Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Star Trek-The Cage

                        En route back from the planet Rigel 7 the Starship Enterprise,under the command of Captain Christopher Pike,receives a distorted distress beacon from a survey ship called the Columbia,which had disappeared near the Talos star system eighteen years earlier according to science officer Mr. Spock's research. Captain Pike,himself deeply affected by the loss of seven crew members (including his yeoman) on Rigel returns to his quarters and takes council from ships physician Doctor Boyce. Upon arriving at Talos IV,sensors indicate their are survivors. When Captain Pike beam down,he and the away team encounter survivors-one of whom is a young orphan named Vina,who convinces the Captain to remain to see the secret of their survival. In truth,there are no survivors,Pike is abducted by a pair of aliens and despite Spock and Mr. Taylor's attempts to phaser him out,the have to return to the Enterprise to attempt to rescue Captain Pike.

                     On Talos,Pike awakens to find himself in an underground menagerie surrounded by many unrecognizable alien specimens. While attempting vainly to escape he soon encounters the aliens who abducted him,who communicate with him telepathically in regard to the fact they created the illusion of survivors to lure him to the planet to begin an experiment. While the Enterprise crew reach the same conclusion,and even try equally in vain to blast through the area where Captain Pike was abducted by transferring ship's power,Pike himself is subjected to one illusion after the other. Using his attraction towards Vina as a lure the Talosians allow him to recreate the encounter on Rigel,a domestic scene in his home town,and a titillating encounter with Vina as a green Orion slave. While punished for her revelation by the Talosians,Vina reveals at Pike's insistence that the Talosians were nearly destroyed by war millennia ago,and concentrated on developing powers and how they were trying to re-populate their world with other species who could breed and thrive.

                  Onboard the Enterprise,the systems begin to fail as the Talosians run through the ships computer records at lightning speed. On the surface the Talosians also abduct Pike's female first officer and yeoman from the transporter while going to mount a rescue. This done on the assumption of Pike's rejection of Vina as a mate. During this,Pike blasts a hole through the wall while he and the trio of women exit to the surface. When offered a life on the surface with the "female" of his choice,they Enterprise away team elect to destroy themselves save of being enslaved. The records taken from the Enterprise then reveal to the Talosians that human beings are not well suited to captivity and are free to return. When Pike offers Vina a chance to return to the Enterprise with him,it's revealed that her appearance is an illusion-that she is an adult survivor of the Columbia,the sole survivor and was badly deformed in the crash,since the Talosians didn't understand human biology when treating her. Upon Captain Pike and the away team leaving Talos IV to continue his mission,Vina is given an illusion of the captain for her companionship.

                  When Gene Roddenberry presented this story to NBC in early 1965 he pitched it as a "wagon train to the stars". Considering the popular of machismo celebrating Westerns at that time,it was not surprising the network rejected this pilot. Also there are some elements to the story that,while typically thought provoking as Star Trek is,were rather controversial for the era. The plot itself is extremely psycho sexual. For one Vina,played compellingly by Susan Oliver,has an interaction with Jeff Hunter's Captain Pike that plays up not only his dreams,but perhaps his physical fantasies to the degree of near fetishism on occasion. Pike's openly hostile reaction to the emotionally distant but mentally powerful Talosians reflects the characters own conflicts in the story,but also make him seem callous and even mildly cold hearted at times. The sexuality of Majel Barrett's nameless female first officer Number One,an implicitly independent female character was another sore spot with test audiences as well.

               This was also combined with the fact that each of the female characters are played very much to certain sexual archetypes. Number one is portrayed almost as a bibliophile,Pike's female Yeoman as something of an immature "fan girl" of the Captain and Vina as a tortured,and somewhat possessive woman suffering from a good deal of survivors guilt. This led to NBC pronouncing the story as "too cerebral",with it's emphasis on the psychoanalysis on human imagination and psycho sexuality. These were concepts rather frightening to the mid 60's. However this story superbly introduces the very qualities that made Star Trek such an enduring and successful phenomenon. It's intelligently written,superbly acted and the plot is filled with elements that excite the eye and the mind as well. Not only that but it anticipates both the sexual revolution and woman's liberation by several years. Following this pilot Roddenberry would completely recast the series and,for the first time in network history commission a second pilot for Star Trek. Still this is one of the highlights,at least for me, of the original Star Trek series,even if it wasn't aired for decades after it's creation.
                                 Welcome! For a long time now I have spoken to Star Trek fans of all walk of life. The fundamental theme stated is that these people wish to see Star Trek on television again but in some different way then before. Some wish to complete story lines from past Star Trek series’, some want more action and most only want to see new Star Trek episodes on television once again. Unfortunately the world of entertainment today seems continually unfriendly to programming such as Star Trek. So the idea of seeing it on television anymore seems daunting.
            More then four decades ago Gene Roddenberry set out on one mission; to create a high quality and socially relevant science fiction series for television. For the first decade and a half his vision worked far beyond his expectations; Star Trek went from a successful syndicated television show into a cultural phenomenon that spawned Star Trek The Next Generation, during whose time Star Trek went from an phenomenon to almost a way of life to some people. Tragedy struck when Mr. Roddenberry passed away in 1992. A year later Star Trek Deep Space Nine was introduced and very gradually through the decade Star Trek’s retreated from it’s golden age.
                            I share a belief with many others that the reason for this occurring is a change in popular culture. Those who once embraced Star Trek’s sense of hope, optimism and humanity began wanted their contemporary, but shifting interests and concerns reflected in the show. So in the two spin off series’ and movies of that time Star Trek showcased a more contemporary, cynical message. While the emphasis on sci-fi violence and conflict certainly did a lot to sell Star Trek as a franchise the show ceased to be a phenomenon and merely another successful sales bonanza. The result was a Star Trek with much surface value but little underneath.
                        By the mid 90’s the vision of cultural diversity in the show gave way to the most politically correct of stereotypes- each spin off had an Asian, female and brown skinned  cast member. The episodes began focusing on operatic, serialized plots that forced one to watch week after week, offering nothing in the way of story development. Also Star Trek was beginning to have serious detractors. A slew of TV programs and much literature was being written on the science of Star Trek, again applying the shows imaginative subtext towards “real life”. Even some Star Trek fans began seeing the show they once worshiped as out of reach, as unrealistic for the future. 
           However not too long ago another unusual occurrence in Star Trek occurred. Star Trek's 50 th anniversary is upon us with no new Star Trek series' on television. The most recent spin off  Enterprise didn't inspire very much attention from viewers and promoters and is the second shortest lived Star Trek series in history, outlasting the first Star Trek with a mere four season run from 2001 to 2005. So now many nay Sayers have gotten their wish- we now more or less live in a world without Star Trek. Counter to the old saying Star Trek no longer lives.
             Yet now there is something stirring in the air. The internet hosts many Star Trek related fan groups, some sponsored by the shows official website and a large community on sights like my space and tribe. And this is how I discovered that there are a number of individuals who wish to see Star Trek live and thrive again. Some merely speak about their opinions on it and others are seriously committed to bring it back to television. This gave me an opportunity to use the internet to revive the Explorer and put the idea back on track again.
                      It’s also important to state that if Star Trek is to move into the future successfully, it needs to keep in mind the mistakes and mishandling that led to it’s current state. Many I am sure have their own opinions what these are but here are my own ideas. First off,  any new Star Trek should have a member of the Roddenberry family involved in the production. It was them after all who helped the most in keeping the series surviving in it’s time of need. In the same spirit Star Trek worked best when made direct to syndication-time has proved again and again that under a TV network Star Trek simply fizzles out of public acclaim quickly. And is usually poorly promoted. 
                         This manifesto is about re accessing the past, about moving into the future of Star Trek while talking into account various aspects of it’s past. And most of all it is about helping find a way to bring Star Trek back to bring a message of hope and human unity to people, as well as many unique scientific ideas. It’s about using imagination to accomplish something great in reality.This is dedicated to all of those who have lived through and loved Star Trek over the years and who wish to see it continue. In this blog designed to forward the mission of my manifesto,I will be reviewing every episode of Star Trek in chronological order. The point being to emphasize not a stereotypical obsession with the show,but rather the important messages each conveys. Enjoy!