Star Trek: The Original Series (1967) – Tomorrow is Yesterday and Court Martial

Captain’s log: stardate 3113.2

Tomorrow is Yesterday is the series first full-on time travel story, penned by D.C. Fontana this great, and often funny, episode had an original airdate of 26 January, 1967.

After a slingshot around a star throws the Enterprise back in time (this sounds important and may be used again in future) Kirk (William Shatner) and company find themselves orbiting Earth, circa late 1960s.

And thus, began my life long fascination with UFOs (the Enterprise is mistaken for one) and time travel. Thanks Star Trek.

After a military jet shoots the Enterprise with its cameras, the pilot, Major Christopher (Roger Perry) is brought on board, and has a very difficult time adapting to the starship, and the alien life, including Spock (Leonard Nimoy) that serves aboard her.

Kirk and Sulu (George Takei) infiltrate the base to recover the film, while Perry resigns himself to life aboard the future. That is, until it’s discovered that he needs to be returned to his own time.

They have to maintain the timeline, and they have to find a way for Perry to forget everything he’s seen and experienced. There isn’t a lot of discussion of paradoxes, but Spock is confident that the past (the original viewer’s present) be undisturbed.

Happily the slingshot effect isn’t used to death throughout the series, or the movies, or subsequent series because it sure could have been. You have to wonder if that’s because Starfleet kept the revelation on how to time travel hidden from the rest of the Federation, or when Federation Temporal laws were put into effect (oh man, I just read that sentence, and even I thought, ‘NERD!’).

A lot of the comedic gold in this episode comes from the performance of Hal Lynch as an Air Police Sergeant. He has some hilarious moments, most of which occur when he’s beamed up to the transporter room. More of it comes from the computer’s reprogrammed behaviour which will require a three week overhaul. And some of the best comes from Kirk’s interrogation.

The downside to the episode is that McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is criminally underused, though he does share some nice moments with Spock; this episode seems tailor made for the trio of Kirk-Spock-McCoy.

As a side note we learn that there are only 12 ships like the Enterprise at the time of this episode.

I love the idea of time travellers, seeing how those from the future deal with issues in the present are always an enjoyable fish out of water variation. And UFOs, well, that idea always fired my imagination as a child.

The series and the stories, at this point, are really starting to gel, and not only entertain, but on a number of occasions elicit healthy discussion.

This is an episode that I don’t always recall but whenever it comes around, it’s like, ‘oh yeah! I love this one!!’

Such a good episode.

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Captain’s log: stardate 2947.3

Captain Kirk is in trouble in this episode, Court Martial, written by Don Mankiewicz and Stephen W. Carabatsos. Airing on 2 February, 1967, the episode puts Kirk on trial for the negligent death of a crewman.

Arriving on Starbase 11, Kirk submits his deposition regarding the death of a crewman, Finney (Richard Webb), but the evidence that Spock supplies the base commander seems to suggest Kirk may have committed murder, something Finney’s daughter, Jame (Alice Rawlings) believes as well.

As an inquiry draws near, Kirk finds himself represented by Samuel Cogley (Elisha Cook Jr.), a lawyer with a preference for real books, and is being prosecuted by a former lover, Areel Shaw (Joan Marshall), the local JAG officer.

Spock and the crew refuse to believe that Kirk would intentionally murder anyone, so as the court martial progresses, the Vulcan conducts his own investigation. He learns that there is something wrong with the computer, and its programming. Hmmm.

I love a good court room drama, and even knowing that Kirk is innocent, there are some tense moments in the episode as the story plays out. I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason this story came up was in response to Spock being in trial in The Menagerie.

Trial stories if done right, are a lot of fun, and it gives all of our main characters a chance to show off their dress uniforms. Kirk, Spock and Bones all look very sharp, and we get a look at the female version of same when Shaw makes her case.

I do like the scenes featuring Spock and McCoy, these two characters have developed so much from the beginning of the season that they begin to outshine Kirk, and they have firmly formed the triumvirate that will define the series through the decades.

Cogley makes impassioned arguments, but its not until the scene relocates to the Enterprise as Spock proves his theory, and shows what is really going on.

When I was a child, it should be no surprise that this one didn’t always hold my attention. Kirk is a passive character in this episode, and there’s no real action beats, but for the fight scene in the final act. It ends up being a mystery and court room drama. The investigation, and how the guilty party is unmasked is pretty fun.

Uhura gets to show that she’s had some extensive bridge training by taking over the navigation station. It also looks like this episode may be the first time we see Kirk’s interest in antiques with Cogley’s parting gift.

The only bad part of these episodes is that you can tell the stunt men aren’t the characters they are betraying in the fight sequences, but it’s not enough to throw one out of the episode, I just smile, shake my head (and oh look! Kirk’s shirt is ripped AGAIN) and enjoy.

The Human Adventure continues…

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