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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old May 5 2011, 04:22 AM   #1
sonak
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Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Compared to the kind of things Stephen Hawking can do in his wheelchair with the computer that can use muscle twitches and finger movements to generate speech, Pike's chair can READ BRAINWAVES and yet all it can do is beep yes or no? It can't even generate a computer voice?


I know this is anticipating technology that wasn't around, but since Star Trek had talking computers, this wouldn't have been that much of a stretch.
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Old May 5 2011, 04:44 AM   #2
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

More to the point, why couldn't Pike have mind-melded with Spock or any other Vulcan present? If a chair can read Pike's brainwaves enough to know if he can say yes or no, then a Vulcan should be able to meld with him directly. Commodore Mendez even admitted that Pike's brain activity is as functional as anyone else's.
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Old May 5 2011, 05:11 AM   #3
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

There is no good explanation for this. It's a huge plausibility and logical hole in "The Menagerie." There's a great deal about GR's envelope story that doesn't make sense or even fit into Star Trek's rather loose continuity.
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Old May 5 2011, 05:13 AM   #4
Guartho
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

The beeps at the end of part 1 are more dramatic.
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Old May 5 2011, 05:32 AM   #5
Shaw
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Well, Hawking had years to learn to use his tools (many of which were developed specifically for him)... Pike's accident was only a few months earlier than the episode, not a lot of time for recovery and retraining.

A couple years later Pike might have been doing way better than Hawking... which would still be doing pretty bad by comparison to how he was before the accident. Heck, there was an episode of House where a paralyzed patient was given the limited ability to give yes or no answers... sure, if he had been stuck like that he could have eventually learned to do more with it, but not in a short period of time.

Pike would have been just as bad off today (or worse) with similar injuries after a similar period of recovery/retraining.
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Old May 5 2011, 07:14 AM   #6
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Yeah, in "Spock's Brain," we can animate Spock and have him walk around, deactive alien control devices, and act like a radio receiver with a hand-held unit much like the one Spock does math with in "That Which Survives." But Pike? Naw, he's got to sit in the chair and go one beep for yes, two beeps for no. And end up being fodder for Dennis Miller AND South Park. Oh, the pain...the pain...
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Old May 5 2011, 07:32 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

I know this is anticipating technology that wasn't around
Actually, advances in science have made Pike's condition more plausible for the 2010s audience, not less...

Back in the 1960s, few in the audience would have been aware of the wide range of brain damage types and cognitive disorders. Even the writers would have been thinking in terms of "His mind is locked inside a damaged body we can't repair". But from the viewpoint half a century later, it's pretty simple to assume the opposite: "His damaged mind we can't repair is locked inside a body we can repair (but to what end when he can't use it anyway?)".

That is, Pike would not suffer from lack of vocal cords. Nor would he suffer from being a total vegetable. But beyond these 1960s alternatives, there's the plausible one where Pike has lost the ability to use language. Yes, he can be positive about things, or negative. But no, he can't form a coherent phrase to describe these feelings, or even an incoherent one. His chair can guess on his positiveness or negativeness and relay that to the outside world, but his thoughts will not be formulated into words, or even into what exists before a word is formulated and relayed to the assorted speech organs.

Not even a mind meld would necessarily help, then, because Pike isn't merely unable to say out loud "I want that glass of water", he's unable to think it out loud, either. That's still completely within McCoy's parameters of "His mind is as active as yours and mine, but it's trapped inside a useless vegetating body". McCoy would simply equate the body's (the brain's) inability to provide language with the body's inability to provide motion, or heartbeat, or digestion. The mechanistic trouble with turning thought into language would not mean an enfeebled mind, it would merely be another variant of being physically crippled.

There'd be no point in having a voice synthesizer in the chair in that case. All it could do would be to put "yes" and "no" into more complex sentences, arbitrarily chosen and not reflecting the thoughts of Pike any better than simple "beep" and "beep-beep".

What the chair could use, I guess, is a pair of manipulators. Pike is apparently capable of controlling his movements (and we can assume the chair is capable of cross-country movement, despite its Dalek-like design), so he might derive satisfaction from being able to manipulate things, too. But perhaps such aesthetic-psychotherapeutic improvements would come later? It's been "months" since the accident, but perhaps a few more months would see Pike given a proper android body?

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Old May 5 2011, 07:42 AM   #8
CommanderRaytas
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

That's a good explanation, well thought. I always went with "it was the sixties and they didn't know any better", or "lookie here, guys, it's Plot Device!Pike".
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Old May 5 2011, 02:39 PM   #9
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

I love how the only door handle we see in all of TOS is the one to Pike's room on the starbase. So cruel.
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Old May 5 2011, 02:45 PM   #10
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

The chair is cool.
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Old May 5 2011, 03:22 PM   #11
sonak
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Timo wrote: View Post
I know this is anticipating technology that wasn't around
Actually, advances in science have made Pike's condition more plausible for the 2010s audience, not less...

Back in the 1960s, few in the audience would have been aware of the wide range of brain damage types and cognitive disorders. Even the writers would have been thinking in terms of "His mind is locked inside a damaged body we can't repair". But from the viewpoint half a century later, it's pretty simple to assume the opposite: "His damaged mind we can't repair is locked inside a body we can repair (but to what end when he can't use it anyway?)".

That is, Pike would not suffer from lack of vocal cords. Nor would he suffer from being a total vegetable. But beyond these 1960s alternatives, there's the plausible one where Pike has lost the ability to use language. Yes, he can be positive about things, or negative. But no, he can't form a coherent phrase to describe these feelings, or even an incoherent one. His chair can guess on his positiveness or negativeness and relay that to the outside world, but his thoughts will not be formulated into words, or even into what exists before a word is formulated and relayed to the assorted speech organs.

Not even a mind meld would necessarily help, then, because Pike isn't merely unable to say out loud "I want that glass of water", he's unable to think it out loud, either. That's still completely within McCoy's parameters of "His mind is as active as yours and mine, but it's trapped inside a useless vegetating body". McCoy would simply equate the body's (the brain's) inability to provide language with the body's inability to provide motion, or heartbeat, or digestion. The mechanistic trouble with turning thought into language would not mean an enfeebled mind, it would merely be another variant of being physically crippled.

There'd be no point in having a voice synthesizer in the chair in that case. All it could do would be to put "yes" and "no" into more complex sentences, arbitrarily chosen and not reflecting the thoughts of Pike any better than simple "beep" and "beep-beep".

What the chair could use, I guess, is a pair of manipulators. Pike is apparently capable of controlling his movements (and we can assume the chair is capable of cross-country movement, despite its Dalek-like design), so he might derive satisfaction from being able to manipulate things, too. But perhaps such aesthetic-psychotherapeutic improvements would come later? It's been "months" since the accident, but perhaps a few more months would see Pike given a proper android body?

Timo Saloniemi

where are you getting the whole "his brain is damaged beyond the ability to think in coherent language" stuff? Unless I'm remembering wrong, the episode states his brain is fully functional, it's just his body that was crippled.
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Old May 5 2011, 06:38 PM   #12
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Well, of course it was central to the "real world" plot that Pike not be able to do more than beep yes or no. But, in the "trekverse", I like the idea that, given time, he might have been able to "interface" with more sophisticated technology.

Back in the real world, it would have been nice also if the chair prop had had some kind of light around the base, to at least suggest that some sort of exotic anti-grav was levitating the chair a few inches off the floor, but oh well, that's what imagination is for.
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Old May 5 2011, 07:05 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

Unless I'm remembering wrong, the episode states his brain is fully functional
No, it doesn't. The brain is not mentioned at all. McCoy instead says that Pike's mind is still active.

In all likelihood, Pike's brain is just as shot to hell as the rest of his body. The mind could still well be intact - that's the difference between 1960s thinking and 2010s (or even 1980s) thinking. The inability to use language would not be the sign of a damaged mind, any more than stammering is. It's just one more way to be "invalid" in this world, ranking right next to being deaf, blind or crippled. Cripples are not madmen or retards by modern thinking, even though they very much were by older thinking. People who can't use language today (and there are plenty of real-world examples of advanced aphasia on otherwise normal and smart people) are not madmen or retards, either. They simply suffer from a very specific problem in their body, one that physically prevents them from processing language.

Back in the real world, it would have been nice also if the chair prop had had some kind of light around the base, to at least suggest that some sort of exotic anti-grav was levitating the chair a few inches off the floor, but oh well, that's what imagination is for.
I'm sort of delighted that levitation in TOS wasn't indicated by corny light shows. Why should antigravity manifest as blue glow, like it apparently does for the TNG era hoverchairs and hoverbeds? Those handheld antigravs of TOS never glowed in any color, and IIRC didn't even emit a silly hum.

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Old May 5 2011, 07:18 PM   #14
Wingsley
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

I do not see Fleet Captain Pike's wheelchair incapacity in "The Menagerie" as being in any way implausible or poorly fitting with the TOS Universe. In Part 2, we see a fatigued Fleet Captain Pike having difficulty staying awake during the viewing of the Talosian playback. It is reasonable to assume that Pike is so feeble (no just on the outside, but on the inside as well) that even staying awake, let alone operating a wheelchair, would be difficult for him.

The most implausible phenomenon like this in all of TOS would be the animated brainless Spock in "Spock's Brain". At the end of the episode, McCoy finishes reuniting Spock's brain with Spock's body, and Spock just sets up, fit as a fiddle, with no bandages on his head. "Spock's Brain" was a farce. "The Menagerie" doesn't fall into that category.
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Old May 5 2011, 07:36 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Why was Pike's wheelchair in "The Menagerie" so Poor ?

I sort of like the concept of zombie'ing up a dead body (and especially the repeat performance in "The Magnificent Ferengi"). It's something we could rightfully expect of 23rd century medical technology.

Whether applying that tech for bringing Spock's corpse along was a good choice compared with using standard hoverstretchers is debatable, of course...

OTOH, the idea of futuristic supertech that brings Spock back to life is not particularly far out, not in the context. We saw NOMAD do it; why should this particular alien machine be any less competent? And bandages would be truly ridiculous when even ol' Bones McCoy can suture skin with the wave of his magic wand.

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