Spock's Brain - episode #61

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Spock's Brain - episode #61

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:36 am


SPOCK'S BRAIN (3rd season; episode #61) Air Date: 09/20/68
____________ Directed by Marc Daniels  Like a Star @ heaven  writer: Gene Coon

Here I am writing about Spock's Brain again. Spock's brain? Brain and brain! What is brain?! Exclamation It's unfortunate that this episode may have been the introduction for many viewers to the Star Trek series (it was the first broadcast of the 3rd season). What a difference a new season makes! Like The Trouble With Tribbles, this is one of the most familiar episodes, but for different reasons. Knowledge of Star Trek's cheese factor may have spread from this very point.  I confess I don't really know how things went so wrong with this one; the director is Marc Daniels, who, going by a cursory look at all the episodes, was responsible for many of the better episodes. Gene Coon was a great writer. But, the melodramatic elements in this one were just too overwrought. Yet, it even becomes dull at some points, a double whammy.

There's really nothing wrong with the plot, on paper - an early version of Star Trek III:The Search For Spock (1984); in this case, however, it's 'The Search For Spock's Brain.' Here, Kirk and crew are moving along in their starship, minding their own business, when a small ion-propelled ship approaches; a space babe (Marj Dusay) materializes on the bridge of the Enterprise and knocks out everyone with the touch of a button on her spiffy bracelet (and I mean, EVERYone, on the entire ship! - this is similar to shots in By Any Other Name, when everyone was frozen, and to The Way to Eden, profiled later). When the crew awaken, they find something missing - you guessed it! - Spock's brain! Yes, this is Spock's final episode - just kidding. Here's a minor discrepancy already: the female invader is able to conk out everyone on the Enterprise immediately; yet later, on the planet they find her on, she and her cohorts take the trouble to affix funky belts on Kirk and his boys to send painful knockout signals.

I won't elaborate on the slow pace of this episode, with the camera, for example, settling on an immobile Spock just standing there, as if something is about to happen, yet nothing does. The style is very strange here, almost as if everyone involved wasn't sure on how to proceed. Someone, meaning the producers, the director and the actors, took a wrong turn or at least a sideways view of this story. As an example, when McCoy slowly informs Kirk of Spock's, uh, problem, it was probably meant to be a suspenseful, grim scene. It isn't. "His brain is gone..!" McCoy says, looking a bit shell-shocked. Kirk mouths the same phrase, also shocked or stunned. I expected Scotty to repeat the phrase yet again, then Nurse Chapel. This scene may suggest the tone of most of the episode - the audience is already chuckling by this point.

___
By the time we get to the underground civilization on that planet, things have escalated to a laugh-riot, with the words 'Morgs' and 'Eymorgs' and the declaration "you are not Morg" ringing in our ears as Kirk tries to make sense of a wacko culture divided between female rulers and male brutes. This was a less-than-complimentary idea of a matriarchal society. Gene, Gene..! Spock's body is turned into a walking puppet, guided by McCoy's little hand-gizmo as if it were a toy robot. Kirk's key meeting with the ruling females, all of whom speak like spoiled teenagers, becomes an exercise in ultimate Trek cheese; Kirk even gets on his knees to grovel at one point, before the female ruler (Marj Dusay) sends him in spasms to painful oblivion. It's rather ghastly yet I can't turn away for much of the episode, spellbound in disbelief by the hysterics on screen.
All the concepts are sabotaged by the execution, even the climactic brain re-attachment surgery, which does begin fine; McCoy gets his brain boosted by a special device (da Teacher!) and proceeds to operate with new skills. Then he starts to forget the knowledge and Spock talks him through the rest, the audience understanding full well that neither has the knowledge of these unknown techniques. I guess messing up a few hundred connections makes no difference to a Vulcan brain, sturdy as it is? (sarcasm here, but who knows? I'm surely not a brain surgeon). Some entertainment value is there, no doubt, but beware; this all could be a... dare I say it - a drain on the brain. BoG's Score: 4 out of 10
Extra Trek Trivia: Gene Coon wrote this episode under the pen name Lee Cronin. Hm, I wonder why? Co-producer Robert Justman admits to making the suggestion of Spock helping McCoy out during surgery; he later regretted this. In the original written outline, Spock remained on the starship during the story; this would have saved actor Nimoy much embarrassment.  Now some very obscure trivia: this was the episode playing on a TV in one scene in the movie Taps (1981); the cadets at the military school are watching it at about the midpoint of the film; one of them makes a comment about a force field that protects Spock's brain, which I think is a bunch of malarkey.
Laughing  
If you prefer a condensed version of the episode, where all the odd dramatics become quite apparent:


Last edited by BoG on Wed May 06, 2015 10:54 pm; edited 8 times in total
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SPOCK'S BRAIN - VIEW IT HERE

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:13 am

NOT-SO-CLASSIC TREK QUOTES:
Kara: "Brain and brain! What is brain?!"
Kara: "The Controller is young and powerful and perfect!"
Spock: "How very flattering."

FULL REMASTERED EPISODE - IF YOU DARE:


McCoy: "I knew it, I should never have done it!"
Kirk: "What?"_______________________
McCoy: "I never should have reconnected his mouth."
Kirk: "Well, we took the risk."________
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