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. 

Summary

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).

CAST

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

 

Star Trek …coming soon

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I was 13 and I saw a 24-hour marathon of the original Star Trek. I did watch some of the Next Generation, the movies, and some of the newer ones but I’ve always liked the original the best. The cast was great and Spock has to be one of the best TV characters ever written.

I enjoyed covering The Twilight Zone so I want to do that again with a classic TV show. It’s hard to pick them out. It would be hard covering a sitcom episode by episode but The Twilight Zone and Star Trek are so different in every episode (especially TZ) that I thought I would give this one a shot.

The show was only on for 3 seasons… that is hard to believe since we know it so well. The show inspired many inventors at the time and after. Either Gene Roddenberry (the show’s creator) knew about inventions that were being developed or inventors took his cue to make things real…probably both. Here is a list of things that were made popular after Star Trek.

Tablet computers
Tractor beams
Tricorders (there’s also an X Prize for that)
Flip communicators (and wearable badge communicators)
Hyposprays
Replicators
Cloaking devices
Voice interface computers (hello Siri)
Transparent aluminum
Bluetooth headsets (Uhura had one first)
Google Glass
Portable memory (from floppy disks to USB sticks)
Focused ultrasound technology
Biometric data tracking for health and verifying identity
GPS
Automatic doors
Big screen displays
Real-time universal translators
Teleconferencing
VISOR bionic eyes for the blind
Diagnostic beds

Anyway, next week I hope to start posting Star Trek episodes. My target is Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 79 episodes in all which should take around 26-27 weeks if there are no interruptions. I hope Star Trek fans will visit…if not I will still be posting music on most days as well.

Thank you as always.

Leonard Nimoy – The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

We all need a laugh sometimes. This is one of the most bizarre songs + videos I’ve ever seen.

Do I have any readers that are Star Trek fans of the original series? The reason I ask is that within a couple of weeks, I’ll be going over every episode like I did with the Twilight Zone. I hope you will enjoy it. There are not many shows you can do that with on a blog but I think Star Trek will work as well as the Twilight Zone.

I just couldn’t resist posting this. One youtube commenter said: I attended a Trek convention with a friend in the 80s. He had a copy of Nimoy’s LP and wanted it autographed. He presented it to Nimoy during the signing event. Nimoy shook his head and said, “God, I thought we burned all of these”, then grudgingly signed it. He lightened up on that stance as the years went by and would sing parts of it at conventions.

It is amusing to see him smile in the video as that rarely happened in Star Trek. I have a question for my readers if you made it this far. At first in the video, it looks like he is wearing the Spock ears but in the middle… it doesn’t look like he is…is he? It’s not the clearest video but worth watching.

The song was written by Charles Randolph Grean. He was best known as the arranger for the Nat King Cole recording of The Christmas Song. In 1950, he wrote “The Thing,” a popular novelty song that reached number one on the charts in a version sung by Phil Harris.

Nimoy has quite the discography. He released 5 albums between 1967 and 1970 plus a compilation in 1993 named Highly Illogical. This song was on the 1968 album Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy.

The song got noticed more after the movie series than it had been during its initial release. It was also on a 1996 15-minute documentary titled Funk Me Up Scotty. The film had been made for BBC’s Star Trek Night.  The song gets circulated now pretty regularly.

When asked where the master tapes were in 2003…Leonard Nimoy: “I’m not looking for a wave of Leonard Nimoy Hobbit songs all over the world. I don’t think it’s gonna happen” 

Here is Funk Me Up Scotty

(Everyone sing along)

The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

In the middle of the earth in the land of the Shire
Lives a brave little hobbit whom we all admire.
With his long wooden pipe,
Fuzzy, woolly toes,
He lives in a hobbit-hole and everybody knows him

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now hobbits are a peace-lovin’ folks you know
They don’t like to hurry and they take things slow
They don’t like to travel away from home
They just want to eat and be left alone
But one day Bilbo was asked to go
On a big adventure to the caves below,
To help some dwarves get back their gold
That was stolen by a dragon in the days of old.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Well he fought with the goblins!
He battled a troll!!
He riddled with Gollum!!!
A magic ring he stole!!!!
He was chased by wolves!!
Lost in the forest!!!
Escaped in a barrel from the elf-king’s halls!!!

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Now he’s back in his hole in the land of the Shire,
That brave little hobbit whom we all admire,
Just a-sittin’ on a treasure of silver and gold
A-puffin’ on his pipe in his hobbit-hole.

Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
He’s only three feet tall
Bilbo! Bilbo! Bilbo Baggins
The bravest little hobbit of them all

Twilight Zone – A Quality Of Mercy

★★★★  December 29, 1961 Season 3 Episode 15

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

A very powerful episode that places the shoe on the other foot. A young Dean Stockwell plays Lt. Katell who is young and blood thirsty for war. He quickly is warned and then learns about humanity on the battlefield. This episode is full of good actors. Leonard Nimoy plays radio operator Hansen but the real treat for me was Albert Salmi who plays the tough but worn out Sgt. Causarano. Salmi usually plays bad guys but in this one his common sense and honesty is refreshing.

A Quality of Mercy was filmed on an already-standing jungle set on a soundstage at the Hal Roach Studios. The episode covers some of the territory already covered by The Purple Testament…which coincidentally, Dean Stockwell was originally cast as the lead but was unable to appear.

We are brought face to face with the grimness of war, the fatigue and the futility. Serling, after serving in WWII, was close to this issue. It seems that Serling expressed his opinions through Sgt. Causarano played by Albert Salmi.

From IMDB: The title refers to a quote from William Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merchant of Venice’: “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.”

Albert Salmi (Sgt. Causarano) previously appeared in The Twilight Zone: Execution (1960) and would later appear in The Twilight Zone: Of Late I Think of Cliffordville (1963), all of which involve time travel. “A Quality of Mercy” is the only one in which his character is not portrayed as despicable.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Sam Rolfe

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

It’s August, 1945, the last grimy pages of a dirty, torn book of war. The place is the Philippine Islands. The men are what’s left of a platoon of American Infantry, whose dulled and tired eyes set deep in dulled and tired faces can now look toward a miracle, that moment when the nightmare appears to be coming to an end. But they’ve got one more battle to fight, and in a moment we’ll observe that battle. August, 1945, Philippine Islands. But in reality, it’s high noon in the Twilight Zone.

Summary

On August 6, 1945 – the last day of World War II – a forward platoon acting as artillery spotters get an eager and aggressive Lieutenant Katell. The artillery has been unable to dislodge a Japanese unit from a cave and Katell decides that the unit is going to attack. He suddenly finds himself in 1942 leading a Japanese unit that is about to attack Americans who are holed up in a cave.

The Complete Episode on Dailymotion

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

‘The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.’ Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, but applicable to any moment in time, to any group of soldiery, to any nation on the face of the Earth—or, as in this case, to the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling… Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Dean Stockwell… Lt. Katell / Lt. Yamuri
Albert Salmi… Sgt. Causarano
Rayford Barnes… Andrew Watkins
Ralph Votrian… Hanachek
Leonard Nimoy… Hansen
Dale Ishimoto… Sgt. Yamazaki
Jerry Fujikawa… Japanese Captain (as J.H. Fujikawa)
Michael Pataki… Jeep Driver (uncredited)