Commentary: Trek Stars 54: The Citizen Kane of Star Trek / by Trek fm

Ellison, Part 1: Trek.

This week, Max and Mike begin a new series on writer Harlan Ellison, looking at his work on The Outer Limits.

Ellison's “The City On the Edge of Forever” is considered by many to be Star Trek's finest hour. The story of Kirk finally falling in love, only to have that love snatched away by the Universe is both epic in scale and personal in emotion. It is thought of by most to be a masterpiece. But not by Ellison.

The episode's road to the screen was undoubtedly the most troubled of any Trek episode. Ellison's original screenplay was thought to be unfilmable and uncharacteristic of Trek. As such, it was heavily rewritten by Gene Roddenberry and others, until it became something that Ellison despised. Three decades later, Ellison published his original screenplay along with an essay telling his side of the story. The book is almost as epic as the episode itself.

For the first part in our series on Ellison, we are joined by Drew Stewart of Standard Orbit and John Mills of Words with Nerds to look at both the finished episode and the original screenplay. We discuss whether or not it is the best episode of Trek, how the aired version differs from the first draft, whether or not the changes are for the better, and what Ellison's essay says about the creative process.