Gimme That Star Trek Ep.1: What If the Cage Went to Series?

Welcome to the newest addition to the Fire and Water Podcast Network, and just in time for Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary Week, too! Join Siskoid and his guests once a month for Star Trek discussion in the mold of Ryan Daly’s Give Me Those Star Wars. We start with the beginning, Trek’s original pilot “The Cage”, and wonder what would have happened if it had gone straight to series. Where would the Enterprise be now if its captain had been Christopher Pike for a season or more? Gene Hendricks of The Hammer Podcast  and Anime Freaks helps Siskoid answer that question.

Listen to Episode 1 below!

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Credits:
“Star Trek Theme” by Alexander Courage, with voice assist by the Irredeemable Shagg. End theme: “Deep Space Nine Theme” by Dennis McCarthy.

Bonus clips from: Star Trek’s “The Cage” by Gene Roddenberry, starring Jeffrey Hunter and Susan Oliver; Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror” by Jerome Bixby, starring DeForest Kelley and James Doohan; and “Lonely Man Theme” from The Incredible Hulk (green skin connection!) by Joe Harnell; and Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” starring James Doohan.

And thanks for leaving a comment!

21 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.1: What If the Cage Went to Series?

  1. Great addition to the FW Network!

    The idea of the original original Star Trek going to series is an intriguing one, and an appropriate way to start off this series. (I’m tempted to say it’s almost too cerebral, and maybe you should think about doing a second pilot that’s a little more low-brow. Shag would be perfect that.)

    I never really considered it, but the off-handed comment that maybe if the fans hadn’t willed a SSN 3 into existence, there might have never been any more Trek is probably correct. Two seasons most likely would not have been enough for syndication, and without syndication Trek would have been just another 60s series like ADAM-12 or WAGON TRAIN, a relic solely of the past.

    Looking forward to the next episode!

    1. Does that make me Jeffery Hunter and Shag William Shatner? … Talk about mixed feelings. 😉

      The idea of “Star Trek” being like “Adam-12” is an interesting one, and not only because I’m currently watching “Adam-12” on Hulu. As I stated in the episode, I became an Engineer because of Scotty. If Trek wasn’t around, I don’t know what I would have done, but I probably wouldn’t have gone to PItt. That means I wouldn’t have met Michelle and Kira wouldn’t exist. Not something I want to think too much about.

    2. Well, if something like The Time Tunnel, also 50 this year, could get syndication with a single season, I’m sure it’s possible. But while I had a childhood fondness for that show, I’d hardly call it a phenomenon.

  2. Great topic! And thanks to Gene for plugging the Super Mates Trek 50th Anniversary episode.

    I like Jeffery Hunter’s Pike, but I think his world-weariness would have have eroded the fanbase fairly quickly. A reluctant adventurer is fine for a one-off story, but following him week-to-week may become a bit of a chore. I think Siskoid nailed it with Shatner and that twinkle in his eye. Kirk’s joy in exploring the unknown is evident throughout his stories, and those rare moments when even he has had enough are that much more powerful for it.

    I personally wonder if Trek would have made it past Season 1 in this formation. Had they not lightened things up a bit and injected some character in it, I doubt fans and the SF creative community would have gotten behind it like they did. It may very well be the footnote that shows like the Time Tunnel now are. Well-remembered, but not a thriving IP.

    Chris

    1. “And thanks to Gene for plugging the Super Mates Trek 50th Anniversary episode.”

      I was happy to do it. We are all one, big, happy fleet, after all. 😉

      As to longevity, I think The Cage version might have ended up like “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, which lasted 4 seasons. Of course, whether that was due to Star Trek being around as well for seasons 3 & 4 can be argued. That was the general vibe I was getting, though. A bit of humor, but more military seriousness for the most part.

  3. Only Shatner could replace Jesus (Hunter played Jesus in King of Kings)!

    While I find The Cage and its cast very intriguing, I think the Trek Trinity is what really held TOS together. I will often wonder what could have been with this original bunch, but I don’t think it would have gone beyond a season or two.

    One note – that intro. Couldn’t you have found someone with a good voice?

  4. As a Star Trek fan from way back when I watched ’60s reruns with my dad, I’m really glad to get in on the ground floor of this new podcast. I still remember the excitement and anticipation I had as a young teenager in 1987 when the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was aired. Star Trek was my dad’s show, and I still love it in many ways, but ST:TNG was the one that people of my generation grew up with.

    I’ve thought a lot about what a Jeffrey Hunter-led Star Trek series would have been like, and I agree with the assessment that it likely wouldn’t have had the same longevity as we had.

    I don’t recall if anyone mentioned it, but Jeffrey Hunter died at the fairly young age of 42 only a few years later in 1969, so it’s unlikely that the original crew from the Cage would have continued on in another series or in movies. Roddenberry may have championed another TV series in the ’70s, but with someone else in the lead. I can’t help but think it would’ve been similar to Space: 1999, and might be fondly remembered but wouldn’t have had all the multimedia spinoffs in TV, movies, novels, etc., that we got thanks to the movies.

  5. Enjoyed your discussion, guys!

    “The Menagerie” is my all-time favorite TOS episode — putting “The Cage” into that format and context gives the Trek universe an immediate “historical” scope, and I really like that — but while I find the “what might have beens” pretty fascinating (to coin a phrase), it’s hard to argue with the success of the series and cast as it ended up. Still, I’ve always been drawn to those Trek novels you allude to that feature Pike and his crew, especially “Burning Dreams,” which is all about Pike’s life story. And I think the “world-weariness” would have been gone by his second episode; “The Cage” is the story of how he is forced to deal with and move past it by the events on Talos IV.

    The current 50th anniversary Trek novel trilogy features Number One in a starring role, which is pretty cool. I know Roddenberry’s intention was to have Number One be very cold and reserved and logical – and Vina has that dig about Number One’s “computer circuits” brain — but I have to say, in just the footage of her we have, I don’t see Number One as being stoic or Vulcan-like, but simply being professional. We get a glimpse of her disappointment and not being selected for the landing party; we see her frustration at their inability to get Pike back; we hear her snap Yeoman Colt back in line at the end of the show when Colt asks “who would’ve been Eve;” we see her smile when she and Colt beam back to the ship. I’ve always liked Number One, and don’t think her one appearance fully bears out Roddenberry’s intent for her.

    Are you familiar with the short-lived (only 17 issues, I think) “Early Voyages” series from Marvel Comics back in the mid-90s? It’s a good project that, unfortunately, ends in a (still unresolved!) cliffhanger…

    I am not at all sure “the main problem” with the Rand character was Whitney’s addiction. In an interview with the official Star Trek website, she said she wasn’t drinking much during the show until she found out the writers were *already* writing her character out; add to that the fact that she’d been sexually assaulted by a Desilu producer — I don’t think all of that should be dumped on Grace Lee Whitney. See http://www.startrek.com/article/grace-lee-whitney-on-trek-life-part-i

    “Transporter Chief Pitcairn” might have developed into the engineer role; they at least went to the trouble of giving him a name. But I think your idea of adding Scotty into Pike’s crew is a good one; in fact, D.C. Fontana does exactly that (though as a junior engineer) in her novel “Vulcan’s Glory.”

    Good episode, guys! Looking forward to hearing more from you! (Especially because one of you has an 8-year-old daughter to whom you’re introducing Trek – I am doing the same with my daughter! I’ve been pretty carefully curating her exposure to TOS so far, and we haven’t tried “The Menagerie” yet – maybe now we will!)

    1. I will down to your superior knowledge of the subject, Mike. I can only plead lack of research time (as if I really would have done much more, anyway).

      What I think we’re going to try and do is watch all of The Original Series episodes on their 50th Anniversary. We watched “The Man Trap” on the 8th, so next up is “Charlie X” on the 15th. It should be interesting, as I don’t think my wife has seen them all and I’m certain my daughter hasn’t.

          1. I’m definitely not. I’ve done enough of that on my blog. Check out the trailer (on the show page) for some of the topics we’ll be tackling in the first year!

  6. Fascinating discussion! Such a great discussion topic. And having Gene (a die-hard Trek fan) on the first episode just felt right.

    Mike Poteet beat me to it, but I would recommend the Marvel/Paramount Comics series, “Star Trek The Early Voyages”. It features the Pike crew on adventures and was one of the better ones Paramount comics produced. Would be interesting to contrast your thoughts with what Marvel/Paramount came up with.

    As I listened I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever watched The Cage the whole way through. Something I should revisit.

    Really a fantastic inaugural show! Can’t wait to hear more! And that guy doing the opening monologue sounds sexy as hell!

  7. Like the Who’s Who episode this one made me want to get off my ass and watch the original series from beginning to end. Siskoid and Gene were fantastic and even though I haven’t seen THE CAGE I am familiar enough with it to not have been lost. More than anything I enjoyed the passion both of you had for the subject. Gene is always great to hear and I am in awe of Siskoid’s ST knowledge. Good job, gentlemen.

    At one point Gene mentioned that Enterprise Technical Manual. At least I think it was the technical manual. He could have been talking about any number of books that have been put out that are technical in nature. Anyway, it sparked a memory. Growing up my family had a pretty healthy library of books. One day I was going through them wanting something to read and I found the Enterprise Technical Manual. I was really confused. None of my sisters were into Star Trek and I knew it wasn’t mine. I showed it to my father and asked where it came from and he said, rather matter of factly, “That’s mine. I loved the original series.” He went on to tell me how he would watch the show in his apartment when it originally aired as he played this board game called Gettysburg (a two player board game where one player was the North, the other was the South and you started the game with your troops positioned exactly as they were at the Battle of Gettysburg and then fought it again RISK style) with his roommate.

    Now you have to understand that while my father always put up with my comic collecting he never understood it so to find out that this man that always rolled his eyes a bit when I watched some bit of super hero or sci-fi tat on television was a fan of the original STAR TREK series was a bit of a surprise. It also explained why he and my mother went to see STAR TREK III in the theater.

    As it turned out he only liked the original series. I tried to get him to watch Next Gen but every time I did it was the exact same episode which shows how much of a commitment I didn’t have to the cause. Oddly enough he loved the first Abrams film. I could never figure out why.

    1. I believe that the Technical Manual that I mentioned was “Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise”, but it’s possible that your dad had the Franz Joseph “Starfleet Technical Manual”. The Joseph one dealt only with TOS, and came out much earlier that the Mr. Scott one, so that seems the most logical.

      I, of course, have both on my shelves. 😉

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