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
It is argued that the original pilot "The Cage", was highly inspired from the Movie The Forbidden Planet. Similarities are abundant. See more »
Wooden batons, nailed to the rock outcrop on the barren planet to allow the actors to walk up the slope are clearly visible. See more »
The inhabitants of this planet can read our minds. They can create illusions out of a person's own thoughts, memories and experiences, even out of a person's own desires - illusions just as real and solid as this table top and just as impossible to ignore.
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While the 1988 restoration has most of the color footage re-inserted, there are still a few pieces missing:
A few frames of footage in the briefing scene, including Spock switching the monitor off. (Although the monitor is back on in the last shot of the scene)
The picnic scene is missing some shots. To fit the existing color footage to the uncut soundtrack, some shots are repeated.
Before Pike's line "Don't help me. . . They can't read through hate", the Keeper exits the menagerie. After that line, a shot from a later scene of the Keeper returning is re-used. This was made to cover up the dissolve to the later scene that was made for "The Menagerie" (1966). Originally, this shot followed a closeup to Veena, a cut to the Enterprise bridge, and a cut to the prisoners asleep in the cage. All of that was ruined (maybe permanently) by the dissolve made in 1966.
After Pike beams back to the ship, there is a reaction shot of Number One and Spock. The color print of this shot was lost, so what is used instead is a re-photographed shot of the shot played on the view screen (taken from "The Menegerie, part II"). This is evident because the shot begins to pull back and we can see the edge of the monitor screen. All of these shots exist in there entirety, but only on the Black and White print, seen on the 1986 VHS edition.
This is one of my very favorite episodes, and I've always wondered what a Star Trek with Captain Pike would have been like. It has excitement, suspense, and even a thinking plot. It definitely works much better as a stand-alone episode than it does as a backdrop for "The Menagerie". In that capacity, it is used as a flashback to propel a very odd story where Spock commandeers the Enterprise to deliver a badly injured Pike to what appears to be a morally bankrupt race so he can live out an illusion of a normal life. Very un-Spock like IMHO.
That said, it seems apparent to me that Gene Roddenberry lifted some very obvious plot ideas for this pilot from the Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over". He even borrowed actress Susan Oliver who appeared in that episode in a similar role and a with a similar name ("Teenya" vs "Vina").
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