Rob Watches Star Trek – Series Pilot: “The Cage”

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy who’s never seen a full episode of Star Trek, decides to take a look at the franchise with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
TITLE: “The Cage”
STARRING: Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Georgia Schmidt, Serena Sande, Leonard Nimoy
WRITER: Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR:
Robert Butler
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
October 4, 1988,
First screened in February 1965
SYNOPSIS:
The Enterprise picks up a near-20-year-old radio signal from Talos IV. But upon investigation, the Talosians subject Captain Pike to a series of bizarre experiments.

By Rob Siebert
The same Rob from up top.

If you’ve watched television for any significant amount of time, you know it’s not uncommon for shows to evolve or change between when a pilot episode is picked up to become a series, and when the series actually begins. For instance, in the pilot for Seinfield was titled The Seinfeld Chronicles, and the Michael Richards character was called Kessler instead of Kramer. The Elaine character, who would eventually be played by Julia Louis Dreyfus, was absent entirely.

“The Cage” is the first pilot episode of Star Trek originally shown to CBS executives in February of 1965. It was rejected by the network, and another pilot was ordered. Ultimately, that was for the better. But that’s not to say this episode isn’t unenjoyable…

Mere seconds into very first interior shot of “The Cage,” the original pilot episode of Star Trek, it’s evident this is not yet the iconic show we’re familiar with. The only person on screen we recognize is Leonard Nimoy. He’s still playing Spock (shown left), but it’s clearly not the Spock we know. His hair is a little bit longer, his uniform (like everyone else’s) looks a little too sweatshirt-ish. He’s also got an emotional side to him. It doesn’t get much focus, but it’s there.

But the only person on the Enterprise bridge that we really need to know is Captain Christopher Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter. The episode revolves entirely around him. He’s obviously the main character, so that’s not altogether uncalled for. But as we’ll see, he also gets a certain…uncomfortable focus. It’s because of that focus that the entire pilot doesn’t age very well.

So the Enterprise receives this 18-year-old radio signal from Talos IV, and the crew realizes there may be survivors. Pike takes a search party down to the planet, and is lured into a trap by Vina, a beautiful woman and supposedly one such survivor. The distress call was a ploy by the Talosians to lure the Enterprise on to the planet, so that they might capture a human to mate with Vina. Eventually, their offspring would be made into human slaves. The episode makes numerous Biblical references to the story of Adam and Eve.

So here’s the thing about these Talosians: Their heads really look like nut sacks. I’m sure I’m not the first to make that brilliant observation. But once I saw the shot on the right, that visual was all I could think about. I mean, what do they even need a male for? They’ve got testicles on their heads. They can just mate with Vina themselves!

MEANWHILE, IN FEBRUARY OF 1965: Malcolm X is assassinated during a speech on February 21. The iconic red and white Maple Leaf design is officially designated as the Canadian flag. 

Master illusionists, the Talosians and Vina desperately try to tempt Pike into giving in and accepting numerous false yet extremely enticing realities. When that doesn’t work, they abduct two women from the Enterprise, and attempt to place them in Vina’s role. They are Pike’s second in command known only as Number One, played by Majel Barrett, and a young lady known only by her Yeoman rank played by Laurel Goodwin (both shown below).

So from the Talosians’ perspective, because Vina was somehow deemed unattractive, two female crew members are brought into the story. We don’t know their names (though apparently Yeoman had one in the series proposal), and they are promptly judged by how they might be attractive to Pike.

See what I mean about  how this doesn’t age well?

What’s more, near the end of the episode, Yeoman has either the temerity or the stupidity to ask Pike, “Who would have been Eve?” As in, who would Pike have chosen between she and Number One? Number One quickly shuts the interaction down, and Yeoman walks off. Somebody’s jealous…

And what of Vina? Once the Talosians are defeated, it’s revealed she was the sole survivor of the ship that sent the radio transmission, and ultimately crashed on Talos IV. When the Talosians found her, they tried to heal her. But as they’d never seen a human, they had no frame of reference. As such, without the Talosians using their illusionary powers, she is old, hunchbacked, and gruesomely re-assembled. Instead of returning to the Enterprise with Pike and the others, she opts to stay with the Talosians and keep her illusion of beauty. As a consolation prize of sorts, the Talosians grant her an illusion of Pike to be with.

If you discount all the stuff I just ran down with Vina, Number One, and Yeoman, “The Cage” is actually a pretty fun watch. It’s got cheesy ’60s sci-fi aliens and monsters. Oddly enough, there’s also a viking. Many of the known and loved elements from Star Trek are there.

The Captain Pike character, judged strictly by his own merits, is fine. The problem is all the female characters in the episode are obviously drawn to him. Thus, their worth becomes largely based not on their merits as individuals, but on how attractive they are. Vina even decides to live inside a lie just so she can remain attractive.

Sadly, this pilot wasn’t turned down based on its sexist writing. Rather, it was deemed “too cerebral,” “too intellectual,” “too slow,” and without enough action. When NBC got to look at it, however, they made the unorthodox decision to pay for a second pilot. This one had William Shatner in what would become the iconic Captain Kirk role. It would eventually air as the third episode of the first season, entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

One thing I want to note in closing: As I’ve indicated, the writing of the female characters in this episode really rubbed me the wrong way. Especially as the father of a young girl. But I can’t bring myself to be overly angry with series creator and the writer of this episode, Gene Roddenberry. In 1965, we had yet to really get into the heart of the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Like all of us Roddenberry was a product of the times he lived in. Considering he’s largely responsible for what at the time was one of the most diversely cast television shows in history, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Why Brooklyn Nine-Nine Has TV’s Funniest Cast

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As the sixth season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to air on NBC, I was recently fortunate enough to be invited by Fandom to record for a video called, “Why Brooklyn Nine-Nine Has TV’s Funniest Cast.” I’d love for you to click the link and check it out.

Oddly enough, when I recorded the copy I hadn’t seen the show yet. But Mrs. Primary Ignition and I have recently jumped in, and are really enjoying it. I’ve you’ve never seen it, and are into shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, then it’s definitely worth a shot.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

10 Things You Need to Know About Bird Box

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My latest voiceover gig has gone live. Once again, it’s hosted by the folks over at Fandom. This time, it’s “10 Things You Need to Know About Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box.”

The post-apocalyptic thriller, which came to Netflix December 21, also features Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Here’s the trailer…

And because now is as good a time as any for a shameless plug, I’d love for you to check out my previous gig over at Fandom, “9 Shocking Rick Grimes Moments on The Walking Dead.”

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Jenna Rae Frank Coming to Power Rangers?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Is Jason David Frank’s daughter about to turn Power Rangers into a family business?

PopLurker.com stirred up the Power Rangers fandom Saturday morning, with the story: “Actress Jenna Rae Frank Rumored to Lead Power Rangers as the Next Red Ranger.”

Jason David Frank, of course, played Tommy, the Green Ranger, on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the early ’90s. He stuck with the show until 1997, returned for a season in 2004, and has done a few one-offs since then. He currently co-owns Power Morphicon Express, a traveling fan convention making its first stop next spring in Pasedena, TX.

Mind you, the article is only a “What if they did this?” fan pitch. It offers nothing in the way of evidence. But lets not be foolish enough to dismiss it outright.

For one thing, this is obviously something the Franks want. I suspect they were actually involved in getting the PopLurker story published, as it conveniently coincides with this “action audition” posted to 14-year-old Jenna’s YouTube page…

According to her IMDB page, Frank’s only on-screen credit, outside of appearing in her father’s YouTube show My Morphin Life, is an episode of 6 Rounds of Chloe, which is labeled as “filming.”

For the record, I’m not saying putting her on the show would be a bad decision. A sort of “legacy” choice like this would drum up a lot of good will with older fans. Which, now that the franchise is under the new ownership of Hasbro, would be a wise publicity move.

Plus, you’ve got to believe JDF would want at least a little on-camera time with his daughter, so it would give them a nice excuse to bring Tommy back again. The Christmas episode of Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel just did something like that with brothers Yoshi  and Peter Sudarso.

Power Rangers Beast Morphers premieres premieres on Nickelodeon this February, and is expected to run through 2020. So the soonest we might expect to see Frank on screen with a morpher in her hand would be early 2021.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

That Power Rangers 25th Anniversary Photo: Pulling Back the Curtain!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So yesterday, like a perfectly normal 33-year-old man, I geeked out over a photo from a children’s show.

But not just any children’s show. The Power Rangers 25th anniversary episode, which is set to air August 28 on Nickelodeon. In prime time, no less.

As you can likely tell, I’m an un-closeted, unabashed PR geek. As such, I can tell you history dictates that an anniversary show usually means appearances from past Rangers. With this big anniversary approaching, we were all expecting an episode with some familiar faces. We just weren’t entirely sure who we’d see. This week, we got our first official confirmations with this photo from IGN…

For the uninitiated, these are (left to right) Catherine Sutherland, Jason Faunt, and Jason David Frank, reprising their roles as Katherine, Wes, and Tommy. All three are regulars on the convention circuit nowadays, so it’s not necessarily a huge shock to see them. But while JDF and Jason Faunt both appeared on the show’s 20th anniversary episode, this will be Sutherland’s first on-screen appearance for PR since 1997. So it’s obviously quite special to see her with a morpher on again.

Oddly enough, some fans have balked at Kat using the Turbo powers, as opposed to the Zeo powers. The argument being that while she eventually passed her Turbo powers on to someone else, she was the one and only Pink Zeo Ranger. While I admit that given the choice I’d have her use the Zeo powers, I’m not going to nitpick it. I’m just happy to have her back.

Look closely, and you’ll see Tommy is using the Green Ranger power coin. So he’ll be the Green Ranger again, as he was when we last saw him. It makes sense, as the Green Ranger has more nostalgic value than almost anything else in the series. But I’ve actually got a soft spot for Tommy as the White Ranger. I almost wish they’d swerve us and go that way.

As for who else we’ll see on the show, there’s a list of names out there of PR actors spotted in New Zealand (where the show is filmed) during production. But again, nothing is confirmed. The only unannounced name that I think is pretty obvious is Ciara Hanna, who played Gia in Power Rangers Mega Force. She recently did some business with the show alongside JDF. So I don’t think it’s much of a stretch.

Either way, here’s hoping this show is as special as we’re all hoping it will be. After enduring for 25 years, the series deserves at least that much.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

SDCC Trailer Reactions: Aquaman, Fantastic Beasts, and More!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

A butt-load of trailers dropped at San Diego Comic Con this weekend.

Let’s talk about some, shall we?

Aquaman:

Yes, this looks pretty in an Avatar sort of way. But I’m not super optimistic about this one. Aquaman as a dude bro didn’t work for me in Justice League, and it certainly doesn’t work as its own movie. I see people rejecting this movie, much as they rejected Green Lantern. So it’s fitting in that sense that I can’t look at Jason Momoa without seeing Roman Reigns…

SHAZAM!

Kinda wish they’d gone a little younger with Billy Batson. But other than that, I can’t bring myself to complain about much here. SHAZAM! looks like it might be fun. And if these DC movies have been lacking one thing above all else, it’s that. Plus, Zachary Levi is a good choice.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

In the first one, they overhyped Bryan Cranston’s role in the movie to the point that it looked like Godzilla vs. Walter White. Then they got rid of Cranston in the first act. This one looks like Godzilla vs. Eleven. So if it’s anything like last time, we’ll see Millie Bobbie Brown about as much as we saw Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.

This trailer only served to remind me that we have to wait another year for the next season of Stranger Things

The Walking Dead, Season 9:

It’s fashionable to crap on The Walking Dead nowadays. And in all fairness, the bloom is indeed off this undead rose. But I’m still into it. Especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.

So with Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Lauren Cohan (Maggie) both leaving the show, The Walking Dead season 9 has the unenviable task of writing out two major characters. The downside there is rather obvious. But the upside is that the show is going to look markedly different than the comics from here on out. From a predictability standpoint, that’s a great thing.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald:

“What Mr. Scamander fears above everything else is…”
“Having to work in an office, sir.”

Join the club, kid.

Mrs. Primary Ignition will end up taking me to see this.But honestly, I’m having trouble caring. Call me when they start covering what happens after Deathly Hallows.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Titans Trailer Reaction: F**k Batman???

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The trailer for the upcoming Titans TV series, based on the DC Comics characters, dropped today. And, yeah…this is happening…

*ehem* Okay. So, let’s break this down to pros and cons. And yes, unfortunately, there are more cons than pros at this point.

Pros:

– I actually like the idea of Raven seeking out Dick Grayson, and the genesis of the team sparking from there. But what’s Dick’s job? Is he a cop, as he was in the comics for awhile? A reporter?

– Brenton Thwaites, who plays Dick, seems like a solid choice for the role. He looks damn good in that costume. Teagan Croft (Raven) reminds me a lot of Chloe Grace Moretz. Though that’s neither a pro nor a con, really. Just a thing…

– I’m intrigued by the little glimpses of Hawk and Dove.

Cons:

– Very dark and dismal. You’d think DC would have learned their lesson after Batman v Superman, and all that Zack Snyder crap. Apparently not. This looks like Riverdale with superhero costumes.

Though in all fairness, Riverdale is a successful show. I guess darkness is what moody teenagers want to see. I ate up that kind of content when I was in my late teens and early 20s. But that doesn’t leave the rest of us with much.

– Why is this trailer rated TV MA? If they want Dick Grayson to be angsty, then make him angsty. But “F**k Batman” is a little on the nose, isn’t it? Not to mention tacky.

– Early set photos of Anna Diop’s Starfire costume caught a lot of flack. Admittedly, they looked pretty bad. She looked like a space hooker. She still kind of looks like a space hooker, to be honest. But consider her costume from most of the source material. They were almost screwed either way.

Still, I’m actually willing to wait and see how she looks in the show. My problems with this trailer have less to do with how the characters look, and more how the show itself looks.

– That “Madness” chorus is going to be stuck in my head for days…

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Review of The Flash S2E6 – Zoom Ends Barry’s Run?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a big episode. How do you know? Because they didn’t have any time for that plot thread with Iris’ mom. I’m hoping that has something to do with something at one point. Otherwise, what the hell was the point?

But again, no time for that crap this week. Things are goin’ straight to hell…

Jesse QuickPonderings From The Flash, S2E6:

Wells: “You’re my joy, Jesse Quick.” Ahhhh, how about that? Wells’ daughter is Jesse Quick. There’s something to look forward to.

In the old DC Universe, Jesse Quick was a supporting player in the Flash comic book. The daughter of Golden Age hero Johnny Quick, Jesse became one of Wally West’s partners before changing her hero identity to Liberty Belle.

I can only assume Jesse knows about her powers, if only because Zoom came looking for her. Given how that fight between Zoom and Barry went (more on that later), they may need her sooner than later.

Obviously, the “Arrowverse” is expanding. With Legends of Tomorrow on the horizon, and The Flash still going strong, that’s a good thing.

The team enlists Linda Park’s help in setting a trap for Zoom. This was a bad idea, and even the heroes knew it. You never intentionally put innocents in jeopardy. That’s got to be in the first chapter of the superhero rule book.

Linda Park, Malese JowOn the plus side, it’s nice to see the Linda Park character fleshed out a little more. This as the first episode where I really took the time to study how Malese Jow portrays her. She now seems like she has her own distinct personality, as opposed to just being somebody in the background.

She also had two really good lines this week: “I’ve made out with The Flash,” and in reference to Zoom, “You can’t fight that thing. It’s a monster.”

Also, now she knows Barry is The Flash. Barry’s got a lot of strings attached at this point. That could come back to bite him, specifically when it comes to his adopted father…

Barry admits to Joe that he’s been having trouble being happy since he failed to save his mother from the Reverse-Flash. Joe tells him to do his best to be happy here and now. Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin have become really good at these father/son scenes. And it led to an awesome moment between Barry and Patty. Scenes like this make me wonder if Joe’s going to get killed off at some point. His death would be so impactful for all the heroes, Barry and Iris especially.

The Flash, Season 2, ZoomThe Flash faces off with Zoom for the first time. Obviously Zoom has a scary quality to him. A little less scary when you realize they’re sort of channeling Cobra Commander and Shredder with his voice. But still, he’s a very effective big bad for the season.

This fight reminded me of the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader fight from The Empire Strikes Back. The good guy has the heart and the will, but the bad guy simply has too much power and experience. As such, The Flash got his ass kicked, and he was humiliated in front of his allies. I’m not sure how much Zoom knows about Barry’s life, but having Zoom drag Barry in front of his father would have been a nice cap-off to that sequence.

When Zoom stabbed Barry, originally I thought the wound was in his heart. Needless to say, that would have complicated things. But as we’d soon learn, the wound was in his spine. So what does The Flash do when you take away his legs? In the comics, we’ve seen a version of Barry on a motorcycle. But I doubt they take that route here. I’ve got a feeling Barry gets his legs back next week via super healing or something like that.

Robert Queen is the Arrow of Earth-2. During a flashback scene on Earth-2, Harrison Wells hears that Robert Queen, Oliver Queen’s father on Arrow, was the one who donned the hood on that world. That was a really cool little Easter egg.

Image 1 from nerdist.com. Image 2 from ibtimes.com. Image 3 from ign.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgniton.