No doubt many of you went out this past weekend to see Star Trek Into Darkness, the latest Trek movie to hit the big screen. I thought the release of this new film was a golden opportunity to reflect on my favorite episode of the original Star Trek series, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” which happens to have a wonderful connection to Mayberry.
In this classic episode, a drugged and paranoid Dr. McCoy goes back in time to 1930 New York City. While there, he does something that alters the past and radically changes the future.
To set things right, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock must follow after him and stop McCoy before he does whatever it is that changed history. I won’t give away any spoilers except to say the ending is one of the most powerful of the original series and it still manages to get me everytime I see it.
As a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, I love this episode because a few of the exterior sets of Mayberry stand in for the Big Apple. Kirk and Spock find McCoy in a mission that is run by a woman named Edith Keeler, who was played by guest star Joan Collins. Keeler’s mission was none other than the Mayberry Theater. The best scene of all though comes when Kirk and Keeler are walking down Mayberry’s main street. The two even pass by Floyd’s Barber Shop and Emmett’s Fix-It Shop as the good captain tells this Good Samaritan about the future.
If you know the history of both shows, and you know where they were filmed, then you know how Mayberry got a cameo in this (and several other) Star Trek episodes. Both shows were produced at 40 Acres, the nickname given to the Desilu lot. Desilu was the production company that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez founded in 1951to produce I Love Lucy and then a slate of later shows (The Andy Griffith Show used their facilities for shooting and Star Trek was an actual Desilu production).
On the surface, you would think the Mayberry Universe and the Universe of the Federation were light years apart with very little in common. I maintain that both were on the same page where it mattered most: the script page. Both strived for great storytelling and tales that were meant to enlighten and teach. Plus, both shows are recognized television classics that endure to this day.