Published Nov 17, 2023
Revisiting 'The Menagerie'
Mark the occasion of the iconic episode by discovering how the episode came about along with a look of a cut scene.
By David Tilotta and Curt McAloney
When “The Menagerie” was first broadcast in 1966, it occupied half of the four Star Trek slots for the month of November.
This episode was about Mr. Spock risking his career to care for his injured and elderly former captain, and was The Original Series' first — and only — two-part episode. It turned out to be a memorable and now-classic show, but it was really written for two major reasons.
First, Desilu Studios and NBC Network had invested a large sum of money in the first pilot, “The Cage,” and Gene Roddenberry wanted to use as much of it as possible so that it wouldn’t go to waste. Secondly, the production company was beginning to lose its wrestling match over meeting its air dates week after week, so they needed a way to create a shortcut and get an episode or two to the network without as much time and work.
The solution Roddenberry came up with, which led to "The Menagerie," was to write an "envelope" story that would incorporate the footage of the first pilot into it. The end result of this approach was that the production company was able to essentially film one episode and, using major parts of "The Cage," stretch it into two. Fortunately for Roddenberry, and for all of us for that matter, that strategy turned out to be great and one of the very best TOS episodes was born.
The original broadcast dates for "The Menagerie" were 57 years ago — this November 17 and 24, and so we thought we’d mark the occasion by presenting some facts about it. Blink once if you’d like to see them and twice if not.
Okay, it looks like one blink. We’ll show them.
As we mentioned, one of the major reasons for producing "The Menagerie" was to save money, and this was also reflected in the advertising that was done for it. All of the press kits that were sent to the media were based on stills and materials that were prepared for "The Cage."
As far as we know, no additional still photography was performed for the publicity of this episode. (The asset above shows an example of a publicity photo and snipe that were distributed for "The Menagerie." Note that the photo was recycled from "The Cage.")
Fingerprints – A Cut Scene
Every episode of TOS had one or more scenes deleted or trimmed as they were being assembled, and "The Menagerie" was no exception. The deleted scene shown above, one of the two-parter’s major ones, comes from Part II. In it, McCoy and Scotty interrupt the court martial proceedings to deliver the results of some clever detective work.
This scene was scripted to start right after the court martial board watched Pike and the three women escape from their cell on the hearing room screen. (The italicized text below comes from the shooting draft of the script, and we’ve paired it with retouched images from the film frames of the lost scene.)
SECURITY CHIEF PITCAIRN
Sir, Engineer and ship's surgeon to see you.
Mendez looks from the blank screen to Spock, wondering. Then he nods to the Chief. McCoy and Scott enter hurriedly.
We've found it. The computers Spock jammed...
You can thank Doctor McCoy here. His idea.
And I should have thought of it sooner. Elementary body chemistry.
Anything anyone touches carries some trace of perspiration. But whereas ours carries trace of perspiration. But whereas ours carries sodium and calcium salts mainly...
Your skin carries copper salts.
And so we ran a spectrograph beam over all computer banks. We got a "copper salt" computer banks. We got a "copper salt" reading on the series "seven" tapes.
We can safely cross-circuit that series out, return the vessel to manual control.
Interestingly, following this scene, there are a series of additional deleted scenes that show Mendez ordering the Enterprise to reverse course away from Talos IV and Lt. Hansen (played by Hagan Beggs) complying.
Unfortunately, all of this effort was for naught — the Talosians simply made Hansen push the wrong buttons and the ship entered orbit anyway.
And with that, we need to go. Captain Pike is blinking twice, which means he requires a rest. Until next time.