The Baron Watches Star Trek (SPOILERS)

What I've got is the new releases with the enhanced special effects - I'll comment on these as best I can, shame I haven't got the originals to compare and contrast, but such is life. I put up the "spoiler" just on the off chance that there's someone here that hasn't seen all these a million times - you never know, I suppose.

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  • The Cage:

    Written by Gene Roddenberry

    Directed by Robert Butler


    Synopsis:Captain Pike and the Enterprise team encounter the Telepathic Butt-Heads Talosians and their illusion-casting powers.



    1)I don't think I'd ever watched this all the way thorugh, before. Of course, I'd seen "The Menagerie" which uses most of this, but it's not quite the same as watching it all the way through. I can see why they changed it up a bit - most of the characters are kind of cardboard-y, and the whole thing still has a kind of "Captain Video for adults" vibe to it.


    2)Hunter is OK as Pike, not quite as good as Shatner would be, I think.  He also comes across as a bit whiny  and irritable, although he is supposed to be tired after a rough mission, so I suppose that's understandable.


    3)I liked John Hoyt as Doctor Boyce. I thought he was a likable character.


    4)One familiar face is the producer's girlfriend Majel Barret as "Number One". It  almost seems as though they were setitng up a potential triangle between her, Pike and the clumsy young yeoman whose name escapes me. It's funny how Pike say "I'm not used to having a woman on the bridge" - I guess male chauvinism makes a comeback in the future. Of course, science fiction typically tells you more about the period it was made in than it does any possible future.


    5)The only familiar character is Spock, althoug he's very different. He smiles, he's all antsy and shouty. "THE WOMEN!"


    6)So, the ship is referred to as the "United Space Ship Enterprise" here.


    7)It's funny watching this now  - the technology on the Enterprise is either stuff we'll probably never have, like transporters and such, or stuff that's already primitive-looking by today's standards. They use paper printouts and a slide projector, and their communicators are larger than my cell phone.


    8)The aliens are standard TV aliens - the Talosians with their risible heads, a guy in a pimped-up ape suit and a vaguely-human warrior with bad teeth.


    9)I hadn't realized that Vina was left with an illusion of Pike at the end - I see now how they edited that scene for "The Menagerie".


    Overall:  An entertaining enough hour of TV. Everyone's all so earnest as all get out. It almost seems like an extended Twilight Zone, with the reveal on Vina's true appearance at the end.

  • The Baron said:

    ...a vaguely-human warrior with bad teeth.


    A giant, fiendish Jim Henson.

  • Tracy bought all three seasons for me a while ago, but doesn’t like to watch them. I tried to work my way through them chronologically (in production order), but stopped many months ago near the end of season one. I’m familiar enough with Star Trek, especially season one, that I won’t need to watch these along with you, but when you get to the point where I left off I hope to start back up.

    Reportedly, NBC deemed The Cage “too cerebral” for TV audiences of the day and commissioned a second pilot.

    The Talosians were actually women beneath the make-up, playing old men. This was done deliberately to make them look more odd and other-worldly.

    The yeoman’s name is “Colt.”

    Spock was not intended to be cold and emotionless; those qualities were ascribed to Number One at this point. NBC pushed back against both the woman (as second in command) and the alien, Roddenberry felt he could save only one, fought for the alien, and transferred the woman’s logic to him.

    The way the ship went transparent at warp speed was not just being arty; that’s the way warp speed was intended to be depicted at this stage.

    For the scenes in Pike’s cabin, note the captain’s hat (on top of his “TV set”).

  • The way the ship went transparent at warp speed was not just being arty; that’s the way warp speed was intended to be depicted at this stage.

    Interesting, I hadn't known that.

  • Many years back, I got the first 3 episodes (in production sequence) on videotape, which was a HUGE step up from the (mostly uncut) copies from my local station, done over the antenna with a BAD signal.  Some of those tapes are almost unwatchable, except, since they were somehow run UNCUT, they're actually BETTER, much better, story-wise, than what they tend to run on the Sci-Fi Channel.

    I got into the habit of watching FORBIDDEN PLANET before watching "The Cage".  It's so obvious the one inspired the other (althogh, funny enough, more of FP's look and technology found its way into LOST IN SPACE-- perhaps because it had the same productin designer!!).

    It's neat to watch "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Corbomite Maneuver" in that order, as they were the 1st Spock, the 1st Kirk and the 1st McCoy stories.  It's also interesting to compare the 3 doctors-- all 3 actors had appeared in a lot of westerns.  (I've seen DeForest Kelley as a villain on GUNSMOKE-- and also, as one of the Earps in GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL.)  The other week I saw John Hoyt as a mad scientist who creates a "rock and roll monster"--played by Richard Kiel-- in an episode of THE MONKEES.  I'm afraid it was one of the worst-written episodes in the show's run.  Hoyt also turned up in an early GET SMART as a KAOS agent operating out of a department store.

    Many fans tend to dismiss (or shake their heads in dismay at) the early portrayal of Spock.  Sure, they hadn't "nailed" it yet.  But when I look at the episodes now, I see a more interesting, more well-rounded Spock than the narrow, streamlined, almost one-dimensional portrayal seen in the 2nd half of the run.  People foget-- Vulcans HAVE emotions-- they're just very good at controlling, or supressing them.  But being Spock is half-human, grew up with a human mother, spends all his time with humans, and eventually, found a BEST FRIEND who was very human, it makes sense to me that he would be more comfortable displaying, at least in limited amounts, more emotions than a typical Vulcan.  Among other things, it's very clear that Spock has a nasty sense of humor.  He just laughs on the inside.  I think that's one of the things that makes his friendship with Kirk, and in a different way, McCoy, so special.  They both KNOW him enough, they KNOW what's going on inside, and in a way only friends can or should do, they both kid him a lot, trying to get him to open up and admit what's going on inside-- even as he takes a certain satisfaction NOT admitting to it.

    This was there, in somewhat different ways, under producers Gene Roddenberry and Gene Coon.  After Coon stepped down, however, a LOT got lost, and the show became increasingly "just" an adventure show with flat writing and acting.  The change from Roddenberry to Coon was also a big evolution in the show, as it went from a very dense, very detailed series with an OUTER LIMITS feel to it, to a more streamlined, more "audience-friendly" show that became more fun to watch.  I think it's no surprise that the year Coon was on the show (middle of season 1 to middle of season 2) is often considered the most "classic" period of the series.

    Even so, watching the Roddenberry-produced episodes, especially in production order, remains a fascinating experience.  There's often so much going on in any given scene, even if it's just the amount of people walking thru those crowded ship corridors, it's almost a shock when you compare it to the "middle" episodes, where the focus became more just on the stories and less on the "world" they took place in.

  • I think there’s definitely a line from Forbidden Planet to “The Cage”; I can more easily envision Forbidden Planet occurring earlier in the Star Trek timeline than I can Enterprise. while I’m being so agreeable, I’ll agree with you, too, about watching “The Cage,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “The Corbomite Maneuver” in order. Thanks for mentioning that Monkees episode with John Hoyt; I couldn’t remember what I saw him in just recently, and that would have driven me nuts!

  • I'm working from the original DVD season collections. When I last watched them I had no reference to tell me the production order. Some time in the future when I watch them all again I'll do it in that order. It always drives me crazy when succeeding episodes have characters (especially the bridge crew) appearing, disappearing, and reappearing.

    The Baron said:

    It's funny how Pike say "I'm not used to having a woman on the bridge" - I guess male chauvinism makes a comeback in the future. Of course, science fiction typically tells you more about the period it was made in than it does any possible future.

    This attitude towards women, along with the "No Smoking" signs, does reflect what was still going on in 1964, more than a prediction of the future.

    Jeff of Earth-J said:

    For the scenes in Pike’s cabin, note the captain’s hat (on top of his “TV set”).

    Thanks for pointing out the hat. I never noticed it before.

    Henry R. Kujawa said:

    I got into the habit of watching FORBIDDEN PLANET before watching "The Cage". It's so obvious the one inspired the other....

    I've always thought that FORBIDDEN PLANET was a direct inspiration in several ways. The most obvious to me is the Navy ranks and organization. I think most previous science fiction movies had leaned towards Air Force ranks, etc. The color designations for branches within the service seems to come from the Army. As far back as, I think, the War of 1812 the Infantry, Artillery, and Cavalry have used the trim-colors light blue, scarlet, and yellow, respectively. These were even used by the Confederate Army and are still used today, expanded into the other Army branches with additional and shared colors.

  • It's funny, checking the IMDB, to see which actors appeared in which episodes of STAR TREK.  Some of the minor, "background" actors appeared in MORE episodes than the main characters!!  It's like they were always there... they just didn't have any lines (or very few).

    It's strange to think that I started watching STAR TREK from the 4th week it was on first-run (not sure what i was watching the first 3 weeks), but it took me until about 1980 before I ever saw FORBIDDEN PLANET.  The first time I saw it, the most outstanding thing about it was probably the knowledge that it was the first appearance of Robby The Robot, who had "guest-starred" on 2 episodes of LOST IN SPACE.  He and the LIS Robot were designed by the SAME guy!  LIS took much inspiration from the look and hardware of FP; but clearly, ST took more of the "format" and to some extentm the characterizations.  Like, a whole ship of men, and it's the Captain who gets the girl.

    As a kid, what was more obvious to me was a sort-of line from THE OUTER LIMITS to STAR TREKOL was one of the first sci-fi shows I ever saw, it was serious, it was intense, it was "adult" (I didn't understand half of what was going on until I was at least a teenager, many years later), and stories often had downbeat endings (at least, when Roddenberry was producer).  ST often felt to me like a color version of OL, with continuing characters.  A blatent example was the plants in "Specimen Unknown" and the plants in "This Side Of Paradise" (or, closer, those in "The Apple").

    I first found out the production order when it was listed in one of the STAR TREK wall calendars!  Of course, back then, it was a good thing if a local TV station would just run the show in network broadcast order --as opposed to just RANDOMLY.  Then again, Philly's Channel 48, which had the show for the whole of the 1970's, didn't begin running the show until September 1970 (a full YEAR after the networki reruns ended!!).  And the first time 48 ran the show, they ran it in-- I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP-- exact reverse network order.  They started with "Turnabout Intruder" and worked their way with precision thru the list toward "The Man Trap".  So somebody at that station must have had a list-- either that, or they received the films in sequence, but just started from the wrong end.  You wonder how things that stupid are even possible, don't you?  (I had a list-- I was following it, and couldnot believe what they were doing.  I had never seen some of the peisodes on the network, and was loking forward to seeing the ones I missed for the first time.  But that first time, for me, was in an order that made no sense at all.)

    Speaking of "Turnabout Intruder", quite a few of the 3rd season episodes were stories that had already become sci-fi cleches on TV, and been done on other shows, often better.  As an example, there's the OL episode "The Human Factor", which featured Sally Kellerman, Harry Guardino & Gary Merrill.  The latter 2 have their minds switched due to an accident, and the mentally unstable one (Guardino) uses the situation to try to set off an atomic bomb to destroy monsters he believes are threatening the military base-- but which exist only in his mind.

    The mind-switching scenario had also been done on THE AVENGERS ("Who's Who?", which was done for laughs) and, I feel sure, a long list of other shows, including ROCKY & BULLWINKLE.

  • The Man Trap:

    Written by George Clayton Johnson

    Directed by Marc Daniels



    Doctor McCoy's old girlfriend turns out to be a salt vampire.



    1)Yes, I'm wathcing them in the order that they're on the disc. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that they're not in the order that they were actually made in.


    2)We get our first "Captain's Log" here. You know, if you listen to these "log entries", it becomes obvious that Kirk is narrating the story, and not making the kind of entries one would make in an official document.


    3)We get our first look at Kirk as well, and the first Shatnerian Yell of Anguish which we will come to know and love.


    4)McCoy doesn't make a good first impression, letting his emotions cloud his judgement, and overall not being very "on the ball".


    5)And we get our first use of the "Someone comes across an old girlfriend" plot device.


    6)Nancy's nickname for McCoy is "Plum", which lends itself to all sorts of nasty interpretations.


    7)I did like the gag of them all seeing her differently - I thought they conveyed that well.


    8)Amusingly enough, of the first four random crewmen that are killed, none of them are wearing red shirts!


    9)"Wrigley's Pleasure Planet"  - I imagine a huge, planet-wide brothel.


    10)"Dead, Jim." First use of that.


    11)We hear Scotty briefly, but we don't see him.


    12)We meet Uhura, who attempts to flirt with Spock, and who doesn't seem to have any problem with calling him out over his lack of reaction to a crewman's death, and who says to Spock, "Captain Kirk, the closest thing you have to a friend."


    13)Sickbay is called the "Dispensary" here.  We also get the first use of the nickname "Bones" for McCoy.


    14)We also meet Janice Rand here. "Why don't you go chase an asteroid?"  Shame the show never really developed the  "belowdecks" characters much.


    15)And we meet Sulu: "May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet."


    16)First mention of Saurian Brandy. Never had brandy, must try it sometime.


    17)First use of hand phasers.


    18)The salt vampire looks like something out of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.  Actually, I'm not sure it isn't.



    Not a favorite of mine, but not bad. You can sense that it's a show that's still "finding its feet", to an extent.


  • I'm I right to think that early on William Shatner underplayed his part? When I saw a number of the episodes quite a while ago I liked the way he played the part in the early episodes.

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