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
All prints of the original version of "The Cage" were destroyed by Paramount sometime in the sixties...or so it was thought. For over two decades, the only surviving copy had been a 16mm black and white proof print personally owned by Gene Roddenberry. Mr. Roddenberry took this proof print with him on the college lecture circuit throughout the 70's and early 80's. As a result of many showings in dilapidated 16mm projectors, it has become badly scratched and damaged. One of the versions available on video is a re-created hybrid of the original, using the B&W proof print as a reference, reconstructed from footage used in the episode "The Menagerie" (transferred from the original color camera negatives) and the deleted footage (as originated from the B&W proof print)...this version was originally released on video in the 1980s (and most recently on DVD) with a special introduction by Gene Roddenberry. Then, a few years later, in 1988, a full-color original print of the episode was discovered in the Paramount archives and then released as a filler episode during the original syndication run of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" due to a Hollywood strike (it was later shown during the Sci-Fi Channel's first run of the original "Star Trek" series). The original soundtrack to the discovered print was missing, but the re-mixed soundtrack used for the previous hybrid B&W/color version (in which the "Menagerie" soundtrack was used wherever possible to avoid using the severely scratched and degraded optical soundtrack from the proof print) was re-synched to this restored full-color version to make it look and sound whole. In any event, the most significant difference in the existing versions of the pilot is the voice of the Keeper. In the numberous restored versions, it switches between that of actor Vic Perrin in the footage taken from "The Menagerie" and that of Malachi Throne in the restored footage. This is because, coincidentally, Malachi Throne was cast as Commodore Mendez in "The Menagerie". The producers, quite rightly, thought that it would be confusing for Commodore Mendez and The Keeper to have the same voice, so The Keeper's lines were re-dubbed. (All Thelosian characters were played by women with dubbed male voices.) Among the other addtional scenes/differences in the original version-- -Pike discovers a monster lurking in the Talosians' chambers during the Captain's imprisonment; an extended version of Pike's first illusion, set on the planet Rigel VII (referred to earlier in the film by the ship's doctor) -Spock and crew suspect that their weapons are an illusion by the Talosians -extended dialogue by the Keeper about "Number One" -an extended illusion scene set in the countryside -an extended version of the Orion Slave Girl sequence -the Enterprise loses power as they are about to escape from Talos, and the computer bank goes out of control (both a result of the Talosians' telepathic powers) -and an extended closing scene aboard the bridge. See more »
"The Cage" might have ended up as a TV-movie had NBC decided not to try again with a 2nd pilot and then go to series. If so, then "The Cage" would have been the best sci-fi movie since "Forbidden Planet" (to which it is clearly indebted)--all the more remarkable because it was made on a limited television budget and the poor facilities of Desilu Studios.
Yet Roddenberry's vision yielded a story that overcame the plastic and wooden sets and the hastily put together special effects, to give us our first look into his "Star Trek Universe"--a futuristic united Earth, which has finally been put right enabling mankind to set out for the stars.
We're so accustomed to that ST Universe by now, that we may forget how truly visionary it was for 1965: A giant warp-powered starship that looked truly futuristic and beautiful, not some cliche rocket shape. The bridge, the very model of a well-designed command center, to be eclipsed only by the sets of "2001: A Space Odyssey" three years later. The transporter. A female second-in-command and a mixed-gender crew. And most important of all, believable, multi-dimensional characters who are supported by all that futuristic technology and special effects, rather than playing second fiddle to them. Roddenberry's staunch insistence on believable characterization was what separated all the Star Trek series from any other sci-fi series--and is what has enabled the Star Trek franchise to last nearly 40 years.
While the Captain Pike character didn't survive into the second pilot or the series, it also represented a fascinating departure from the TV heroes of most past TV series--something you might see in a big-budget first-run movie rather than a TV pilot film. Pike is depressed and just plain burned out from the constant strain of command, and he is seriously contemplating resigning from Starfleet altogether because he just can't take it anymore. Like any harried, burned-out white-collar worker of today, he has unrealistic dreams of just going home at a young age to retire early, or maybe starting his own business, or anything to get him out of that captain's chair. The adventure he has in "The Cage" acts as his redemption, giving him a live demonstration of Dr. Boyce's statement that no matter how tempted a man may be to pack it in and give up on life, he must find a way to meet life on its own terms, not run from it and hide in daydreams of a life that in the end isn't really for him.
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