Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by EnriqueH, Aug 20, 2014.
Something like this.
I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have looked quite like that.
I think it's overstating things to say NBC implied that Majel couldn't act. Solow and Justman say it was more like "We're fine with Jeff Hunter, and Nimoy is okay too if you want to use him, but the rest of the cast... we can do better."
What any studio/network is going to look for from a cast is that je ne sais quoi that happens when the actor is on camera. You don't get that from most of "The Cage" cast. Servicable or fine isn't good enough. You want magic.
I've always loved the style of The Cage, it has a 1950's sci-fi
look and feel to it, and meshes nicely with something like Forbidden Planet.
Pike wasn't all that different than Kirk. They are the same character with different names at first. The earliest TOS episodes are "Pike". It's only when the writers begin to write for Shatner that the Kirk we know emerges. It's Shatner and what he brings that separates Kirk from Pike.
That's interesting, I never thought of the first few episodes being written for Pike!
I can't imagine Pike getting emotional the way Kirk did in The Corbomite Maneuver.
I'm guessing that was Shatner making it his own?
That's more the writers figuring out the characters. If you watch most shows the character behaviors in the first half-dozen episodes are often "off" compared to what the show becomes. The more that's come before, the more you have to build on. That said, an actor can bring a lot to work, so the same line delivered by Shatner or Hunter would likely be very different. Once writers see the actors doing their thing, they change the way they wrote the character to capitalize on the perceived strengths.
We only saw Pike once, so it's hard to say how he would react in any situations other than the ones explored in the Cage.
Yeah, Hunter might have played that scene in the Corbomite Maneuver different than Shatner, even with the same dialog.
I can see that.
I like the way McCoy and Kirk apologize to each other after their earlier outbursts.
Yeah Bones's pretty Boycish in Corbomite. The scene where Kirk complains about having to eat salad is clearly a sequel of the cabin scene in The Cage. And of course, there's a new Captain's personnal Yeoman who happened to be a woman, but Janice is way more magic than Colt.
I wonder how the first scenes on the bridge would have look. You have Sulu, Spock and Bailey. So Bailey would have argue with Number One and Spock the guy who laughs beside?
The problem with Pike is he was miserable and wanted to resign...exactly like Hunter.
Man, that's interesting. It has never occurred to me to imagine how the episodes would look with the original cast. I think we have a tendency to think these scripts were written/amended with our beloved TOS cast in mind.
I knew some of these episodes were written when Jeff Hunter was the captain, but I can't remember: were they written with him in mind? Or were they already written?
The first few episodes of Green Acres are a really good example of that.
Once Jeffery Hunter turned down coming back for the second pilot anything written would have had Kirk in mind rather than Pike/Hunter. But the basic character template would have likely still been similar since the Captain really hadn't been fleshed out yet. And that's what we see in the earliest episodes.
But right off the bat in WNMHGB you can see Shatner's more dynamic interpretation. He feels so much more at ease and natural in the role. So going forward from there as they wrote the first episodes (after the series was bought by NBC) all prospective writers would have been told and shown that what they saw in WNMHGB was the springboard in going forward.
To say McCoy is very much like Boyce is amusing because Roddenberry wrote Boyce with DeForest Kelley in mind, but Kelley wasn't available until the series was sold and ready to go. So we have John Hoyt brought in because Kelley wasn't available.
The difference Shatner makes is immediately apparent.
In fact, Kirk's laughing reaction to Scotty's comment about the engines is an excellent foreshadowing of their relationship.
Their characters weren't fleshed out yet, but you can immediately see the beginnings of it right away.
"The Cage" is a wonderful example of "what if?" If the first pilot had remained in obscurity until one day released along with the rest of TOS in a DVD box set as is often done now then it would be somewhat interesting to ponder.
But "The Cage" was given a greater measure of legitimacy because the bulk of it was indeed seen during the series in the two-part "The Menagerie." It established a definite prehistory to the Kirk era. So Pike and company went from being just a discarded first effort to an established part of the Star Trek backstory. For that reason we are moved to speculate on what further adventures could have happened after the events on Talos IV. And some writers have tried their hand at it in books and comics and fanfic.
There is indeed very little to go on in "The Cage," but then that's also part of its appeal because it could be fleshed out further in many different ways.
In terms of characterization there are distinct rough edges to "The Cage," but then again decades later we saw the same thing play out in TNG. The characters in "Encounter At Farpoint" (and the early episodes) are just as rough (if not more so) because the actors and writers don't have a handle on the characters yet. It's interesting to note that the TNG characters are portrayed somewhat different in TNG's first season and the early novels published by Pocket books. The characters onscreen evolved as the actors and writers became more familiar with what they were working with.
If NBC had gone with "The Cage" as is then the show's evolution at that time might have followed a similar path as the writers and actors got more comfortable. With TOS Shatner and Kelley got into their grooves pretty quick, but Nimoy took just a bit longer.
I liked what Marvel Comics did initially with their Star Trek: Early Voyages title. They tweaked the characters and made the crew less all white middle America. The tweaks they made makes the Pike era feel more consistent with what we saw in TOS. It's possible that if things had gone a bit differently (and if Hunter had stayed) that Roddenberry could have made just moderate rather than drastic changes to the characters and gone forward with that.
Why did Roddenberry change the Captain's name from Pike to Kirk for the second pilot? Is it possible he might have had a glimmer of an idea of possibly salvaging "The Cage" footage somehow down the road and some thought compelled him to change the character's name to go along with the new actor (Shatner)? And ditto with the ship's doctor (from Boyce to Piper to McCoy)?
In reality they were winging much of it even though in retrospect it all seems strangely planned out. As a result we have two instances ("The Cage" and WNMHGB) that establish a distinct prehistory to the familiar TOS era.
Weird, ain't it?
Pike was capable of losing his temper...he got pretty worked up in captivity in "The Cage"; and in one of his previous roles, Hunter unleashed a can of Holy Whoopass on some moneylenders...
I think I only saw Hoyt in The Cage, so I can be missing something, but I think Boyce would have been an "incomplete" doctor. Like Bones, he's the kind older doctor (and Kelley seemed to be the kindest man of the world), but I can't figure him being grumpy or being "colourful". Boyce arguing with Number One and calling her "You ice-woman"...it doesn't work. (Of course, this aspect was developped later when Kelly was already there.)
The best move was clearly to mix Number One with Spock. Firstly, the logical cold person fit better for the Science guy. Secondly, it created of course something really strong: the Vulcan. In The Cage, he was a Sulu or a DeSalle with pointed ears.
How would have looked The Cage with Kirk in his crew? Spock has the bridge and Kirk doesn't need to apologize for letting him here? Sulu listening the singing flowers and saying THE WOMEN (or perhaps Bones for the last one)?
Our perceptions are coloured because of what we know of the characters and how they developed. By early in first season ("The Naked Time") we learn the Enterprise is Kirk's real love. So it's hard to imagine him feeling defeated as Pike was in "The Cage" and being so tempted by Vina.
On the other hand look at Kirk's behaviour in third season in "Requiem For Methuselah" or even "The Paradise Syndrome." What if "The Cage" story had been filmed then when Kirk could indeed be tired after years of deep space missions? Maybe then he could have been tempted by someone like Vina. After all in some respects Rayna or Miramanee were just as much an illusion of a different life to Kirk that Vina was to Pike.
Moreover, Pike was established as brooding and remote--even after his conflict was resolved at the end of "The Cage"--not much of the underlying warmth we experienced with Kirk from the start. Pike and Kirk were not different "in name only" but designed to be different to the core.
Although 1960s TV had a few lead actors who were stiff and barely above room temperature in terms of audience appeal (ex. Combat's Rick Jason or The Time Tunnel's Robert Colbert come to mind), the better characters were not stodgy--they were relatable, and if married to the right actor who "got it," magic happened.
The Kirk character had to be comfortable with himself and his humanity (so the audience will sympathize with the unfolding tragedy in WNMHGB), and seem to embrace the idea of exploring new mission challenges--or the unknown. Pike--even after the Talos incident--seems like he's just resigned himself to getting back to the job, and that was not what Star Trek needed.
The 1st pilot's story was strong, to the point--a self-contained sci-fi drama, but if that was going to set the tone for the regular series, then ST fans were fortunate that it served a greater purpose as the motive/flash back in "The Menagerie" 2-parter.
I agree, especially since Shatner himself seems to be tired sometimes in Season 3. The Cage is indeed a season 3 or 4 for Pike since he's so closed to burnout.
Like TREK_GOD_1 says, The Cage is really self-contained. For me, it looks like a one shot episode for an Anthology series or a short-story. But if we isolate The Paradise Syndrome or even The City on the Edge of Forever, we have a potentially self-contained story without any hints the Captain is ready to pursue his adventures in space.
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