Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) – The Menagerie Part 1 & 2

Captain’s Log: Stardate  3012.4

How do you get value for your dollar if you shot a pilot that was never aired? Use it as the crux of a story and incorporate the footage! This was the first Trek two-parter, and I know I saw it a child, but I don’t remember having to wait a week for the conclusion, but I supposed I must have.

Of course, as a child, this story, penned by Gene Roddenberry, with an original airdate of 17 November, 1966, didn’t interest me very much, because Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy (DeForest Kelly) weren’t given much to do, instead letting Jeffery Hunter’s Captain Christopher Pike take the lead in a rather cerebral adventure.

Spock, showing loyalty to his past commander, something we will see again in regards to Kirk in the future, falsifies orders, and picks up a now crippled, disfigured Pike (Sean Kenney) and sets the Enterprise on a course for the forbidden world of Talos IV.

Kirk sets out in pursuit of his ship, and his apparently traitorous first officer, but upon arriving back aboard, Spock surrenders himself to a court-martial, allowing for a testimony about the planet, and Pike which utilises footage from the unaired pilot, The Cage.

In later years, this episode would grown on me, as it allowed a glimpse of adventures of the Enterprise before Kirk took command, and played with a format I’ve always enjoyed, a court room drama.

Something I did enjoy as a child, and even more so now, is all the banter that occurs between Kirk, Spock and McCoy, I love the discussions, the barbs, and the moments. It that regard, it’s a fairly enjoyable episode, or at least, that’s what kept me interested as a child.

I will openly admit that The Cage would not have held my interest as a child, or maybe it would have, a lot of the quieter episodes I saw as a kid kept me riveted. But I think what really started to bother me, as a kid, about this episode was that Kirk wasn’t getting enough screen time. I mean, who was this Pike? and why was he stealing valuable screen time from my heroes?

I did enjoy that this episode introduced us to Starfleet’s snazzy dress uniform, and love whenever that shows up. I also like that this episode, by introducing a court martial, well a hearing for a court martial in this case, that it stays in keeping with the nautical feel that would be so embraced, and given a stronger vitality in later series and films.

One of the coolest things about the look by to Pike’s Enterprise, is that his first officer is a woman, simply referred to as Number One (Majel Barrett). The stark colours of the previous bridge, and captain’s quarters are kind of cool, but don’t quite have the same sense of comfort and appeal that Kirk’s Enterprise does.

I do like that Pike is tired, and worn from his time in the service, I can’t help but wonder how his missions would have played out.

The episode comes to its cliffhanger ending with the revelation of where the transmissions of Pike’s adventures are coming from, and Kirk wondering where the loyalties of his friend truly lay.


Captain’s Log: Stardate 3013.1

The trial continued a week later on 24 November, 1966, and the opening captain’s log serves very nicely as a previously on Star Trek. Then, it’s back into the adventure as Spock’s testimony, transmitted via Talos IV continues.

Pike’s crew exploit every possibility to rescue him, but the Talosian illusions are too powerful, as Pike learns as he tests his own cage. Vina (Susan Oliver) pleads with Pike to come around to the Talosians’ point of view, but Pike continues to insist that a cage, gilded or not, is still a cage.

Pike is allowed an action beat in the illusions, showing that he could be a bit of an action hero, but tends to rely more on his brain than brawn. This would have made those early adventures something very different had the series continued that way. But perhaps the audience  wasn’t quite ready for it.

He works to explore the limits of their talents and seems to, after awhile, easily match wits with his captors, but their powers tend to keep him in check.

All of this leaves Kirk wondering why Pike would choose to return to this planet, and why Spock would risk his career (something they would both do time and again in the future) by stealing the Enterprise?

This episode also includes the introduction of the Orian slave girl sequence, as Vina is transformed into the aggressive, seductive, green-skinned alien form. I can’t remember how many times I saw her image in the credits before I actually saw the episode, but at that point, it didn’t come as a shock or surprise, and I may have been too young for it to have any real effect on me.

I take a delight in the fact that Spock isn’t fully formed as a character yet, and he’s caught smiling, and his exclamation of “THE WOMEN!” still makes me chuckle.

When the Talosians cease their transmissions, Kirk and the convening panel have to find Spock guilty, as things aren’t completely explained. But after Kirk’s decision, the transmissions continue and he, and the audience discover the true reasons why Spock is taking Pike to Talos IV.

The Cage, even in its truncated format here, is still a solid story, and very much in the vein and spirit of Star Trek. This story, over the years, has grown on me, and makes me wish we’d seen more from Pike in future episodes.

… and the Human Adventure continues…








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