Why Did Gene drop Christopher Pike?

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

  1. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Shatner's making-of account is filled with inaccuracies; I wouldn't give it much credence if there's another source available. Since Nimoy wasn't in the meeting, either, I'd give the benefit of the doubt to Solow, who was.
     
  2. NoBloodyABCorD

    NoBloodyABCorD Cadet Newbie

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    Is it just me, or do the shots of Hunter (especially the one in the white shirt) make it look like Ben Browder could reprise the role of Pike, (albeit with a more somber tone than he usually hits)? Admittedly, Greenwood's Pike was one of the better parts of the JJ movie.

    Hunter looked somewhat leaner and sterner than these shots in the pilot, but still. .

    Continuing more or less on topic. .

    1st season Kirk was indeed the same idea for the role, as Roddenberry wanted that conflicted captain, but such would not survive the Mighty Shatner for long!

    To be honest, tho the Shatmeister is well deserving of his rep for always thinking from that most central position, of self, and of occasionally overstating our man Kirk's import, his positive spirit *was* (at least, imo) a primary component in Trek's success; a despondent man in the center seat would have defeated the very hope that the series represented.

    Trek worked largely because of "can do" Kirk: his ever-ready conspiratorial grin, and the sense that he really *did* get exited about people overcoming baser instincts to create and maintain a more enlightened existence (especially if such an inspired society included enlightened (emphasis on lightened) clothing for their women, with *some* allowances for baser instincts following therefrom, weekly).

    Additionally, I don't see Hunter convincingly pulling off a romantic scene using "one of those points of light in the sky" as a landing line.

    EDIT: I also think Shatner's performance wasn't as OTT *for the time* as people claim. Early TV, an untested and largely unmapped medium, was full of too-expressive acting, of the sort which IS appropriate on the live stage, where nuances are lost in distance, and unenunciated voices oft go unheard. It was a while before the reality of TV was figured out: subtle worked better since the camera caught everything.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Howdy, NoBloodyABCorD and welcome aboard. But be careful about posting to threads more than 6 months old, the staff here tend to frown on that. Best to start a new thread.
     
  4. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    I must disagree. Without thinking of the rest of the series, movies, etc., just study his debut performance in "Where No Man Has Gone Before," where he jokes with Spock about his "bad blood," being irritated by Kirk's game and the turbolift interplay with Spock & Mitchell. Right out of the gates, Kirk was serious, but he was miles ahead of Pike in being warm and having a real personality.

    Some argue the Talosian situation of "The Cage" and Pike's doubts as the reason for his humorless behavior in only one episode, so we do not know how the character woud have progressed. Okay, but I have to remind everyone that Kirk's debut situation surpassed that in terms of the pressure / grim tone, as he has to see his best friend as an enemy, eventually making the decision to kill him.

    I would say the latter would sour a man more than being part of an alien zoo/breeding farm.

    Even after that, he manages a light moment with Spock at the end of the episode. I think the long-standing claim that Shatner's Kirk went a long way toward selling TOS (along with the "two-fisted" action) is accurate, as the lead was magnetic, and would go a long way in appealing to as many viewers as possible.

    I love Hunter's Pike, and the overall production of that pilot, but it is easy to see why on a creative note, a truly dynamic leading man was required.
     
  5. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When Shatner does his "compassion" speech before the final showdown, I always think "damn, that's Shatner selling the series right there." He does incredible work here, really amazing stuff.
     
  6. golddragon71

    golddragon71 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I have to be honest. after reading this debate I'd really like to see more stories with Pike

    The interesting thing to note is that the Cage took place very early in Spock's career as a star fleet officer if you go by the comments made in the Menagerie

    Mendez: did you Ever Meet chris Pike?
    Kirk: We Met when he was promoted to fleet Captain.....I took over the Enterprise from him. Spock served with him for several years.
    Spock: Eleven years, four months, five days.

    Later...
    Spock: This is thirteen years ago. The Enterprise, and it's Commander, Captain Christopher Pike.

    That's quite a lot of stories to fill in. Now D.C. Fontana gave us Spock's First mission on the Enterprise under Chris Pike in Vulcan's Glory (which i just re-read last night and highly recommend)

    A thought did occur to me that if Hunter had not been so eager (or eagerly pushed by his girlfriend/wife) and had done Star Trek full-time he might have lived a lot longer (on the other hand a light could have fallen on the set and smashed his skull in anyway)
     
  7. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree. Hunter and Shatner's relative performances boil down to different takes on the Horatio Hornblower inspired writing of the captain character. To fully appreciate it I would really recommend reading one of the Hornblower books (C.S. Forester author). I did because of Roddenberry's constant citing it as a source and boy, he wasn't kidding. The influence is palpable.

    Also it was common practice for actors to shoot pilots for show's they felt wouldn't get picked up. It was easy money. And, at the time, Jeffrey Hunter was a "serious" film star where as science fiction (especially on TV) was kiddie fare and not highly regarded. That it is why Lloyd Bridges rejected the lead in Star Trek outright and why Jack Lord placed such a high-price (50% stake) on his services (knowing full well Desilu couldn't agree to his terms).
     
  8. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    An interesting thing to ponder is what would have been Star Trek's fortunes had Jeff Hunter had gone to series? Hunter passed away May of '69 (at age 42) due to complications from a fall and a stroke.

    Would TOS had been as appealing with Captain Pike? Would there have been conventions or the novelty of mass adoration that marked the 70s? Would it have had the cinematic second-wind that TOS enjoyed without the original captain? Would there have been a TNG?
     
  9. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The very point of that illusion - made explicitly by Vina as she "introduces" it - was to encourage Pike to indulge in fantasies of a kind that he'd never act out in real life because of his internalized moral constraints. He never would choose to be a slave trader, but people fantasize all kinds of things - including, not infrequently, murder.

    Leonard Nimoy once made the point that "The Cage" is actually about the Talosians trying to discover what will turn Pike on sexually so that he'll be driven to mate with Vina. When Pike notes that the Keeper can't use his mental powers to implant irresistable hunger, it's the writer's way of obliquely explaining that the Keeper can't just make Pike too horny to resist the blonde, either.

    Keep up - this was discussed a couple of pages back. Hunter's problems were the result of an injury suffered during a film shoot that he likely wouldn't have been on if he'd been doing a TV series in California at that time.
     
  10. Danger Ace

    Danger Ace Commander Red Shirt

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    Dang, friend, you don't have to be rude or bullying about it. Clearly, my retreading was unintentional. There were a lot of posts and I glossed over many. My error but hardly worth such an inconsiderate reply.
     
  11. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    That's just the difference between Shatner and Hunter and not really the difference between Kirk and Pike. WNMHGB could just as easily been about Chris Pike and his old pal Gary Mitchell. ( with Shatner in role even). I don't think they reimagined the Captain character when they changed the name to James Kirk or were writing him in a different way when putting together WNMHGB.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Right, as I pointed out earlier in the thread. Roddenberry changed the captain's name multiple times in the development process -- it was April throughout development, then briefly Winter, and was only changed to Pike about a week before filming started on the pilot. And then there was a list of about a dozen candidate names for the captain in the second pilot, with Kirk at the bottom.

    Maybe Roddenberry did choose to change the name because he was hoping to recycle the pilot footage, or maybe he just felt that recasting the lead actor called for a name change (although that wasn't the case when he recast the returning Genesis II characters in the revamped second pilot Planet Earth years later). But we're talking '60s TV here, and that means that changing a character's name, even claiming he's a different character, didn't necessarily mean giving him a different personality. There were cases where different characters were specifically created to be completely interchangeable as far as the writing went. A notable case was the James Garner series Maverick. Originally it was meant to revolve solely around Garner's Bret Maverick, but production delays led them to add a second lead, Jack Kelly as his brother Bart, so that they could alternate stars and production crews on overlapping schedules to meet the deadlines. The characters usually appeared in alternate episodes and rarely together, and they were intentionally written to be completely interchangeable in personality, so that either actor could be dropped into any script as needed. The only difference between the characters was in how the actors played the lines -- Garner bringing more humor, Kelly playing it more seriously. Later on, when Garner left the show in a contract dispute, they brought in Roger Moore as his replacement, cousin Beau (ironically, after Sean Connery had declined the role!), and briefly added Robert Colbert as another interchangeable brother.

    Not to mention all the interchangeable leads on Mission: Impossible. Jim Phelps was essentially the same character as Dan Briggs, though Peter Graves made him more amiable and benevolent; Paris was the same character as Rollin Hand; Cinnamon, Dana, and Casey were all pretty much the same too (except that Casey also inherited Rollin & Paris's makeup/disguise skills because budget cuts required shrinking the cast). And then you had Goober Pyle replacing Gomer in Andy Griffith, Baker replacing Kinchloe in Hogan's Heroes, etc.

    It's not just '60s TV, of course. There's The Dukes of Hazzard where Bo & Luke were temporarily replaced by indistinguishable cousins Coy & Vance due to another contract dispute. There's Cheryl Ladd replacing Farrah Fawcett on Charlie's Angels. There's Selma being replaced with Flo on Night Court when the actress died (and when Flo's portrayer died a year later, they replaced her with a younger bailiff). And so on. These days, such replacement characters are generally given some differences from their predecessors, but in the '60s and '70s, they were often deliberately treated as identical.
     
  13. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    Then there's the famous case of Bewitched, when Darwin-- I mean, Darrin Stephens changed from Dick York to Dick Sargent (due to York's health problems), and not even Samantha noticed the difference.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  14. Timewalker

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

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    ^ But that was magic, so it doesn't really count. ;)
     
  15. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    That Endora, what a wacky sense of humor.
     
  16. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Actors work from the script, character descriptions or template they recieve. From every analysis of the effect of "The Cage," once Hunter was not an option, Roddenberry did not wish to clone Pike, as he was not appealing enough--certainly not for a regular series lead. Kirk and Pike were anything other than interchangable personalities no matter the perfomer.

    To his credit, Shatner picked up on the warmth / humor, but that was in the WNMHGB script for Kirk.

    Interchangeable personalities occured to some degree on M*A*S*H, where uptight, snobby and judgemental Frank Burns was replaced by uptight, snobby and judgemental Charles Winchester--essentially born of the same need of an easily targeted foil for the leadback series leads.
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    And yet Kirk will voice similar weariness as Pike did, when he says, "No beach to walk on." That Kirk is Pike by any other name is a great point.
     
  18. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There's not a dime's worth of difference between Kirk and Pike in the two pilots - the fact that Peeples added a tiny bit more to the character doesn't transform him; many writers would continue to add new things, week after week, without making Kirk into someone other than Kirk.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that's a different phenomenon altogether. That's just recasting a single character. What I'm talking about are instances where one character was nominally replaced by a different character with a different name, yet the "new" character was written identically to the old one.



    We've been through this already earlier in the thread. The differences in the characters emerged in the actors' performances, and over time, the writers began writing Kirk to reflect Shatner's performance. But we're talking about how Kirk was written in the second pilot and early first season. The Kirk who in "The Corbomite Maneuver" was as uncomfortable with a female yeoman as Pike was. Who in "Mudd's Women" was so ultra-serious and driven that he was the only human male in the crew who wasn't affected by the titular ladies. Who in "The Naked Time" was yearning for a simpler life free from the burdens of command exactly as Pike was. Who in "Balance of Terror" needed a pep talk from his doctor exactly as Pike did. (And McCoy was exactly the same character as Boyce too -- let's not forget that Roddenberry wanted DeForest Kelley as the doctor from the beginning.)

    Remember what I said about Maverick. Every script was written with the assumption that James Garner would be playing it. There was nothing to distinguish the scripts that went to Garner, Jack Kelly, and Roger Moore except for scheduling; the hero was written identically in every case. And yet the three actors were perceived as three distinct characters -- Bret more comedic, Bart more serious, Beau more suave and gentlemanly -- based entirely on performance, not script. So you're giving actor interpretation far too little credit. The same script performed by two different actors can produce two very different characterizations.

    For another example, watch different actors' interpretations of Shakespeare, or different performances of other plays. A few years back I watched two different versions of Hamlet, the 1980 Derek Jacobi one and the more recent David Tennant one. Their Ophelias were delivering the same lines but couldn't have been more different in personality -- Lalla Ward's 1980 Ophelia was so weepy and pathetic that it was a relief when she went mad and finally seemed to be having some fun, while Mariah Gale's 2009 version was so strong, assertive, and canny that I wondered if she was faking her madness as a ploy just as Hamlet did. Not to mention that Sir Patrick Stewart played King Claudius in both versions, yet even the same actor delivering the same lines created two diametrically opposite characterizations 29 years apart: The younger Stewart rushed through Claudius's lines and gave a superficial, shallow performance, while the more mature Stewart gave him so much depth and gravitas that you admired him even though he was the villain.

    So really, there's far more to it than just what's scripted. The actor can completely transform what's on the page.


    The potential was there, but it was there in "The Cage" too. Imagine Shatner and Kelley having the exchange about doctors and bartenders.


    Wow, you're just incredibly off the mark there. The whole reason the producers replaced Frank was because the show had grown more sophisticated, the characters more nuanced, but Frank had become an irredeemable caricature of incompetence and just didn't fit the show anymore. So they replaced him with a more three-dimensional character who worked for what the show had become. Charles was superficially an obnoxious foil like Frank, but he was supercompetent in contrast to Frank's ineptitude, he wasn't lovestruck over Maj. Houlihan the way Frank had been, he was a culture snob rather than a petty bigot like Frank, and though he had his rivalries with the other doctors, he also had admirable qualities and sometimes found himself allied with the others in a just cause.

    Indeed, M*A*S*H is one of the leading counterexamples to the pattern of identical replacements, because all its replacement leads were quite distinct in personality from their predecessors. Trapper John was a womanizer like Hawkeye, but BJ was a devoted family man. Blake was a drafted civilian who was uneasy with authority and would've been lost without Radar, but Potter was a career military man and proud of it. And when Radar left, they didn't bring in an equivalent character but had the very different Klinger take over his job. Not to mention how much the leads who stayed changed over the years, with Hawkeye becoming more serious and thoughtful, Margaret becoming more nuanced and sympathetic, etc.
     
  20. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Yours is a case of putting the cart before the horse: your refereces all followed the humor and warmth deliberately written for Kirk in WHMHGB. There's no getting around that. His debut set the tone for the characterization, and explains why it was not simply the work of Shatner, as he could not know how Kirk would be handled as the script was in the development stage.

    This strongly suggests TPB made a conscious decision for Kirk to be something different than the morose Pike--in other words not simply a name change once Hunter was no longer associated with the production.

    No, its not there. In the cabin scene, Boyce is trying to pull Pike out of a funk, but the captain is only mildly amused, sticking to his depression. Even at the story's conclusion, his little jab at the doctor still comes off as a stern leader simply ending a line of conversation he found uncomfortable.

    The script for WNMHGB featured an open, joking relationship out of the gates, to let everyone know this captain is tough, but approachable, even fun.


    Incorrect: Larry Linville was offered a two year contract extension at the end of his 5 years, but he declined; it had nothing to do with the producers taking the series in another direction would not suit the Burns character.

    The producers would have been glad to keep the character in the same slot for as long as possible (and i've seen no indicators Burns was to "evolve" if Linville accepted the contract extension), as they needed a stuffy, uptight foil.

    It is no coincidence that Linville's replacement (Winchester) had the same prime character traits as Burns (noted above). Above all else, the antagonistic, stuffy man disrespecting the jocular habits of his fellow surgeons.