- The Original Series (TOS)
- The Animated Series
- The Movies
- The Next Generation (TNG)
- Deep Space Nine (DS9)
- Voyager
- Enterprise

- Season One
- Season Two
- Season Three
- "Season Four"

"Season Four" Animated:
-"The Magicks of Megas-Tu"
-"The Time Trap"
-"How Sharper Than
A Serpent's Tooth"

-"The Counter-Clock Incident"
-"Season 4" Rankings

The Counter-Clock Incident

(Star Trek Animated episode #22 in broadcast order)
  • written by John Culver
  • directed by Bill Reed
  • production code #22023

"Season Four":
The Animated Series

22 episodes
@ 25 minutes each

The Counter-Clock Incident

Once again, the animated series does a time-related story by using a parallel universe with different laws of physics, VERY reminiscent of (and a huge improvement on) "The Time Trap", as well as reminding us once again of Doctor Who's E-Space Trilogy. This time, the parallel universe is no small pocket. As astronomical charts get compared, there's a whole galaxy in there equal to our own in size, and who knows how much further both regions of space extend....

As in "The Time Trap", the flow of time in the new universe is different to what we expect. Instead of going forward at a different rate, it here flows "backwards". Fascinating.

The episode is a stand-up example of true science fiction, as little time is spent looking for the usual conflicts between characters. Instead, most of the time is spent exploring ideas and concepts from reverse universes, reverse time mechanics, super nova astronomy, the culture of the planet Atar, and ideas of aging, retirement, and contribution. A rich tapestry. The visuals are a vast improvement over "The Time Trap" as well, chiefly with the segments on the planet Atar, although they also give us a lovely effect for the Nova. Even while on the old Enterprise bridge, we have two unmistakably unique characters in Commodore Robert April and his wife, plus interesting visuals from Mrs. April's orchid that serve as an indicator to the flow of time. Nice device. Somehow, even the bridge scenes in this adventure flow better and keep up a more interesting pace than in most other episodes.

Although one may well question the Atarian life cycle, particularly in comparison to the way similar ideas were further developed to a ludicrous extent on the show "Mork and Mindy", here it is simply a bizarre one-off concept in the Star Trek canon. "The Counter-Clock Incident" remains a clean story in terms of the time-travel mechanics that are usually messed up in Star Trek, largely because the story doesn't really involve time travel, just a different flow of time depending on "where" you are. Cool.

All in all, a very satisfying episode, and a good one for the animated series to bow out on. Enjoy!


Best Story:

  1. Yesteryear (Yes, it's flawed, but this one delivers the most unmissable gold!)
  2. The Infinite Vulcan (good imagination and visuals for alien planet & its culture, plot moves at a nice pace, regulars used well.)
  3. The Lorelei Signal (lots of tasteful vocal work by Nichols and Barrett, a good story with few true flaws)
  4. The Slaver Weapon (very polished in writing and execution; lots of sci-fi & cultural ideas with depth. A memorable favourite.)
  5. The Ambergris Element (This one boldly goes where live-action would never have been affordable. The guest characters are a bit wet - figuratively and literally - but the work towards an ending of high philosophical standard pulls everyone through.)
  6. Mudd's Passion (another fun guest voice, some good exploration of new regulars Arex and M'res, a decent story with imaginative settings and humour. Sadly, the action is fairly lame in this one.)
  7. The Counter-Clock Incident (interesting ideas, very well paced. Could have ranked higher by exploring more off-ship.)
  8. The Survivor (nice character story and mystery, some action confusing; character decisions not covered satisfactorily)
  9. BEM (has good situation and character, but wordy, preachy arguments often go in circles here. These should be shorter, with more incident / response from the primitives, maybe Sulu & M'res also. Nichols gives a good performance.)
  10. How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (falls on the preachy side, but decent overall, and with some fascinating design work.)
  11. The Terratin Incident (Arex sees some action, good story concept, lots of decent science, but not the easiest narrative to follow. Remains rewarding.)
  12. The Magicks of Megas-Tu (many very potent philosophical ideas help lift this one above its many cheesy situations. Astronomical ideas were once good, now outdated by scientific advances, Star Trek 5's backstory, and Star Trek Voyager main situation.)
  13. One of Our Planets is Missing (very well made, reminiscent of Fantastic Voyage, but very much Enterprise-bound, and NOT design-rich visually or vocally.)
  14. Albatross (decent idea, nice alien design, but the plot feels clumsy in the aftermath, and the "geography" confusing)
  15. Once Upon a Planet (The main idea of a sequel to "Shore Leave" seems stale, but the characters are used well, and there is much imagination on display in plot and visuals. Kirk's dealings with mad computers also evolve to a new height. Glad I saw this one.)
  16. Eye of the Beholder (good aliens & main concept, but many scenes are too visually static for an animated format. We don't get that much for cartoon characters to actually do in the latter half.)
  17. Practical Joker (famous for first "holodeck" rec room, not otherwise very design-rich or imaginative. Well-written plot, but animation can't keep up with voiced emotions.)
  18. More Tribbles, More Troubles (good, but quite derivative of the original, and sticks to Enterprise sets. Much talk of new Klingon stasis weapon, which has greater application than the episode gives it credit.)
  19. Beyond the Farthest Star (very gripping opening, ending veers towards cheesy/depressing. "Negative Mass" is a misleading phrase that should have been corrected - why not "high mass"? Otherwise top marks for the fascinating backstory!)
  20. The Jihad (good collection of aliens & backstory, but most of the set-piece challenges seem arbitrary and off-topic. Afterwards, the final turns can only feel shallow.)
  21. The Time Trap (each situation has a predictable outcome, dialogue NEEDS visuals to be better to make sense, and creativity seems to run dry on the production. Not a bad story, mind you, and it ends well, but most other eps are better.)
  22. The Pirates of Orion (Canned medical desperation drags out a regurgitation of what we know about the Orion civilization, instead of exploring it and a deeper piracy mystery properly. Proposals for resolution get sillier and less exciting as the ending approaches. Easily the dullest of all these animated Trek episodes.)

Best Writing:

  1. D.C. Fontana: Yesteryear
  2. Larry Niven: The Slaver Weapon
  3. Walter Koenig: The Infinite Vulcan
  4. John Culver: The Counter-Clock Incident
  5. Margaret Armen: The Ambergris Element
  6. Stephen Kandel: Mudd's Passion
  7. David Gerrold: BEM
  8. Marc Daniels: One of Our Planets is Missing
  9. Margaret Armen: The Lorelei Signal
  10. Paul Schneider: The Terratin Incident
  11. James Schmerer: The Survivor
  12. Russell Bates & David Wise: How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth
  13. Chuck Menville and Len Janson: Once Upon a Planet
  14. Larry Brody: The Magicks of Megas-Tu
  15. Chuck Menville: Practical Joker
  16. David Gerrold: More Tribbles, More Troubles
  17. Dario Finelli: Albatross
  18. Samuel A. Peeples: Beyond the Farthest Star
  19. David P. Harmon: Eye of the Beholder
  20. Stephen Kandel: The Jihad
  21. Joyce Perry: The Time Trap
  22. Howard Weinstein: The Pirates of Orion

"The Counter-Clock Incident" and all these "Season Four" / Animated Series episodes are available on standard DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek The Animated Series Standard DVD Box Set:

Get your copy of this 4-disc DVD set
from the links below:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.

Watch the legend stay alive and continue to innovate during the 1970's in this slightly different TV format. Set contains all 22 episodes from the two seasons of the animated series of Star Trek in their original wacky U.S. national broadcast order.

DVD Extras include:

  • "Drawn to the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek The Animated Series"
    featurette including interviews with producer Lou Scheimer, director Hal Sutherland, writers D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Larry Brody, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Mike Sussman, and others (24 min.)
  • Audio Commentary by writer David Gerrold on his episodes "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "Bem".
  • Audio Commentary by co-writer David Wise on his episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth".
  • Text Commentaries by Michael and Denise Okuda on "Yesteryear", "The Eye of the Beholder" and "The Counter-Clock Incident"
  • "What's the Star Trek Connection?" featurette(s) (6 min. total)
  • Show history text pages
  • Menu-based Storyboard Gallery for writer Walter Koenig's "The Infinite Vulcan".
  • DVD previews for Star Trek & other shows

Article written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: Star Trek 1: The Motion Picture

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