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
The making of this episode despite the fact that best estimates for the pilot originally placed its production cost as more than US$500,000 represented a considerable gamble for Desilu, which was a small, ill-equipped studio at the time. Nervous about this situation, NBC set out to monitor the progress of the pilot, keeping a check on the project's schedule and cost. 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 »
Trek with Capt. Pike, paving the way for Kirk and co.
Before Scotty and Sulu; before Dr.McCoy; before even Capt. Kirk, Spock (Nimoy) was under command of Capt. Pike (Hunter) in the familiar Enterprise (tho with a crew of only 203, as mentioned). The genesis of this original version of a proto-Federation from Roddenberry can be traced back to the spectacular sf film of about 8 years earlier, "Forbidden Planet." As in that film, it was established that some kind of space fleet exists in mankind's future, on patrol or a Star Trek or just exploring (mostly exploring in Roddenberry's vision). There was a commander Adams in the earlier film; Roddenberry first scripted a Capt. April; when the pilot for a new TV show was finally filmed in late '64, he settled on a Capt. Pike, here a more morose and disenchanted version of Capt. Kirk, tired of the heavy responsibilities associated with such a ship's captaincy. This pilot episode, filmed close to the standards of a feature film, takes on unexpected connotations from the perspective of current times. Since it was later established that this episode took place about 13 years prior to the events of the regular Trek series, one gets the impression of a long line of captains and ship's doctors, all debating, in succession, the values and principles of crew duties and regulations after particularly trying missions, as in an early scene here.
In a clever scripting detail, we sort of come into the middle of a story as the episode begins: the crew just completed some mission or adventure on one of the Rigel planets; there were fatalities, everyone's tired. So the sense is that missions in space have been going on for quite some time. Now, the latest - a bogus distress call and pretty soon the captain is held captive by a race of big-headed aliens with extraordinary powers of illusion. It's amazing that the entire holodeck concept in the TNG series, over 20 years later, is given an early run-through here. As mentioned, the production values are close to those of a feature film - this is especially evident after the restored version of this pilot became available. Pike transits, thanks to such illusionary abilities, from one exotic locale to the next, never knowing what to expect. Jeff Hunter was pretty good as the captain, playing a bit closer to the vest than Shatner, some might say withdrawn, but with obvious leadership charisma. Nimoy, in this early version of Spock, lets loose a grin at least once, definitely a younger, less polished interpretation of his well-known character. I was a bit impressed by Barrett, who would've been 2nd-in-command had this show continued as is here. Back in the sixties, the powers-that-be could not accept a female of such high rank, but she pulled it off. They demoted her to lovestruck nurse by the time the regular show began. Hoyt seemed to exist merely as a 'bartender-as-doctor' personality, with none of the crackle Kelley brought to the role.
The rest of the cast as the crew in this early version of Trek were quite bland, including an early role for Roarke, later a fixture in some biker films and "Dirty Mary,Crazy Larry"(74). Guest star Oliver was more interesting as the fellow prisoner engaged in futuristic mating rituals with Pike - her Orion slave girl illusion was quite risqué for its time, but that was Roddenberry for you. The entire episode proved to be a highly cerebral, involved effort, too complex for the masses of that time in the view of decision-makers, and maybe even too serious in approach. Unexpectedly, a sequel to this pilot materialized during the course of the regular series, only a third of the way through the first season - "The Menagerie" parts 1 & 2 - where-in we learned the future fate of Pike, not a very pleasant prospect, as it turned out. After this pilot was rejected by the bosses, Roddenberry presented "Where No Man Has Gone Before," starring Shatner as Kirk.
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