Thursday, 27 November 2014

50 Years Today


Star Trek's official 50th anniversary is slated for 2016 and the inevitable movie to accompany it.

November 27th 1964 may actually be more significant though. This is the day that the cameras rolled for the first time. The day Nimoy became Spock and the first lines of dialogue were recorded. This was the day Star Trek was born... the first time.

Leonard Nimoy actually tweeted out a week ago that it was seven days until this point (one week being seven days...) and it would be wrong not to mention it - even though he wasn't on set for that event.


The scene that kicked off the filming of the first pilot episode, The Cage, was between Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) and Doctor Boyce (John Hoyt) and their discussion of the events from their last mission. The scene is key in both the character of Pike and the relationship he has with the medical officer. A strong leader, Pike has his regrets over what occurred and confides in Boyce which is a clear precursor of the Kirk/McCoy friendship we would see in The Original Series and a topic - that of the future of the commanding officer's career - that would be mirrored over a drink in The Wrath of Khan some 18 years later.

This scene truly does echo the philosophy of Gene Roddenberry - the exploration of that human condition - real people talking about real situations, how events affect our lives and change the path for the future and how some people begin a recovery process to deal with tragedy. Pike is ready to give it all up as Boyce attempts to dissuade him. I would have been interested to see where this friendship would have gone as it may have been the stronger pairing than Pike and Spock although whether Boyce would have been on away missions that often would have been a point for question.

The captain's quarters set is quite sparce with only some very 20th Century books adorning a shelf to indicate anything about the nature of Pike's character. Look closely though and not only do you spot a casually discarded phaser but also a cap reminiscent of the ones that Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto wear during their time at Starfleet Headquarters during Into Darkness. Is that a ceiling we're catching there too? Most unusual for The Original Series.

According to Marc Cushman's These are the Voyages it was less than a perfect day's filming with nesting pigeons in the mothballed Stage 16 choosing to become vocal whenever either actor started speaking their lines. Much of the day was spent coaxing them out of the building before filming of the first scene of Star Trek could continue. It would take another 15 days to film (not the planned 11) and run to a cost equivalent to $4.3 million in modern currency. That;s a lot of money for a pilot.

I'm not going to run into the wonders of the show, the miracle of a cancelled pilot and a second chance because we, the fans, know all about that and what it became but just for today it's key to remember two actors without whose work that second chance, that golden opportunity, may never have happened. Maybe we should thank the pigeons too.

Over the next weeks and months we hope to discuss some of the other key moments from the birth of the pilot episode...are there any you'd want to talk about? Let us know below...