Star Trek – The Menagerie

by Alan Rapp on August 17, 2014

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Star Trek – The Menagerie
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  • wiki: link

Star Trek - The Menagerie

Offering the show the opportunity to use footage from the unaired pilot episode, the First Season’s only two-part episode featured rebellious Spock (Leonard Nimoy) standing trial for stealing the Enterprise and taking it to the forbidden planet of Talos IV and the return of the show’s first captain Christopher Pike (Sean Kenney/Jeffrey Hunter). “The Menagerie” is possibly the best example from the original series of the human side of the Vulcan science officer getting the best of him where his loyalty to his ship and captain comes into conflict with actions that, at least on the surface, are highly illogical.

Stranded on Starbase 11 when Spock makes off with his ship and the crippled Captain Pike under falsified secret orders, Kirk (William Shatner) is at a loss to explain his first officer’s inexplicable behavior. After catching up with the Enterprise, Spock is but on trial for his actions (which include refusing to change the ship’s pre-programmed course to Talos IV). During the trial unusually clear archival footage is brought in his defense featuring the events of “The Cage” and the Enterprise’s previous trip to Talos IV. What’s interesting is the events in “The Cage” explain Spock’s actions but don’t ever really excuse them, although the first officer is eventually cleared of all charges.

In the flashbacks the events of “The Cage” unfold showcasing Pike’s first meeting with a beautiful young woman named Vina (Susan Oliver), the sole survivor of the ill-fated SS Columbia mission launched to the Talos star group, and the mysterious Talosians who use their highly-evolved mental ability to create impossibly real illusions in order to experiment with their human test subjects who now include Pike. By the end of the narrative Kirk understands Spock’s actions and just what the Talosians can offer to the crippled space captain in the form of a new reality free from the futuristic wheelchair that only allows him to respond in positive and negative beeps to direct questions.

Creating mostly as a cost-cutting measure to give a break in production to the show’s overworked crew trying to complete the show’s expensive special effects on a weekly basis, the two-part episode is only one of two original Star Trek episodes to win a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. Relying heavily on a pilot episode that wasn’t good enough for the network to greenlight, it’s ironic that “The Menagerie” turns out to be one of Star Trek‘s best episodes.

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