I’m a longtime Trek fan who dived into TOS for the first time. Here’s what I thought.
One thing that’s a little weird about me and my Trek fandom is that even though I consider myself a diehard Trek fan I had, up until last year not seen more than a couple of TOS episodes. I’d seen the movies, but as the show goes I just never got around to it. I’d seen a couple of the classics but never really dove in. So over the last year or so I decided to finally rectify this and go back and watch and write about them all. I’ve decided to watch them and give my take as a long time Trek fan who is just coming to TOS for the first time.
I started with The TOS pilot The Cage. That was the first one so why not. This episode features Captain Pike being trapped. Trapped in a cage. A cage from which he’ll be kept and used for breeding stock to repopulate the planet with a female prisoner.
I don’t know what the consensus is on this one, but I it was very bad. It’s Trek legend that the pilot was initially rejected by CBS. Folks say that now like it’s funny that the network ever would’ve passed on what’s become some a beloved and valuable property. Watching the pilot though and you think of course they passed on it. It’s just not very good.
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I thought I was prepared for wooden acting and poor pacing. Nothing can prepare you for just how bad Jeffrey Hunter’s Pike is. I’m glad that they eventually put him in that wheelchair where he can only answer yes or no via the blinking light because that helped improve Jeffrey Hunter’s range as an actor. I read that his wife didn’t want him on the show because she thought that science fiction was beneath him. Turns out that not only is science fiction not beneath him, but he is very much beneath science fiction. Not to say that this was a good episode. It’s not. He’s just bad enough to stand out as particularly awful in an already bad episode.
The alien villains are dumb too. The Enterprise crew makes a big deal about how smart they are, what with their giant brains and all. But these giant brains don’t seem to be doing them much good. Why would they only abduct two people? You try to repopulate a planet with only two people, and you’re just begging to have your population ravaged by recessive gene disorders.
Also, these aliens aren’t able to read what they call “primitive thoughts.” Which they explain to mean violent thoughts. But they have no trouble reading Pike’s desire to have sex with Orion slave girls. Wanting to have sex with slaves is literally the most primitive thought that exists.
If I was trying to convince someone to watch Trek for the first time I definitely wouldn’t go with this one. I would go with TNG’s pilot Encounter at Farpoint. Both are pilots and both involve powerful aliens that trap and test Enterprise crews. Encounter at Farpoint though is lightyears ahead in terms of effects, acting, and pacing.
I plan on going through TOS and posting my thoughts about them as I do. All of you are invited to do the same. If there’s a series or movie that you have as a blindspot give it a watch and then feel free to write about it. Or just let me know in the comments why I can’t be a Star Trek fan having not seen all of TOS yet.