Director: Michael O’Herlihy
Writer: D.C. Fontana
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Roger Perry, DeForest Kelley, Hal Lynch, Richard Merrifield, John Winston, Ed Peck, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Mark Dempsey, Jim Spencer, Sherri Townsend
Composer: Alexander Courage
Air Date: 1/26/1967
Production #: 6149-21
When a slingshot effect hurls the Enterprise into a time warp, a 1960s Air Force captain named John Christopher (Roger Perry) mistakes the Starfleet vessel for a UFO. Though Captain Christopher is beamed aboard the Enterprise before he can report his findings, a photograph collection found among the wreckage of his F-104 Starfighter could alter history for the worse.
In spite of its dubious scientific aspects, “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” offers a fun-filled narrative that makes excellent use of its “present day” setting. Fans of time travel stories will enjoy D.C. Fontana’s clever take on the fish-out-of-water trope, while Captain Kirk admirers should appreciate William Shatner’s exchanges with Roger Perry because of the similarities between their characters.
By placing the Enterprise in the vicinity of an Air Force base, Fontana successfully compared and contrasted the differences between 20th century military officers and Roddenberry’s conception of futuristic humans. On one hand, Captains Kirk and Christopher form an instant bond due to their shared sense of duty. However, the honorable traits exhibited by both men also place them at odds during various occasions. Whereas Kirk and Spock take extraordinary measures to preserve Earth’s history as they know it, Christopher repeatedly attempts to escape from the Enterprise and relay his discoveries to his commanding officers, with little regard for the devastating effects that such actions could have on humanity’s future. Not only do these clashing loyalties result in a great deal of narrative conflict, but Fontana’s lighthearted approach to an otherwise perilous situation preserves the characteristic humor of this series throughout Kirk’s tense ordeal.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Spock’s decision to beam Christopher and the base guard into their past bodies, though necessary to resolve certain plot dilemmas, makes little sense from a logical standpoint. Even if such a procedure could be performed without scrambling the target’s atomic structure, there’s no reason for Spock to assume this course of action would erase the memories of both individuals given what little he knows about the effects of time travel on human perspectives.
While “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” lacks the resonating cultural insight of the similarly themed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, many humorous moments allow the audience to reflect on the ways in which the Star Trek characters differ from modern-day humans. Unlike the military base personnel whose motivations are fueled primarily by Cold War paranoia, the Enterprise crewmembers strive for a world where mankind can set aside their quarrels with one another and work toward a peaceful, enlightened existence for all. Regardless of whether viewers subscribe to Roddenberry’s humanistic vision, this episode should be commended for embodying the spirit behind the Star Trek franchise.
“Tomorrow Is Yesterday” contains an exciting story that will appeal to time travel enthusiasts and fans of spacefaring science fiction alike. Despite a somewhat lazy conclusion, Fontana’s effective combination of witty character interactions and intelligent dialogue results in another classic Star Trek offering.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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