Star Trek | The City on the Edge of Forever with David Wright

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A New Mission Embarks as David Wright Talks about Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” with Rob Cesternino

To get ready for the premiere of Star Trek Discovery later this month, Rob Cesternino has begun to talk to some Star Trek fans about their favorite all-time Star Trek episodes.

“The City on the Edge of Forever” with David Wright

Rob is joined by TV writer & Survivor player, David Wright, to discuss his favorite episode from The Original Series, “The City on the Edge of Forever”.  Rob and David discuss how David got into Star Trek, what their thoughts are about Discovery and recap all of the “The City on the Edge of Forever”.


  • TrentC

    Boy, talk about my wheelhouse. When I was younger I bought a great book called The Making of Star Trek, which contained all sorts of show tidbits from key people like Bill Theiss, costume designer.

    Things like problems with network censors (you can’t show a naval, but some side boob is ok), problems with the uniforms (zippers on boots, pants and shirts being put together from scratch), buying outdoor chairs from yard sales for the briefing room, wiring the bridge with model train lights and of course some of the issues with show content that were deemed too controversial for the time.

    The writers also included some pretty progressive tech ideas. Automatic ‘supermarket doors’, sickbay monitors, personal PC terminals complete with ‘diskettes’ (close to 3.5” coincidentally)…and communicators that would have made Steve Jobs proud. I wonder what version OS was on them?

    • DT73

      Even better is the “These Are the Voyages” series. Episode by episode breakdown for each season.

      • TrentC

        Thanks for the tip. Are you referring to a podcast, TV series or written column? I saw the TV series of that name with Commander Riker hosting and found it a little strange lol!

        I think Rob’s format for the next podcasts is going to be interesting. Doing a deep dive of any episode, from any Star Trek series. I wasn’t a big fan of Deep Space Nine so my knowledge is pretty limited there.

        • DT73
          • TrentC

            Thanks, appreciate it. The book I was referring to features a lot of behind the scenes stuff about episodes, casting and the general problems of creating a television show in the late 60’s. There’s photos and I always remember one in particular. They were outdoors filming in a canyon and Kirk is laying down looking over his shoulder with a disgusted look. Nimoy is next to him laughing quite hard because Shatner had rolled in some animal droppings.

            There’s a few books with similar names. Author’s name is Whitfield I believe and if you can find it for cheap I would recommend buying.

          • DT73

            Yes, I will check into it. I feel it may duplicate the content of the books I was mentioning. Altogether, the three books are equal to 900 pages. So, having read this book, what is your understanding of why the show was “canceled?”

          • TrentC

            I think I read it in my mid-20’s so the sands of time are a little foggy. People have claimed that the original show had no budget, but time has proven their budget was inline with other popular shows of the time. The book speaks about constant cost constraints, the prop and costume departments always being under the gun for trying to display certain ideas the writers had ‘on the cheap.’

            My take (and I could be way off) is that the show ran three seasons and was canceled due to either budget problems or lack of ratings. I’d have to find the book and reread it to be sure. You’ve probably already read about how hard it was to pitch a space opera and some of the ideas the shows contained. People forget how big things like the Uhura/Kirk kiss were, and the heady subject matter of episodes like Let That Be Your Last Battlefield featuring Frank Gorshin as the guy with the half white and half black face. I do recall production was always battling with the network over certain ideas and costuming issues. Coupled with the fact they were going up against shows like Bonanza who already had an established, safe audience.

          • DT73

            Trent: Thanks for replying and carrying on this conversation. The book series I mentioned covers all of what you mentioned. It has the budget for each episode, it has a script diary from every episode. Each episode cost about one million in todays dollars to make. They were constantly over budget. Since I was alive when all this went down I can tell you the network tried to convince the public the ratings were poor. The ratings were fine. I think, from reading the book series, the show was just a pain in the ass for network. Roddenberry was a pain in the ass for the network. Funny memory: I remember, as the show was going off the air for the last time, seeing an ad in TV Guide wherein they were selling some of the props off to the public. I wish i would have bought that hand phaser for 2.50.

          • TrentC

            Always a pleasure to talk to fellow fans. My brother bought a large hardcover book and the exact name escapes me. It’s about the Starfleet Academy and features intricate line drawing diagrams for things like the various phasers and communicators, the universal translator and blueprints for ships. It treats the reader like everything in the Star Trek universe is real, even showing a campus map of ‘the academy’ in San Fransisco.

            The background casting issues are at the forefront of my memory. Casting a Russian character that looked like one of The Monkees to attract a certain fan demographic, casting an Asian character based on an old war accord, showing women in positions of importance in Star Fleet. For the late 60’s, the writing was light years ahead (excuse the expression) of other TV of the time, while being wrapped up in the sci-fi exterior of an adventure show.

            I recall the same issues you’ve read about. It seems the producers went up against a wall every step of the way when they were creating the series. I’m a few years younger than you, but have a hazy memory of when the show went into syndication (seemed to happen fast after the initial run), and crying to my parents to stay up until 8 pm to watch Star Trek. It became a family thing.

            It’s funny to look at some of the current budgets of TV shows, along with how much they pay now to certain cast members per episode, and the Star Trek budget concerns seem like pocket change in comparison.

            Too bad you didn’t pick up that actual prop from the show. I bet there’s a few fans who would like to get their hands on it now.

          • DT73

            Not only is it funny to look back at how shows were made in the Sixties, but they actually had a real “season” They did 29 episodes the first season. Compare that to how “seasons” are done now. Its a joke as there is no comparison

          • TrentC

            I was just having that conversation with a friend the other day…having to wait possibly two years for the final six episodes of Game of Thrones.

            No matter how good the content, making 10 eps versus 29, 26 or 22 per season seems lazy by comparison. Not only the reduced number of episodes, the breaks they seem to take in between seasons gets longer too.

            I miss the old school series starting in September, no huge mid season break, and going until May.

            And they wonder why people pirate and binge watch TV. It’s because I may not have until 2019 or 2020 to watch six hours of bloody television lol!

  • TrentC

    Apologies David, I haven’t listened to the podcast yet and I buried the lead. Loved watching you on Survivor and always enjoy hearing from you in podcasts.

  • I get what you’re saying about the original Harlan Ellison ending BUT I do think the rewrite was better for Kirk’s character in the long run in that it really reinforces his sense of duty. I think either ending was compelling and there are certainly good arguments for both.

    • Hornacek

      Exactly. The reason history is changed is because McCoy goes back in time and saves Edith. He has to be the one that tries to save her at the end of the episode, otherwise McCoy’s part in the story makes no sense. Spock stopping Kirk from saving her ignores the whole point of them going back in time to stop McCoy from doing just that.

  • Beefcake

    What the hell is this?!?!

  • Kolohe

    This is great stuff.

    Presenting Edith Keeler with a choice makes it a significantly different story. A story that can be done a few ways, a story that’s probably *been* done in a few ways. (Nu Who’s Turn Left comes to mind)

  • DT73

    I have not finished listening to the entire podcast but felt compelled to comment already. I am an older (62) Hard core Star Trek fan. I was 11 years old when TOS premiered. I used to watch it on a B and W TV. Friday Night TV viewing: The Wild Wild West, Man From Uncle and Star Trek. When Star Trek began its first NBC season the show it was competing against and frequently lost in the ratings to: Gomer Pyle USMC, The Beverly Hillbillies and Bewitched. Please consult me if you need a perspective from someone who was alive when TOS was originally broadcast. As far as this particular episode: Yes, City on The Edge of Forever is well regarded as the finest of TOS. But there are other good ones. One of my favorites is ‘Shore Leave’. Another well regarded episode. If you read the books “These Are The Voyages” you will be amazed at how TV was produced back then and how hard they worked on this show. The schedule really ruined a lot of the stars personal lives as well.

  • bengal scott

    the room was 2.00 a week not 2.00 a day

    • Hornacek

      Yeah, really. $2/day – Kirk and Spock weren’t millionaires!

  • TheTimelessOne

    Thanks rob for doing recap for all my fav shows Star Trek, Lost and Game of Thrones! 😀

  • Charles Bikle

    Great job guys, if you’re up for suggestions, howsabout “Assignment: Earth”, which was actually intended to introduce Gary Seven & spin him off in his own series.