It’s time for Star Trek Saturdays #21!!!
This week’s episode is “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” and it’s a wonderful time-travel episode that embodies the best of 1960s contemporary drama.
Our story opens at an Air Force base in Omaha, Nebraska in 1969. An airman detects something on radar that his commanding officer believes is an enemy aircraft right over the base; the strangest part is how the signal just appeared out of nowhere. The C.O. orders someone to go up there and take a look and we see an F-104 fighter jet take off. We then cut to the Enterprise flying through the sky.
After the opening, we hear Kirk, in his Captain’s Log, explain what happened:
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 3113.2, subjective time: We were en route to Starbase 9 for resupply when a black star of high gravitational attraction began to drag us toward it. It required all warp power in reverse to pull us away from the star but like snapping a rubber band, the breakaway sent us plunging through space, out of control to stop here, wherever we are.”
The ship is hurt bad, running solely on impulse power. Scotty reports that warp engines are offline and that he is holding the ship in orbit over Earth. Kirk asks Uhura to contact Starfleet Control to tell them how close the black star is to Starbase 9.
She replies that there is nothing on all standard Starfleet channels but she is getting something on another frequency…which turns out to be a radio broadcast talking about the first manned moon shot being scheduled to take place on Wednesday. Kirk recalls that that happened in the late 1960s and Spock realizes where and when they are, having been thrown back in time from the force of their escape from the black star.
Uhura then picks up an air-to-ground transmission which is the aircraft persueing them–named Bluejay 4 and piloted by Cap. John Christopher (Roger Perry)–telling the base that he is zeroing in on the UFO that is the Enterprise. He pursues them up into the clouds. Overhearing the order by the base to either shoot the UFO or disable it, Spock theorizes that the ship could be armed with nuclear warheads, which would be disastrous to the ship in its current condition.
Kirk orders Scotty to lock onto the aircraft with a tractor beam and, when that starts breaking about, tells the transporter room to beam Christopher aboard. He greets him personally, revealing his name but nothing else, stating that all will be revealed in time. But what does Christopher find out about himself, and how will the Enterprise get back home?
The surprising thing about this episode is that it feels so much like a regular drama of the time, while still feeling like Trek. It’s a remarkable act of imitation and everyone pulls it off well. Perry, a veteran TV actor, feels and looks like the typical hero, but he also brings an interesting perspective. From the beginning, everyone we’ve met within the world of the show is innately familiar with Starfleet and, by reputation or otherwise, the Enterprise. But Christopher isn’t, and watching a man who embodies the best America had in the 1960s (the hippie-free 1960s imagined by most TV of the time) grapple with all these astonishing things is rather interesting and compelling to see.
The regular cast gets on this wavelength too. Shatner brings Kirk wonderfully into this scenario, Nimoy gets some wonderful comedy for Spock out of a problem with Kirk’s computer and Kelley has some nice little bits for McCoy. They bring D.C Fontana’s tense, clever script to life and, combined with some terrific, crisp direction by Michael O’Harlihy, they make this an episode worth watching. Recommended.
Thanks to Memory Alpha, the official Star Trek wiki for the pics and episode information, as well as Amazon Instant for hosting the show. We’ll see you next Saturday and until then, live long and prosper.