Written By DC Fontana, Directed by Hal Sutherland
Transmitted September 15, 1973
After three years on TV, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was canceled. This cut the ‘five year mission’ stated in the opening sequence incomplete. Fans got a special treat when a Filmation series aired. Thanks to Norm Prescott and Lou Scheimer, Star Trek got a new lease on life in adventures starring the original series cast set after the third season. In a way, the animated series rounded off the five year mission with two additional seasons of Saturday morning cartoons.
Some Trek fans dismiss the animated version of the program, but as it involved the voices of the original cast (with one exception), and several key writers from the program the cartoon is very much in a similar tone to the original series. With a much shorter run time, the scripts are pretty tight and as a viewer you must pay close attention or you’ll miss it.
Yesteryear is a sophisticated story involving the Guardian from ‘City on the Edge of Forever.’ The Enterprise crew is performing an experiment with the Guardian, taking a journey into the past which greatly changes the timelines. When Kirk and Spock emerge from the Guardian’s portal, the crew are confused by the inclusion of a Vulcan in a Star Fleet uniform. No one remembers Spock since in this reality, he died as a child. In order to set the timelines right, Spock must travel back and insert himself into his own history, playing an important role as a mysterious cousin.
Mark Lenard reprises his role as Spock’s father, Sarek and greets the older Spock into his household as a cousin named Selek. As a youth, Spock is shown as a bullied child desperate to impress his father. In a crucial coming of age ritual, young Spock wanders into the wilderness without any assistance as rite if passage. He is followed by his pet sehlat I Chaya(kind of a cross between a dog and a bear), who saves his life from a deadly lizard. During the combat, I Chaya is wounded from poison a poisoned claw and starts to die.
Young Spock goes through a very sad lesson when a doctor arrives and informs him that I Chaya is in pain. The wound can be treated but the shlat will still be in pain. Reluctantly, Spock agrees to let his pet die, realizing that to do otherwise would be selfish. Yes… euthanasia in a child’s cartoon.
Yesteryear is a beloved story that has some very heavy tones and heartfelt emotion along with references to past TV episodes.I know I have propped the importance of the Star Trek animated series, but I admit that it is not for everyone. However, if you are a fan and want more Trek, this is a great addition to your journey deeper into the human adventure.