The Cage, Part 6

•July 31, 2011 • 1 Comment

Pilot episode, part 6, in which we learn that farm life is very boring.

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Captain Pike looks around the Tammy movie set, and finds himself on a very tiny patch of grass with a lovely painted mural of a country scene behind it and a horse that looks bored.  Vina is seated on a picnic blanket, dressed the way my grandmother used to dress when I was little and my grandparents had a farm in a place called Felda, which was very appropriately the set for the Jason Aldean video “Hicktown.”

The horse’s name is Tango! And he/she is Captain Pike’s horse from home! And…this Tammy movie set is home! I knew Captain Pike was an art lover, but who would have imagined that he’d live right in front of a giant mural? True devotion. Hardcore.

Vina tries to dissuade the captain from saying anything about the unreality of the scene, for fear the bhp aliens will punish her, and he apologizes, but is undeterred in his fight against The Man, or, in this case, The Alien.

Oh, the Sledgehammer of Meaning, how it doth descend. Captain Pike suddenly realizes that this perfect place with no responsibilities is not what he wants after all, even though he told Dr. Not-McCoy it was. He knows now that he must Do Things. Vina, unmoved by his theatrical speech, keeps talking about sandwiches. Apparently, Captain Pike’s mother had a recipe for chicken tuna. This explains a lot, I feel.

“I used to ride through here when I was a kid,” says Captain Pike. I’d imagine that ride took about 30 seconds, given that this set is about 10 x 10.

“That’s Mojave, where I was born,” he says.

“Is that supposed to be news to your wife?” asks Vina. Erm…ok

Captain Pike is not going with this and is even unmoved by her appeal to his concern for their nonexistent children. He reminds her that if they have children, they will be under the thumb of the bhp aliens. Vina tries valiantly (and melodramatically) to remain In the Moment, but Captain Pike is stubbornly determined to recall the unreality of it all. The scene drags on forever, and Vina tells Pike that he is her dream man and that the bhp aliens kidnapped him for her.  “I can’t help but love you,” she says, and it’s really remarkably unromantic. The good captain assures her that he feels the same way (ya don’t say).

Vina says some more things, and suddenly Captain Pike finds himself in ancient Rome. Except it isn’t, because there are spacey things, and Vina is there, except she is painted green and dancing in front of a bunch of men and generally looking disgusting. This takes forever, and if Green Vina is supposed to be alluring, then there is something very wrong with this world. Somehow, this is supposed to be a dilemma for Pike. Does he stay in this Roman world with Green Vina, or resist? (I am vaguely reminded of the scene with Princess Leia in the bikini, but this makes much less sense.)

Ah, the valiant Captain Pike resists the siren-call! He leaps up, his purple lame cape rustling with decision, and rushes out of the room and into a foam stone cave. Green Vina follows, looking at him in a way that is supposed, I assume, to be seductive, but is just sort of disgusting.

Meanwhile, back to the the Enterprise. A magnetic field has been located! This means, says Number One, that crewmembers can beam down into the caves of the bhp aliens.  They try to beam down, but for some reason, only Number One and the random yoegirl arrive and conveniently find themselves in Captain Pike’s cell, finding Vina clinging to him and dramatically shrieking, “Nooooo! Let me finishhhh!”

Things get confusing from here. Number One tries to ask Pike what is going on, but he only strides around talking about filling his mind with hate. The yoegirl stares wide-eyed, and Vina shrieks about how Pike has already chosen her. It becomes clear that Vina thinks Number One and the yoegirl are competition to be Pike’s wife in the bhp aliens’ vision for a human colony. Oh, lucky Pike, to have these three to choose from.

—-

Toon in next time for the thrilling conclusion!

 

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The Cage, Part 5

•July 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pilot Episode Part 5, in which we learn that the 23rd Century is a Tammy movie.

Back to the crew of the Enterprise, who have donned felt jackets and returned to the planet’s surface with goggles that look like a half-done steampunk project. They aim a plastic thing painted silver at the caves of impossible foam, and Number One gives the order to fire. What issues forth is a series of very lovely colored fireworks. Maybe they’re hoping the bhp aliens will think it’s the 4th of July.

Alas, as the smoke clears, the door of doom appears unmoved on its foamy hinges. Number one is dismayed almost to the point of showing human emotion, but Dr. Not-McCoy quickly nixes this near-half-outburst by proposing that the lack of success may be illusory.

Meanwhile, back in Plexiroom, our intrepid hero and Vacant Vina find themselves unable to hold onto their anger (as that would require mental energy), and Vina suggests that Captain Pike ask her questions about the bhp aliens, which she may be able to answer.

Vina suddenly becomes loquacious, believable, and non-vacant, which I find very sad, since it indicates that the issues with her were directorial rather than her own. The upshot of the Huge Info Dump is that the aliens have the power to trick but not to control and are mentally developed because nothing on the planet made them develop physically (ho-kay). Also, the bhp aliens feel the feelings of the specimens they catch, including Captain Pike’s. They’ve become addicted to other people’s lives to the point that they don’t live their own. (An anti-television message seems a very odd thing to have on a tv show pilot, in my humble opinion…)

Finally, Vina admits that she is a real woman, and the good captain has the politeness to look surprised. Considering that his name might as well be Christopher “obvious” Pike, he doesn’t really have room to throw stones, I guess. But the bhp aliens do not like this and punish her somehow. All we see is melodramatic writhing, which makes Captain Pike vaguely uneasy. Vina suddenly disappears…which makes no sense if she’s real, but whatevs, yo. I’ve given up by now.

Captain Pike sets to examining his trash bag-n-foam cell and sees a small, foam window begin to open. It closes, leaving him a candleholder full of blue liquid. “The vial. Contains. A nourishing protein complex,” says one of the bhp aliens, who has suddenly appeared outside plexiroom. Pike is astonished that the alien is actually speaking to him, but it only tells him the liquid can take some other form if he prefers. Very considerate, these sadistic tormentors.

Captain Pike prefers not to drink this delightful protein compound, but the bhp alien threatens him with “the unpleasant alternative of punishment.” Our intrepid hero is willing to risk it. Oh foolish, foolish Pike. His brain is suddenly plunged into an unpleasant world of fire. The bhp alien brings him back and tells him that this scene was “from a fable you once heard in childhood.” all I have to say is that if this was meant as an anti-Christian statement, it’s one of the worst-executed ones ever.

The bhp alien coerces the good captain with threats of even worse things, and Pike finally drinks, but observes that the bhp aliens are limited-they can try to coerce him to drink but are unable to make him irresistibly hungry so that he will choose to do so himself. As the captain drinks, the bhp alien has exactly the expression of a schoolteacher who is annoyed because he’s had to make you write out the steps of long division that you tried to skip to save time. (I don’t think I remember how to do long division, incidentally.)

After drinking, the good captain again takes up his favorite prison pastime, “Hurl Body at Plexiglass,” but this time, the bhp alien steps back with a look of fear. Captain Pike realizes (yay, actual thought!) that primal feelings like pure anger block the aliens’ ability to mind read. He observes this out loud (hey, he can only be smart once per day-it’s a quota thing), which prompts the bhp alien to try to distract him by talking about Vina. He tells Pike she was the only survivor of a ship that crashed on the bhp alien planet and that they found her interesting.

Aaaand…now we get to the crux of the matter, which is that the bhp aliens want Pike to fall for Vina so that they will perpetuate mankind. Also, they “want our specimens to be happy.” I am overwhelmingly reminded of that creepy-dude trope where the insane, bearded man in his mother’s basement thinks that the beautiful girl he’s obsessed with will somehow be happy trapped in his bathroom. But anyway. The bhp alien is delighted that Pike has begun to sympathize with Vina, and he strides off to his cavevator in glee.

It’s time! It’s time! We’ve reached the inexplicable moment when Captain Pike finds himself transported to the set of a Tammy movie! If you haven’t seen a Tammy movie, I urge you to do so immediately. Tammy is played by Debbie Reynolds, or some Debby Reynolds-like person, and she is From the Country, but finds herself in Bad Circumstances which force her to Go to the City. The rest of it is about her Charming Country Ways and how they melt those hard-hearted city folk.

Anyway, Captain Pike finds himself in front of a painting of the country, and he stares in perturbation, probably thinking, “I’m not from this successful film franchise! I’m from that other one, where they have surfboards and things are groovy!”

—–

Tune in tomorrow for The Most Boring Conversation Ever.

The Cage, Part 4

•July 26, 2011 • 1 Comment

In which Captain Pike visits Epcot, and it is not very fun.

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Officer Short and Blond’s amazingly obvious statement somehow jolts everyone into action, and Number One declares through startlingly red lips that the ship’s power will be rigged to try to blast through the unbeatable foam door of doom.

Back to Captain Pike, stuck pacing in plexiroom with only trash bags for company. Oh, the humanity! The bhp aliens watch him on their Flintstones-looking cardboard screen. (Their ears appear to be made of paper crafts drawn by elementary-aged children.) Oh, the convenience! The aliens have probed the good captain and deemed his most interesting thought to be his recent battle, quite obviously the one Doctor Not-McCoy mentioned earlier, during their Time of Male Bonding. I am actually really glad this came up because it makes the beginning of this episode seem less weird and pointless. The bhp aliens decide to give the captain something to protect! What, oh who, will it be?

Aand…suddenly Captain Pike is at Epcot! He must be in India because there’s the Taj Mahal, a little fake one like you’d see at Disney World, and the Ball is just behind it, the one with that creeptastic flying ride that you wait for for ten hours before finding out it’s closed for maintenance. But Captain Pike has more important things to think about than aimatronics, because just now we hear Vina’s Vacant Voice hurrying him toward the Fake- Mahal.

Vina is dressed like a little girl trying to put together a princess look using bedsheets and pieces of satin. She tries to convince The good captain to hide with her, but his slow mental processes cause him to stand there pointlessly while her face takes on weirder and weirder expressions. After she reaches the pinnacle of the grotesque, she runs off on her own, with Captain Pike following.

And now we see what happened to the sets for all those mid-century big-budget films set in Medieval times, because the inside of the fake-Mahal might as well be Ivanhoe’s castle. There are even Random Medieval Things lying about. And then…and then they mess with my head again. Captain Pike catches up with Vina and her melodramatic expressions and takes a moment to observe that this is, indeed, Vina. As if…he hadn’t realized it before.

I really, really want to like Captain Pike, and in some ways, on the surface, I prefer him to Captain Kirk. But this is where I start wishing for William Shatner and his Awesometastic Wrap Shirt because, for all the times Captain Kirk has too much expression, it’s better than Captain Pike’s lack, and for all the times Captain Kirk and Spock come up with improbable solutions on the spur of the moment, nothing could be worse than this level of slowness on the uptake.

Captain Pike wonders aloud why the bhp aliens didn’t create a different girl this time, but he doesn’t have long to ponder, because this show has once again became a Doctor Who crossover! Here comes an axe-wielding Medieval Viking, straight off the set of the “Keys to Time!” Maybe the actor’s agent sent him to the wrong country.
The good captain and Vina, who is still melodramaticing, have an argument about whether all this is real and Pike should attack the alien. I would love to help them out by pointing out that the castle walls are paper, but alas, I cannot break the Fourth Wall.

Our intrepid hero cannot resist for long and gets into a battle with the Viking, using tin weapons. When it gets frightened, he wonders why, and Vina assures him that it’s because that is how he imagines it. Our razor-sharp captain then observes that all this seems real to Vina, too  (all except her acting, apparently).

There is a long and boring fight in which Vina is useless with a fake mace, and Captain Pike finally slays the Viking with a plastic sword. The next moment, he and Vina are back in plexiroom, and she embraces him happily while he stares stoically at the bhp aliens, who are standing outside the room watching.

Now the good captain wants answers! Vina goes into seductress mode and tells him she can be anything he wants, but he is unimpressed and almost slightly agitated, which is a great effort for him. They talk at cross-purposes for a while until Captain Pike gets the bright (ish) idea that he can use Vina’s insistence on pleasing him to get her to tell him about the bhp aliens. Vina calls him a fool, and he calls her fake, and it’s a sad day in Toyland.
——
Come back tomorrow to see Number One being the last empowered female this show would ever produce.

The Cage, Part Three

•July 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pilot episode part 3, in which we learn that aliens can be snarky, and intelligence varies widely from person to person…and within the same person.

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Ah, poor Captain Pike. His speech of intergalactic friendship is in vain, as the bhp aliens simply snark to themselves about his “limited intelligence” and ESP to each other about his stupidity. I’m inclined to agree, since, after a very long pause on his part, the good captain suddenly says, with all the emotion of someone who can’t quite remember all the steps of long division, “You’re not talking, yet I can hear you.” Um…what? The captain of the Starship Enterprise has no experience with ESP? Well…ok. We’ve already had a purple gorilla, so anything is possible.

But then, but then…Captain Pike goes on to make the startling declaration, “All right, telepathy! You can read my mind; I can read yours.” Erm…ok. I’m not entirely sure that’s how that there thing works, Cap’n P.

The bhp aliens are suitably unmoved, and Captain Pike has no recourse but to stand constipatedly in plexiroom, behind him a piece of modern art made of green slime and black trash bags bearing drably ironic witness to the futility of it all.

And then, as the bhp aliens watch in smug satisfaction, the good captain dashes himself against the plexiglass with every fiber of his oversexed being and insists in the solemn tones of a presidential inaugural address that “there’s a way out of any cage, and I’ll find it!”

For some reason, this stirring display of theatricality convinces the bhp aliens that the good captain “is more adaptable than our specimens of other species,” and “we can soon begin the experiment.”

The Experiment! (Cue the Igor laugh track.)

Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, Mr. Spock and his terrible hair are sitting around being logical with Dr. Not-McCoy, Number One, and the random big-eyed yoeman. It’s nice to see that being acting captain hasn’t cut into Number One’s personal time. I think Vina’s been sneaking onto the Enterprise to give her lessons.

Just as I suspected, the crew of the Enterprise is about 600 times smarter than her hapless captain, arriving immediately and conveniently at the conclusion of mind-reading aliens who create lifelike illusions out of people’s thoughts.

And…once again, I have that horribly discombobulated feeling, because Spock is showing emotion, and Number One is acting as Vulcan as anyone ever has. Either that or she can’t act. Shh…don’t spoil it for me…

Office Short and Blond has an idea! (It strikes me that if Pike were Batman, this guy would be Robin…which, I guess, makes Spock the Joker. I’m kind of amused.)

They may have used up all their lasers shooting at killer foam, but what if they use the ship’s power instead? This seems a reasonable idea, since the ship apparently has the power to blow half a planet away. (And now I’m thinking–where were those planet-blasting ships when Mal Reynolds was on the market? Sure would’ve come in handy, fer sher.)

Mr. Spock’s amazing logic leads him to pull up a line drawing of a bhp alien on a slide projector. It looks like a child with a cantaloupe on his head. Apparently this means bhp aliens have brains three times the size of human brains, and these amazing cantaloupes of wisdom might very possibly have the power to push the Enterprise out of the sky!

This is not “Vulcan” logic Mr. Spock is using. This logic is called, “The plot cannot be resolved by anyone except the Hero Character, therefore negating all other characters’ attempts at a solution” logic.

Deciding that Officer Short and Blond hasn’t said anything for a while, the writers suddenly endow him with this startlingly revelatory and plot-advancing statement, “It’s Captain Pike they ‘ve got. He needs help! And he probably needs it fast!” (Holy Toledo, Batman!)

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Tune in next time, when Captain Pike sort of Figures it Out and finds himself on the set of a “Tammy” movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cage, Part 2

•July 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pilot Episode part 2, in which Captain Pike meets his vacant soulmate, and we learn that Halloween costumes were going cheap that year.

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“Civilization” is a strong word for what we see here, which is a group of apparently tent-dwelling old men in tattered clothing.  Also, there is something that looks like a tuba made into a pipe with a big sciency-looking box. By “sciency,” I mean something that looks like Gromit invented it to get Wallace to the moon.

Captain Pike introduces himself. This is the first time we’ve heard his full name, I believe. We also learn that this space mission is United States-based. Nothing about federations as of yet. The old men are just happy to see humans.

Oooh, the time barrier has been broken! This is told by a shorter, blond-haired male officer person, who is very excited about it because it makes space travel much faster. But the Old Men of Tentville do not find this so fascinating, because they all Turn in Unison to face the Thing Coming Out of Tentville.

And what a thing she is! Be it “The Swiss Family Robinson” or any other modern film castaway tale, we have reached the crucial moment when the nubile young female native emerges. And let me tell you, hidden in one of those caves is the most mod-tastic beauty salon you’ve ever seen, because Little Miss Tentville’s false eyelashes alone have to take at least an hour to put on. Of course, after they styled her top half, she got bored, which is why she’s wearing a fishnet as a skirt.

Little Miss Tentville is Vina, says Number One Old Man of Tentville. She is an orphan, and she was born as the ship crashed. I knew it, fellow ladies! I knew those cosmetics-application skills were pure instinct!

Anyway, we have not long to appreciate this great thing that has come upon us, because we see that Captain Pike’s face is being watched! On a screen made out of black cardboard! By giant-headed aliens in robes! This would be so much more impactful if it wasn’t a trope that pretty much every sci-fi show ever has now done. I wonder if TOS was the first one to do it. If so, my apologies to them, because the sheer number of times it’s been used in Doctor Who and other sci-fi outlets has really dulled the excitement for me.

The really, and I mean REALLY shocking thing here is that, as the giant-headed aliens watch, Captain Pike and Vina begin to look at one another with Eyes of Love. Oh, where, where are the space violins? Captain Pike is thinking that he’ll totally ditch Sally Field and her surfing buddies if he can only stay here on this foam-tastic planet with Vina and her Amazing Eyelashes. She is thinking not much, since vacancy seems to be her default setting. Not that she needs to think. That’s what we have big, strong, broad-shouldered captains for!

The aliens continue to watch and are pleased. Also, when they think, big veins on their head pulsate. This is supposed to make them look smart, I think, but just makes me think it would really cut down on those times when the power goes out and you’re searching through all the drawers for that flashlight you know you bought.

Back to Tentville, where Captain Pike contacts Number One and says they’ll be beaming up items and survivors. Vina follows vacantly. Of note is the fact that when he communicates, he simply says “Enterprise,” nothing else.

And lo, Captain Pike is interrupted in his official communications by Vina’s Vacant Stare, which stops him in his tracks before she says blankly, “You appear to be healthy and intelligent, Captain, a prime physical specimen.” This sheer poetry of speech so arrests the captain that he finishes his report with difficulty.

Alas, the course of true love is a bumpy one! Tentville has a secret, and Vina wants to tell it! Number One Old Man of Tentville is not so sure earth is ready to learn about this secret. Vina, however, uses only her vacant eyes to lead Captain Pike away, through a maze of foam rocks, and to a place that she assures him will be restful.

If someone ever writes a manual on space/time travel, I do hope he or she will include the maxim, “If a nubile native offers to help you rest while in an unfamiliar environment, by all means accept, as long as you do not mind being fodder for superior beings.”

Captain Pike is all over this, until Vina starts seeing things that aren’t there, and then, with the cryptic statement, “You’re a perfect choice,” poofs into thin air. At the same moment, The Old Men of Tentville, their sorry tents, and the box all disappear! With a whooshing noise!

Out come the bigheaded pulsating aliens, right next to Captain Pike! One of them shoots him with yellow insect repellant, and he falls down! The bhp aliens pull him inside and ride an elevator to somewhere else, while we see a foam door closing the cave FOREVER (as it wobbles shakily on its track).

The officers of the Enterprise are powerless against this mighty foam! They shoot red lasers, over and over and over, and nothing happens. Mr. Spock looks mighty upset, and I find this a bit discombobulating, sort of like seeing your middle-school English teacher out on a date. It just feels wrong. Anyway, Mr. Spock is still logical enough to let Number One know that Tentville was an illusion and that Captain Pike is gone. Not logical enough, though, to explain any of the particulars or to ask for more firepower.

The scene changes to our intrepid hero coming to, covered by a silver tarp that someone found on some camera equipment and decided to use as a prop. He’s lying on a silver cushion that used to grace the ugliest living-room  sectional ever known to mankind.

And…he’s in the Tardis! I had no idea this was a Doctor Who crossover! He’s totally in a Tardis corridor that’s been slightly modified to include crumpled black paper every few feet. Captain Pike, like any sane person, wants to explore this Tardis-corridor-in-a-cave, but alas, he cannot! There is a force field made of reflective plexiglass!

On the other side of Plexiroom, we suddenly see–a purple gorilla. Well, a person in a purple gorilla Halloween suit. I really, really wish this was not so. But it is, and Captain Pike is Slightly Bemused. And then there is a person in a bird suit, like the ones the Elders scare people with in The Village, and I do not know what is going on, and it’s totally not scary because it’s like performance art gone bad.

Ah, here come bhp aliens, who turn out to be extremely short compared to the good captain. Now we have the first instance of a Kirk Speech, except in this case, it’s a Pike Speech. Effective, yes, but not nearly as Shatner-tastic. The aliens answer psychically, since they apparently can’t be bothered to speak. Captain Pike is perturbed.

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Tune in tomorrow for more witty and engaging human-alien banter. Also, swords.

The Cage, Part 1

•July 20, 2011 • 4 Comments

Pilot Episode part 1, in which we meet a lot of people on a spaceship somewhere, doing something, and are introduced to someone named Captain Pike, who is in charge of whatever ship this happens to be.

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Ah, the glorious expanse of space. More glorious than the original, I have been told, since the effects have been re-done. Aaaand…the Enterprise. I know this is the Enterprise, because I am a sentient human being from a nation that has television. Plus, it is written on the ship in nice, big, black letters, of the sort that computers used to produce when I was in Kindergarten and font choices were severely limited.

Down in the heart (or is it stomach) of the ship, we find Many People doing Many Things, mainly staring intently at something we can’t see. One of these people is a woman, and she is dressed (oh horror) exactly like the men!

There is a Captain, and we know he is the captain because he is in a sort of throne-like thing that is bigger than everyone else’s to give him ample room for resting his elbows contemplatively. He looks like the latest love interest from a Gidget movie. Mr. Spock is standing next to him. I know this because I am a sentient person from a developed nation. Also because his ears are pointy.

There is a space windshield, and outside it are lots of little dots. These dots are alarming. We know this because a red light starts flashing-a light that looks like it’s straight off a police squad car, and a siren sounds. Also, everyone looks Concerned in Unison.

Oh, no, it isn’t the dots that concern us! It’s the wave thing that made the windshield suddenly look like it was made of cellophane…the wave that is “an old-style distress signal.” And you know what that means!

Actually, no, you don’t. No one knows what anything means because we don’t know who anyone is or why they are in a ship or what the point of the ship is.  Captain’s logs are for sissies. Real captains keep you watching on the strength of their chiseled jaws alone.

I must observe here that Mr. Spock’s hair is unfortunate. Thankfully, even Vulcans apparently know when things are beyond the pale because, lucky for us, that will change. Also, Mr. Spock shows noticeable emotion. His only alien trait seems to be his ears. Is he Vulcan, or an elf? We’re unsure at present. The whole point of this ship might be a search party from Rivendell looking for strays to take to the Grey Havens planet in the sky…

Ah ah! This distress signal provides an excellent excuse to explore a previously unknown system! We are going boldly, ya’ll! Conveniently, THIS system is almost exactly like earth! What are the odds? (about 1:1 on this version of this show, I’d say)

Observation: the female second-in-command is more Vulcan than Mr. Spock at this point. Also, I think she is responsible for half of the ship’s carbon footprint due to her excessive use of hairspray. (An actual trekkie informs me that she became the show creator Gene Roddenberry’s wife and appeared in different  Star Trek things as different characters.)

And here we have random kids from the 60’s in the ship’s corridor. Actually, they look like they’re headed to the beach in a miniskirt (girl) and tiny shorts (boy). Passengers? Crew? Who knows? Maybe the original Enterprise has a swimming pool, like the Tardis…

But anyway, none of this matters because the captain is On a Mission. The first time I watched this episode, I kept expecting William Shatner to appear. It was actually kind of entertaining, trying to figure out how his character would be introduced. And then he wasn’t. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Ah, closeup of a communicator, which actually looks pretty cool and futuristic. I’m going to go on record here, saying something I’ll stand by, which is that the communicators are, and always will be, a lot cooler than the shirt comms. Just sayin’

What? Captain Pike’s mission was to lie in bed? Apparently, this is the case. His room looks like something from that Unhappy Hipsters site that makes fun of minimalist magazine photos. Ikea in space, with a tan bedcover that clashes pleasingly with his yellow uniform shirt. How much better this episode would have been if the sinister-looking lamp on his bedside table had actually tried to eat his head.

Oh look! Random scene change. Here is a doctor, played by an actor I slightly recognize but cannot place. He is not McCoy, which took me a few minutes to figure out.

Wait, what? This is not a scene change, but rather, Doctor Someone has come to Pike’s quarters, one side of which looks enough like a 1960’s doctor’s office to confuse me mightily as to where they actually are.

Aaaand…Doctor Not-McCoy promptly gives Captain Pike a martini because drinking is what Men do, when Men are working out Important Problems like whether or not to explore new planet systems! It’s Mad Men in space without any of the biting self-awareness.

And now we have an Expository Conversation in which we find out that Captain Pike feels responsible for the deaths of some of his crew and that there were somehow swords and spears involved in a space battle. Those Spamalot actors have to go off-world to rehearse these days, and they really hate getting interrupted by space cowboys.

Doctor Not-McCoy helpfully explains that Captain Pike is the nicest person who has ever existed anywhere ever. Pity the day he meets Captain Kirk; his brain probably explodes.

Captain Pike is tired! He’s so tired he can’t remember the rules of English grammar or how to make his face show normal human emotions. All he can do is give that smoldering stare that used to make Gidget come running, but Doctor Not-McCoy is unmoved. Oh no! He’s thinking of resigning and going home! Home to his horses!

But no! He’s not that kind of man, says Doctor Not-McCoy! He’s the kind of man who lives life! And horses and picnics are not Living Life!

Mr. Spock breaks in with News! That he is excited about! Survivors on the unknown planet system! I am already learning to disregard random science-like statements about warp factors.

And now we are traveling through space. Very slowly. To the tune of the theme music and videos of Captain Pike’s face superimposed on a field of stars. Madame Second-in-Command is still out-Vulcaning Spock to an amazing degree.

Stars. Ship. Why is this so amazingly slow?

Random, short, large-eyed female yoeman. Nervous around Captain Pike because they Like Each Other. Or so I’m guessing. Also, this is Funny. Except it isn’t. It’s just her being kind of abrupt and him being Wentworth Miller, except with less expression, if that’s possible. Captain Pike’s eyes follow her, and he could be thinking anything from, “I want to marry her,” to, “I am going to leave her on the next planet we visit.” His face, it doth not tell us which.

Oh, and now Captain  Pike really sticks his foot in it, making the comment that he cannot “get used to having a woman on the bridge.” This, while incredibly sexist, is even more egregious, since it ignored the femininity of Madame Second-in-Command, whose bangs alone should entirely preclude this from happening.  For a fleeting two seconds or so, real emotions cross her face.

Ah! An unexplored planet comes toward us, out of focus, as if someone is pushing it at the camera from behind! Oh, glorious painted alien atmosphere!

Observation: At this point in time, everyone is either a blue or yellow shirt–no red shirts yet. Well, everyone except the random people out of uniform who are never explained in any way. But who cares about them. We have a planet to explore!

A landing party is formed, and Madame Second-in-Command, who we now learn is known as Number One, must stay behind because she is the most experienced officer on the ship. I think this is meant to upset her on some level, but she looks more bored than anything.

There is no Scotty, and beaming apparently requires jackets that look like a high schooler cut them out of felt. The scary lamps from Pike’s quarters are everywhere. I think they’re alive. It takes the landing party about ten years to dematerialize and another ten to rematerialize on a very tiny strip of sand with a beautiful rocky wilderness mural behind it. Captain Pike walks forward, since walking backward would ruin the painting. Gotta love a man who respects art.

What a creative planet! Not only do they make use of landscape painting, but their environment is populated with rocks made of foam and what looks like trash bags. Recycling! Wonderful how environmentally-minded alien races can be.

Captain Pike and Mr. Spock lead the way toward a vibrating plant with blue leaves that looks like a Pottery Barn sale. Everyone else seems to take this in stride, but Captain Pike finds blue vibrating plants to be gosh-darned worrisome.

Aaaand, suddenly…civilization!

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Tune in tomorrow, when we find out that starship captains are stronger than the rest of us mere mortals.