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Old May 21 2013, 05:07 AM   #1
Lance
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Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

I was thinking about this today. 'The Menagerie' was supremely clever for its use of the original pilot footage, given that said pilot episode was effectively unbroadcastable by the time Star Trek made it to air (the format and cast had changed too much). But I was thinking: has there ever been another TV show which did anything similar? Or was it a true stroke of genius on Gene Roddenberry's part, this idea that maybe the footage of Pilot #1 could be salvaged somehow (let alone allowing the broadcast of practically the whole pilot episode)? It just struck me that it seems to be a pretty unique thing.

I mean, television is full of examples of pilot programs where the cast is different and therefore the pilot can't be fit into the series' continuity (sometimes those pilots end up being reshot with the new actors). I suppose the true piece of luck in Roddenberry's case was that Leonard Nimoy managed to survive all the way through to the series proper, so as giving an excuse to revisit the events of 'The Cage'.
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Old May 21 2013, 06:26 AM   #2
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

And here I thought you were going to say having male aliens played by women and dubbing in male voices.

Seriously, probably not. The whole two pilots thing is rare enough by itself.
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Old May 21 2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

My knowledge of TV history is virtually nil, but I'm not convinced that what we saw would have been rare in general terms. I mean, use of incompatible footage does save resources, and many a TV show no doubt has borrowed heavily from the archives when pressed for time and money. Did Trek really do anything exceptional in that sense?

"The Menagerie" doesn't impress with its dramatic values. "The Cage" is a story that deserved to be aired, even if in this somewhat truncated form - but the framing story is a senseless collection of unconvincing transitions and implausible actions, and the extremely thin story there only serves to undermine everything "The Cage" stood for.

Which I guess is a bold dramatic twist as such. I doubt, though, that the concept of Pike making a complete 180, embracing illusion and sacrificing reality (not to mention providing the Talosians with the slave race they desired) was really intended and planned for - it just happened when the writers threw together this mess, a clip show among the innumerable clip shows of the modern TV world. Were those less common back then?

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Old May 21 2013, 10:48 AM   #4
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

From the wiki on clip shows,

Movie studios often resorted to old footage to save money. The most famous example is the short comedies of The Three Stooges which, from 1949 until 1957, borrowed lengthy sequences and often entire storylines from old shorts. Only a few new scenes would be filmed as a framework for the old footage. This practice was adopted because the studios could charge more money for "new" films than for old ones.
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Old May 21 2013, 11:05 AM   #5
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Timo wrote: View Post
I doubt, though, that the concept of Pike making a complete 180, embracing illusion and sacrificing reality (not to mention providing the Talosians with the slave race they desired) was really intended and planned for - it just happened when the writers threw together this mess, a clip show among the innumerable clip shows of the modern TV world. Were those less common back then?

Timo Saloniemi
I don't think radiation-burned Pike and post-menopausal Vina would produce any children for the Talosians. But you have a point about the framing story undoing the themes of "The Cage."

Maybe they should have done a traditional flash-back episode where let's say Jose Tyler or Miss Colt visits, and Spock says "Remember when..."

More artfully than that, of course.
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Old May 21 2013, 11:30 AM   #6
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Timo wrote: View Post
"The Menagerie" doesn't impress with its dramatic values. "The Cage" is a story that deserved to be aired, even if in this somewhat truncated form - but the framing story is a senseless collection of unconvincing transitions and implausible actions, and the extremely thin story there only serves to undermine everything "The Cage" stood for.
While it may be senseless and unconvincing, I think a framing story was necessary. We have the advantage of looking back at "The Cage" and "The Menagerie" from nearly 50 years later. We've come to accept Pike in command of the Enterprise and understand that there were personnel changes in the 11 years following.

But, back in 1966, the audience didn't have such a framework to rely upon. The Menagerie were episodes 11 and 12 of Season 1. Most of the viewing audience would have been totally confused by all the differences between the established Trek series and the unaired original pilot. Some kind of framing story was needed in order not to confuse or lose the audience.

There was a short lived (1 season) scifi show in the late 70s or early 80s. It was either "The Powers of Matthew Star" or "The Phoenix" (Starring Star Trek II's Judson Scott); I can't remember which one. Anyway, the show was cancelled before season 1 even ended (the more I think about it, the more I think it was Matthew Star). They showed the original unaired pilot as the last episode. It was so totally different from the previous episodes that I was totally confused and lost the whole episode. Nothing made any sense.

When thinking about this incident, I'm glad they put some kind of framework around "The Cage."

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post

I don't think radiation-burned Pike and post-menopausal Vina would produce any children for the Talosians. But you have a point about the framing story undoing the themes of "The Cage."
Cloning would work. Of course, why not send an appeal to other planets for volunteers to resettle the planet? Why not clone Talosians?

[quote[Maybe they should have done a traditional flash-back episode where let's say Jose Tyler or Miss Colt visits, and Spock says "Remember when..."

More artfully than that, of course.[/QUOTE]

That'd work. Of course, neither of those two were crew members on the current Enterprise. But I like the direction you're heading. Any chance to see Miss Colt again...
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Old May 21 2013, 12:50 PM   #7
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

^A little Wiki reveals that it was Matthew Star, which at least had the virtue of having run an entire season (with a major format shake-up mid-season). The Phoenix only ran for 5 episodes! Both were ca. 1982.

I think some are being a little unfair likening "The Menagerie" to a clip show. Most clip shows show "best of" moments that have already aired. "The Menagerie" was the first and only way to watch "The Cage" on television for 20 years.
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Old May 21 2013, 01:38 PM   #8
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

I agree, Old Mixer. "The Menagerie" wasn't, for a very long time, technically a "clip show" (in the way many American shows like Friends, Simpsons, Frasier etc seem to cobble them together). As you say, "The Cage" was not broadcast for a very long time. "The Menagerie", despite its faults, is much more than just a clip show.
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Old May 22 2013, 01:04 AM   #9
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

^And it gave us "one beep means yes, two beeps means no"...what's not to love?
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Old May 22 2013, 02:51 PM   #10
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Timo wrote: View Post
"The Menagerie" doesn't impress with its dramatic values. "The Cage" is a story that deserved to be aired, even if in this somewhat truncated form - but the framing story is a senseless collection of unconvincing transitions and implausible actions, and the extremely thin story there only serves to undermine everything "The Cage" stood for.
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I think that Cpt. Pike's drive for freedom in "The Cage" is not incompatable with going to Talos 4 in the end of "The Menagerie" because he's in an even worse "cage" now, his own body. So a healthy robust Pike wouldn't want to be trapped in illusion, but he is neither and his imprisonment even more oppressive. I understand his choice.

But, this leads to another problem, why doesn't the Federation negotiate with the Talosians to open a hospice on their planet for similarly disabled citizens.
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Old May 22 2013, 06:11 PM   #11
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Lance wrote: View Post
I was thinking about this today. 'The Menagerie' was supremely clever for its use of the original pilot footage, given that said pilot episode was effectively unbroadcastable by the time Star Trek made it to air (the format and cast had changed too much). But I was thinking: has there ever been another TV show which did anything similar? Or was it a true stroke of genius on Gene Roddenberry's part, this idea that maybe the footage of Pilot #1 could be salvaged somehow (let alone allowing the broadcast of practically the whole pilot episode)? It just struck me that it seems to be a pretty unique thing.
Actually it was surprisingly common around that time, and "The Menagerie" was not the earliest example. The original 1964 Gilligan's Island pilot, which lacked Tina Louise, Russell Johnson, and Dawn Wells, was rejected, and only its first scene (with the replaced actors cut out, though a couple of shots of them lying unconscious on the boat's deck remain) was incorporated into the aired series premiere. But later that season, the Christmas episode incorporated much of the unused pilot material as flashbacks within a frame story where the castaways reflected on their first day on the island.

Also in 1964, the pilot episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. had nearly half an hour of extra footage added to it for overseas release as the feature film To Trap a Spy. The added material was a subplot in which a sexy enemy agent first seduced and killed the UNCLE agent who warned the agency of the assassination featured in the pilot, then later intercepted Napoleon Solo and tried to seduce and kill him as well, with less success. Later on, in early 1965, they built the episode "The Four-Steps Affair" around that extra footage, substituting a different assassination plot that Solo's partner Illya Kuryakin worked to foil on his own while Solo was off with the seductress in the stock footage.

You could also make a case for Lost in Space. Its pilot lacked Dr. Smith and the Robot, so when those characters were added and the storyline changed, the original pilot footage ended up being distributed throughout episodes 1, 3, 4, and 5 of the series.

More recently, in 1997, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert produced a 2-hour pilot for Amazon High, in which a modern-day student (Selma Blair) was sent back in time to live among the Amazons of the Hercules/Xena universe. When the pilot failed, they incorporated portions of it into the Xena episode "Lifeblood," as visions of the past experienced by Xena and Gabrielle.

Also, several scenes from the unaired pilot of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse were incorporated into two or three early episodes of the first season, not unlike the Lost in Space example only less extensively.

So this has actually been a common practice for decades. Pilots cost money to make, and producers often try to find ways to make up for that cost by working the unaired pilot footage into later episodes. Heck, even the original 90-second demo for The Flintstones (initially titled The Flagstones) ended up getting incorporated into the first-produced (though third-aired) episode.
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Old May 23 2013, 07:26 AM   #12
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Game of Thrones used some of the footage from the original pilot in the first episode. The scene of the feast when Robert visits Winterfell was from the first pilot. They had to shoot a scene of Robb, Jon, and Theon shaving to explain why they had no facial hair in that scene when they did earlier in the episode.
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Old May 26 2013, 04:56 PM   #13
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

Last year it was announced that there would be an Office spin-off starring Dwight and his family working their farm. Then it wasn't picked up. One of the last episodes of this past season of the Office featured Dwight and his estranged siblings reuniting to take care of their farm. It took up most of the episode and I assume it was footage from the failed pilot. Does anyone know for sure?
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Old May 26 2013, 05:31 PM   #14
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

The AV Club reported that the episode repurposed the unused pilot footage, yes.
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Old May 26 2013, 07:47 PM   #15
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Re: Has any other TV series ever done what 'The Menagerie' did?

A less extensive example, but there was a pre-Arturo death episode of Sliders that, for whatever reaon, got aired after JRD had left the show with a brief new opening (and possibly ending as well? I can't remember now) of the "Remember that time a while back..." variety.
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