Friday, December 30, 2016

STAR TREK: The Cage

Starring Jeffrey Hunter, Majel Barrett, Leonard Nimoy, John Hoyt, Peter Duryea
Guest Stars:  Susan Oliver, Meg Wyllie, Malachi Throne, Laurel Goodwin, Jon Lormer
Directed by Robert Butler
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

While responding to a distress call on the planet Talos IV, Captain Pike is abducted by the advanced beings who live there, and placed in a cage alongside other specimens of alien life.

We have here the initial pilot episode of the series, which was ultimately rejected by NBC who commissioned a second more action-packed pilot in which William Shatner took over the role of captain of the Enterprise, but this is still a worthy science fiction drama.  It may well be the best episode Gene Roddenberry ever wrote, and it's fascinating to guess how differently the series would have evolved had "The Cage" been sold, and if Hunter and the rest of the cast would have been able to return.  Only Mr. Spock would remain from the original cast on display here, although Barrett would return in a different role as Nurse Chapel, and one can see the origins of Dr. McCoy in Hoyt's portrayal of the ship's chief medical officer.  Although rejected, Roddenberry would make good use of the pilot film in the later two-part episode The Menagerie, revealing the ultimate fate of Captain Christopher Pike.

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