Star Trek: The Original Series episode 19 review

Star Trek's maiden series flirts with time travel in Tomorrow Is Yesterday

Episode: 19Title: Tomorrow Is YesterdayStar Date: 3113.2Writer: D C FontanaFirst Shown: 26th January 1967

As a youngster I adored this original story, because it takes the notional idea of time travel and adds an interesting twist, in that it’s people from our future coming back to the present.

It also builds on the previous story, The Naked Time, where the Enterprise slingshots around the sun and picks up enough speed to initiate time travel. In this adventure the Enterprise is caught in the gravitational pull of a neutron star, and in escaping they time travel back to 1969 Earth where they become visible to the radar of that era. Fighters are scrambled, and one approaches the Enterprise, which is now in the atmosphere. In attempting to get away, the Enterprise grabs the F-104 Starfighter with a tractor beam, which the aircraft isn’t strong enough to withstand and they’re forced to beam Captain John Christopher onboard to avoid killing him.

Lots of the fun comes from Captain Christopher’s shock at his glimpse into the future, and the realisation of the crew that he has an important roll to play in history, so they must put him back at exactly the point in the timestream where they met him.

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But that’s not the only fix that’s required, as a picture taken by the Captain is now been recovered by the Airforce. So Kirk and Sulu are beamed into the photography recon section to get that film back. They’re captured and interrogated in scenes that clearly influenced Lenard Nimoy when he co-wrote and directed the fourth movie, The Voyage Home. The focus is on comedy here and the situation spirals further out of control when a guard answers a communicator hail and accidentally activates an emergency beam-out.

So to get resolution they must repeat a slingshot and as they then start moving forward through time, they must put everyone and thing back where it needs to go. Once they’ve completed all those adjustments, they move forward through time to get back to the 23rd Century.

What slightly let down the original version was the quality of effects, but the remastered version has replaced all of those and the Enterprise looks especially great manoeuvring through the clouds, chased by the jet.

As we approach the end of the first season, the number of ‘classic’ episodes increases and this is certainly one of them. What I most like about it is the way that almost until the end, despite the crew’s best efforts, the situation seems to get worse rather than better, and how they deal with the chaos they’ve caused.

Seeing it again for the first time in a while, it struck me that this might well have been in the mind of those who created The Final Countdown (1980), as it explores some common paradoxes of time displacement.

For Geeks there are tons of interesting aspects to this story, but the one I love most is that early in the story they intercept a radio transmission which says that the first moon launch will take place on the following Wednesday. This is a full two years before the real Apollo 11 launch, but they managed to guess the day of the week correctly.

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Next up, the command decisions made by Kirk come under the microscope with Court Martial.