September 8, 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Over the next few months, we will revisit some of the adventures of the original crew, in both incarnations, as we commemorate this wonderful event. Before Captain Kirk commanded the U.S.S. Enterprise, there was another man in the captain’s chair. Before we can begin this show, we must go back to the very beginning!
Pilot Episode : The Cage
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Captain Christopher Pike commands the U.S.S. Enterprise. The receive a distress message from Talos IV. Upon arriving, they discover the elderly survivors of a Federation expedition. Among them is Vina, a beautiful young woman. Suddenly, the aged colonists vanish, and Pike and Vina are pulled into “The Menagerie (cough cough, more on that later)”. There, Pike is forced to go through various romantic and life threatening scenarios, designed by the creepy Talosians to force Pike to fall in love with Vina. He resists their attempts to get them to mate, as he tries to escape his cage.
Jeffrey Hunter is Captain Pike. His Captain is a strong willed man. One part of me wonders where his character would have gone if this version of Star Trek had been chosen, but I certainly cannot complain about the later, legendary cast. It might have spelled the end of Star Trek, though, as Hunter suffered two strokes and died from complications of a fall and surgery in 1969.
Susan Oliver is Vina, the human woman living with the Talosians. She is notable as being the FIRST sexy green Orion salve girl in Trek. She had some TV work over the ensuing years, but never really broke through to stardom. She died in 1990 from lung cancer.
Leonard Nimoy is Mr Spock, the only of this cast to survive to the second pilot. His early take on this “Vulcanian” was not what we would come to know as he developed the character. Spock speaks oddly loud in several scenes, as opposed to his normally stoic demeanor. In the scene above, he even smiles! As we all know, he sadly passed away in 2015.
Majel Barrett is Star Trek royalty. She plays “Number One”, the second in command of the Enterprise. She would of course fall in love with Trek creator Gene Rodenberry and become his wife. She continued in the franchise as Nurse Christine Chapel in Star Trek, a role she would reprise in the films. She also played Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation, as well as performing the voice of the federation computers in all six Star Trek TV series and most of the films. She passed in 2008. Her last work was as the computer in the 2009 Trek reboot.
John Hoyt was Dr Phillip “Bones” Boyce, the ship’s doctor. He would not continue in the series, but the nickname “Bones” would later be used by DeForest Kelley’s Dr. McCoy. Hoyt passed in 1991.
The “Keeper”, the head Talosian was played by Meg Wyllie. She had a long career in television and movies, passing in 2002. She is also notable for playing “Granny” in The Last Starfigher.
This is an unusual show in that it was filmed in 1964, but never aired until 1988. I remember when that happened. I had seen “The Menagerie”, but this was like the holy grail of Star Trek. It was a decent episode, noticeably lacking the “fisticuffs” of the later incarnation. The NBC executives legendarily claimed it was “too cerebral” for their audiences. Sadly, this mindset continues to this day. how little things change in 50 years.