Friday, 23 May 2008

Star Trek: TOS 1.16 - The Menagerie (Parts I and II)

Review 15 - Episode 15 & 16

The One where Spock steals the Enterprise

I'm sure most people know the Story of this by now, but just to go over it one more time: The Cage was the 1st star trek pilot produced and the network didn't like it. So, new crew, new story and Where no man has gone before was created and the rest is history. Except you still have this expensive unaired pilot sitting collecting dust. What to do? Why not show it again, but create a framing story that would explain why we and Kirk are watching this footage. And lo, the Menagerie was created.

Now, I plan to review The cage at the end of Season 3 (don't get me started on why it's not in Season 1 Box set) so I'm not going to review the clips of it, suffice to say I was struck by how similar it was to TNG and also how it looked more modern than Kirks Star Trek. Onto the Framing device.

I like Spock stealing the enterprise and the way his plan was formulated and successfully pulled off. He gambled on Kirk not doing anything dangerous and it didn't pay off, so he immediately put himself under arrest, though whether this was his plan all along to have an exit strategy is unknown. This was a tour de force for Spock and it was very believable the way his plan was executed and ultimately failed.

What follows is rather disappointing as we have another court martial, this time of Spock. This is probably my fault for watching these in production order and not televised, but like the duplicate Kirk episode, it seems to be an idea they get, then use it again (and again in the case of humans with God powers). McCoy, who I thought would play a large part in this episode as he was on the ship, is missing for most of the 2nd half, tending to Pike it seems. Ah, poor Pike. It's ridiculous that his only communication is a flashing light, but the make up does well and it's very iconic seeing him in his black wheel chair.

The ending feels rushed to me and the fact star fleet overturns its death penalty and allows Spock to get away with it scot free seems unlikely to say the least. Even Kirk isn't bothered by Spocks actions. The actual video being streamed by the Talosians is so complicated to imagine how it works and how they could video the past that it could make your mind hurt. I did like the fact that the camera work was queried by the characters and they weren't going to pass it off as security video.

Ultimately, it's a hodge podge framing devise to reuse old stock, and whilst the 1st half does excellent work in building the tension and making us wonder whats on the planet, the 2nd half is essentially The Cage edited version and it also forces a strange ending rather than a satisfying one.


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