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.