Lost in Translation has covered various Star Trek projects, beginning the reviews with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The original series ran from 1966-1969, introducing the world to Captain James T. Kirk, First Officer Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy. Star Trek was essentially a series of morality plays, tackling the issues of the day, such as racism and segregation (“Let That be Your Last Battlefield”, “Plato’s Stepchildren”). However, Kirk wasn’t the original captain envisioned for the USS Enterprise. The first pilot, “The Cage”, featured Captain Christopher Pike.

Completed in 1965, “The Cage” starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, Majel Barrett as Number One, Laurel Goodman as Yeoman Colt, and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. the one character to make it to the new pilot. The plot involved investigating the site of a crashed ship on Talos IV. One survivor, Vina, played by Susan Oliver, is found, but Pike is taken prisoner by the Talosians. He is tempted by Vina, appearing not only as human, but also as a Rigellian princess and an Orion slave girl. When Pike fails to be tempted, the Talosians bring in Number One and Colt. By then, Pike has discovered that primitive emotions can block the Talosians from reading his mind. Pike escapes with Vina, Number One, and Colt, but before he leaves, Vina explains that she can’t leave. The Talosians did what they could, but they couldn’t restore her to health. Pike returns to the Enterprise. The Talosians send one last communication, of Vina with an image of Pike to keep her company.

The pilot was turned down by NBC for being “too cerebral”. NBC also wanted the roles of Number One and Spock cut. Creator Gene Roddenberry cut Number One and transferred her personality traits – logic and stoicism – to Spock. In “The Cage”, Spock was far more emotional. Star Trek would also use the footage of “The Cage” as the basis for the two-part episode, “The Menagerie”, adding scenes with Kirk and Spock with a disabled Fleet Captain Pike, played by Sean Kenney. Pike was critically injured while rescuing cadets from an engineering accident, leaving him permanently disabled To help is former captain, Spock steals the Enterprise to take him to Talos IV. After the events of “The Cage”, which gets used during Spock’s trial, General Order 7 was enacted, forbidding contact with Talos IV and its inhabitants under any condition, and carried the death penalty the only General Order to do so. The images being shown during the trial were being transmitted from Talos IV, further endangering everyone on board the Enterprise. However, at the end, the entire trial was an illusion with only Kirk, Spock, and Pike being on board. Pike is beamed down to the surface of Talos IV to be reunited with Vina.

In 2022, Paramount through its streaming service, Paramount+, created a series to take a further look at what could have been, with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Set after the events of “The Cage”, Strange New Worlds continues Captain Pike’s service on board the USS Enterprise. The cast includes Anton Mount as Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Ethan Peck as Lt. Spock, Christina Ching as Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh, Melissa Navia as Helm Officer Erica Ortegas, Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel, Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga, André Dae Kim as Transporter Chief Kyle, and Bruce Horak as Chief Engineer Hemmer.

Besides Spock, there are several characters who were in the original Trek. Christine Chapel was a regular supporting character played by Majel Barrett. Dr. M’Benga, played by Booker Bradshaw, appeared in a handful of episodes and was the *Enterprise‘s expert on Vulcan medicine. La’an Noonian-Singh is a descendant of Khan Noonian-Singh, and is determined to show herself as being capable despite her family heritage. Another character from the original series is T’Pring, originally played by Arlene Martel and portrayed by Gia Sandhu in Strange New Worlds. The series also gives a name to Number One – Una Chin-Riley.

Strange New Worlds returns to episodic storytelling, with the main plot of episodes being self-contained. However, several threads still do run through the first season. Spock’s growth into the character portrayed by Leonard Nimoy through the original series through to The Next Generation, learning how to reconcile the two halves that make him whole. Cadet Uhura discovering what she wants to do in Starfleet. The relationship between Spock and Christine takes root, ready to grow through the original series. The idea of genetic modification and genetic engineering, through La’an and Number One, runs through the series. Even the concept of family, with M’Benga doing what he can to help his daughter survive a deadly disease and Pike accepting his crew as his extended family.

With genetic modifications, the Federation has been leery of the idea ever since the Eugenics War on Earth. The Terran ambassadors brought their worries and fears to the table, so genetic modification is illegal in the Federation. The situation doesn’t get a resolution even past Deep Space 9, after Dr Bashir is revealed to have been genetically modified.

In the fifty-seven years between the filming of “The Cage” and the premier of Strange New Worlds, film technologies and techniques have evolved and changed. The original Trek was filmed for the TVs of the day with an aspect of 4:3. Today’s wide screen TVs have an aspect of 16:9, allowing more to be shown. Special effects have changed, and the effects budget can go a longer way thanks to CGI. This means that the Enterprise‘s bridge as seen in the original series would only take up a portion of the screen. The larger bridge as shown in Strange New Worlds looks like it would fit in with the Enterprise of the films, but it is also needed with today’s aspect.

The episodes of the first season take their cue from the original series by taking a look a current issues and examining them as a morality play. The Prime Directive gets a work out as Pike deals with cultures of people who aren’t part of the Federation. Genetic engineering is on the cusp of being a possibility. The question of the good of the individual versus the good of society is almost eternal. Cadet Uhura’s search for a purpose. Pike’s acceptance of his destiny and whether the future is fixed.

Of particular note is the episode, “A Quality of Mercy”, which explores what would happen if Pike had been commanding the Enterprise during the events of “Balance of Terror”, where a Romulan Bird of Prey begin destroying a number Federation outposts. The differences between the two captains is obvious, with Pike being more cautious, but sometimes caution isn’t the best reaction.

Strange New Worlds brings back the feel of the original Star Trek. The series also tweaks the noses of the NBC executives who called “The Cage” “too cerebral” by taking the time to explore the issues in the episodes. There is action, but the action isn’t the draw of the series. Christopher Pike represents a different style of command from Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and Janeway. There are links to the original Trek, setting up a number of characters, including showing the start of Spock’s character arc.

Overall, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds succeeds in what it set out to do, show the voyages of the starship Enterprise before Captain Kirk took command. Characters are recognizable, but are building towards who they will become in later series. The special effects have changed greatly since 1966, but the Enterprise looks exactly as expected, with some sets now enhanced thanks to improvements in technology. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds fits as a prequel to the original Star Trek, in tone and appearance.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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