As this month will mark the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek,” one of television’s iconic horror hosts will present the rarely-seen pilot this Saturday.
Svengoolie Presents: “Star Trek” (The Cage)
Iconic horror/sci-fi movie host Svengoolie will present a special edition of his Saturday evening vintage horror/sci-fi film showcase on Me-TV Network. On Sept. 10, Sven will present the rarely seen pilot episode of “Star Trek,” titled “The Cage” at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central, right after first broadcast episode of “Star Trek,” “The Man Trap,” which will air in the program’s regular timeslot on Me-TV at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central (part of Me-TV’s “Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night” lineup, the original series premiered on NBC with “The Man Trap” on the evening of Sept. 8, 1966).
According to the official Me-TV press release, there were two pilots made for the original “Star Trek” series. The first Trek pilot, “The Cage” was filmed in 1965. William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk is not in this pilot episode, as the Enterprise is led by Captain Christopher Pike, who is played by Jeffrey Hunter. Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock is in the first filmed pilot, along with Majel Barrett (who married series creator Gene Roddenberry in 1969), who played “Number One” in the first pilot of the series.
Scenes from “The Cage” were later recycled into “The Menagerie”
The first pilot was rejected by NBC, and the majority of footage from the “The Cage” was recycled into the two-part episode (episode 16), “The Menagerie,” which aired on the peacock network in Nov. 1966. Actor Sean Kenney was cast as an injured Captain Pike in the two-part episode.
According to the CBS Syndication logbook* (formerly known as the Paramount Syndication Bible), the first pilot was never seen until it aired for the first time in a syndicated special.
Rediscovery of “The Cage”
In 1988, Paramount Pictures produced (and syndicated) a retrospective series on the Star Trek franchise, titled “The Star Trek Saga: From One Generation to the Next.” The special was hosted by Patrick Stewart (who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the second Trek series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from 1987-1994).
For the first time, “The Cage” aired in its entirety as part of the special (from the original color negatives).
Be sure to watch Svengoolie’s Salute to “Star Trek”
Svengoolie’s special presentation of the rare first “Star Trek” pilot, “The Cage,” is perfect for Trekkies, fans of science fiction and Sven’s program. You will not want to miss it, as it is one of many perfect opportunities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek.”
Sat., Sept. 10 at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central, Me-TV Network
In Frederick, MD/Washington, D.C.: Comcast 204/WJLA-TV 7.2
In Baltimore, MD: Comcast 208/WBAL-TV 11.2 (may be delayed due to a special 10 p.m. edition of TV-11’s newscast on their Me-TV subchannel)
Nationwide list of Me-TV affiliates (and cable channel availability)
*CBS obtained the rights to the “Star Trek” franchise as part of then-parent Viacom’s corporate split in 2006. CBS inherited the broadcast television/syndication holdings of Paramount Pictures/Viacom that same year (excluding the post-48 Paramount feature films, which are still held by the studio).
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