Flicking Through Netflix: Star Trek Episode 1 (Pilot: The Cage)

Hello and welcome to a day long celebration of different types of fandom which I’m calling my Nerd Marathon!  Because of my lack of updates the last two days, I’ve decided to write up three blogs today celebrating things I consider icons of Nerd culture.

After seeing Star Trek Into Darkness for the second time last night (for my dad’s birthday), I suddenly started thinking.  Maybe I should give the original stuff a try.  Sure, I knew of a few core Trek stuff, but I had never seen a single episode of the original series.  My nerdy self thought “This just won’t do!  How can you call yourself a fan of Sci-Fi if you haven’t even seen the classics?”  In an attempt to rectify this, I found Star Trek available on Netflix!  And I was really excited to give it a shot.

However, the above photo is completely misleading.  There is NO Kirk in the pilot episode to this series.  There’s no Sulu, no Chekov, no Uhura, no McCoy.  Just about the only recognizable character in this pilot is Mr. Spock.  Not that this is at all a bad thing.  Just because those famous characters weren’t in the pilot doesn’t mean I automatically hated it.  I just found it surprising that I didn’t get exactly what I was expecting.  Actually, that’s true in more than one sense aside from the characters.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The story of the pilot follows Captain Pike of the Starship Enterprise.  Pike is tired of his life as a captain, always having so much responsibility.  But all those worries have to take a back seat when the Enterprise intercepts a distress signal from a planet where a ship crashed many years ago.  A group lands on the planet and finds a small community.  Unfortunately, these “survivors” are merely illusions and Pike is captured by a group of telepathic beings.  He’s being kept as a specimen for study.  Now Pike has to figure out how to out-think beings who can read his mind.

Being that my only real exposures to Star Trek are the JJ Abrams movies, Wrath of Khan, and a few Q episodes in Next Generation, I expected a certain type of show.  I expected technobabble, bad special effects, and cheesy action scenes.  What I actually found was a far different type of Sci-Fi show than I was used to.  Star Trek, judging from this episode alone, is a very intellectual show.  Its main drive seems to be exploring different philosophies, studying the world around us and expanding our knowledge of it.  I really like this type of atmosphere, not relying alone on action but making people actually think about the philosophy of the show.

Make no mistake, I did get the bad special effects I was expecting.  There were times I was just screaming “obvious man in a suit” and “that alien planet sure looks like a badly painted backdrop.”  But, honestly, this is all part of the fun of the show.  Instead of aging in a bad way for me, this show’s effects have aged like the finest cheese.  Some people may not have a taste for it, but in the right hands, the flavors all work together really well.  The cheese factor of this show is delicious and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Was I disappointed most of the now famous characters weren’t in this episode?  Well, yes.  But I still got a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking ride out of it.  A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have believed I’d say this, but I think this show has got me on my way to becoming a bit of a Trekkie.  That being said, I’ll probably never go as far as to dress up as Spock.  Later today in my Nerd Marathon, I’ll be taking a look at a BBC hit, but probably not the one you think.  Live long and see ya!

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