The Menagerie (Star Trek: The Original Series)
"The Menagerie" is a two-part episode of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. It consists of episodes 11 and 12 (production #16) of the show's first season and is the only two-part story in the original series. Part one of the episode was broadcast on November 17, 1966, with part two broadcast on November 24, 1966. NBC repeated the two shows on May 18 and 25, 1967. The episode was written by Gene Roddenberry.
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
Episodes 11 & 12
|Written by||Gene Roddenberry|
|Featured music||Alexander Courage|
|Original air date||
Since the first 1965 pilot episode, "The Cage", was not shown on television until 1988, Desilu (the show's production company) made a decision on what should be done with the wasted footage from the unused pilot movie. Incorporating "The Cage" into the two-part episode, "The Menagerie", was actually a solution to a large and growing problem with the show's production. Its special effects, unprecedented for a weekly television production, were causing delays in the completion of each episode. The problem was cumulative, with shows getting delivered to NBC later and later. At its worst, episodes (filmed in Los Angeles) were being delivered to NBC (in New York) only three days before their scheduled Thursday airing. Sensing impending disaster, Roddenberry solved the problem by writing a two-part episode that needed only one week of production.
He did this by writing an entirely new bookend story, so that "The Cage" would serve as a backstory for the starship Enterprise's early history. New footage would be combined with the old and placed into the continuity of the overall Star Trek storyline.
"The Menagerie" won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. This episode also coined the term "reality distortion field", which Bud Tribble later used to describe Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' ability to convince audiences of his narrative.
In the episode, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) abducts his former commander Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney), locks the Enterprise on a course to the forbidden planet Talos IV—where the penalty for reaching this space terrain was the death penalty according to Starfleet rules—and turns himself in for court-martial where he presents an elaborate story explaining the reason for his actions.
On stardate 3012.4, the Federation starship USS Enterprise arrives at Starbase 11 in response to a subspace call First Officer Spock (Leonard Nimoy) reported receiving from the former captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney), under whom Spock had served. Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock meet the starbase commander Commodore Mendez (Malachi Throne), who doubts that Pike had sent the message, given that Pike was in a severe burn accident and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and unable to communicate save through answering yes/no questions with the aid of a device in the wheelchair that is operated by his brainwaves. Pike refuses to communicate with anyone except Spock, and Kirk and Mendez leave to discuss the situation; once they are gone, Spock informs Pike he will be taking him regardless of Starfleet's orders. He overwhelms Pike's guards and takes him aboard the Enterprise, and through a series of deceptions, he convinces the crew to set a new course on Starfleet's orders.
Meanwhile, Mendez and Kirk are concerned with Spock's behavior and find that there was no record of Spock receiving any message. Mendez provides Kirk with classified information on Talos IV, a planet that was visited by the Enterprise previously under Pike's command, and now under a strict "no contact" Starfleet regulation. They are made aware of the departure of the Enterprise, and the two give chase in a Starbase shuttlecraft. When Spock learns they are trailing the Enterprise, he has them brought aboard and then gives himself up, confessing to committing mutiny. The crew finds they are unable to stop the current course of the Enterprise, which Spock affirms is heading towards Talos IV. Mendez demands a preliminary hearing be held, which requires three command officers. Kirk objects that only he and Mendez are present, but Spock notes that Pike also is a command officer still listed for active duty. The tribunal begins, and Spock offers as his testimony video footage of the Enterprise's earlier visit to Talos IV.[note 1]
In the original mission, the Enterprise traveled to Talos IV in response to a distress call from the survey ship Columbia, reportedly lost 18 years previously. Pike (Jeffrey Hunter), Spock and a landing party beam down to the planet. They find a number of survivors including a young woman named Vina (Susan Oliver), who was born shortly after the crash of Columbia. Dr. Boyce (John Hoyt), Pike's chief medical officer, establishes that the survivors are all in perfect health, a fact he finds puzzling given the primitive living conditions they have endured for so many years. Pike is lured away from the rest of the team by Vina, who promises to show him a secret that explains the survivors' remarkable health. When they reach a rocky knoll, a hidden door opens. Two aliens emerge, stun Pike with a weapon of some kind, and carry him through the door, which closes. The remaining survivors and their camp suddenly disappear. Pike has been abducted by the Talosians, humanoid aliens who have been monitoring his crew. They are telepaths with the power to create illusions that are indistinguishable from reality, and the Columbia survivors and their camp were all an illusion they created to trap Pike.
In the present, Kirk learns that the video source that Spock has been showing is not from data archives, but instead is being broadcast to them from Talos IV. Starfleet has learned of the intended destination of the Enterprise, and Mendez orders Kirk to stand down as the captain is responsible for all members of his crew. Kirk demands Spock end the transmission, but Spock respectfully refuses, and the episode ends as Spock is sent to be locked up and the tribunal ends in recess.
The tribunal of Spock continues despite Starfleet's orders to end the Talos IV transmissions. The footage continues from before, where Pike has been caged with Vina. The Talosians want the two to mate to produce offspring and allow the Talosians to rebuild their civilization which fell after they discovered the ability to cast these illusions. The aliens put the two through numerous virtual realities, hoping to give Pike mild interest in Vina to copulate. Pike refuses, and does not relent when the Talosians project more horrific images to him. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew finds the cave entrance where Pike disappeared, but are unable to break it open even when using direct attacks from the ship itself. They attempt to beam a landing party into the cave, but the Talosians detect this and manipulate the beam to allow only the female crew members to beam down, in order to offer Pike more choices for a mate. The new captives have phasers, and they attempt to shoot out a portion of the cage wall but find them ineffective.
That night, Pike is able to capture a Talosian as the being tries to confiscate the phasers. Pike intuits that the phasers do still work, and that their earlier attempt at escape was masked by an illusion, and forces the Talosian to reveal the hole they had previously made. The group escapes to the surface, but learn that this was allowed by the Talosians, in hopes the humans would become a slave colony on the planet's surface. Number One (Majel Barrett, billed as M. Leigh Hudec) attempts to set her phaser on overload, preferring to die rather than be enslaved, but she is persuaded to deactivate the weapon when more Talosians arrive after having scanned the Enterprise databanks. The aliens have learned that humans have a hatred of captivity and agree to let the crew go. Pike is upset that the Talosians do not even apologize for holding them, but the head Talosian, the Keeper, explains that they are now resigned to the end of their civilization. Pike offers help from the Federation, but the Talosians refuse, fearing that the Federation would learn of the illusion powers and fall like their own civilization. Agreeing to leave the Talosians in peace, all but Pike are beamed back to the ship. Pike is shown that Vina's looks have been an illusion all along, having suffered great injury on the crash of the Columbia, but has been restored to health and is at peace with the help of the Talosians' illusions. Pike returns to the ship, assured that Vina will be well looked after.
The transmission ends at the tribunal just as the ship is arriving at Talos IV. Kirk now knows what Spock's plans have been, as the Talosians would be able to offer Pike the same treatment as Vina. The court-martial is revealed as a diversionary tactic by the Talosians when the figure of Commodore Mendez suddenly fades away, having been an illusion both on the Enterprise and in the shuttlecraft. The Keeper then appears on the viewing screen, telling Kirk that Spock had related to them Kirk's strength of will and that the fiction of a court-martial was to delay Kirk from too soon regaining control of the Enterprise before it reached Talos IV. A message from Commodore Mendez then advises that Starfleet also was witnessing the same imagery itself, and officially waives the prohibition against the planet for this one occasion in recognition of Capt. Pike's service. Spock is cleared of all charges, though he tells Kirk he did not explain his actions to prevent Kirk from becoming an accessory to the crime. Pike is transported to the planet where he is met by Vina and the Talosians. While broadcasting to the Enterprise, the rejuvenated Pike and Vina are shown returning with the Talosians to their cave. Kirk observes this on the viewing screen and the Keeper appears one last time wishing Kirk well. The Enterprise leaves orbit to return to Starfleet.
"The Menagerie" solved two problems, by reusing the extensive footage from "The Cage" and easing the script crunch. The script was written by Gene Roddenberry, creator of the show, also the writer of "The Cage". The script for both parts of this episode is only 64 pages long, shorter than the scripts for some single episodes. Part I is 43 pages long, whereas Part II runs to only 21 pages.
New filming took place for the framing story for "The Cage". Because actor Jeffrey Hunter was unavailable to reprise his role as Captain Pike, a look-alike actor, Sean Kenney, played the injured captain in the new scenes, although Hunter was represented in "The Cage" flashback footage and credited accordingly (along with the other original "Cage" cast).
Also in the new scenes, Malachi Throne (who provided the voice of the Keeper in the original "Cage") portrayed Commodore Jose Mendez, while Julie Parrish played personal assistant Miss Piper. Because Throne played a second role in "The Menagerie", the Keeper's voice was electronically processed to sound higher-pitched. (This modified voice would replace Malachi Throne's original voice work in the remastered and new "Original" versions of "The Cage" released later, and allowed 'The Keeper' to then address Captain Kirk by name at the conclusion of part two when he advised Kirk he was hearing The Keeper's thought transmissions and that the invalid Fleet Captain Pike was welcome to live with them unfettered by his physical body....further addressing Kirk by name as the illusion fully able bodied Pike is seen walking with Vina, The Keeper wishing Kirk as pleasant a future) The preview trailer for Part II uses Throne's original Keeper's voice.
The framing story was directed by veteran Trek director Marc Daniels. Because most of his footage was used in Part I, he was given directing credit for this part. The director of "The Cage," Robert Butler, was given credit for Part II, because most of that footage was from the original pilot.
Susan Oliver actually plays the slave girl painted in green makeup and dancing for Captain Pike. During preproduction makeup tests (using Majel Barrett as a stand-in), they sent the footage out for printing and when the film returned, there was little difference. The lab thought there had been an error in colorizing and thought they should compensate. The first time this happened, they reshot the film with a darker green and sent it out again for printing. The same thing happened again, but eventually the lab was notified to make no color changes.
Footage from the master negative of "The Cage" was edited into the master negative of "The Menagerie". No other color or 35 mm copy of "The Cage" existed, only a black and white 16 mm print owned by Gene Roddenberry. In 1987, the full-color negative "trims" from "The Cage" that had not been used in "The Menagerie" were discovered at a film laboratory in Los Angeles and returned to Paramount Pictures.
"The Menagerie" is highly regarded by fans and in 1967 it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, one of only two episodes in the original series to do so. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'B-' rating, noting that "the whole thing plays out over two hours, and with a framing story from the regular cast that, while dramatic, doesn't quite gel." Handlen did note some memorable aspects of the episode such as the extent of Pike's injuries and the ambiguity around his final fate.
On November 13 and 15, 2007, the digitally remastered version of "The Menagerie", in high definition and with Cinema Surround Sound, was released in theatres as a special two-night-only showing. It included a message from Gene "Rod" Roddenberry Jr., a 20-minute "making of" documentary about the restoration process, and a trailer for season two of the remastered series. This presentation was also shown in the United Kingdom for distribution for one night only at selected Odeon Cinemas on November 13, 2007.
Some repertory movie theaters in North America showed the classic two-part episode as a feature film in the 1970s. Basically, the two original series episodes were shown back-to-back and unedited as part of one program. One such theater, the Seville in Montreal, showed 16mm prints of "The Menagerie" episodes on a big screen as part of a program that concluded with the presentation of the Star Trek blooper reels from seasons one and two.
- Hertzfeld, Andy (February 1981). "Reality Distortion Field". Folklore.org.[permanent dead link]
- The Menagerie
- Starbase shuttle in space
- "The Cage Page: Behind the Scenes of Star Trek's First Pilot". StarTrekHistory.com. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, The Making of STAR TREK, 1991.
- Bob Furmanek, The Cage (1966) (post), at Classic Horror Film Board, April 21, 2008.
- Handlen, Zack (February 20, 2009). "The Menagerie". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
- "Star Trek: The Menagerie ENCORE". FathomEvents.com. November 15, 2007. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "The Menagerie, Parts I & II"|
- "The Menagerie: Part I" on IMDb
- "The Menagerie: Part II" on IMDb
- "The Menagerie: Part I" at TV.com
- "The Menagerie: Part II" at TV.com
- "The Menagerie, Part I" Side-by-side comparisons at TrekMovie.com
- "The Menagerie, Part II" Side-by-side comparisons at TrekMovie.com
- "The Menagerie, Part I" at StarTrek.com
- "The Menagerie, Part II" at StarTrek.com
- "The Menagerie, Part I" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Menagerie, Part II" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)