The rears are put to work with the phaser shots and explosions to great effect. City is much quieter and subtle. I found the mixes for these two very different episodes to be consistent, if a bit low in volume. The incidental music of City, very different from most episodes, is especially nice, with little or no distortion.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Liner Notes
Extras Review: As with disc #13, this episode includes subtitles, but no extras. Again, this is an enormous disappointment when most of the participants are still alive and new material is obviously available. This seems especially so with an award winning episode like City, with the many discussions of Ellison's version versus the broadcast version—even production notes would be very welcome. With the data storage capabilities of DVD-ROM, it is easy enough to complain about the fact that there are only two episodes per disc, but to not even throw in a bone to the fans seems weak. If I could be assured that the cost and time necessary to achieve the tremendous video and sound quality precluded the inclusion of such extras, I could be somewhat mollified—so long as I am equally assured that this is not some cynical "holding back" to allow for a re-issue at some later date. But it is the episodes themselves that are most important and I am glad for these new versions, just wanting something more.

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

The two episodes focus very closely on the relationship between Kirk and Spock as officers in service of Star Fleet and as friends. Their repartee and honest bond of affection is one of the strengths of the series and contributes to its enduring popularity. Any disc with City on the Edge of Forever has to be counted as essential. Errand of Mercy is a delightful bonus.

Jesse Shanks 2000-07-23