Star Trek – The Cage

★★★★★ October 4, 1988 PILOT

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This episode was written by Gene Roddenberry

*** Before I start this review I want to tell everyone that I try not to give the ending away in any of these although they are over 50 years old…some people have not seen them. If you disagree with my stars (5 being excellent, 4 being very good, 3 being a good average show, 2 means below average, and 1 means downright bad)…please say something…change my mind. I usually get my summary from IMDB and add or subtract from them…there is no sense in reinventing the wheel***

I’m presenting Star Trek in order of air dates except for this one. It was only screened to NBC executives in 1965 and they are the last people to see it until October 4, 1988, when it was finally broadcast on television almost 20 years after Star Trek went off the air. 

I love this pilot episode of Star Trek. A different cast almost completely except for Spock. He looks and acts a little different (see the smile) but still is Spock. One more cast member was recast. Actress Majel Barrett who played Number One was recast as Nurse Chapel in the TV series. She would go on to marry the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry. They would reuse much of the footage of the pilot for an excellent two-part episode called The Menagerie later on in season one. 

Jeffrey Hunter was really good as Captain Pike but he didn’t want to commit to the series because he wanted to concentrate on movies. William Shatner has said in his book that the producers canned Hunter after his wife repeatedly stormed onto the set insisting on more flattering camera angles for her husband. 

The original Star Trek pilot was rejected by NBC for being “too cerebral”, “too intellectual”, “too slow”, and with “not enough action”, so they commissioned a new pilot, which later became Where No Man Has Gone Before, starring a completely different captain… the one and only Captain James T. Kirk played by William Shatner. 

What we learn from Captain Pike in this one is that he is questioning his life of being Captain of the Enterprise. He is tired of making life-and-death decisions for all of his crew. Of course, when he loses himself because of the  Talosians, he snaps back and realizes that a quiet life is not for him. The real star to me was Susan Oliver as Vina. She was obviously beautiful and she did a great job acting in this part. You felt so bad for her when you see her true state. 

This is an excellent show…NBC was wrong in its assessment of the show. I’m happy it turned out the way it did though because we would have never had the great original cast. 


This is the pilot to the series that would star William Shatner. Only in this version, there is a different Captain, Christopher Pike, and with the exception of Mr. Spock, an entirely different crew. Now it begins when the Enterprise receives what appears to be a distress message. But when they get to the planet where the message was sent from, they discover that the supposed survivors were nothing more than illusions created by the inhabitants of the planet, for the purpose of capturing a mate for the one genuine surviving human, and Captain Pike is the lucky winner. While Captain Pike tries to cope with the experiments and tests that the aliens are conducting on him, his crew tries to find a way to rescue him. But the aliens’ illusions are too powerful and deceptive (at first).


Jeffrey Hunter – Captain Christopher Pike
Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock
Majel Barrett – Number One
John Hoyt – Dr. Philip Boyce
Susan Oliver – Vina
Meg Wyllie – The Keeper
Peter Duryea – Lieutenant José Tyler
Laurel Goodwin – Yeoman J. M. Colt
Clegg Hoyt – Transporter Chief Pitcairn
Malachi Throne – The Keeper (voice)
Michael Dugan – The Kaylar
Georgia Schmidt – First Talosian
Robert C. Johnson – First Talosian (voice)
Serena Sande – Second Talosian
Jon Lormer – Dr. Theodore Haskins
Adam Roarke – C.P.O. Garrison
Leonard Mudie – Second Survivor
Anthony Jochim – Third Survivor
Ed Madden – Enterprise Geologist
Robert Phillips – Space Officer (Orion)
Joseph Mell – Earth Trader
Janos Prohaska – Anthropoid Ape / Humanoid Bird



Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

34 thoughts on “Star Trek – The Cage”

  1. I really enjoy watching this pilot as well, very different. I think the new Spock character ended up being better for the series. It’s weird to see him smiling, although I think there’s one episode where they have Nimitz smile. You still have to look hard to find intelligent tv shows…they’re out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes…I love that episode where he smiles later on… it’s pods from the flowers that are sprayed in his face…it’s a funny episode.

      I’m also glad they did take his emotion away.


  2. First thing I noticed was the year & thought ‘that’s a typo ‘ until I read on. How weird, first one made us last one seen. Weirder though seeing Nimoy’s Spock but not Kirk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea it’s different but they did a great job with this one. Why NBC didn’t like this I don’t know…now it’s different but I love the story…no problem with the writing. It’s Spock who is most different…as you see in his brief smile…that part just doesn’t look right.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I ever saw this episode. Spock’s voice is so different it threw me off a little. The crew was a bit flat in this one, but I am sure it is because I was so engaged with the later casting. I am sure watching the entire episode might change my opinion. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Spock is the big difference. He is mostly Spock in the episode but that smile just doesn’t look right. The reason I rated it a 5 out of 5 is because it is a very good story and the acting was fine…but yea it’s a good thing they passed…that way we got the original.
      We will see a lot of this episode in another regular cast episode they build around it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the reason it was nearly passed on was in ’65 SciFi was still seen as silly kids stuff, all wobbly flying saucers suspended on strings and green rubber faced gorilla suited aliens. (Thinking on that, Chewbacca ain’t much of an upgrade.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had forgotten that Pike was the first Captain before Kirk. When I popped the first disk in from the library I remembered Pike from “The Menagerie” episode and it came back to me how good the series is. I do remember Susan Oliver also. Seems she was on other shows besides Star Trek, but I don’t remember for sure. It truly is amazing it took so long for them to finally air this episode. Lots of good origin story material in your post. Really looking forward to learning more as we go along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like this one a lot. Good story and acting…Jeffrey Hunter made a really good Captain…of course I like Kirk best but still…it was really good.
      Thanks Lisa

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome and thank you for taking on the challenge of the series. I really didn’t realize there were only 3 seasons. Back then seasons were a lot longer. Nowadays you usually get 8-10 per season at least on ppv channels.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yea they had to make a lot of episodes back then and that is why some shows are uneven…unfortunately Star Trek is in the third season but still better than many others. That is why I marvel at the Twilight Zone for having so many great episodes. But Star Trek did what the TZ does…social comment through science fiction as tomorrow’s show.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved seeing Majel Barrett as Number One. Too bad this pilot was decades ahead of its time. The woman playing Number One in Strange New Worlds resembles her a bit with long brunette hair. Spock’s smile in this pilot was delightful, though now it’s uncharacteristic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yea…if he wouldn’t have got fired or quit…it would have been him…but yea Kirk IS the Captain to me over anyone else including the newer ones.

      Liked by 1 person

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