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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 17, 2001
Format: DVD
In 1964 Gene Roddenberry pitched his Star Trek idea to NBC executives as "Wagon Train to the Stars." Expecting a western set in space, they gave Roddenberry the go-ahead and set him to work. When they viewed The Cage in early 1965, they must have been surprised. After complaining it was "too cerebral," the suits issued a litany of other complaints: the female second in command (Number One) was unacceptable, and there were too many females in general on the ship ("people will think there's a lot of fooling around going on up there"); the presence of minorities would offend NBC affiliates in the South, who would refuse to air the program; and "that guy with the ears" had to go. Roddenberry was willing to concede the female second in command, but thereafter he dug in his heels: minorities and aliens continue to be a presence in Star Trek to this day.
Watching The Cage from a 21st Century perspective, one wonders what the NBC suits were in a ringer about. The episode is not appreciably higher in concept than many original series episodes, and the whole affair has an appealing "New Frontier" Kennedy-esque flavor.
Somewhat like an Ed Wood movie, Turnabout Intruder is unintentionally humorous. The story idea is ludicrous, the dialogue cringeworthy, and the acting has to be seen to be believed. William Shatner's realization of Kirk's body under the control of Janice Lester (which includes filing his nails and walking with a mincing gait) is the single most over the top performance in all of Trek. He comes across as Joan Crawford on Psilocybin. How his intensely homoerotic moments with guest actor Harry Landers got past the network censors will forever remain a mystery. This story is the greatest camp masterpiece since Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.
How does this DVD look? The full color version of The Cage is a true restoration, not merely a remastering. The print has been carefully cleaned and color corrected, and various sound elements (dialogue, music, and sound effects) have been remixed from the original sources. Generally it wears its age well, although portions of the dialogue sound fuzzy. The Black & White/Color amalgamation of The Cage is also included. This version has had no rework done, which makes the restoration of the all-color version all the more stunning. Gene Roddenberry's introduction from 1986 is also included, a nice touch.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2002
Format: DVD
When I started watching "The Cage" Episode 1 (for which I purchased the DVD) I was quite amazed at how well the opening sequence looked and sounded. The music has appearantly been remixed from the original elements for the DVD, and the picture quality is amazing. Definetely the best "The Cage" has ever looked, and probably the closest possible to what the NBC executives saw when they screened this pilot episode.
However, this version still is somewhat different from what the executives HEARD. Although the sound is much better than previously available versions, it (at least the dialog) is still mixed from material from the Menagerie, and from Gene Rodenberry's black and white work print of "The Cage".
I had hoped that either from the color print, from which the video portion of this presentation is derived, or from original soundtrack elements at Paramount, that the original version of the soundtrack would have been restored. In short, the glaring difference is that originally Malachi Throne's voice was used for the voice of the Keeper. This version of "The Cage" still has the voice that was redubbed by another actor for "The Menagerie," which was done because Malachi Throne played Commodore Mendez, which would have led to some confusion if his voice were also that of the Keeper in the same episode. If you have the DVD of "The Menagerie" you can hear Malachi Throne's voice dubbed for the Keeper on the included preview (on lines that were redubbed in the Menagerie). That preview implies that Paramount still had a full copy of "The Cage" (with original soundtrack intact) with Malachi Throne's voice as the Keeper, at the time "The Menagerie" was completed. The poor quality of voices in some cuts, and minor differences in musical cues are also the result of using this pasted together soundtrack for Episode #1 on this DVD.
So, come on Paramount, dig a little deeper and give us the version of "The Cage" that the NBC execs not only saw, but HEARD. Or at least give us an explanation of why that is not possible, if it is not. Was the color print found in the vaults without a soundtrack? Are the original dialog soundtrack elements missing? Is there no complete source for putting together a soundtrack for "The Cage"?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2004
Format: DVD
Unlike others, I will not take the time to review "The Cage." My five stars mainly reflect the content of this episode, worth watching and owning. The praise heaped upon this pilot episode by others is largely accurate and deserved. Love the Captain. Love Number One. Love the landing party jackets. As many mention, it would have been interesting to see what direction the series might have gone from this launching point.

However, I take to task anyone who cannot appreciate the humor (intended or not) of the campy "Turnabout Intruder." Of course it is not the best episode ever, it arguably may be the worst. However, taken out of the context of the overall show, it is a tour de force for William Shatner's hammy scene stealing acting. Shatner goes over the top "implying" femininity, and comes off just plain gay. From filing his nails to a girly giggle, he's totally fey. Left with no space babe to molest, he has a number of one on one scenes with male Dr. Coleman. One wonders how that relationship was going to play out.

Contrasting Shatner's performance to that of Sandra Smith, is like comparing apples to oranges. While she may not have Kirk's mannerisms or voice inflection, she does manage to successfully convey a sense of isolation and panic. Regardless of the limitations of the story, her depiction of one personality being locked in another body is strong. While Shatner overplays his part to literal hysteria, Smith keeps her performance tight and controlled. Considering the material, she is actual very watchable.

I will agree with all others, that the overall attitude towards women is appalling. From the opening lines about the limited opportunities for women to the last ("Her life could have been as rich as any woman's..."), the tone is patronizing, especially considering the series usual forward thinking nature. The idea that women remain subordinate to men in any field, even in the late `60's seems anachronistic.

Viewed with some degree of tongue in cheek and removed from the formal "Star Trek" genre, I believe this episode does contain numerous enjoyable moments. With a nod to "Fatal Attraction," Janice Lester will not be ignored.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2001
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Wow, this is great. On this disk you get to see the Very First Episode of Star Trek ever produced- with Capt. Pike/ We also get to see a lovely Green Orion Slave Girl. Then you also get to see the last T.V. adventure of Captain Kirk and Company. If you want to see how it started and how it ended this is the disk!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2001
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
With the release of Volume 40, the complete series of Star Trek: the Classic series is now on DVD. The editorial above is in error however. The copy of "The Cage" referred to as Episode 1 is the half and half copy which when released on tape originally was introduced by Gene Roddenberry. The one called episode 99 is the completely coolorized copy which was first shown to tv audiences (the first ever tv showing may I add) in the middle of a Star Trek documentary that aired in between the first 2 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which will probably start coming out on DVD next month). It continues to be the only copy of "The Cage" aired in syndication nowadays. It was also released on videotape after the whole series was released on tape henceforth the number "99" (there were only 79 episodes counting "The Menagerie" as 2 but since Paramount counts it as 1, there are 79 with "The Cage"). With all of Classic Trek on DVD now after slowly coming out for 3 years, and all 9 movies available on DVD (as of November) again after slowly coming out for 3 years, we can look forward to the 10th movie on the big screen soon, and it's DVD months later as well as DVD releases of the sequel series (plural) Star Treks: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Of course if Paramount releases them as slowly as they did the above mentioned 49 discs and the 3 box sets of the movies, it is safe to say it will be at least 10 years for all of them to come out being their are at least 150 episodes of each of the above series, each having aired 7 seasons. By then the new prequel series Enterprise will be only a memory and who knows if they will have been out on tape by then. Hopefully also by then DVDs will be a lot less expensive as a collective (pardon the pun). In the meanwhile, congratulations to Paramount on finally releasing the entire Classic series and all the movies to date on DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2001
Format: DVD
As a final treat for the Trekkies, we see Shatner display Kirk's feminine side in the series swan song, 'Turnabout Intruder', as an old flame takes revenge-- and control of the Enterprise-- by trading bodies with our esteemed starship skipper! Granted, it's sortuva psycho 'Fatal Attraction'-style feminine side, but at least he finally got a role with some real acting range... heh. Sadly, Uhura's absent from the final go-round, and Nurse Chapel has suddenly become a brunette (which I believe is Majel Barrett's natural hair color)! Fortunately, Spock is as logical as ever in this not-half-bad third season eppie. True, it still has a certain degree of hokiness & cheese that makes Star Trek's final year so memorable, but I think it holds up fairly well. It's definitely worth a watch!
Then there's most-anticipated eppie on this platter: the original pilot that didn't quite make the cut. 'The Cage' features a crew of completely-different folks, save for a certain pointy-eared individual. In this adventure, retro-Spock displays a small bit of emotion-he cracks a smile when he touches some vibrating plants, and shouts in surprise when the Talosians steal the women away from the stranded landing party. Nimoy's Boston accent also pokes through on occasion-- listen for his pronunciation of "can't" at the beginning right after the opening credits. This little linguistic characteristic would pop up from time to time in the first season, but eventually waned as the series went on.
Both the black-and-white and full-color versions of 'The Cage' are available here. Although the full-color show is the one I prefer to view, the B/W eppie includes an intro by Gene Roddenberry. I found his anecdotes regarding his early struggles with the networks regarding the pilot to be amusing and informative. His spoken memories kinda reminded me of grampa tellin' the young'uns stories of the good ol' days. It's also interesting to see what 'Star Trek' might have been like had NBC given the series a green light with the first pilot. Oh, the unrealized possibilities...
'Late
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This DVD is a must for the collector. It contains a lot of Star Trek history.
A) First the original pilot - complete and in full color. The full color print was found in the vaults of Paramount. (Apparently found in the 90's)
B) The original piot TV Special airing "The Cage" - the original pilot when they only had the orignal black and white prints and used material from another two-part episode - "The Menagerie". This is because the original full color print was thought to be lost in the Paramount Vaults. (Apparently found int he 80's)
C)The very last episode to air. "Turnabout Intruder". (William Shatner gets to play a woman!)
Basically you are getting three epsiode. See Spock before he was the Spock we knew. The Doctor before McCoy and a female in the "second in command" position. (The wife of Gene Roddenberry, the Creator, himself - Majel Barret who later is Nurse Christine Chapel.)
The costumes were espcially influced by the 60's. And the props, well, you just have to see them.
So in essenace you get to tsee the first and the last of the original Star Trek. A must DVD for every Star Trek fan!
Live Long & Prosper!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This DVD is (partially) a repackaging of a 1986 television special hosted by the late Gene Roddenberry that gives some interesting insights into the history of the Trek that was pitched to network suits.
That in itself makes it a keeper for Trekkies but the treat is in the contrast between the first and last episodes. Spock's fits of near-anger and occasional smiles in The Cage clearly show how in-flux the show was before it geled in its now-famous character developments.
The quality is there for DVD and the Next Generation trailer (never mind the fact that you're paying for an advertisement) offer a taste of some outstanding sound enhancements to be part of the first season's box set.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
And so we come full circle with this the final volume of Classic Trek. This volume is clearly the best one not only of Season 3 but also stands among the best ever among all 3 seasons. Hence, if you are picking which volumes to keep, this one comes under the "must have at all costs" category.

In the first episode, "The Turnabout Intruder", we get a Gene Roddenberry credited story about women's lib and the injustice of gender discrimination which leads to desperation among women as they struggle for what's right. This story is important as it comes at a time when women's lib was a far cry from what it is today showing Gene as a prophet of sorts in championing its cause way back when. I thought the acting was very good and even William Shatner's impression of a slightly effeminate Kirk attempting to suppress his feminine tendencies so as not to arouse suspicion among the crew as worthy of mention. While it may not be among the very best of all TOS episodes, it certainly ranks among the top of a very poor 3rd season though.

And now for the creme de la creme of the volume, "The Cage" in two versions no less with Gene Roddenberry himself giving the introduction and the final thoughts on the first version while I thought the second version was restored very, very well both in picture and sound quality too. I have no doubt that had Jeffrey Hunter stayed on and not died an untimely death in real life, he would have been the best Captain the Enterprise ever had; he is by far the best actor of the lot and I include Patrick Stewart as well. Overall, the acting of all the cast including guest star Susan Oliver, John Hoyt, Peter Duryea and the rest is exceptional. Even the aliens sent shivers up my spine from their eerie looks to their malevalent stares unlike any of the other aliens from future episodes. I personally think that this is ironically the best ever Star Trek TOS episode even if Spock is the only character that remains in future episodes.

As Gene Roddenberry has long gone to the next life, this volume is even more a collector's item as it has his thoughts on the episode and on the impact TOS has had overall up to the mid-80s when this was shot. Overall, this is a must have volume for all Trek fans and indeed all fans of sci-fi television everywhere.

Very highly recommended.

Updated on July 14, 2012:

Amazon won't let me review the blu-ray releases separately and so I have to append it here; the difference is like night and day! This long-time trekker is mostly satisfied as we get both the original and the "souped-up" versions here and for me the new versions are very, very good indeed. Both the picture and sound qualities have improved immensely and here in season 3 we have TOS as best as it can be; finally, definitive versions of my favourite ever tv series! Even the packaging is satisfying as it doesn't take up nearly as much shelf space as any of the other previous releases; it the size of the usual one disc blu ray we get the entire third season in 6 discs. Sure this is not the best of the 3 seasons with the infamous "Spock's Brain" among the episodes here but many of my favourite TOS episodes are here like: "The Enterprise Incident", "The Paradise Syndrome", "Spectre of the Gun", "For the World ... the Sky", "Plato's Stepchildren" and "The Empath". Overall, there is little for Star Trek fans to complain about in this blu-ray release of season 3.

Very highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2007
Format: DVD
"Turnabout Intruder" is not worth reviewing, except to see how inconsistently the attitudes toward women were handled--compare Lester to Number One and Yeoman Colt in the pilot.

*

"The Cage" is two things. First, it is not the Star Trek that could have been, but rather, it is the Star Trek that was to be. All of the key elements are in place: Dr. Boyce is the same archetype as Dr. McCoy, Ensign Jose Tyler is the eager young space cadet that would become Chekhov and every redshirt, Yeoman Colt is just a strawberry version of Yeoman Rand, and Spock is Spock. If you squint, you feel like you are watching any other episode of Trek:TOS or TAS.

Secondly, this is what "Star Trek: Enterprise" should have been. When I heard that Berman and Braga were doing a prequel series, I immediately picture this episode's yellow and blue turtlenecks, the Buck Rodgers lasers, and the retro-future trans-warp décor on the ship. Like most people, I was let down with the slick and professional sets and costuming of the actual series. No! No! No! Keep the continuity of the Great Bird of the Galaxy! We love the quirky sets, post-Mod swinger costumes, and the cheesy special effects. "But pardon, gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that hath dar'd on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth So great an object. . . . Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts." (Henry V)

*

"The Cage" is a reservoir--it both collects from the past, and dispenses for the future. In order to fully appreciate this series, you need to read Horatio Hornblower, Doc Smith's Lensman series, and the watch "Forbidden Planet." The last film was a key influence on the plot and setting. In both, we have a dying or dead alien race that was corrupted by its telepathic abilities and moved underground. Both have a saucer-shaped earth ship with hyper drive coming to the rescue, wit a beautiful woman (Altair /Vina) as a siren. Even the sets have similar pentagonal doors and arches. And don't get me started on the animation and special effects.

This episode shows that the concept of Star Trek was already firm in Roddenberry's mind. In addition to the above mentioned similarities, you have the quote-unquote progressive crew. The transporter assistant is Asian, foreshadowing Admiral Sulu. The navigator is Jose Tyler, blond, but with Hispanic ancestry. And of course, there is Number One, a female XO that paved the way for Robotech's Lisa Hayes. Nowadays some people criticize Roddenberry for not being politically correct enough, but considering the times, this is quite daring.

Additionally there is the personality of Pike. What we saw in "The Menagerie" was edited; we saw an introspective captain, with his doubts and fears. But when these snippets are put in context, we see that Pike was a tough tinhorn on par with Kirk--just replay the last line Pike speaks in the episode. Furthermore, since Pike is both velvet and steel, he is a better rounded person that Kirk ever was. I think it was this balanced quality that allowed Hunter to play Christ so well in "King of Kings."

*

There is one odd aspect to the episode, and that is the sexual subtext: the Talosians want Pike to breed with Vina. Nowadays we would just send the Greys to the local sperm bank for some free samples, or have Riker do a strafing run. But Pike does not do this--he has a sense of the sacredness of marriage, that a heterogamous couple is essential for both the man, woman, and the child. As the children of broken homes can attest, we seem to have advanced beyond Pike in this matter.
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