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The Cage 1965
Description: Captain Pike is held prisoner and inspected by aliens who have the power to project incredibly lifelike illusions. The original pilot episode of the first Star Trek series.
Released: 27 Nov 1988 Director: Robert Butler Writers: Gene Roddenberry (created by), Gene Roddenberry Actors: Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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The Cage Reviews:

Just think...if Jeffrey Hunter had wound up testing the Captain in Star Trek, he might be alive today. Hunter died in 1969 from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, probably caused by an explosion that imploded instead during a movie he was working on in Europe. Interesting thought.The Cage was the most expensive pilot in NBC history to that point. Though the Star Trek concept had its supporters, the network couldn't see past its nose to pick up the series. They did, however, accept to a second pilot with some changed elements - like a girl who was second in command. The reasons why Hunter did not do the next pilot have been debated. A mate of Hunter's stated that Hunter's wife, Dusty, thought science fiction was weak class and didn't wish him involved in the show. And, according to Shatner's book, she also made unreasonable demands of the producers.It's worth remembering that back in the '60s, science fiction, zone movies, etc., did not have the "A" status that they do today. B films only became A films after Star Wars.The Cage is a not only very nice but touching, and of course, it's fascinating to see "Star Trek" before it became a cult classic. The storyline concerns a planet that exists basically on Mind Control, and the inhabitants in charge capture Pike in the hope that he can support replenish their race with an world girl who is there as a effect of a ship crashing. Susan Oliver is the woman.During the run of the series, in order to recoup some of the costs of this fabulously expensive pilot, it was incorporated into a two-part episode, with other actor testing the actually near-vegetative Captain Pike.I love seeing movies such as this that were done before all the unique result technology became available, because they were done in such innovative and imaginative ways. The Cage is worth a look to see the genesis of a present that became part of our culture.


This is one of my very favourite episodes, and I've everytime wondered what a Star Trek with Captain Pike would have been like. It has excitement, suspense, and even a thinking plot. It definitely works much better as a stand-alone episode than it does as a backdrop for "The Menagerie". In that capacity, it is used as a flashback to propel a very odd storyline where Spock commandeers the Enterprise to deliver a badly injured Pike to what appears to be a morally bankrupt race so he can live out an illusion of a normal life. Very un-Spock like IMHO.That said, it seems apparent to me that Gene Roddenberry lifted some very obvious plot concepts for this pilot from the Twilight Territory episode "People Are Alike All Over". He even borrowed actress Susan Oliver who appeared in that episode in a related role and a with a related name ("Teenya" versus "Vina").


Before Scotty and Sulu; before Dr.McCoy; before even Capt. Kirk, Spock (Nimoy) was under command of Capt. Pike (Hunter) in the familiar Enterprise (tho with a team of only 203, as mentioned). The genesis of this original ver of a proto-Federation from Roddenberry can be traced back to the spectacular sf movie of about 8 years earlier, "Forbidden Planet." As in that film, it was established that some type of zone fleet exists in mankind's future, on patrol or a Star Trek or just exploring (mostly exploring in Roddenberry's vision). There was a commander Adams in the earlier film; Roddenberry first scripted a Capt. April; when the pilot for a fresh TV present was finally filmed in late '64, he settled on a Capt. Pike, here a more morose and disenchanted ver of Capt. Kirk, tired of the massive responsibilities associated with such a ship's captaincy. This pilot episode, filmed close to the standards of a detail film, takes on unexpected connotations from the perspective of actual times. Since it was soon established that this episode took zone about 13 years prior to the happenings of the regular Trek series, one gets the impression of a long line of captains and ship's doctors, all debating, in succession, the values and principles of team duties and regulations after particularly trying missions, as in an early stage here.In a intelligent scripting detail, we sort of come into the middle of a storyline as the episode begins: the team just finished some point or journey on one of the Rigel planets; there were fatalities, everyone's tired. So the sense is that missions in zone have been going on for quite some time. Now, the recent - a bogus distress call and cute later the captain is held captive by a race of big-headed aliens with extraordinary powers of illusion. It's nice that the whole holodeck idea in the TNG series, over 20 years later, is given an early run-through here. As mentioned, the production values are close to those of a detail movie - this is especially evident after the restored ver of this pilot became available. Pike transits, thanks to such illusionary abilities, from one exotic locale to the next, never knowing what to expect. Jeff Hunter was cute nice as the captain, testing a bit closer to the vest than Shatner, some might tell withdrawn, but with obvious leadership charisma. Nimoy, in this early ver of Spock, lets loose a grin at least once, definitely a younger, less polished interpretation of his well-known character. I was a bit impressed by Barrett, who would've been 2nd-in-command had this present continued as is here. Back in the sixties, the powers-that-be should not agree a female of such high rank, but she pulled it off. They demoted her to lovestruck nurse by the time the regular present began. Hoyt seemed to exist merely as a 'bartender-as-doctor' personality, with none of the crackle Kelley brought to the role.The rest of the cast as the team in this early ver of Trek were quite bland, including an early role for Roarke, soon a fixture in some biker movies and "Dirty Mary,Crazy Larry"(74). Guest star Oliver was more interesting as the fellow prisoner engaged in futuristic mating rituals with Pike - her Orion slave woman illusion was quite risqué for its time, but that was Roddenberry for you. The whole episode proved to be a highly cerebral, involved effort, too complex for the masses of that time in the view of decision-makers, and maybe even too serious in approach. Unexpectedly, a sequel to this pilot materialized during the course of the regular series, only a third of the method through the first season - "The Menagerie" parts 1 & 2 - where-in we learned the future fate of Pike, not a very pleasant prospect, as it turned out. After this pilot was rejected by the bosses, Roddenberry presented "Where No Boy Has Gone Before," starring Shatner as Kirk.



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