This is the pilot to the series that would star William Shatner. Only in this version there is 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). Written by
In her 1994 autobiography Beyond Uhura, Nichelle Nichols comments on this instalment, stating, "Viewing it today [...] the show stands as the purest earliest representation of what Gene hoped Star Trek (1966) would achieve." She also characterizes the episode as "not only the basic pattern for countless future Star Trek (1966) episodes, but a blueprint for the future of civilization" and describes the episode's conclusion as "an intelligent, peaceful resolution." See more »
The sound of The Keeper's voice constantly changes. This is because the video was put together from footage used in "The Menagerie" using Vic Perrin's voice, and 'rediscovered' footage with Malachi Throne's voice. Vic Perrin was used to dub the keeper in Star Trek: The Menagerie: Part I and Star Trek: The Menagerie: Part II because Malachi Throne appeared in The Menagerie in person as Commodore Mendez, and the voice would have confused viewers. Originally, the whole of "The Cage" used Malachi Throne's voice for the keeper. See more »
Just think...if Jeffrey Hunter had wound up playing the Captain in Star Trek, he might be alive today. Hunter died in 1969 from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, probably caused by an explosion that imploded instead during a film he was working on in Europe. Interesting thought.
The Cage was the most expensive pilot in NBC history to that point. Though the Star Trek idea had its supporters, the network couldn't see past its nose to pick up the series. They did, however, agree to a second pilot with some changed elements - like a woman who was second in command. The reasons why Hunter did not do the next pilot have been debated. A friend of Hunter's stated that Hunter's wife, Dusty, thought science fiction was low class and didn't want him involved in the show. And, according to Shatner's book, she also made unreasonable demands of the producers.
It's worth remembering that back in the '60s, science fiction, space movies, etc., did not have the "A" status that they do today. B movies only became A movies after Star Wars.
The Cage is a not only very good but touching, and of course, it's fascinating to see "Star Trek" before it became a cult classic. The story concerns a planet that exists basically on Mind Control, and the inhabitants in charge capture Pike in the hope that he can help replenish their race with an earth woman who is there as a result of a ship crashing. Susan Oliver is the woman.
During the run of the series, in order to recoup some of the costs of this fabulously expensive pilot, it was incorporated into a two-part episode, with another actor playing the now near-vegetative Captain Pike.
I love seeing films such as this that were done before all the special effect technology became available, because they were done in such innovative and imaginative ways. The Cage is worth a look to see the genesis of a show that became part of our culture.
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