Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Star Trek: Spock's Brain

Episode: "Spock's Brain"
Series: Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 3, Episode 1
Original Air Date: September 20, 1968
via Memory Alpha
"Spock's Brain" is considered by many, including cast members, to be the worst episode of Star Trek's original series.  I knew this going in, a difficult preconception to overcome.  NBC had caved to pressure from the devotees and renewed Trek for a third season. But the network was still out to strangle the series through scheduling.  The show was moved to 10 p.m. on Friday nights.  The writing was on the wall.  The magic of the first year and the early days of the second was fading.  A franchise in desperate need of a win instead served up a terrible season premier.

For me, "Spock's Brain" is more boring than bad, though I suppose that amounts to the same in a genre dependent upon spectacle.  My mind drifted.  A female being beams directly on to the bridge of the Enterprise, knocks out the entire crew, then steals Spock's noodle right out of his noggin.  Why?  How?  Our crew doesn't know exactly but they sure better get it back.

I'm not going to pretend the episode is good.  Those who associate overacting with the series need look no further than this story for proof.  But there are a few redeeming qualities.  It's one of only a few of the originals that meaningfully incorporates all seven principal characters.  It's a good Scotty episode as he gets a rare turn on the away team, though James Doohan is also one of the prime offenders on the overacting.  To be fair, the far too many shots of him with astonished expressions are probably more the director's fault than the actor's.

I'm prepared for a bit of pain going into Season 3.  If "Spock's Brain" is truly the worst, I think I can handle it.  I'm holding out hope for a hidden gem or two along the way.

*****
via Memory Alpha
Marj Dusay played Kara, the brain thief.  She was born Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney on February 20, 1936 in Russell, Kansas.  She got her big break in an Elvis Presley movie, 1967's Clambake.

While Dusay scored numerous television guest appearances in prime time, she found her real niche in daytime soap operas.  Over a 26-year period beginning in 1983, she had recurring roles on Capitol, Santa Barbara, Days of Our Lives, All My Children and, most significantly, Guiding Light.  On the latter program, she played Alexandra Spaulding off and on for 16 years.  She won a Daytime Emmy in 1995.

26 comments:

  1. Once again, there is a fundamental disconnect between modern males and those of us who came of age in the sixties. Back then we had no objections to our brains being stolen by Clambake glamor girls. We wouldn't have minded any more than Spock did. There was a lot of humor in the idea of this episode --and it's actually one of my favorites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no issue with the premise. They've had weirder stories, to be sure. It is an episode, though, in which you can definitely feel the hand of production, as if someone left a saw horse out on the sound stage.

      Delete
  2. I'm trying to think of how someone steals a brain, lol. Boring doesn't sound good. I was hoping this was campy, of the so bad it's good variety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, there are definitely moments of camp! You can always count on Shatner for that if he's given inadequate material.

      Delete
  3. Ah, today is perfect! You need to wander over to the Flipside. You've been bagged and tagged.

    Medeia Sharif may have the same affinity for camp that I do. I don't care if it gets bad for an episode...maybe even two...as long as it's campy-bad. Campy always gives me a chuckle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. She really is a lovely lady....probably doesn't really need or want Spock's brain! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She certainly doesn't. There is a bit of a helpless females vibe to the story, too, which is a little off-putting.

      Delete
  5. I've never watched it but I should. With a name like Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney I'm surprised she's from Kansas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt descended from Slavic and Irish immigrants, plenty of those out on the prairie.

      Delete
  6. If I anyone can unearth those Season 3 gems, it's you. You're the squid for the job, pal.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know where Russell, Kansas, is. If I had been born in Russell, I would probably be a TV star, too.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never been to Russell but I have spent sometime in other rural Kansas towns. I think I might have headed west, too. Or east. Or...

      Delete
    2. Of course, Bob Dole is from Russell. The people there are extremely proud of him.

      Delete
    3. My college girlfriend was from Kansas. Liberal, Kansas - a real town name - was her favorite oxymoron.

      Delete
  8. I may actually vaguely remember this episode.
    Maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just the idea of Spock's Brain floating outside some where in space is so funny to me !
    I don't remember this one but I had to be at work at 6am on the weekends and went to school on weekdays so if I was up at 10pm on Fridays It had to be for a good reason. Star Trek was not one of them.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trek wasn't a high priority for me as a teenager either - a middle age rediscovery for me.

      Delete
  10. LOL--she just steals his brain? That's hilarious. I wondered why Star Trek was so short-lived. It sounds like it just needed a good team of writers for that third season!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it was actually a lot of the same writers they'd always had. I think they were just running out of ideas.

      Delete
  11. This episode doesn't ring a bell- but I am glad you made it through the episode and hope the rest of the season is better. :)
    ~Jess

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, too. I've just watched the season's second episode and I'm already feeling more hopeful.

      Delete
  12. Oh, yes, I remember that episode. She was a good ditz. I wished then that such a device could exist to transplant anyone's brain. The show was dull and over acted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take it you had a few brain theft targets in mind?

      Delete