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Star Trek - The Cage

pilot episode

USA 1965
produced by
Gene Roddenberry, Byron Haskin (co) for Desilu
directed by Robert Butler
starring Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barrett, John Hoyt, Peter Duryea, Laurel Goodwin
written by Gene Roddenberry, music by Alexander Courage

Star Trek, Classic Star Trek

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Enterprise receives a distress call from a planet on which a starship crashed 18 years ago. The Enterprise's captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) beams down with a small survey crew to investigate, finds a group of survivors including Vina (Susan Oliver), an attractive blonde, and before you know it, Vina has lured Pike into a trap and the other survivors vanish into thin air. It turns out everything was just an illusion by the enormously brained natives, the Talosians, who want to make Pike part of their quite accomplished zoo.

The Talosians, who are able to not only create illusions but also read minds, now let Pike live through various scenarios derived from his subconscious, scenarios that usually involve Vina, and apparently they want to make him fall in love with Vina so the two of them mate. At this point, I might want to point out that Vina is not an illusion but a real human being, who actually survived the crash 18 years ago - and she still looks like a girl in her early 20's.

Somehow, Pike doesn't fall in love with Vina quickly enough, so the Talosians beam two females from his ship, the machine-like Number One (Majel Barrett) and the bubble-brained Yeoman Colt (Laurel Goodwin) into his cage so he has more choice. Pike meanwhile has found out one thing, that hatred can cloud his brain long enough to attack the Talosians, so he starts to hate, overcomes a Talosian, and forces them to release him and the girls. Only once he has won the upper hand, he learns that the Talosians had nothing but noble intentions, they wanted Pike to help them cultivate and populate their planet and in return offered him a paradise derived from his own subconscious. They just had no proper way to show their noble intentions ...

It all ends happily, the Talosians let Pike and his entourage leave, while Vina, who is a terribly disfigured old woman when the Talosians don't use their powers of illusion on her, stays behind with a Pike-illusion.

Leonard Nimoy can be seen as Mr Spock in this one, but despite his looks, he hardly resembles the logic-driven Vulcanian he eventually came to be.


The very first, long unaired pilot for Star Trek, that was originally rejected because it was depending on sources either too costly or too brain-heavy. On closer inspection though there might be other things wrong with this film as well, like the script is rather inconsequential, comes equipped with major plotholes, the finale is pretty much an anti-clim,ax, and the whole thing is way to much tailored to its lead Jeffrey Hunter, who unfortunately is neither particularly charismatic nor that much of an actor to carry the story.

I'm not saying this is a total trainwreck here, it's still fun in a nostalgic sort of way, it's just not nearly as entertaining as a regular episode of the original Star Trek series.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD