Why Did Gene drop Christopher Pike?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Captain Shatner, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think there was some consideration given early in the process to recasting the characters with major actors, like maybe Robert Redford as Kirk. So maybe that's what would've happened, at least for the lead. Then again, with Hunter in the lead, given his lack of enthusiasm about television, the show probably wouldn't have been as popular and there might not have been any movies.

    Then again... Spock was the runaway star all along, and Shatner was fighting to stay central, with Roddenberry struggling to find a way to balance them. Hunter in the same context might've been more willing to let Nimoy take the lead, and we might've ended up with Spock becoming captain in the second season (and since this was '60s TV, there probably wouldn't have been more than a line or two of dialogue saying that Pike had been promoted or transferred or something).
     
  2. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    I heard a different but related rumor: Hunter's wife (or girlfriend, is what I heard) came into the studio behind Hunter's back and started making contract demands on his behalf. Some of those demands verged on the unreasonable; Hunter was dropped because the girlfriend would have made him unmanageable.
     
  3. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There are a number of major influences on how a person is perceived. Two significant ones are the face at rest and the speaking voice. Jeffrey Hunter has a naturally serious voice, at a deeper timber than Shatner. Also, his face tends to have a more stern look about it, mostly due to his eyebrows and deeper set eyes, whereas Shatner's face has a more rounded and softer appearance. By this alone, it automatically casts a different feel about the two actors.

    Christopher is right, that we do have the unfortunate handicap of only one Star Trek episode with which to assess Hunter.

    Here's a photo montage I whipped up in black & white, showing Hunter and Shatner. Now, believe it or not, it's hard to find photos of Shatner smiling in black & white, but very easy to do so with Hunter! This works against the point I was trying to make. But even here, you can see how Shatner's face is softer compared to Hunter, even without smiling much.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not sure if the anti-TV reason is all that true, as Hunter guest-starred on TV years after Trek (ex. "Freeway to Death," a 1967 episode of The Green Hornet--ironically, another fantasy series)
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, The Green Hornet was borderline SF in that the Hornet used high-tech gadgetry ahead of its time like a superfast car with a muted engine, a gas gun, a "sting" weapon like a miniature cattle prod, and a remote-piloted camera drone; but otherwise it was a pretty straight crime drama/adventure show, like the radio series and movie serials it was based on.
     
  6. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it's difficult to judge from "The Cage" alone how Pike would have worked as a character in contrast to Kirk. Remember, at the beginning of "The Cage," Pike is coming off a major event in which several of his crewmembers were killed. He's naturally upset, and he's doubting his own ability to make good decisions. But that's not an indication that Pike is always a gloomy, brooding character. It is a reaction to a specific incident, which is what Boyce tries to make him see.

    Then, for most of the rest of the episode, Pike is dealing with an extremely serious situation in which he is a prisoner and having his mind manipulated. Naturally, he's going to be rather serious during this situation.

    But by the end of the episode, Pike's attitude has changed. When he banters with Boyce on the bridge at the end, he's rejuvenated and recharged and ready to move on to the next mission. Had we seen the character again, he might have been far more upbeat and outgoing than what we saw in "The Cage". One episode is simply not enough to judge by.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Of course, we have seen the character again, three years ago, played by Bruce Greenwood. And he definitely wasn't the same morose, brooding guy he was in "The Cage," which fits pretty well with what you and I have both said.
     
  8. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Although he appeared in several television series after starring in "The Cage," as far as I can tell they were only guest starring roles. This meant Hunter would have to make far less of a time commitment (freeing him up for feature film roles). It also meant he could pick and choose his material (according to the description, he was dissatisfied with much of television because the need to constantly churn out material resulted in plenty of crap; a series regular would be forced to perform this crap, but a guest star would not).

    Follow-up: Something I should know, but cannot remember at present -- were scripts for the second pilot ["The Omega Glory," "Mudd's Women," and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" were commissioned before the latter was chosen] initially written with Pike instead of Kirk, or was the character recast before the episodes went to teleplay?
     
  9. Zaku

    Zaku Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    An interesting interview (from http://www.jeffreyhuntermovies.com/NewSite/InPrint/1965/interview013065.pdf):

     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    According to Inside Star Trek, Hunter dropped out before those three scripts were written. Between that, The Making of ST, and the Unseen Elements of the Original Series Episodes site, I can offer the following rough chronology:

    May 18, 1965: Roddenberry issues a memo listing many possible character names for the new captain, with "Kirk" at the bottom (though with "North" penciled in after it).

    May 27: First draft script of "Where No Man..." refers to captain as Kirk.

    First week in June: The three scripts are submitted to NBC.

    June 10: Herb Solow orders "Where No Man..." put into production.

    June 18: Roddenberry refers to "Kirk" in memos.

    Sometime in June: William Shatner cast.
     
  11. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I wonder if the initial outlines for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" mention Kirk or Pike. The first draft teleplay was submitted May 27, 1965, but there were story outlines submitted before that (I just flipped through them a week ago at UCLA, but my focus at the time was on other things, so I didn't notice).

    Actually, the finding aid for those papers indicates there are memos from early April in the "Where No Man Has Gone Before" folders, which suggests that the episode may have been outlined before Kirk was on the drawing board. I'll have to take a look at some point -- unless someone else here has access to these materials.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, again, "Kirk" was at the bottom of a long list of suggestions as of May 18, so in the outline it could just as easily have been January, Flagg, Drake, Christopher, Thorpe, Richard, Patrick, Raintree, Boone, Hudson, Timber, Hamilton, Hannibal, Neville, or North. (Note that we did get a Captain Christopher in "Tomorrow is Yesterday," and the original lead character of Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict was William Boone.) Although I think there's a good chance that the early outlines just called him "Captain." The Unseen Elements page says that a lot of the supporting characters in the WNMHGB first-draft script are nameless and referred to just by rank/position, so it stands to reason that Peeples would've done the same in the outline.
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Some more of the young Shatner.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Yes, exactly. Pilots are often more self-contained and TV-movie-like than regular run episodes, and so with "The Cage." Here the central character had kind of a psychological dilemma and didn't know whether he wanted to continue with the life he was leading. After his experiences in the episode, he seems to be more at peace and, of course, ready for more adventures.

    I like Jeffrey Hunter as an actor, he gives a very effective foundation to Martin and counterpoint to John Wayne in The Searchers. Sergeant Rutledge as mentioned above is really good, too. But in the performances I've seen he doesn't show much of a looser, joking, lighter side comparable to how Shatner is, so I think the captain character would have evolved differently if he'd kept the role. Which would probably have been fine, we'd never have known any different.

    Justin
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    When you put it that way, it sounds exactly like "Emissary." If we only knew Benjamin Sisko from the pilot episode, we'd probably think he was a pretty grim, morose figure as well.
     
  16. Matt S

    Matt S Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Side note, this thread got me to wondering about Hunter; I knew he died young, but this was from the Wiki:

    While in Spain to film the Chicago Mafia story ¡Viva América! (1969), Hunter was injured in an on-set explosion, suffering facial lacerations from broken glass as well as powder burns. Shortly thereafter, an old friend, a former British commando, unintentionally hit him on the chin with a karate chop when Hunter, who knew judo, failed to defend himself in time and the back of his head slammed against a door. While on the plane with his wife returning to the United States, Hunter's right arm suddenly became semi-paralyzed and he lost the power of speech. Upon landing, he was taken directly from the plane to Valley hospital in Los Angeles where it was determined he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He recovered and was released after a couple of weeks. At his home in Van Nuys, California, Hunter continued complaining of headaches and dizziness. Shortly after signing to co-star with Vince Edwards in The Desperados (1969), Hunter suffered another cerebral hemorrhage while on a short flight of steps in his living room and collapsed, fracturing his skull. It is not known how long he had been unconscious when he was finally found. He died during surgery to repair the skull without ever regaining consciousness. He was 42.
    Hunter was interred at Glen Haven Memorial Park, in Sylmar, California.[7]

    What the? That sounds too bizarre!
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, hell. That's just about the worst string of luck ever.
     
  18. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    That was the story as reported in the behind-the-scenes books from the 90s IIRC. Hunter's wife pushed him towards movies and away from the Trek part. Hunter supposedly made a perfunctory offer to return, but at with a salary demand that all-but guaranteed that he would not be asked back.

    More interesting to me was the whole kerfulffle over Number One and Spock, both of whom NBC wanted GONE post haste. GR could only save one, and almost had to chose the alien for story reasons.
     
  19. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    Not to get into another canon argument with you (please!), but this is like the situation with Zephram Cochrane... two different actors playing the characters decades apart, with completely different interpretations that completely screw up the timeline.

    If Pike was morose and brooding in "The Cage" - just think how much MORE upset he'd be if he had to contend with an arrogant little smartass like Kirk at the same time!

    A very sad series of events. I wonder if current knowledge might have saved him? Or, considering just how fast and how silent a killer this condition can be, maybe it was just inevitable. :(
     
  20. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed.
     

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