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Star Trek Review: The Cage

The Cage

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The Cage was the very first Star Trek pilot submitted to NBC in 1965. Sadly the pilot episode was rejected by NBC for being “too cerebral.” We all know the rest of the story. Actress Lucille Ball, the owner of Desilu Studios where the pilot was filmed, put pressure on the NBC executives to give Gene Roddenberry another chance. They did, he filmed another pilot, it was accepted and the rest is history.

For me The Cage has a Star Trek: The Next Generation vibe to it. I had read once that TNG was closer to Rodenberry’s vision for Star Trek because he didn’t have the interference he had had on the Original Series. The Cage also had more of a “Forbidden Planet” 1950s vibe to me and that is understandable given that Forbidden Planet was an early influence on Star Trek. The Cage reminds me of TNG because Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffery Hunter, reminds me a lot of Captain Picard in terms of temperament. Although Kirk would become more of a man of action, both Pike and Picard are more intellectual.

The plot is pretty basic. Pike is weary and worn after several missions that have not gone as well as planned. He has lost lives and is questioning his role as captain of the USS Enterprise. His next mission is answering a distress call from the Planet Talus IV where an earth vessel had crashed years before. However, the entire landing party, except for the female, Vina, was all an illusion and soon Pike is captured by the Talosians and thrown into a zoo like setting.

In order to both control him and tempt him into staying the Talosians are able to control his mind by placing life-like images of both pleasure and pain into his mind. Pike doesn’t want to be trapped in a cage and rebels. The Talosians realize that humans will not be a good addition to their menagerie because of human beings desire not to be enslaved. Pike leaves and Vina decides to stay after learning that her youth and beauty was also an illusion.

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This is a very enjoyable episode. It is sad that NBC rejected it. On the other had, if NBC had accepted the Cage the original series, and the history of the Star Trek franchise would be very different. So in many ways I am happy things turned out the way they did. The only aspect of this episode that survived the recreation that lead to the series was Mr. Spock. Majel Barret, who would play Nurse Chapel in the series, and become Mrs. Roddenberry, is the only other actor to survive the transition. Barret played Number One, the second in command, which is another reason why The Cage reminds me of TNG.

Spock was a character that NBC also wanted to be rid of because of his sinister look which they feared would offend some viewers However, Roddenberry put his foot down to save the character Spock and for that we are all eternally grateful, for Spock became not just a much beloved character in Star Trek but of all Science Fiction. Spock is truly iconic. Female actors were used to portray the bulbous headed Talosians and this look also has become classic and iconic look in science fiction.

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This pilot episode was woven into the two part episode The Menagerie later in the series so I will have more to say about it on my review of that episode. I give this episode a solid A+ rating.

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Star Trek: The Original Series Review

Hello faithful followers! Starting next week, and every Monday, I will be reviewing an episode of the original 1960s Star Trek TV series. With 80 episodes (including the original pilot episode The Cage) it may take almost two years! But I think I will do more episodes per-week from time to time. 

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So check back here next Monday as I begin a new series! 

Live Long and Prosper! 

Liam. 

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Star Trek Continues…

http://www.startrekcontinues.com/

There is a lot of fan productions from various science fiction franchises. Some of it is very good, some not so very good. Star Trek Phase II has been around a while and has done very well at carrying the mantel of the original series. Now there is a newcomer to the block also wanting to continue the adventures of the gallant crew of the USS Enterprise. This fan production is called Star Trek Continues and the premise is that it picks up right where the last episode of the original series, Turnabout Intruder, left us. The initial episode, Pilgrim of Eternity, is a sequel to the 1967 episode Who Mourns for Adonais? which starred Michael Forrest as the Greek God, Apollo. Michael Forrest reprises his role as Apollo christening this series and launching it with fanfare.

I know many Star Trek fans are very temperamental about casting new actors to play these iconic characters. Some fans really balked when Paramount re-cast the crew for the 2008 JJ. Abrams directed reboot of the franchise. However, I think Star Trek Continues has successfully navigated this difficult issue. They have cast some wonderful actors in these roles. For me the standouts have been  Vic Mignogna as Captain James T. Kirk, Kim Stinger as Lt. Uhura and Chris Doohan playing Mr. Scott the role his father made famous. All the rest of the cast do a fine job. Todd Haberkorn plays Mr. Spock, Larry Nemecek plays Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Grant Imahara plays Mr. Sulu, and rounding out the cast is Wyatt Lenhart as Ensign Chekov.

Now it would be very easy for these actors to mimic and try to play these roles as the originals stars played them. While there are similar mannerisms that these actors bring to these iconic roles, it could easily devolve into parody but it does not. Each and everyone of them brings something new to the characters. For instance, Kim Stinger, as Lt. Uhura, brings a bright fresh joie de vivre to the character. You can see it in her eyes and expressions that she is really enjoying playing the role and has made it her own. Vic Mignogna does bring the Kirk swagger to the role but also a sense of authority that the character needs. He does this all without trying to be William Shattner. I could also say the same things about Todd Haberkorn as Mr. Spock and Larry Nemecek as Dr. McCoy. Nemecek’s McCoy is passionate without being like a grumpy old man. Haberkorn plays the stoic Mr. Spock with intelligence but without any coldness that could easily turn off viewers. They both walk that fine line very well. Also, Grant Imahara as Sulu and Wyatt Lenhart as Ensign Chekov are not just fillers in this series, they are given some important plot points in the first episode and their characters are fleshed out and each actor brings a sense of importance to their characters that was not always present in the original series.

I want to say something special about Chris Doohan playing Mr. Scott. I think he has the most difficult role of all. He could very easily try to copy what his father did in that legendary role, but he does not. The accent is sound and he even looks like a young James Doohan in the role. He also makes it his own. His own mannerisms and facial expressions are apparent and he is also one of the stand outs of the production. I hope they are grateful to have him, for I now I appreciate what he has done with the role.

I won’t give away too much about the first episode. Follow the link at the top of the page for I think it is something each person needs to see for themselves. I will say that the production values are equal, and sometimes better, than the original series. The sets look identical to the original series as well as the costumes. The music is there as is a great CGI rendering of the USS Enterprise. There is a scene on the outside of the ship that could not have been done in the 1960s and in this episode it looked spectacular. The story was well written and acted and it very easily could have been the first episode of a season 4 if the original series had not been canceled.

I hope they continue to produce these episodes, they are off to a stellar beginning and I look forward to the next episode.

Man of Steel and Justice League? …and Some Star Trek too! And GODZILLA news!!!

http://screencrush.com/justice-league-superman-man-of-steel/

With the new trailer for the Man of Steel about to be deliverd next month and with the Justice League movie in the development phase roumours are flying around the internet. Will Henry Cavill and the Man of Steel movie be connected to the  Justice League movie? Will Joseph Gordon-Levitt Play Batman in Justice League? Can Christian Bale be persuaded to don the Bat-Cowl for the Justice League movie? So many unanswered questions!

I have some ambilance about some of the questions. I actually wouldn’t mind either way if Christian Bale were to play Batman in this new movie. I think he did an excellent job playing the Caped Crusader even though I was not completely happy with the tone established in the movies. I wopuldn’t mind if Warner Brothers casts someone else to play Batman/Bruce Wayne. I do have a hard time seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the role though. He seems too small and too thin in my opinion. I do however, want to see Henry Cavill as Superman in the Justice Leauge movie. He just screams Superman to me. Even though I have not seen him as Superman I have seen him in the trailer and othe rroles and I think he will be the best Superman since Christopher Reeves. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Ryan Reynolds return as the Green Lantern in the Justice Leauge movie. I thought he did a fine job in the role and I think the movie was not as bad as the critics claimed.

I think other than those two movies, I would rather have the Justice League movie be a starting point for other solo movies such as more Batman, Green Lanter and new Wonder Woman and The Flash. Warner Brothers does not have to follow the exact path laid out by Marvel. I do think it woukld be hard to have a trilogy of Superman movies (Man of Steel is supposed to be the first of three Superman movies) while another actor was playing Superman in the Justice League movie. It would open the door to critcism and comparison. You know how people like to compare and critisize things! Also, there are many fans of such movies that do like their continuity so having both Cavil and Reynolds…and maybe even Bale..reprise their roles would give the fans some continuity.

2015 is far away and many things can happen by then. I will keep the speculations alive and as news becomes available you will find it here!

This is also new! Here is the approved synopsis for the new Star Trek movie!

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – Approved Synopsis 11/26/12

In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.

 When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

This sounds good…Very Good!

GODZILLA NEWS!!!

It is being reported that the script for the movie is completed and that filming begins in March of next year!! I have not heard much as far as casting goes!!

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/monstroushotzone/news/?a=70454

One more…The Trailer for Pacific Rim is due in Decemer also and the viral marketing for that movie is stepping up.

http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=97464&utm_campaign=facebookfan&utm_source=facebookfan&utm_medium=referral

Let Them Die!

“He’s dead Jim.” These are the iconic words by Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy to his stalwart Captain, James Tiberius Kirk of the starship the USS Enterprise that we heard in many episodes. Fans like myself have heard them over and over again…except they were not always true. This post is a bit of rant about franchises that do not kill off major characters, or if they do, only to bring them back at a later date. I will mainly focus on Star Trek but I observe that this happens in many science-fiction and fantasy franchises.

My complaint is that it takes out the drama and the sting of these “deaths.” Take the death of Spock for example. He was killed at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If you’re a fan who was alive and thriving at that time, this was a very big deal. They undid all of that in the very next movie, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Now I love that movie. It gets a bad rap but it really is a fun exciting movie. However, the spend the entire movie trying to rescue a reanimated Spock and his death in the previous film is now hollow.

Even in the series itself you knew death would not be permanent. In the episode Shore Leave McCoy is seemingly killed by a Lance from a Knight on a horse only to be brought back by the end of the episode. * In the episode The Changeling, Scotty is killed by the probe Nomad only to be resurrected after the next commercial break. In Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) episode, Ethics, Worf dies on the operating table only to be revived when his redundant biological systems (which we just learned he had in that episode) kick into gear. In the first season of TNG in the episode Skin of Evil, Tasha Yar is killed off when actor Denise Crosby wanted out of her contract. Even though the actress left the series she did return twice as Tasha Yar; once in the time travel episode Yesterday’s Enterprise (great episode by the way) only to die again, albeit off screen. Crosby returned to play her character’s half-Romulan half-Human daughter Sela in a few episodes and in the series finale Crosby played Yar once more in scenes depicting the series first episode.

In science fiction nobody dies or at least death may not be forever. One of the things that sparked this blog post is speculation around the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. JJ Abrams killed of Spock’s mother, Amanda, and he destroyed the Vulcan home world. So it seems like JJ Abrams is not afraid of taking a bold move and with the alleged dark theme of the movie will Abrams kill off a major character? And will he, as kirk said to Spock concerning the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,…Let them die?

* This fact, that McCoy did die once, is ignored in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In the movie Spock tells McCoy that he cannot discuss death with him without a proper frame of reference. McCoy exasperatedly responds that he has to die first to discuss death with Spock!? Evidently the writers forgot that McCoy did die in the episode “Shore Leave.”