The Rewatch 9: The Menagerie

Series: Star Trek (The Original Series)
Episode:  1.11-12 The Menagerie (Part 1 & 2) (11-17;11-24-66)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/16 (Not counting Pike’s crew)

Notable Guest Stars:

This episode has so many notable guest stars because of its format. If I listed them all, this post would be twice as long, so I’m just going to do three. Please check out the IMDB or Wikipedia pages on this episode for more.

Jeffrey Hunter – Captain Christopher Pike. Hunter was cast as the Captain of the Enterprise in the original pilot “The Cage”, but declined coming back for the second pilot. You might recognize him from the 1956 film The Searchers.
Malachi Throne – Commodore Jose I. Mendez/ Voice of the Keeper. He would appear on Star Trek more than once, and also Batman, The Man From UNCLE, Lost in Space and Perry Mason.
Susan Oliver – Vina. She appeared on several shows as a guest actor, in particular Wagon Train where she shared the screen with Leonard Nimoy.

Review

This episode is interesting in that its a clip show, but not at the same time. Most of the material in the two parter episode (another rarity for TOS) is from the original pilot. However, as that had never aired prior to this episode for the viewer it is all new material.

The episode came to be because of production issues. Star Trek was effect heavy for a TV show of the time, so it took longer to make and NBC (the network at the time who showed the show) wanted episodes on a particular schedule. So to help them catch up, they created this episode which required far less filming time as well as special effects.

The frame of the episode is built on the idea that Spock, having found out that Pike has been injured and is now disabled, decides to take Pike back to Talos IV. This of course causes a problem as Starfleet for a reason not given has decided that Talos IV shall not be visited or communicated with. Those who do can get the death penalty.

Spock takes over the ship, and Kirk is forced to put him on trial for his actions. Commodore Mendez, the commander of the Space Station Pike was living on, precide as judge and jury. Spock begins his defense by showing them a video of Pike’s original mission.

This mission of course is the original pilot. For the most part they explain away why they would be able to see the mission this way (It’s the Talosians.) but there are a few inconsistencies between the original pilot and what they had gone with during the second pilot and the series. For example, Pike calls the Enterprise “The space vehicle” instead of the ship. Other terminology seems off too.

On the interesting side, you can tell what they tried to keep. The relationship between Pike and his doctor is similar to that between McCoy and Kirk (although those are more friendly). Spock is more emotional in the pilot, but they trim it down so it doesn’t seem too different (and it can be explained away that he was younger and less in control of his emotions ala Zachary Quinto’s Spock in the Kelvin Timeline).

The end of the episode appeared more organic than I expected since some of the footage was from the cage and some newly shot.

Interesting Notes:

  • won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (1967)
  • Directed by Marc Daniels (New scenes)
  • Directed by Robert Butler (Original Pilot footage)
  • Written by Gene Roddenberry

Pros:

  • Gives the Enterprise a little of its history back
  • McCoy’s unwavering faith in Spock

Cons:

  • We never find out why Talos V was banned or why it carried a death penalty when otherwise there appears to be none.
  • This is more for Enterprise then TOS, but if Talos IV is unable to be reached, I’m confused as to the mention of Talosian silk. Unless, maybe there is another planet in the system that is more people-friendly? Or its just a similar planet name?

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