Well, we have all heard the stories of good old valve powered Collins R390A being used in Operation Desert Storm but whoever would have thought that valves would still be used in frontline space exploration in the 23rd century??? No, I am not a time traveller, just a keen fan of Star Trek and although I prefer TNG, I have a lasting appreciation of TOS too and so, let’s go back to the very start with the pilot episode, The Cage.
"The Cage" , set in the year 2254, was completed in early 1965 by Gene Roddenberry but not broadcast on television until late 1968. The principal cast members were as follows: -
Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike
Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock
Majel Barrett as Number One
Susan Oliver as Vina – the green goddess and I don't mean an ex Civil Defence fire engine!!!!
These actors conspired to act out an intriguing plot that went something like this…………The USS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Pike receives a radio distress call from the fourth planet in the Talos star group.. Tracking the distress signal to its source, the landing party is beamed down to discover a camp of survivors from a scientific expedition that has been missing for eighteen years. Amongst the survivors is a beautiful young (green) woman named Vina.
Pike is then captured by the Talosians, a race of humanoids with bulbous heads who live beneath the planet's surface. As a child, I referred to this striking race as “The Bumheads” but it is now believed that they were the progenitors of at least one half of TV presenting duo Ant & Dec.
With a sense of horror Captain Chris realises that the distress call and the crash survivors, except for Vina, are just illusions created by the Talosians to lure the Enterprise to the planet. That said, the horror abates a bit when Captain Chris uncovers the Talosians' plans to repopulate their ravaged planet using himself and Vina as breeding stock for a race of slaves – every cloud (or asteroid belt) has a silver lining!!!!!!.
The Talosians try to use their power of illusion to interest Pike in Vina, with the best surely being the seductive, green-skinned Orion.
Captain Chris, well versed in the Prime Directive resists this vicarious cosplay tittilation and wisely chooses to keep his trousers on even when Pike’s first officer and yeoman—both women—materialise in Pike's cell with the promise of a cosmic foursome. The stoic Pike, albeit with a rash of perspiration on his fevered brow, whilst suppressing the urge to pant then puts into practice his discovery that primitive human emotions can block the Talosians' ability to read his mind, and he manages to escape to the surface of the planet along with the two lady members of his crew. The plot unfortunately does not reveal whether or not the mind blocking emotion was throbbing lust or something else.
The Talosians confront Pike and his companions before they can transport back to the Enterprise and ask if he has a phaser in his chuddies or is he just pleased to see them.. The captain swiftly changes the subject and tries to negotiate, but the first officer sets her weapon on a build-up to overload and consequent explosion. Pike and Vina move closer to her, agreeing with her preference for death rather than captivity. After all, as Vina explains, if the Talosians have even one human being, they might try again. This demonstration of fatal resolve confirms what the Talosians have discovered from the Enterprise's computer databanks: the human race despises captivity far too much to be useful.
Despite their last hope having been proven unsuitable, the Talosians are not vengeful. They let the humans go after first extracting a firm promise that James T Kirk would never visit their home planet in a future episode. The first officer and yeoman then beam up immediately, but Pike remains behind with Vina, urging her to leave with him. Vina explains that she can't leave. An expedition had indeed crash-landed on Talos IV; Vina was the sole survivor, but was badly injured. The Talosians were able to save her, but as they had no understanding of human physiology or aesthetics at the time, she was left horribly disfigured. With the aid of the Talosians' illusions, she is able to appear beautiful and in good health, as much to herself as to any others.
Realising that the continued Talosian illusion of health and beauty is necessary for Vina and as reality sinks in that being saddled with a disfigured squeeze might be a disadvantage to him as he schmoozed at Starfleet Command’s many wild cocktail parties, Pike is ready to return to the Enterprise without her. In an act of goodwill, the aliens show him that Vina sees an image of Pike next to her, and they walk up to the entrance that takes them into the Talosian habitat. Pike then beams up after the Keeper's closing words: "She has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant."
So what about the valves I hear you say, well, you’ll have to wait for the next exciting episode – just like a Star Trek two parter - for that but I promise, it will be well worth waiting for.