The Menagerie was a reformulating of the first Star Trek pilot episode, “The Cage.” Jeffrey Hunter was the original pick to be the captain of the Enterprise, Captain Christopher Pike. But the network rejected that pilot and when Roddenberry asked Hunter to do the second pilot he bowed out. So, the original story of the Enterprise on Talos IV is embedded in the two-episode story of Spock’s mission to help Captain Pike.
The plot revolves around events that involved the Enterprise long before Jim Kirk was captain. Chris Pike was the captain during the Talosian incident and his science officer at the time was Mr. Spock. Fast forward to Jim Kirk’s Enterprise and Spock fakes a distress signal from a Star Base in order to kidnap a critically injured and horribly disabled Christopher Pike and hijack the Enterprise to reach Talos IV. Captain Kirk and the star base commander Commodore Mendez follow after the Enterprise and once aboard they put Spock on trial for mutiny. Spock provides evidence in the form of an audio-visual record of the Talosian incident which as it turns out is being transmitted to the Enterprise by the Talosians. This transmittal explains why Talos IV is quarantined by the Federation and nature of the Talosians powers. The resolution of the trial and Captain Pike’s fate are the climax of the story.
This story is one of Star Trek’s best. Even though this is a cut and paste of the earlier episode with the later additions for the Spock plot it is an interesting story with characters that are at least as interesting as the normal crew. I would say Jeffrey Hunter does an excellent job as Captain Pike and it is interesting to think what the series would have been like if he had stayed with the show.
The nature of the Talosians powers and their intentions for Captain Pike allow the storyline to include several scenes that involve Pike and the girl Vina in some fantasy episodes. There’s even one scene where she’s painted green and dancing around in a harem outfit (and of special interest to Orion’s Cold Fire, she’s described as a green-skinned Orion slave girl).
A notable item from the story is the casting of Majel Barrett, the woman who went on to play the always annoying Nurse Chapel, as Pike’s First Officer known as Number One. Barrett played her part as a cold logical officer. In this part she was far more entertaining than with her Chapel character.
Since Captain Kirk has a relatively small part in these two episodes, he really had no chance to demonstrate his special acting skills. Interestingly, the plot does have a couple of incidents where Jeffrey Hunter had to react to psychic torture with exaggerated facial expressions and spasmodic body gestures. It appears then that the writers and directors are partially responsible for all the histrionics that Bill Shatner is so famous for. But obviously he had a greater ability than Hunter at hamming it up.
So, with respect to scoring I’ll go with 10//2