Star Trek: The Original Series (1969) – The Savage Curtain and All Our Yesterdays

Captain’s log: stardate 5906.4

The Savage Curtain. It doesn’t get much simpler in terms of themes or ideas than this, the antepenultimate episode of the Original Series. Written by series creator Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann, it aired on 7 March, 1969.

I always liked this one because it’s so simple, and has Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) join forces with the images of Abraham Lincoln (Lee Bergere) and Surak (Barry Atwater) to fight some of the most evil names in the galaxy in a contest to see which is stronger, good, or evil.

Kirk and Spock are beamed down to the surface from the transporter of the Enterprise. There a rock like being named Yarnek speaks to them and lays out what is to happen. Without phasers, or communicators, the four forces for good must confront Genghis Khan (Nathan Jung), Kahless (Bob Herron), Zora (Carol Daniels) and Colonel Green (Phillip Pine).

Kirk realises even from the beginning that the image of Lincoln can’t really be him, but just as Surak appears to be the real deal, so does the former president, though it is hinted that they are beings just like Yarnek presenting a human form to help in the experiment.

While all this is going on, the Enterprise seems to be having problems of its own. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Scotty (James Doohan), Sulu (George Takei), Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) and Chekov (Walter Koenig) try to keep the ship safe, and secure, though it is plagued by issues while their compatriots fight for their lives on the surface below.

Kirk and Spock’s tribulations are broadcast so that the Enterprise can watch even as the starship attempts to recover some of its lost power, and stop it from blowing up.

The story ties up quickly and nicely. Kirk and Spock rejoin the ship and head on their way, maybe learning a bit about a long the way.

It’s goofy, silly, and yet, in all honesty, I really like this one. There is a downside to the episode, as we come to the close of the Original Series, roles come to an end. That is the case for Uhura in this episode, it’s her final appearance in the series.

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Captain’s log: stardate 5943.7

All Our Yesterdays, what an episode! And of course, it inspired a sequel in the form of two novels by A.C. Crispin. This episode was penned by Jean Lisette Aroeste and aired 14 March, 1969.

The Enterprise arrives as Beta Niobe, a planet whose star is three hours away from going supernova. The entire population seems to have vanished, and Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to have a look.

On the surface, they arrive in a library and encounter Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe) who shows them that the entire planet has been sent back in time, living out their lives in the past, in stead of perishing in a supernova.

Atoz sends both parties back in time, Kirk on his own, and Spock and McCoy together.

The doctor and science officer end up in an ice age, so far distant that Spock begins to revert to the level of Vulcans at the time, meat-eaters, emotional, and he falls in love with the lovely Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley).

Kirk trapped in a d period, and accused of witchcraft learns how to get back, but will he be able to do it in time to save McCoy and Spock, and escape Beta Niobe before the sun goes nova?

This is a fine episode, smart, well-written and enduring, it’s also the last episode of the original series to feature time travel, and does not feature Sulu, Chekov or Uhura, though Scott’s voice is hear a couple of times.

It does however, highlight some great moments between McCoy and Spock. They were long overdue for another episode together, and it’s such a joy to watch Nimoy and Kelley act together.

Next week, it’s the final episode of the Original Series, but the Human Adventure continues with the Animated Series.

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