Friday, 31 May 2013

TOS - 1.11 - The Menagerie - Part 1

Star Trek - The Menagerie - Part 1
I see that you look stressful and tense, let me
help you relax with a shoulder massage.

Oh, is my massage too relaxing?
Ok, you can rest on the floor now...
This is the 1st 2-part cliff-hanger episodes that started the tradition in future Star Trek series. Again, the 'tradition' is invented out of necessity because the show was running behind time because of its many demanding visual effects for such a TV production.

Gene Roddenberry wrote only the 2 pilot episodes. He also wrote episode 1.2 "Charlie X", which is basically the same story as the 2nd pilot episodes, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". At least thematically.

Simply put, the 2nd pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" was being reincarnated as episode 1.2 "Charlie X".

And the 1st pilot episode "The Cage" was being slotted into this 2-parts episode. To make this clear, both of these 2 episodes  ("The Cage" and "The Menagerie") have the same titles that synonymous with "animal enclosures".

Jeffry Hunter who played Captain Pike in "The Cage" played an invalid in this episode, who has less movement in his body than the preeminent cosmologist, and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. He moved around in a contraption that's controlled by his mind.

This episode has nothing much to offer but as the setting up of background info and suspense for the next. It shows a lot of flashbacks from the pilot episode "The Cage".

A few things of notes. Several principle characters act out of character. Captain Kirk, who's a friend and trusted colleague of Spock, starts to suspect Spock. The person who comes to Spock defence is McCoy. And Spock actually stages a mutiny for purpose that only reveals in the next episode. All the meat is in part 2.

After all, this is basically 1 part episode that stretches out to 2 parts with the entire "The Cage" footage filled in to solve production delay problem. This isn't too bad, most hadn't watched "The Cage", which is a solid episode with many great ideas that I outlined in my review of "The Cage". Bear in mind that this is the pilot episode that Roddenberry used to launch the whole Star Trek franchise. It was his showcase.

If this part 1 doesn't hook you for the part 2 of "The Menagerie", I don't know what will.

1.12 "The Menagerie" - Part 2

I won't write a separate review for part 2 as it has even less meat than part 1 to chew on. That is, if you have already seen "The Cage". If you haven't, part 2 contains the bulk of "The Cage" episode (about 1/3 in part 1, and 2/3 in part 2).

Of course, after watching part 1, you must watch part 2 to find out why does Spock risk mutiny charges (and Captain Kirk's career) to get to Talos IV.

And the 2-parts of "The Menagerie" is basically about Spock on trial for the mutiny charges while watching video footage of "The Cage". This is for the benefits of the audience who missed the pilot episode back in 1965 when this episode was originally aired in 1967, when the show was still an unknown when the pilot was aired.

Bear in mind that TV is the only source where the Star Trek fan could watch the series. Unlike lucky us today when we could hire it from video rental stores, buy the DVD sets, watch them on the internet or the reruns on sci-fi cable channel like what I'm doing now.

Under the circumstances, for audience who had missed the pilot episode "The Cage" back in the 1960s, putting it in this episode (as there were burgeoning Star Trek fan by mow) is one of the very few feasible ways Roddenberry could give the audience a taste of his pioneering work. And at the same time, solving production delay problem. 2 birds with 1 stone. Good move!

For today's audience, skip the 2 hours of "The Menagerie", if you can get your hands on the 1 hour long "The Cage". Save yourself an extra hour to watch another good episode of TOS.

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