Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek the original pilot (The Cage)

I previously reviewed the second pilot (Part 1, Part 2). This is the first pilot which NBC executives rejected for being too cerebral.

I’m not sure if I ever watched this pilot. Most of the scenes from the pilot were used in a two-part flashback episode which was shown during the first season, and of course I’ve seen that episode, so although the story is familiar, as a solo episode it has a few surprises.

The biggest surprise is smiling Spock! Yes, they didn’t get the idea that Spock was an emotionless Vulcan until the second pilot. In the first pilot he’s just some guy with pointed ears, and every time he smiles it’s creepy and shocking because it goes against everything you know about Spock.

Other than Spock, no other character from the original series is in the pilot. However Majel Barrett, the actress who played Nurse Chapel, in the pilot she plays Captain Pike’s first office whom he only refers to as “Number One.” Kirk never called Spock “Number One,” but then that phrase came back in The Next Generation, it’s what Picard called Riker. I think I like Barrett better as Number One than I liked her as Nurse Chapel. I imagine that the network executives told Gene Roddenberry to get rid of the female first officer, no one would believe that, or want to watch a woman bossing around men. And the executives were probably right. Today we have The Last Jedi, full of women bossing around men, and no one liked that movie except for SJW reviewers and feminists.

I can appreciate why Jeffery Hunter, who played Pike, was dumped for William Shatner. Shatner brought a joie de vivre to the Captain’s role, while Jeffrey Hunter looks like he’s constipated. This episode also has a totally unnecessary scene were Pike tells the ship’s doctor (who carries around gin and vermouth in his medical bag) that he’s tired of being a Starship Captain and maybe he should retire. In contrast, Kirk loved being the Captain and would never dream of doing anything else, and that’s how Shatner played him.

Let’s recap the plot of this episode. Captain Pike is kidnapped by the Talosians, aliens with big heads, and they put him in a cage in a sort of zoo where the Talosians keep many different aliens. They try to mate him with a beautiful 18-year-old girl, Vina, so that they can re-populate the planet and be a race of slaves to take care of the Talosians who are too much into their fantasy world of vicarious entertainment to be bothered to do anything practical. Pike refuses to go along with this, and spends the entire episode being pissed off at his captors and trying to escape.

The Talosians have developed telepathy that allows them to create illusions in the minds of their captives that are indistinguishable from reality. They spend their days living underground and being entertained by watching their primitive alien captives doing stuff in illusory environments created by the Talosians.

It would appear that this episode predicted reality TV! There doesn’t seem to be all that much difference between what the Talosians are doing, and me being entertained by watching the Jersey Shore, featuring people more primitive than myself doing primitive stuff like getting into fights and having sex.

At the end, the Talosians realize it was all a bad idea, because after scanning the Enterprise’s online library, they realize that humans hate being in captivity and they are just too violent of a race for what they were looking for.

Then Pike offers to trade with them, but the Talosians say, “oh no, we don’t want to do that, once you learn how to do what we do, you will just spend all day watching illusions and your race will spiral into decay just as it happened to us.” Also, we learn that Vina is actually a deformed and ugly old crone, and not a super-hot 18-year-old babe. That was an illusion too.

The most obvious plot hole here is, why didn’t the Talosians just take some human sperm, and then breed humans through artificial insemination?

But I think it’s more interesting to focus on a mistake the Talosians made which seems obvious to me but is not something I’ve seen mentioned in any other review of the episode. The Talosians chose the wrong man to breed with Vina. They chose the Captain, the most alpha man on the Enterprise. If they had, instead, chosen some beta-male from engineering, he would very likely have been overjoyed to trade in his incel life of being bossed around by a female first officer for sex with a hot eighteen-year-old babe who was totally into him. Also, you don’t want alpha-male genes when you create a race of slaves. You want beta-male genes for that.

Another obvious point that needs to be made is that, according to Star Trek lore, the human race will, by the time of The Next Generation, accomplish with the technology what the Talosians do with their telepathy. The holodecks produce illusions just as good as what the Talosians can do. Why haven’t the holodecks caused the human race to stop advancing as people find life in the holodeck more interesting than doing stuff in the real world, as predicted by the Talosians?

* * *

Captain Kirk would have given a speech that convinced the Talosians to free him, but only after having sex with Vina.

* * *

The scene where Captain Pike enjoys the illusion of being a trader of green-skinned Orion slave girls would have been way too politically correct to appear on TV today. I love the political incorrectness of old TV!

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

Posted in Star Trek

15 Responses

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  1. “Why haven’t the holodecks caused the human race to stop advancing as people find life in the holodeck more interesting than doing stuff in the real world, as predicted by the Talosians?”

    Scott Adams (no relation) once made this point in a Dilbert cartoon:
    http://dilbert.com/strip/1994-10-14

    Even in our time, how much human potential is wasted on video games and porn? Or even (ahem) on commenting on blogs?

    There are kids on YouTube who spend their formative years making videos of escalators:

    And old men who play soap-opera theme music from the 1950s on their own personal organs:

    All of this activity is “worthless” in a sense … but, if you really think about it, we spend most of our lives trying to stave off the inherent boredom of existence. Who’s to say that the kooks on YouTube are making any worse use of their time than anyone else? From a Darwinian perspective, any activity not related to breeding is “useless.”

    Roughly a decade ago, I joined a discussion board dedicated to an esoteric interest. In less than a year, I made over ten thousand posts, including some very lengthy essays. I engaged in lengthy personal (and, yes, sometimes explicit) conversations with several of the female members.

    Needless to say, that was not one of the more productive times of my life.

    Stan Adams

    August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

    • No…

      The real question is…who cleans the holodeck?

      map

      August 2, 2018 at EDT am

  2. “I can appreciate why Jeffery Hunter, who played Pike, was dumped for William Shatner. Shatner brought a joie de vivre to the Captain’s role, while Jeffrey Hunter looks like he’s constipated. ”

    Lion, did you ever consider being a tv/movie critic? This was a very perceptive and funny observation. I mean it. I don’t anyone has ever summed up Shatner’s appeal in such a fashion.

    gothamette

    August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

    • Thank you 🙂

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Yr welcome. It was surprising in that I seem to remember you don’t have much respect for Shatner’s formal acting skills.

        gothamette

        August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

      • Bringing joie de vivre to a role isn’t the same as good acting. In fact, I don’t think it was an act, Shatner really liked playing Kirk.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

      • That’s exactly my point. Great actors can be without joie de vivre (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christian Bale, both dour) and someone like Shatner can have it. It’s best when a great actor has it. I think Olivier had it.

        Anyway when Shatner was young a great director, Tyrone Guthrie, thought he was a very promising stage actor. Maybe his overwrought technique was more suited to the stage than the little screen.

        gothamette

        August 2, 2018 at EDT am

  3. [img]https://i.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/001/569/insp_captkirk_5_.jpg[/img]

    “Shatner really liked playing Kirk.”

    Who wouldn’t? James Tiberius Kirk was one of the greatest heroes of our time, certainly one of the greatest in a work of science fiction.

    Oswald Spengler

    August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

  4. Today we have The Last Jedi, full of women bossing around men, and no one liked that movie except for SJW reviewers and feminists.

    The Last Jedi has tons of problems but that isn’t one of the major reasons people don’t like it.

    JayMan

    August 1, 2018 at EDT pm

  5. Psychic ESP functioning was such a big part of all three pilot episodes. Pretty interesting start for a science fiction show.

    First the warnings have to be given about ESP leading to either a power mad madman or degenerating illusionist species. Then with ESP out of the way the show can go back to photon blasters and spaceships.

    Artifact

    August 2, 2018 at EDT am

  6. How would the Talosians breed an old crone. Wouldn’t she be infertile?

    Artifact

    August 2, 2018 at EDT am

    • They didn’t breed her – she was a crash survivor they rescued. She even tells Pike that “everything works”; the Talosians just didn’t know what she was supposed to look like when they put her back together. Of course that’s a plot hole in its own right…

      J1

      August 2, 2018 at EDT pm

  7. […] and one says to the other “Yeah, how’d you like to have her as your personal yeoman?” Remember my review of the first pilot where I complained that the Talosians picked the wrong person to try to breed with Vina? If the […]


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