Review of Star Trek Unaired Pilot (1965)

17 Dec

Star Trek S01E00 – “The Cage “ (1965) is the rejected pilot episode of the sci-fi/drama/adventure series Star Trek.

Directed by Robert Butler (Turbulence (1997), White Mile (1994)), who is best known for various TV movies and pilots.

Written by Gene Roddenberry (Mr. District Attorney (1954 TV), Highway Patrol (1955 TV)), who is considered the creator of Star Trek.

Starring: Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barret and others.

I have never been a Star Trek fan, I’ve had Star Wars to fill my need for some space odyssey. Prior to this I’ve actually only seen the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film. And it was good. So ever since that my interest in the franchise has been growing. I find these large franchises intriguing, since it isn’t like watching a season and then there’s nothing left other than waiting for another season to come out or something like that.

And since I always try to experience things chronologically, like they are meant to, I decided to just start at the very beginning. And what is more “beginning” than a pilot that wasn’t picked up?

I thought it’s going to start off incredibly cheesy like from the first minute, but it is obviously taking itself very seriously.

Jeffrey Hunter is very charismatic as Captain Christopher Pike, I would have loved if he had stayed as the lead of the show. Also he looks a bit like Ray Liotta. It’s interesting that Leonard Nimoy is the only actor that was kept in the other pilot, even though executives didn’t like Spock. In this Spock isn’t quite the same character as in the real series. He touches some noisy Talosian (a planet where they end up for some unclear reason) flower and smiles in amazement. Susan Oliver is astoundingly hot and has one of the bluest pairs of eyes I’ve ever seen.

The special effects are like 50/50 bad to good ones. The aliens “Talosians” have these well-made, but extremely cheesy and cliché pulsating vein-covered heads, which from behind look just like butts. The set on the planet consists of obviously fake rocks and a painted background, which actually adds a weirdly claustrophobic feeling. There’s some people in weird alien animal costumes that I thought were going to be totally random, but they actually did use them for a reason. The inside of the USS Enterprise is all covered in the classic boards of computers that seem to be there just to blink random lights. But they did use these very cellphone-like devices, which I found cool. Also there’s a well-done aging/disfiguration transformation make-up effect on Susan Oliver.

How exactly do the Talosians know about Adam and Eve? How do they know this ancient Hebrew story? And why when they are able to communicate through telepathy, they decide at one point to talk with their mouths.

It feels like a real 60’s sci-fi B-movie, it even has a more or less appropriate length to be considered one. But I don’t mean that in a bad sense, it actually is more intelligent than most 60’s TV series and sci-fi movies and that is one of the main reasons it wasn’t picked up by the studio. And I guess for a show that was watched mostly by older children, this might be a bit mature.

Overall, I think this is a great pilot and I would have enjoyed if they kept going in this direction, although, as I haven’t watched the following episodes, I can’t tell which version I’d prefer.

"You know Spock, as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangste...uh, I mean a starship captain.".

3 Responses to “Review of Star Trek Unaired Pilot (1965)”

  1. Matt Stewart December 23, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Wow, it has been so long since I’ve seen this, I need to check it out again. Thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous June 4, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      I thought he looked like ray liota too!

      • linda March 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

        i been trying ti tell people those to look like twin or father and son

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