Friday, July 01, 2011

All Our Yesterdays

Note: this post is one of a series of STAR TREK episode reviews originally written for the newsgroup. For more information, please read this post.

Episode 79 of 80
March 14, 1969
Writer: Jean Lisette Aroeste
Director: Marvin Chomsky

One of STAR TREK’s best love stories, “All Our Yesterdays” strands Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the past of the planet Sarpeidon. Kirk ends up in a time period resembling 17th century England, while Spock and McCoy plunge into Sarpeidon’s Ice Age. They meet a beautiful exile, Zarabeth (Mariette Hartley), with whom Spock falls in love.

I wish Kirk's story had been more fleshed out and given more suspense, but this episode really belongs to Nimoy. Chomsky does generate plenty of suspense near the end as time ticks away waiting for Spock and McCoy to return before the Sarpeidon of the 23rd century goes kablooie in a supernova.

Hartley gained great fame in the late 1970s for a series of amusing Polaroid commercials she did with James Garner (THE ROCKFORD FILES). The two stars had such good chemistry that many viewers believed they were married in real life. Those commercials likely did more for her career than the dozens of parts she had played in TV and movies prior to that. Hartley had a rough life; according to her autobiography and other interviews, she suffered from abuse, alcoholism, and low self-esteem. When she was interviewed during “All Our Yesterday”’s initial airing on the Sci-Fi Channel, she seemed quite self-effacing about her physical appearance in the show, even though (like Maureen O'Sullivan many years before) she’s extremely sexy in her "Jane"-type leather bikini. She wore a similar costume in Gene Roddenberry's GENESIS II TV pilot, in which she had two (!) navels, a few years later. Hartley seems to be a wonderful person, has a great sense of humor, and has continued to work often. She's also one of the few actresses (Lindsay Wagner and Gillian Anderson may be the only others) to win an Emmy for her role in a science fiction series; she was awarded for her role as Bill Bixby's wife in a two-part guest shot on THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

Ian Wolfe, who plays the cranky librarian who sends the Enterprise crew into the past, was very funny as the smartass butler of Mrs. Carlson in a semi-regular gig on WKRP IN CINCINNATI.

Jean Lisette Aroeste wrote only two television scripts—both for STAR TREK. Before “All Our Yesterdays,” which was originally titled “A Handful of Dust,” she penned “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” Just 36 years old at the time her second TREK aired, Aroeste was a librarian at Harvard, UCLA, and Princeton.

George Duning is credited with the episode’s score, which appears to be stock cues composed separately by Duning and Fred Steiner.


le0pard13 said...

Fine write-up of this classic ST:TOS episode. And yes, Hartley was extraordinary in this and THE INCREDIBLE HULK two-parter (and those commercials with Garner -- I'm old enough to remember them when they first came out). If you're a fan of both series, check out my friend Sci-Fi Fanatic's blog. He writes regularly on these series. Thanks, Marty

Hank Brown said...

I love classic Trek. I thought this episode was interesting in that it revealed the Vulcans had trained themselves, over millennia, to suppress their emotions. Before seeing this one, I was under the impression they simply didn't have any and Spock slipped up occasionally only because he was half human.

Dan_Luft said...

Very nice write-up and I dig the mention of Ian Wolfe. Loved him on WKRP. He had a long career that stretched back to the days of screwball comedies. Even bak then he played old guys (maybe due to being bald and thin) which made me wonder how freaking old he lived to be. THe last thing I remember him in was an early episode of Cheers.

ericpaddon said...

The reason this episode works so well is because of Mariette Hartley. She is indeed incredibly sexy, IMO the hands-down #1 sexiest woman in Trek history and the reason is because she brings so much more depth to her character in ways that other Trek females in similar costuming never come close to. Unlike many of the women Kirk romanced, Hartley's Zarabeth is a woman of clear intellect and substance. She has in many respects the aura of a fairy-tale princess who's been sent into her lonely exile, and as a result when she doesn't get a happily-ever-after ending it makes the sense of heartbreak genuine, and IMO much more poignant than Kirk's loss of Edith in "City On The Edge Of Forever." The "devolving" explanation to account for Spock falling for her works in this context to sell the romance, but I suspect Spock would have likely found Zarabeth attractive on an intellectual level in his own time.

Mariette Hartley would indeed get to show her incredibly underrated beauty again in "Genesis II" but check her out also in the "Columbo" episode "Try And Catch Me" where she unexpectedly has a scene in a belly-dancing costume.

Robert said...

"All Our Yesterdays" was quite moving thanks to the Spock/Zarabeth love story & the wonderful chemistry between Leonard Nimoy & Mariette Hartley. She is doubtlessly the envy of women everywhere since she's, to this day, the only one who's found her way into the hearts of both Spock & the Hulk.

kochillt said...

Mariette Hartley was indeed stunning at 37 in skimpy 2 piece belly dancer attire on COLUMBO, where another ravishing redhead, Barbara Rhoades, revealed a bikini tan in the 1975 episode "Identity Crisis." On those occasions, producers Richard Levinson and William Link might have revealed themselves to be, like Gene Roddenberry, lady killers of the 1970s. As beautiful as the females in "The Cloud Minders" were, Zarabeth topped them all and showed less. If I had any complaint about the story, it's that the 50 minute time constraint forced McCoy to figure things out a bit too rapidly. Mariette Hartley sported two navels in GENESIS II because she was denied one here, and became the love interest for Robert Quarry's titular vampire in 1971's THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA.