Star Trek pilot episode (1965)

..and why not?
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GoogaMooga
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Star Trek pilot episode (1965)

Postby GoogaMooga » 21 Aug 2023, 09:53

Made it halfway through "The Cage", the "lost" pilot episode of the NBC prime time science fiction series, "Star Trek". My knowledge of Star Trek is rather rudimentary; I saw all the features with Shatner on the big screen, but I never became a devout Trekkie, and I don't think I ever watched more than one or two episodes of the original series on TV. Still I wound up with a Gene Roddenberry coffee table book some years ago, as if I were ever going to psych myself up for a binge viewing of any Blu-ray box set! I really don't get the cult of this series, but perhaps I've just been spoiled by modern sfx and space opera pacing. Still, no matter how you dice it, "The Cage" is extraordinarily straight and deadpan throughout. I know it's part of the joke, sort of a running gag in the series, a gag which gave rise to those rare comical situations and exchanges between Kirk and Spock. Shatner is not cast in this pilot, he would be added to the cast from the beginning of Season 1. Perhaps it is best not to pay too much attention to the dialog in "The Cage"; it may be well-founded and all, but it is also boring as hell. All in all, "The Cage" is one for the science geeks. We mortals may just find the sparse sets and wool costumes quaint, and yet also strangely chic and futuristic - in a timeless sort of way. If those aren't hallmarks of a true classic, I don't know what is. But I also know that Star Trek is a rather drab affair that you need a certain rigor to stay awake for. Light entertainment it ain't.
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

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robertff
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Re: Star Trek pilot episode (1965)

Postby robertff » 21 Aug 2023, 16:33

Great when it first came out but what do you expect from a science fiction TV series that was released nearly 60 years ago? Compared to something like Doctor Who it was light years ahead.


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GoogaMooga
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Re: Star Trek pilot episode (1965)

Postby GoogaMooga » 22 Aug 2023, 01:34

robertff wrote:Great when it first came out but what do you expect from a science fiction TV series that was released nearly 60 years ago? Compared to something like Doctor Who it was light years ahead.


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I've been told that the 79 episodes that comprise the first three seasons are the real "jewels" of the whole franchise, and that this pilot and the later feature films are just peripheral. So I think I'll have another go at the pilot and then perhaps consider a box set. "Star Trek" stood apart from the rest of what passed for science fiction in those days, as it was grounded in scientific fact and plausibility. "Doctor Who" is another series that I have only seen a few episodes of, back in the 70s - with that curly-haired actor, Tom Baker was it?
"When the desert comes, people will be sad; just as Cannery Row was sad when all the pilchards were caught and canned and eaten." - John Steinbeck

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pcqgod
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Re: Star Trek pilot episode (1965)

Postby pcqgod » 22 Aug 2023, 03:52

The pilot is a decent sci-fi story that sets the standard for the series, mixing action with more cerebral concepts. You're right that it isn't great and does come across flat at times. Trek didn't really gel until several episodes into season one. The interesting thing is that 'The Cage' was re-edited into a two-part episode called "The Menagerie," which significantly alters the ending of "The Cage" and generally improves the story greatly.

I would say that the vast majority of the great episodes are in season one and two. By season three some behind-the-scene shake-ups had sent the series into decline and some particularly terrible episodes were aired. I love the original Star Trek series, but even I have to admit there are clunkers all throughout the series. Not to mention some aspects of the show have dated very poorly. Still, when it was good, it was one of the best sci-fi shows to air. The movies were mostly good but rarely featured the depth of philosophy and thought-provoking sci-fi concepts of the series, relying more on space battles and visual spectacle.
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