24 May 2015

All the leaves are blue... (Review: 'Star Trek 1.11': "The Menagerie: Part I")

The ship is summoned to Starbase 11, where the ship's former captain, one Christopher Pike, is being looked after following serious radiation exposure that has confined him to a Davros-style wheelchair and being only able of communicating via a blinking light. Spock, who had served under him previously, then proceeds to seemingly abandon all good sense, taking Captain Pike and essentially hijacking the ship for a journey to Talos IV.

And the risks are high; Talos IV is off limits by Starfleet order... on pain of death...

The guest cast budget for this episode, the first of a two-parter, must have been high indeed; a quick guess... maybe 30 plus extras? Then again, see my comment below. Well, they weren't filming in location; the old painted backdrops get frequent appearance, although at least the set designers are good enough to not to have a completely flat floor.

Spock demonstrates some real cunning here through his actions to assume command of the ship, including falsifying orders (including edited voice recordings) and also some use of the Vulcan nerve pinch.

However, Kirk again demonstrates why he is the boss, chasing after Spock in a shuttle, deliberately going beyond his fuel limits and forcing Spock to pick him up, along with Starbase 11's CO. Spock then surrenders without a fight.

The second half of the episode then sees Spock's court martial, the debut of some very fancy dress uniforms and as his mitigation, Spock introducing what is basically a flashback sequence as his evidence, namely his previous visit with Pike's crew to Talos IV thirteen years earlier (complete with heavily redressed ship), a planet seemingly home to a shipwrecked Earth expedition, a good number of blue leaves and aliens with big heads of the sort that have been aped considerably since, including in Mars Attacks! among other works.

What is good is the fact that this evidence is displayed on screen... but there seems to be an IC explanation for why it looks like a TV drama. However, we seem to get a lot of unnecessary stuff, including a scene with Pike and the then ship's doctor. My OOC guess... and I'm going to hold off on looking this up (although a quick look for "big headed aliens" suggests I'm right)... is that we're seeing an awful lot of the material from "The Cage", the unbroadcast pilot.

The cliffhanger is interesting with a further twist; it's less of a "dun dun dun!" and more of the sort that ends the first half of a play.


While I'm intrigued as to how this is going to be resolved in the second part, the extended flashback sequences were not really needed or could at least have been seriously trimmed down.


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