The Cage was a better pilot than WNMHGB

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Kaelef, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice ATARI CX5200 Premium Member

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    Valiant. And, yes, that's a nice moment.
     
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  2. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I think Apple was probably inspired by the goose neck viewscreens, as the close-up Of The goose neck viewscreen looks like it has an Apple iPhone SE in it (held horizontally) when Spock is Calling Pike from the bridge.
     
  3. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    As different as they are, I like both The Cage and WNMHGB as I do both TMP and WOK.
     
  4. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yep. Also, Man Trap seems to have been chosen because it was the only complete planet show available at the time (WNM does go planetside, but not till half an hour in).
     
  5. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    I've seen this before and completely disagree. Presenting the lead character at such a crossroads is a way to get an "origin arc" out of a character who's already supposed to be experienced at their job. The pilot episode of Adam-12, which aired as the first episode, did something similar with Pete Malloy. When we met him, he'd just lost a partner and was considering leaving the force, but in the meantime was assigned a new rookie partner, Jim Reed. The potential that Reed showed as an officer while still having a lot to learn motivated Malloy to stay. This introduction to Pete Malloy didn't prevent the show from running for seven years, all with co-lead Martin Milner as Pete Malloy.
     
  6. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    Even now, 63 minutes is odd for a runtime for any TV movie. Nowadays, in the US, every half-hour show airs about 8 minutes of ads (versus 3.5/4 minutes in the 60’s when Trek episodes ran 52/53 minutes without commercials), 16 minutes in an hour and 24 minutes in a one-hour-And-thirty-minute program slot. In order to fill a 90 minute slot, “The Cage” would need 27 minutes of commercials.

    In the 60’s, “The Cage” would’ve needed about another 17 minutes of film to stretch it to a film meant for a 90 minute slot (that could’ve added another “C” plot, I don’t see them adding 17 minutes of a dream sequence)! Was that shot and it’s been lost to time? Of course, the version of “The Cage” available on home video is based on Gene Roddenberry’s workprint, which could be considered like the VHS copy of “Measure Of A Man” that was given to the scriptwriter, and had not had its final edit, which would mean that had “The Cage” been aired in the 60’s as part of TOS, it would’ve appeared with 10 less minutes of footage. I don’t recall seeing “The Cage” in Syndication (aside from “The Menagerie”) but does it work in Syndication with about 20 minutes cut out?

    It makes more sense that it would’ve been released as a “B” film in its current form or put out on Super 8 or 16mm for home viewing
     
  7. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The big difference between Malloy and Pike is that by the end of "The Impossible Mission" (the Adam-12 pilot), he was much more at ease with himself and had a newfound purpose, as opposed to Pike, who was still closed off and/or Hunter still doing the "I'm projecting the leader" part, even as he was supposed to have discovered his own new lease on continuing on as captain. Hunter--and the way Pike was written--did not scream that perfect mix of formal leader and charismatic personal side with many faces, which Shatner delivered by the boatload in the WNMHGB pilot.

    Even in your Adam-12 example, Martin Milner had no problem mixing hard-nosed, street-weary Malloy, and offered a caring (in somewhat begrudging fashion), human side by the pilot's end (certainly more than his boss--Jack Webb--would ever show as Joe Friday). Milner's Pete Malloy helped sell the series because the audience had a character that was not stuck in one, dour emotional state, and hinted that he and Reed just might be a good partnership worth following--and it was. On the other hand, Pike--despite being the captain who we assumed worked closely with his officers--still failed to give that full impression by the end of his pilot. If you could not get it right in the pilot (where that's the purpose), then both actor and character's prospects as the lead of a regular series were highly doubtful, and deservedly so.
     
  8. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    While I tend to agree that Pike was a bit too serious and fed up it would have been resolved in future episodes. I'm sure we would have seen a more chill guy. I also think that part of the reason Pike is so admired was because of his heroism of sacrificing his life to a horrible fate in "The Menageries". I'm sure Picard and Janeway and Sisko wouldn't have all their fans if we'd only seen them on their pilot set up episode.

    Yes Kirk is a more approachable likeable character (from the get-go). While things were pretty serious in WNMHGB it has some moments of lightness and hope - which I didn't get from "The Cage". Mitchell and Kirk teasing Spock. Spock at the end admitting he felt for Mitchell.

    The main problem with "The Cage" was there were two stiff upper lip characters as leads. Maybe if when Number One was captured, she and Pike sat in the corner and acted like comrades and discussed the situation like what shall we do, even a bit we've been in tougher situations and got out before sort of stuff. Instead they acted as if thy'd just be assigned together for the first time.
    No criticism on the performance of Hunter or Majel here while I admire the braveness of their characters there was just no chance to get to like them in this one episode. Whereas I liked kirk from the start.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Was that really such a problem, though? There were other successful shows like that, like Dragnet. And Star Trek was a show about military officers, disciplined and ultraprofessional.
     
  10. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    I can only talk about my own likes and while I might watch a show like Dragnet I don't become attached to it like I am to Star Trek if there are no characters I can relate to or like.
    I wouldn't even "like" Spock if he was strictly Vulcan all the time.
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

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    I won't argue with most of that. My point was that on paper, introducing Pike in a state of job-weariness wasn't some horrible, unthinkable idea. Hunter's ability to pull it off was another matter.
     
  12. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I really like "The Cage"

    But...

    "The Cage" is not a better pilot television episode than "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

    Not by a long shot, actually.
     
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  13. Maurice

    Maurice ATARI CX5200 Premium Member

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    :guffaw:Boy is that preposterous.

    Nah. You could get away with features closer to 75 minutes, as Russ Meyer proved. 90 wasn't a requirement, especially for B movies.
     
  14. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's interesting to contemplate TV pilots that feature a lead character in a substantially different state than what we got in the series proper. I'm thinking of the Andy Sipowicz character in the NYPD Blue pilot. We meet Andy at the very bottom of a downward spiral, where he's drinking in the middle of the day, frequenting hookers, and screwing up on the job. He comes close to losing his job even before he's shot. By the end of the second episode, he's cleaned up his act and becomes the gruff, rough around the edges but ultimately good cop we see for the rest of the series. Now, of course, when the series was first conceived, Sipowicz was the secondary lead behind David Caruso's John Kelly, but he was still quite different in the pilot than the Sipowicz we saw week in and week out.
     
  15. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    I’d disagree. I think that scene showed just how much Pike and Number One trusted each other. Sure at first she was confused after finding out that it was only her and Colt transported, but Number one quickly realizes that Pike is in the middle of a plan, and she doesn’t need verbal confirmation. It’s like soldier’s and police communicating
    by hand gestures and looks without verbalizing orders when they are trying to sneak up on someone.

    And of course we have the Pike-Colt arc. At the beginning of Cage he tears into her for bringing the reports, in an almost annoyed father way, but then at the end their relationship is at a point where Colt felt some what comfortable about asking “who would’ve been Eve”, and Pike reacts like a father would’ve reacted to a daughter asking something that she shouldn’t and then you had Number One being the “mother” character that scolds the daughter. Even in the cage when Vina tries to get between Pike and the two Enterprise women, Colt seems to act more like a daughter would if she saw another woman trying to break her “Mom” and “Dad”’s marriage up. It would’ve been interesting to have seen the “family dynamic” between Pike-Number One-Colt develop.
     
  16. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    90 minutes would be the time allotted for airing with commercials. Were TV stations still broadcasting 15 minute programs in 1964/65 that NBC could’ve put at the end or just before “The Cage” if it was broadcasted as a movie of the week in a 90 minute block? If not, then is there a new plot that could’ve extended “The Cage” by 17 minutes (from 63 minutes to 80 minutes) to allow with commercials a 90 minute broadcast?
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice ATARI CX5200 Premium Member

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    Sorry, I was talking theatrical release, which was what Gene was proposing before they got the 2nd pilot pickup. I somehow missed that you were discussing a TV movie. And I don't recall there being a 1.5 hour TV movie slot on network TV, which would have required about 70–80 minutes runtime, where as the runtime necessary for a 2 hour network slot would have been ~104 minutes.
     
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  18. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ...and that tells you why Kirk was the perfect type of character to lead the series, as he was appealing/interesting/thrilling from the start, and although he would have character development to come, in the pilot, he was so much a rich, "real" character--a person one could relate to, that it did not take a number of episodes or seasons for the character to attract viewers.

    ..which was yet another problem: two people so dry and charisma-free that there is no point of interest, no heart,and nothing to compel audiences to want to follow them. With every exploration of "The Cage" comes more reasons why it failed to sell the series.

    Truthfully, on Dragnet, only Joe Friday was the stiff straight man who barely cracked a smile, while his partner--Bill Gannon--was emotive and comic relief where needed. In "The Cage" it was the two top officers both being Joe Friday, and that was not appealing to anyone.

    All so true.
     
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  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, there were plenty of those. In the '70s, Roddenberry's Genesis II and Planet Earth pilots both ran 74 minutes, for 90-minute broadcast slots. Both the Wonder Woman pilot movies, the Cathy Lee Crosby version and the Lynda Carter version, ran 73-74 minutes, as did the second-season Wonder Woman premiere episode. The two Carl Kolchak TV movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, were 74 minutes, as was the 1977 Logan's Run TV pilot.

    While we're at it, most of the episodes of The NBC Mystery Movie (including shows like Columbo, McCloud, and McMillan and Wife) ran in 90-minute slots, though sometime they went as long as 2 hours. Columbo fans often feel that the 2-hour ones were too padded and the 90-minute (actually 74-minute) length was ideal. (The Columbo revival movies in the '80s-'90s were always 2 hours and tended to be extremely padded.)

    So 90-minute TV movie slots were a routine fixture of the era. After all, there were plenty of 70-odd-minute theatrical B-movies that ran on TV all the time.

    As late as 1987, TNG's pilot was originally slated for a 90-minute slot, and then they decided to expand it to 2 hours, which led to Roddenberry's creation of the Q character to pad out D.C. Fontana's Farpoint Station story. (I think the same may be true of TNG's sister show in syndication, War of the Worlds: The Series; its pilot has a subplot about the lead character's failing romance that runs 20-odd minutes and feels unconnected to the rest of the story.)
     
  20. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    Even with theatrical release they could’ve released it as it is. Or they could’ve sold it on Super8 for home viewing.