Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Red Alert, Middle Ga. Trekkers

The Galleria Mall in Centerville is one of the select few movie theaters across the country that will air "The Menagerie," the only two-part episode from the original "Star Trek" series, tonight and Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. This is a digitally remastered version of the episode, complete with updated special effects.

"The Menagerie" incorporates material from the original Trek pilot, "The Cage," which was dismissed by NBC as too cerebral for 1960s TV viewers. Series creator Gene Roddenberry revised his outlook on the series, completely recasting it with the exception of Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the show's resident alien.

Jeffrey Hunter, set to star in the show as Capt. Christopher Pike, quit over a salary dispute and was replaced by William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk. Roddenberry's wife, Majel Barrett, was recast from the ship's first officer to Nurse Chapel.

But Roddenberry didn't want to waste all of the good story and footage of "The Cage," so it was re-incorporated into "The Menagerie." In the new story, Spock kidnaps a gravely injured Capt. Pike, hijacks the Enterprise, and takes the ship to the one forbidden world in the Federation. Since going there means a death sentence, a trial is heard aboard the ship once Kirk gets on board. During the trial, Spock tells of the ship's first mission to the planet, Talos IV, while the ship was under Pike's command 12 years earlier.

It's great fun and a good way for people to catch up with the series in anticipation of JJ Abrams' Trek reboot movie next year.

Speaking of which, more casting to report. Winona Ryder has been cast as Amanda, Spock's mother (in a role originated by Jane Wyatt); Bruce Greenwood will replace Hunter as Pike; and Rachel Nichols ("The Inside") and Jennifer Morrison ("House") have also been added, but their roles are unknown. Speculation is that one of them will play Nurse Chapel, while the other may play Yeoman Rand (originally played by Grace Lee Whitney) or Carol Marcus, the mother of Kirk's son as seen in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."

Finally, for the first look of Zachary Quinto as the young Spock in the new movie, click here: http://www.jfxonline.com/jfxonline/2007/11/12/exclusive-quinto-as-young-spock/

WGA STRIKE UPDATE: It was predicted when the strike hit that late night variety shows would be the first casualty, while soap operas would be the second. The first part has rung true, as shows like "The Tonight Show" and "The Daily Show" have been forced to go to reruns.

But a Los Angeles Times report indicates that non-WGA members may cross the lines to write for soaps. The networks are reporting that all of the soaps on the air have enough episodes to last into January. But if the strike continues into then, non-WGA producers and writers will cross the lines and start writing for shows such as "Days of Our Lives" and "All My Children."

Soaps' ratings have dropped considerably over the years, really ever since the OJ Simpson trial (the murder one, not the soon-to-be armed robbery one) and the networks predict that if soaps go dark during the strike, they will lose those viewers for ever.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Last week, I mis-programmed the VCR and missed "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) and "House" (Fox, 9 p.m.) I won't be making that same mistake this week. I finally managed to catch "Bones" on Yahoo after the version on Fox.com proved to be unwatchable. Last week's "House" won't be posted until tomorrow (please explain the logic in that to me), and I dread to see if it will be downloadable after that.

After a slow start to the season, "NCIS" (CBS, 8 p.m.) has returned to form over the last few episodes, while on "The Unit," (CBS, 9 p.m.) the team deals with the death of a unit member. "Cane" is also new at 10 p.m.

I don't want to sound too smug when I write this, but both "Cavemen" (ABC, 8 p.m.) and "Carpoolers" (ABC, 8:30 p.m.) drew half the audience of the Charlie Brown Halloween special that ran in its place a couple of weeks ago. They are followed by the "Dancing With the Stars" results and a new "Boston Legal," featuring Capt. Kirk himself.

Finally, "Reaper" (CW, 9 p.m.) and "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC, 10 p.m.) are also new.


zodin2008 said...

Ironic how you went searching for episodes online (that don't offer any residuals as of yet to writers, the whole reason for their strike) despite the fact that by doing that, yuo are actually going against the people you support.

Just pointing that out.

I think it's very cool that movie theaters are showing, "The Menagerie". As for the JJ movie, he's going a bit cuckoo with the casting.

Phillip Ramati said...

Not really ironic since networks rarely broadcast reruns with any sort of frequency anymore, leaving online as the only option in catching a missed episode.

It doesn't go against the writers in the sense that if they win on the issues they are striking over, they'd get a piece of that pie.

Online isn't my preferred platform of watching a show, and I only do so very rarely. I'd certainly never pay the $1.99 on iTunes for it.

Jonathan said...

The itunes reasoning is understandable since you're already paying for your cable service, why pay a couple bucks more to watch it on a smaller screen. However, you can also watch the episodes on your computer if you prefer and the quality is a million times better than it is on most of the on-line sites, and it's more convienent and less probable that you will face any technical difficulties. I don't do it often, but I have on occassion.

That is really cool that they are showing "The Meangerie" on the big screen; I'm curious to see how profitable that will be, of course I'm sure that's not the point. I'm looking forward to Abrams big screen interpretation. I really dug "Mission Impossible III," and have liked at least two of his television series so far (Alias and Lost). And I'm too much of a Trek fan to not be there on opening weekend. So, I'm hoping for the best; I love the casting of Nichols, because frankly, she's hot!

Phillip Ramati said...

I've never been overly impressed with Nichols as an actress. However, Jennifer Morrison is also hot and CAN act.

Actually, I think Abrams has done a good job with the casting. He avoided going with the all-star cast of people like Matt Damon, who would have been too distracting playing a young Kirk. Instead, Abrams has assembled a cast of talented, fairly recognizeable characters who genuinely evoke memories of the original cast.