Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 11

The Menagerie - Part I

Aired Unknown Nov 17, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (9)

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  • Spock hijacks the Enterprise and forces Kirk to watch an old Star Trek episode

    This is one of those episodes of Star Trek that's more famous for the story behind the story than for the quality of the episode itself. And that's almost a shame, because as fascinating as the behind the scenes stuff is (how Star Trek came to have two pilots and how they incorporated the footage from the first pilot into a pair of episodes with the stars of the second), the greatness of the episode stands independent of it.

    Part 1 focuses on Spock in the present, with the A story involving Kirk and Commodore Mendez (Malachi Throne) trying to solve a mystery, and the related B story about Spock attempting to hijack the Enterprise. With the exception of the footage taken from the original pilot (which comes into play about three quarters of the way through), it's a bottle show with all scenes shot on existing sets. Yet even as a budget saving episode that's all setup with no payoff, it still outshines most other Star Trek episodes because of the amazing performances, weighty material, and heavy consequences. After all, we're not talking about some outsider trying to steal the Enterprise... it's Spock! If he succeeds, we know we'll be taken on some wild ride for which we can't foresee an end. If he fails, it's even more dramatic, because we wonder what the fallout will be. As it turns out, everything takes an even more amazing twist when the story takes a left turn and begins looking back at the previous crew of the Enterpise.

    The archived footage comes from Star Trek's first pilot, which features a different crew, different lighting and colors (with a much more monochromatic bridge), alternate sets, and a visibly younger Nimoy as the third officer. It short, it appears so convincing (in a way a flashback manufactured specifically for one episode never would) that it instantly layers the Star Trek universe, still in its infancy, with history and authenticity. It feels like we really are looking into the show's past... because, of course, we are. Yet, it's all the more intriguing for tying into a story involving Kirk, Spock, and Bones.

    Guest starring with the "big three" is Malachi Throne. As Commodore Stone, he sets the standard for Commodores and Admirals that wouldn't be matched for thirty years. Unfortunately, Julie Parrish leaves a lot to be desired as his assistant, Miss Piper, appearing bemused in an opening scene that calls for confusion and lacking a professional attitude throughout the remainder episode. The part calls for someone like Marianna Hill (Helen Noel in "Dagger of the Mind") who can give a serious but whimsical performance, and Parrish just can't get there. Fortunately, her part is small and disappears halfway through.

    Meanwhile, Sean Kenney summons his inner Jeffrey Hunter, playing Pike in a wheelchair, setting up Hunter's appearance as Pike in the archived footage. Kenney's contribution is easy to overlook, with his character only communicating through a blinking light (and its accompanying sound, which I always mistake as the queue for a severe weather bulletin). But beyond Kenney's resemblance to Hunter (with has fooled many people over the years, including television critics), Kenney, with the help of the make-up artists, actually gives an impressive performance, making it fully believable that his body really is in a vegetative state while using his eyes to show what's going on underneath the surface. When we transition late in the episode to Pike in full health, Kenney's performance makes Hunter's vitality all the more amazing, just as Hunter's performance makes Kenney's appearance all the more tragic.

    So what doesn't work? Well, the title. Considering the actual "menagerie" doesn't come into play until Part 2, this probably puzzles some first time viewers. (Then again, a lot of people probably don't know what the hell a menagerie is anyway). For the record, "The Menagerie" was the title of the original pilot when Roddenberry finished making it, although by the time it actual aired as an episode by itself (in 1986), the title was changed to "The Cage", which had been a working title during production, to avoid confusion. Truth be told, it probably would have been better to come up with a new name for the two part "Menagerie", such as "The Forbidden World", "The Looking Glass" or "The Enterprise Incident", though the latter is used later in the series, so I guess it's a good thing I don't have a time machine which would allow me to go back and change things, starting a domino effect which might destroy the fabric of the universe as we know it.

    But title issues are a minor quibble to be saved for TV Guide articles. For an episode to weave such drama out of stock footage, stock music, and inexpensive, new sequences is quite a feat, with most of the credit going to Roddenberry. Having the same writer of the original pilot also write the frame is no doubt a primary reason for everything fitting together so well. (Roddenberry, who was swamped with responsibilities early in Star Trek's history, tried to farm out the frame, but no one else could do it properly, and the series is all the better for him having to do it himself).

    It all leads to the dramatic ending with Star Trek's first cliffhanger (and Star Trek's only cliffhanger until the The Best of Both Worlds aired in June of 1990). As Kirk speaks his final line and the credits role, it's impossible to turn away without thoughts about the next episode racing through our minds.

    Remastered Edition:

    The new effects here aren't as noticeable as those in "The Doomsday Machine" or "The Galileo Seven", but this might be CBS Digital's best work. As always, we get an upgraded Enterprise, along with realistic planets that are designed to match the live action footage from their surfaces. There's also a shuttlecraft sequence that's nothing fancy but a chance for some new effects nonetheless. But beyond the big, bold strokes, the episode features more subtle changes, often with new effects painstakingly integrated into the old footage. It begins with the matte paintings, quite good to begin with, which have been upgraded be more dynamic, including activity in the background. But CBS Digital goes even further. Originally, while the crew beams down to a Starbase in daylight, the first interior scene includes a night backdrop. To straighten things out, CBS Digital has gone in and changed all these initial night shots into day shots. (With the camera moving, that means they had to use a rotoscope technique frame by frame). They've also put a window with a star-field on the shuttle as well as the same for Captain Pike's quarters on the Enterprise.

    None of these effects say, "Hey, look at me! Here I am!" They do, however, enrich the final product.

    More noticeably, there's a new shot on the viewscreen looking backwards that shows the ship's warp nacelles, And then there's a redo of the most difficult shot in the history of the original series, which is also one of the most memorable effect shots in Star Trek history. Roddenberry opens the original pilot with a shot that moves in on the Enterprise from above and drops right through the transparent roof onto the bridge set. For the mid 1960s, it was a mind blowing combination of a model and a practical set, and something that would have been tricky for even the early Star Trek feature films or Star Trek: The Next Generation. Today, however, it's easy to see how they cheat the shot. The angle coming down to the Enterprise model is steeper than the angle of the view on the bridge set (which was likely shot from a ladder that only went so high), and the live action footage isn't perfectly composited into the model. CBS Digital takes on the ambitious task of perfecting the shot by replacing the Enterprise with a CG model that includes a CG bridge with CG characters; so as the camera (so to speak) pushes in, it's all perfectly composited at the perfect angle. (CBS even adds a visibly transparent dome to keep the air in). Then, once onboard the ship, the "camera" drops down to the angle of the original footage, and the CG characters and bridge, now in the exact same positions as the live action footage, seemlessly switch over to the real thing. The "dropping down" bit is a little awkward, but unavoidable; otherwise, the shot is a marvel and brings the original idea up to date

    Meanwhile, the team leaves a blatant mistake alone: when Commodore Mendez, in his office, learns that Pike is missing, he suddenly crosses the room and hits a communication button. So far this makes sense; he's probably contacting someone about Pike's abduction, right? Wrong. He says, "Mendez here" and someone gives him information about the Enterprise. What's supposed to be happen before he crosses the room is a whistle indicating an incoming message. The original sound editors missed the whistle, probably because of how the scene, at first, seems to make sense without it. Unfortunately, as the scene continues, it's clear something is missing. Putting the page back in is easy and would improve the episode. But CBS Digital is committed to only changing visuals, a questionable decision.

    (Of course, there's also the problem that 23rd century technology, apparently unaware of morse code, limits Pike to yes or no answers, whereas 20th century technology allows Stephen Hawking to talk about the mysteries of the universe. Heck, most viewers probably believe they could do a lot better of job getting information out of Pike than Kirk and Bones with a simple game of 20 questions. Come to think of it, why doesn't someone ask Spock to perform a Vulcan Mind Mild on Pike? But it's not like CBS Digital could fix these issues).

  • In part one of a two part episode, Spock hijacks Enterprise and risks execution to help his former Captain Christopher Pike.

    As silly as this may sound, I am greatful this, the only two-part episode of "Star Trek" was made. The reason why is because it showed us fans the great pilot episode that the late Gene Roddenberry submitted to CBS in hopes of selling the series. We get to see what could have been and see a great piece of television filmmaking. The story surrounding it is good but flawed. For one thing, I had a lot of trouble buying that in a futuristic world with incredible technical advances, Captain Pike had a wheelchair that did not allow him to say more than "Yes" or "No". If he can move his wheelchair with his brainwaves, couldn't there have been away to allow him to speak a la Stephen Hawking? Still this episode is very compelling and does a great job setting us up for part two. See you there!
  • Iconic

    like others I'll post here for both episodes... first saw this when 100% unaware of the previous pilot and thus nothing detracted. PIke's middle-age/fatigue and bartender/medical man consult with Dr Piper is well acted and nicely amplifyies his later agony as circus animal never left alone. The Talosians have their own issues, few surprises if their push to be successful breeders is out of pure boredom... very fitting also that in the end they get nothing (they remain as all-powerful, clueless and sad as before), Kirk and Spock get to go home and Pike and Vina are the only ones to finish up ahead
  • Mr. Spock engineers a plot to take his former captain, Christopher Pike, now a cripple, to the planet of Talos IV, which the Federation has banned anyone from ever visiting again. A notable episode, though I think there are better...

    As any good 'Star Trek' fan will know, "The Menagerie" – the only two-parter of the original 'Trek's run – was largely designed so that the original series pilot, "The Cage", which had a great many differences from the regular series, could be shown as part of a regular 'Star Trek' story. The fact that it was also a cost-cutting measure (using large chunks of material that were already completed) and saved production time, giving other episodes time to be completed, also played their part in it being made.

    I find this episode can be reviewed in two ways, depending whether you've seen the original (and for many years unbroadcast) pilot, "The Cage", or not. If you haven't seen that original pilot, this episode serves as a fascinating glimpse into pre-Kirk and co. Trek. For years when 'The Cage' was unavailable, many people only saw it through this episode, which no doubt helped make it such a popular instalment.

    However, in more recent times, "The Cage" has become widely available, both on television broadcasts and VHS / DVD releases. Having seen "The Cage", I far prefer it in its original form; I do have time for "The Menagerie", but find it very padded out here and there, and with a few debatable moments in the plot.

    Seeing Captain Pike scarred and disfigured in his 'futuristic wheelchair' is a powerful image after seeing him in action in "The Cage" (even if he is played by a different actor).
    On first viewing, you wonder what Mr. Spock is up to, as he gets Kirk out of the picture and sends the Enterprise off on a false mission. Of course, this leads to Spock going on court martial (he insists on it), allowing footage from "The Cage" to be shown during his testimony.

    It makes for an interesting story, and is generally one of original 'Trek's most popular tales. However, as I say, I much prefer "The Cage" in its original form, and this episode (both Parts I and II) doesn't quite make it to my all-time favourite 'Trek' episode list.

    Concluded in Part II...
  • …A battery-driven heart

    Hmm, I'm not too sure about this one. While 'The Menagerie' certainly does have its moments and its own sense of style, I feel that it gives away the fact that it's a money saving episode all too easily. The plot is at times static and without direction and for the most part, the 'flashbacks' used to detail the story never really work all that well. Nevertheless I do have to respect its ingenuity and themes that recur throughout Trek lore.

    First things first however, I loved this episodes ambitious and rather artistic set design. From the immediate opening shot (what a backdrop!) of the crew beaming down, to the interiors and the abstract views from the windows at the base, I felt like I always had something interesting and new to look at. It was also great to see the interior of the shuttle craft, and as tacked on as you can it is, it still looks great and at least adds to the episode's fresh feel created through its new sets. Combine this with the fact that the show jumps back to the very first and original pilot episode where everything seems familiar yet strange and you have yourself a fairly original looking outing for Trek.

    The episode's main plotline of Spock stealing the Enterprise and kidnapping Pike I felt was well executed. On the whole, the script dealt with the issue a whole lot more realistically than most writers handle similar hijackings of the ship. Furthermore, when Spock freely admits –without any real questioning- his mutiny, my interest in his motives sharply increased and as a result, so did my willingness to move along with the plot. Unfortunately, this is where things kind of slow down and we have to sit through an otherwise good Trek episode, but which is butchered whilst in the context of 'The Menagerie'. Nevertheless I enjoyed watching Spock throughout and felt Roddenberry allowed him to act mysteriously whilst still being familiar to his personality.

    The use of the surveillance that is shown in evidence of Spock's justification in taking Pike can at first be seen as being ridiculously contrived but by the end of the show, the explanation given at least let me be at peace with it. Aside from this however, I have some big problems with the footage that is actually shown. Not only does it lead to all sorts of questions on technical inconsistencies but I couldn't help but wonder what such scenes as Pike chatting with his doctor had to do with anything going on in 'The Menagerie'. There simply is no relevance at all and of course it readily stinks of fabrication. There's also the fact that 'The Cage' just wasn't up to par when it came to the overall production of the episode. I especially had a lot of trouble with the acting of a few cast members. Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed watching 'The Cage' (this first Trek I ever saw) on its own, but felt that when put in context of 'The Menagerie', the faults just stand out like a sore thumb.

    When we're not being forced to watch the footage involving Pike however, we do get a very interesting look into the judicial system present in the Trek universe, which having never gone much further out of TOS, I've never really witnessed. Although seemingly underdeveloped and overly simple, it nonetheless gives groundwork to work on in future series'. Where the real interest lies however is in Kirk's anguish. It lies in his inner conflict, his inability to choose between his friend's wellbeing, and his commitment to Starfleet and the Enterprise. Hopefully (I say hopefully because I cannot rightly remember how this ends!), we'll get to see more of this character analysis, but for what part one gives us, it's an interesting theme that is maybe not explored enough.

    Interestingly enough, we have Spock on the other hand who is completely decided in where his loyalty lies. Spock doesn't care for Starfleet or its rules and regulations; neither does he care for his own safety. Instead he sacrifices all he has in order to seemingly help his former captain and indeed his current captain (by sacrificing his original plan in order to save Kirk in the shuttle). This presents a very interesting metaphor of a logical heart contrasted with a heart guided and at the same time confused by emotion. Indeed I believe what this episode is trying to question is, who is actually the closest to being human here: Kirk or Spock? The officer or the individual? He who follows orders or he who follows the heart?
  • Spock shows old home movies of the Enterprises but gets court martialed for not serving popcorn

    As we all know, this was just an excuse to get "The Cage" aired and part of the series. And I guess it worked although the whole set up of the fake court martial was pretty far fetched just so they could make it work. I'm supposing they had those last few scenes re-shot just for "The Menagerie"? I'm talking about the Keeper talking to Kirk and the shot of Pike walking back with Vena to the elevator? Or perhaps they were taken from footage not used or a combination of both.
  • Trial by fire!

    This is the first of a two part epsiode inwhich Mr. Spock kidnaps a former Starfleet officer christopher Pike and ended up on trail for his life. This is a tense epoisde about Mutiny, kidnapping and holding back the truth. the past epiosdes are sometimes funny. Not this episode. The episode is told what happen to Pike on the planet Talos 4. A planet that was forbidden to the federation. the trial begans and it will continue next week. We will learn then the race that abduce Pike. Seeing Pike in a special chair is a classic. One of the best Trek episodes.
  • Spock reunites with his former captain.

    This is one of the most famous episodes from this series just because we see the return of Pike, except he is now really injured and grotesque. The story is interesting, especially the reunion of Spock and Pike. Pike\'s look and wheel chair in this episode is known very well by all Trek fans. The only problem with this episode is that it is a clip show, showing some scenes from the pilot episode \"The Cage\". Overall, a really enjoyable classic Trek episode, but bogged down because of the reuse of old footage. I still recommend this interesting story to all.
  • Clever re-use of discarded pilot episode

    It's hard to review this episode in isolation from Part 2, so I'll split this review across the two episode entries ... anyway "The Menagerie" tells the story of Spock committing technical mutiny in an effort to help his former commanding officer, Captain Christopher Pike, return to the mysterious planet of Talos IV ...

    The two episodes are constructed around the rejected 48 minute series pilot "The Cage" in which the original Captain of the Enterprise was played by Jeffrey Hunter (who had also played Jesus in "King of Kings" and died in 1969). In a series of "video testimonies" we learn what happened to Capt Pike on Talos IV where telepathic Talosians try to force Pike to live out fantasy existences with a human female, Vina (Susan Oliver), they "acquired" earlier. This gives Oliver the opportunity to appear in many guises - ragged crash survivor, alien princess and most memorably, green slave girl - in an effort to literally seduce Pike into mating with her.

    The whys aren't especially clear, but the Talosians either want to repopulate their planet with Pike and Vina's offspring, or they want to vicariously enjoy the human's passion for life. Or both. Either way, there's much to enjoy in "The Cage" footage.

    Turn to "The Menagerie Part 2" where I'll ramble a little about the court martial sequences ...
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