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Review of Menagerie Part 2 Remastered December 4, 2006

by Dennis Russell Bailey , Filed under: Review,TOS Remastered , trackback

“Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…"
Visiting the planet Talos IV is the only death sentence crime in the Federation.  You land there, they’ll execute you.  They just won’t tell anyone why. This raises some ugly questions about the Federation’s system of justice, but there’s no time for that now because Spock has stolen the Enterprise in order to return Fleet Captain Christopher Pike to Talos IV.  Unable to control the ship, Kirk and Commodore Mendez spend the trip alternately watching a replay of the events of Pike’s first visit to Talos and court martialing Spock.  The replay of events is the more interesting by far, particularly because some of Pike’s fantasies have been spruced up for the new "Star Trek Remastered" by the folks at CBS Digital.

In Part I, Pike was kidnapped by the Talosians.  Like Chance the gardener and the Tralfamadorians, they like to watch.  These masters of illusion make Pike relive a series of events from his past life and his imagination.  They want him to mate with another prisoner, Vina, and seem to think that he’ll find her more arousing when painted green than he does when she’s sitting on his bed in a short shiny number doing something like an impersonation of Britney Spears getting out of a limo.  Go figure.

Frustrated by Pike’s disinterest, the little Buttheads snatch a couple of his crewwomen.  Confronted with the prospect of spending the rest of his life on an exotic planet mating with three nubile women (blonde, brunette and redhead), Pike agrees with Number One Majel Barrett that he’d rather be dead.  And we’re left to doubt the accuracy of the claim that there’s never been a gay character on “Star Trek.”

Back in the present, Starfleet decides that they’d just as soon forget the whole death sentence thing because Pike is Too Cool.  This establishes a legal precedent that Kirk’s attorneys later will successfully invoke at the denouement of "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home."


no no you can’t make me

Second chances

That might well be one theme of this episode, not only for Fleet Captain Pike but for "Star Trek" as a whole.  Among the many changes that were made in the process of putting "Star Trek" into production, the one that’s most striking in watching "The Menagerie" now is that the attempt at a colorblind portrayal of Earth’s future came late to the producers (sorry, kids, Spock don’t count).  Pike’s crew is white as the population of Dodge City or the Ponderosa – minus the Chinese cooks and laborers.  There’s not even a faux Scottish burr in the gang.

They’re an intriguing bunch, though, played by as good a group of actors as made up the regular cast of any later "Star Trek" series.  I can never watch "The Cage" or "The Menagerie" without wondering what Colt and Tyler and "Bones" Boyce and the gang would have been like.  Certainly Susan Oliver is outstanding as a guest star and leading lady for Jeffrey Hunter.  There wouldn’t be many among Kirk’s seemingly endless love interests nearly as classy as Vina.


Pike’s Crew…any color you want as long as it’s white

New effects: a subtle few

So far, the remastered "Space Seed" remains the apex of CBS Digital’s temptation to strut.  Impressive and admirable as that work was, with "The Menagerie" they’ve returned for the moment to the original mission statement of sticking close to the original effects work while enhancing it.   Once again, their enhancements are wholly successful.

The traveling shots of the U.S.S. Enterprise this week appear to all be reuses of shots rendered for previous episodes, and they’re all good.  Likewise the globe of Talos IV.  CBS Digital has added a good recreation of the "heat shimmer" effect that signaled transition to and from Talosian illusions to two shots that previously were missing it, that of the Keeper’s "Hulk-out" when Pike throttles him and the disappearance of the illusory Mendez from the Enterprise briefing room.

CBS Digital’s treatments of a couple of Trek’s characteristic soundstage “exteriors” take center stage in this episode.

During the fantasy sequence in “Mojave” the cyclorama backdrop of the distant city has been replaced.  The contrast between the original and the new shots here highlights a key difference in the natures of the old and new tools of the trade: while details in a hand-painting cyclorama or matte could be suggested by a few brush strokes of light or dark paint, CG models are concrete and specific.  In this case that means the new backdrop holds up better under close examination in a long or still shot.  Additionally, the once-sharp demarcation between the end of the stage floor and the base of the backdrop has been done away with.  The green fields now  appear to flow continuously off toward the distant cityscape.

There’s a camera move and zoom on this shot, which doubtless makes the rotoscoping of the original cyclorama behind the tiny branches and leaves of several trees a particularly demanding and painstaking operation.   The artists have done it flawlessly.

"The Cage" featured one of the most evocatively beautiful matte shots of an alien planet ever to appear on the original "Star Trek" television series: the fortress on Rigel.  Overhead, a violet sky dominated by one of Trek’s Impossibly Huge Moons; in the distance, a fortress topped by golden domes and spires, into which the live action in the foreground is seamlessly matted. 

This shot appears to have been tweaked with great restraint by the CBS artists.  The rocky outcroppings and Rigellian vegetation in the foreground seem to have been touched up.  I use "appear" and "seems" because whatever work has been done is so subtle that despite comparing frames from the original and the enhanced versions I’m only about eighty percent sure that I’m not just seeing the difference between the excellent new color-corrected transfers of the original footage and what’s been heretofore available on DVD.


from obvious backdrop to believable

What’s left alone?

Well, the laser cannon that Starfleet borrowed from United Planets Cruiser 57-D for one thing.  But mainly the closing credits, dagnabit.  I’m a broken record (an ancient apparatus for reproducing recorded sound, dating way back to the 20th century), I know.  Still, what’s the deal with not crediting the CBS Digital folks?  Talk to us, somebody.
 

Comments

1. MichaelT - December 4, 2006

I felt restraint was a good thing on this pair of episodes. The wheel didn’t need to be re-invented, just cleaned up a little. Good review, DB. Good work, CBS

2. Skippy 2k - December 4, 2006

I agree, looks great! I also keep looking at the Rigel matte trying to compare…while I notice small difference I can’t exactly place what they did. Really looks good as done the newly extended picnic shot, as well as the adding of the ripple effect where it was missing before. Was the sound effect altered for the laser cannon?

Also as I said in the other thread, would it have been possible to fix the jump in the scene after number one beams up. They froze the scene of the yeoman for the beam up effect but when the action starts again there is a jump. Nothing major just wondered if there was a reason it was left alone?

Can’t wait to have all these on disc to watch in order!

3. Greg Stamper - December 4, 2006

Nice Review. Part II really offers fewer opportunities for enhancement (as we expected). The most interesting changes were to the music cues and the Kirk era phaser and transporter sounds “overlaid” with those in the Pike era.

4. Anonymous - December 4, 2006

The guy operating the transporter is of Asian descent, so the assertion that Pike’s crew is completely white isn’t accurate. Close, but no cigar.

5. MichaelJohn - December 5, 2006

A few years from now, when they release these remastered versions on DVD, I truly hope they will consider releasing BOTH the remastered “original version” without the updated special effects, as well as these new versions.

When the Star Trek TOS season box sets were finally released on DVD a few years ago, I was both glad and dissappointed. Disappointed because the individual episodes had only been “cleaned up” a bit for the release, and not remastered in any sense of the word.

Yes, they did improve on the sound slightly, but all in all the quality was only a small improvement over the original VHS release. I must admit, however, that I find it so much more convenient now having all the episodes on DVD disks, rather than my mountainous collection of old Star Trek VHS tapes…

Star Trek fans deserve to have a “pristine” version of the original, as well as these remastered versions. Once all the remastering is complete, they should discontinue the current DVD box sets and release two remastered versions, the original and the enhanced.

By doing so, Paramount/CBS can please both the Star Trek purist, who is and always will be against these new episodes, as well as fans like myself that are eager to have BOTH versions.

I won’t hold my breath, but I do hope someone who is in charge at CBS is thinking along the same lines.

When it comes to making more money on the original series, it’s really a “no brainer”. Many TOS fans, like myself, will gladly put down the cash to buy both remastered versions, if they are made available.

I just hope they won’t gouge long time trek fans again, by charging close to $100 for each season! That’s what I paid for my three sets when they were first released. I grudingly bought them, but I honestly felt ripped off!

Mike :o

6. foobar - December 5, 2006

RE: The Rigel VII matte:

They changed the shrub and pillar colours so that they matched the live action shots.

7. ety3 - December 5, 2006

>> Back in the present, Starfleet decides that they’d just as soon forget the whole death sentence thing because Pike is Too Cool. This establishes a legal precedent that Kirk’s attorneys later will successfully invoke at the denouement of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”>The guy operating the transporter is of Asian descent, so the assertion that Pike’s crew is completely white isn’t accurate. Close, but no cigar.

8. ety3 - December 5, 2006

#7 – redo

Wow, using brackets messed my post up.

–Back in the present, Starfleet decides that they’d just as soon forget the whole death sentence thing because Pike is Too Cool. This establishes a legal precedent that Kirk’s attorneys later will successfully invoke at the denouement of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”–

Frakkin’ hilarious.

As for Anonymous #4:
–The guy operating the transporter is of Asian descent, so the assertion that Pike’s crew is completely white isn’t accurate. Close, but no cigar. –

I’m no PC-pusher, by any means, but one no-name, no-line extra doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

9. Tom - December 5, 2006

There’s also a “shimmering” effect when the survivor encampment disappears. The original version was an abrupt change (freeze frame the DVD and you’ll see what a barebones effect it was).

Also, they seem to be sweetening the soundtrack on these episodes. Pike’s transporter seems to be oberlaid with the series beam-in beam-out sound effects. Subtle, but it’s there. I’ve noticed similar tweaking through out the remastered broadcasts.

10. Dave R - December 5, 2006

No one seems to have noticed that they “enhanced” the beaming effects. They added sounds from the series and they added the beam down sparkels from the series. They also tightened up the total time it takes to beam up and down. I would have prefered they left it alone. Other wise great review. the first part was quite funny, Thanks.

11. DB - December 5, 2006

I must have blinked and missed the fellow in the transporter room. I’m also told there’s also a Native American extra seated in the audience during the opera scene in “Citizen Kane” — you can just see the back of her hat. If so I missed her, too. ;)

12. Not In Cardiff » What if… - December 5, 2006

[...] Reading this review really got me reminiscing about that first Star Trek pilot – “too cerebral” they called it, not gutsy enough for prime time. Where would Trek have gone if those concerns hadn’t come up? [...]

13. DB - December 5, 2006

“Too cerebral” was the spin that Roddenberry put on the rejection; in fact that was one of a number of concerns the network expressed (according to other people involved with creating the pilot) and hardly the deciding factor.

That “The Cage” was so hugely expensive was a big concern to NBC. They wanted Desilu to produce a pilot on something approaching a weekly series budget to demonstrate that they could do it without the quality going to crap.

14. The Gregster - December 5, 2006

Excellent review. Informative and very entertaining. BTW, I thought the voice of the transporter operator on the left side of the console sounded a lot like Robbie the Robot from “Forbidden Planet”. I believe Robbie was voiced by Marvin Miller but the transporter operators are not credited. Just a thought.

15. DB - December 5, 2006

That would be cool.

16. An olde timey fan - December 5, 2006

I was struck by the massive cultural changes imposed on American society from 1964 to the present.

Dr Boyce was the conscience of the story:

Part I: (to Pike whose resolve is faltering)
“A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.”

Part II: (explaining the power of the Talosian illusions)
“It was a perfect illusion. They had us seeing Just what we wanted to see, humans beings who survived with dignity and bravery.”

Cheap laughs, with paens to our current, self-defeating obsession with Political Correctness, seems almost blasphemous coming on the heels of what is in fact profound writing on Man’s epic struggle against his own wicked nature.

What even Roddenberry saw as heroic defiance of vulgarity — not acting like “an animal performing for its supper” (i.e., animal-like mating) — is now the butt of a “gay joke”. Or that the racial composition of the crew, which was a true reflection of the America of 1964, is seen as a moral evil by grandchildren who squander their national inheritance on undeserving, greedy outsiders who ply them with White Guilt.

It is ironic indeed that Star Trek — a self-conscious agent of the New Age –should also serve as the bell weather of that subversion. Roddenberry could not help but think and act within the very structure and strictures he wanted so badly to destroy.

(I write this very conscious of Roddenberry’s blatant infidelity to his wife with Barret and later Nichols…)

Truly, hypocrisy is the respect vice pays to virtue!

One shudders to contemplate the fate of our civilization. Why should a people such as we are today ever bother to reach to the stars? It is incongruous, not that many have noticed as much.

17. Dr. Image - December 5, 2006

I think that transporter guy’s voice was overdubbed.
I love the buzzing background sound in that scene. Makes transporting sound like a serious deal. I don’t like the series-style sparkle fx. The Pike-era fx were more silvery than gold. (Yeah, nitpickkin’…)
I continue to admire the restraint they’re using.
Corbomite next? Oh, boy…keeping fingers crossed.

18. DB - December 5, 2006

Yeah, “Corbomite Manuever” is one of my favorite episodes. Looking forward to seeing the new Fesarius.

I rather hope they leave the “Balock” puppet alone.

19. Lao3D - December 5, 2006

Wow Old Timey #16 — got up on the wrong side of the bunk today! I’m sure given DB’s track record with Trek, there aren’t many people who take the show more seriously. I thought his humor was very witty and gave me a good chuckle.

Roddenberry might never have done a show on it, but our ability to laugh at ourselves is one of our greatest gifts. If we did it more often, the fate of our civilization would probably be a lot brighter.

20. The Gregster - December 5, 2006

#17 – I agree, Dr. Image. We never actually see the operator speaking and the voice has an acoustically “dry” character compared to the other actors in the scene. And the humming sound of the transporter certainly gives the impression that a lot of power was needed to run it. :)

21. DB - December 5, 2006

“Roddenberry might never have done a show on it, but our ability to laugh at ourselves is one of our greatest gifts. If we did it more often, the fate of our civilization would probably be a lot brighter.”

Well, if one can’t find humor in Trek’s cliches and foibles on the 147th viewing of the episodes one is taking the whole shebang *too* seriously. ;)

22. Lao3D - December 5, 2006

17 20 — The Robby documentary on the new FP 50th Anniversary DVD refers to Miller as a sought-after radio and voice over actor, so its in the realm of the possible… that would indeed be very cool…

23. Dave R - December 5, 2006

Has anyone noticed the similarities there are in ‘The Cage’ and in our society?

Roddenberry was writing a story about a civilization where the inhabitants keep reliving the thought records of others over and over. They could not stop is was so powerful like a drug, they were ‘sensation ‘ or ‘emotion’ addicts.

Was he commentating on the effects of Television on the population? Are we as a society slowly falling into the trap of the Talosians, where we simply watch the lives of others over and over again? With ‘Reality shows’ and regular shows and YouTube it seems that we are certainly headed in this direction.

Star Trek fans with our endless re-wacthing of episodes do bare a striking resemblance to the Talosians…

This episode really does get better with time.

24. Michael - December 5, 2006

I for one am hoping that they stop messing with the order once released to DVD. In the original DVD release (the 2fers) the episodes were released in production order with the exception of the Cage which ends up as episode 99 on the last disc?? However when the boxed seasons came out they were back to the original airdate order which is very random. The VHS were in production order; the laser discs were in airdate – what gives? Now we have the VERY random order being presented here. I hope this doesn’t become the new airdate order they will be packaged with. I also would like to see the Cage and WNMHGB be back to back – pilot 1 & 2 on the 1st disc

Regarding releasing both the enhanced and traditional versions – make the discs 2 sided like they do for many movies with the 16:9 format on one side and the 4:3 on the other.

25. Lao3D - December 5, 2006

Dave R – that’s a great point. Roddenberry was certainly commenting on technology in general, and perhaps TV specifically. And if he could have seen the Internet today, with its chat rooms, burgeoning societies of MMORPGs and the like… I can feel my limbs withering and my butt(head) growing as I type…

26. CmdrR. - December 5, 2006

Love the show, the episode, and the review. Just can’t resist picking a few nits.
On the one hand, we needed something creative on which to hang the original pilot… but, if the Talosians can implant the image of Commodore Mendez in Kirk’s mind as far away as Starbase 11, then why not just put Pike into a permanent wet dream with Vina at a distance? (OK, but you started the sex jokes a-rollin’.)
Also, why does everyone call the head Butthead (again, your much-too-appropriate term) “The Keeper,” when the only person to directly address her (!) calls her “Magistrate?”
Again though, none of this gets in the way of enjoying the show.

27. hitch1969© - December 5, 2006

DRuss B-Flav© writes the Star Trek II of review sequels in his follow-up to Managerie Part One Remastered review and it’s very mac in the pants once again. Can this guy write or what?

“In Part I, Pike was kidnapped by the Talosians. Like Chance the gardener and the Tralfamadorians, they like to watch. These masters of illusion make Pike relive a series of events from his past life and his imagination. They want him to mate with another prisoner, Vina, and seem to think that he’ll find her more arousing when painted green than he does when she’s sitting on his bed in a short shiny number doing something like an impersonation of Britney Spears getting out of a limo. Go figure.

Frustrated by Pike’s disinterest, the little Buttheads snatch a couple of his crewwomen. Confronted with the prospect of spending the rest of his life on an exotic planet mating with three nubile women (blonde, brunette and redhead), Pike agrees with Number One Majel Barrett that he’d rather be dead. And we’re left to doubt the accuracy of the claim that there’s never been a gay character on “Star Trek.”

Back in the present, Starfleet decides that they’d just as soon forget the whole death sentence thing because Pike is Too Cool. This establishes a legal precedent that Kirk’s attorneys later will successfully invoke at the denouement of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”"

GOLD™.

and just wow. I wish that I could write something that cool. It’s just PERFECT. I am jealous yet respect the superior intellect of his genetic engineering. Three paragraphs of wow.

DRuss B-Flav©: best Trek Remastered Reviewer EVAH!!

best!!

=h=

28. Dave - December 5, 2006

They order they are fixing episodes in supposedly “has to do with fan favorite and the level of complexity of the update. Which makes no sense to me as I don’t know how many people out there can truly call CATSPAW a favorite on any top ten list.

When released to DVD they will either follow production order or airdate. They will not release them in this helter skelter fashion that we are seeing every week.

29. hitch1969© - December 5, 2006

“When released to DVD they will either follow production order or airdate. They will not release them in this helter skelter fashion that we are seeing every week. ”

Dave, is that a question, an answer, or a command? Holy cow, dude. Calm thyself. When you get to the bottom you go back to the top of the slide. Chuck Manson just called and he wants the name “Dave” back.

Anyway dude, fan faves AND the level of complexity. The latter probably being key in the decision for Catspaw. But oh did those witches dance and look scary!!! Happy Halloweiner, Oscar Meyer.

best!!

=h=

30. Matt Wright - December 5, 2006

#26 good question, I just realized what you brought up just this last week while putting up the screenshots. The Keeper (head Talosian) is called “Magistrate”. I honestly don’t know where “Keeper” comes from but it is all over the place. I can recall figurines coming out during the 25th anniversary and the character was called “The Keeper”.

31. Granger - December 5, 2006

Re: #26 and #30, Meg Wylie appears in the closing credits of Part II as “The Keeper”.

32. Lord David - December 5, 2006

I’m fairly sure they changed the flags in Enterprise’s court room scene…

from this:
http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/images/f/fic-ufp0.gif

to this:
http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/images/f/fic_ent1.gif

33. DB - December 5, 2006

Well, the character is referred to as “The Keeper” in the shooting script of “The Cage,” and, more importantly, it’s what Pike calls the character onscreen.

PIKE: “Is the keeper actually communicating with one of his animals?”

Pike conceives his situation as being like a caged animal in a zoo, and the #1 Butthead is therefore the “zoo keeper.”

34. MichaelJohn - December 5, 2006

#25 “I can feel my limbs withering and my butt(head) growing as I type…” Very funny!

Mike :o

35. Skippy 2k - December 5, 2006

#32. I don’t think the flag was changed, there are just two flags. Both the ones you posted. I looked at a screencap from trekcore and the flag that looks like it has the insignia is there and the other flag off to the other side. Unless it changed within the ep and they fixed it then it looks like the same one.

36. Lord David - December 5, 2006

#35. Ah just checked, and I guess your right…

37. Rick - December 5, 2006

Man I just wished I could of seen the episodes. Wow some interesting thoughts and ideas brought up on this episode. Oh yes I dig the writing of Dennis. I have been following this gentleman on the very cool Exeter boards. Funny I picture him looking a bit like Patrick Stewart with the humorus Picard avatar he has there. The association is just too strong in my mind.;) Great reviews by Mr. Bailey. Keep up the great work here, on Exeter and where ever you might be in this crazy Trek Cyberverse of ours.;)

Rickout

38. TomBot2006 - December 5, 2006

I believe that Spock also refers to “The Keeper” during one of the courtroom scenes, and maybe even by Kirk during a Captain’s Log entry? More certain, Spock mentions The Keeper. I love the peek at a possible “past” crew of Enterprise, and yah, it’s quite, whitebread, is the way I’d put it. I totally hate the lack of color on the bridge set decor as well, it’s a tad too monochromatic. Still, gotta love that green Orion slave girl. :-)

39. Greg Stamper - December 6, 2006

#38 TomBot2006
Remember if Pike’s bridge has not changed color yet at the time Kirk takes over — STAR TREK XI could see this color scheme used in the upcoming film (if the story is indeed about Kirk’s first mission aboard her).
We know why Kirk’s bridge was so colorful (Color Television was New). But within the Trek Universe itself? History shows us that after the American Civil War, people now hated the shades of Blue and Gray forced upon them. Post War years saw a popular explosion in bright colors across the board in clothing and other items. A similar analogy could possibly be constructed for explaining the colors of Kirk’s Enterprise. Some sort of post- event, social or cultural exchange, etc.

40. Jon - December 7, 2006

#28 – I guess that’s why we’re not seeing any 3rd season episodes yet :) . The 3rd season certainly gets a bad rap and it is overall the weakest, but there were still some good ones in there (The Enterprise Incident, The Paradise Syndrome, Day of the Dove come to mind).

I figured that they did Catspaw simply to coincide with Halloween :).

Jon

41. Jon - December 7, 2006

Update :

I see on the schedule that some 3rd season shows are coming up early next year including “The Tholian Web” which should certainly be interesting. I believe that the original broadcast won an award for special effects at the time…

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