Review: “Spock’s Brain” Remastered | TrekMovie.com
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Review: “Spock’s Brain” Remastered June 14, 2007

by Dennis Russell Bailey , Filed under: Review,TOS Remastered , trackback

“Welcome to Bad Science Fiction Theatre…”

“I am your host, Leonard Pinth-Garnell.”

Some readers of this site have expressed concern at what they consider the undue flippancy with which I’ve summarized some previous episodes of “Star Trek.”  Therefore I shall endeavor, this week, to stick strictly to the facts of the plot in my synopsis.

“Spock’s Brain”

An alien spacecraft approaches Enterprise and beams over a young woman in a purple miniskirt and matching vinyl thigh-high boots.  She presses a button on her bracelet and knocks everyone on the ship out.  When they come to, she’s disappeared with Spock’s brain.

The Enterprise follows her to Sigma Draconis.   McCoy and Scotty attach a gadget to Spock’s head so that they can operate him with a hand-held remote control. 

The crew beams down to the planet to find that the local men (“morg”) all live on the surface and the women (“imorg”) all live underground.  The women put food in an elevator disguised as a cave and use this to trap men to mate with and to use as security guards.

Kirk, McCoy, Scotty and Spock’s body are captured by the miniskirted thigh-booted imorg, who are as puzzled as the morg by the androgyny of the humans (“you are not morg.  You are not imorg”). 

It turns out that Spock’s brain has been installed in a plastic light box and is being used to run the lights and air conditioning and plumbing.  There’s also a plastic helmet called “the Teacher” which gives otherwise completely ignorant human beings the immediate ability to perform complex brain surgery for a couple of hours.

McCoy uses the Teacher to learn how to put Spock’s brain back into his body.  When he starts forgetting everything in the middle of the operation, Kirk orders him to reconnect Spock’s vocal cords so that the Vulcan can explain it as they go.

The operation is a success.  Kirk tells the imorg leader that her people will have to abandon their civilization and go live on the surface of the planet, because without Spock’s brain there’s no way to run the heating and air-conditioning and plumbing.  Spock spontaneously launches into a lecture comparing Sigma Draconis to ancient Rome, and McCoy says that he shouldn’t have reconnected Spock’s vocal cords.

“There… That wasn’t so good now, was it?”


Spockbot

“The pain…oh, the pain.”

This is certainly among the most underrated and noteworthy of “Star Trek’s” third season…

Nah, I’m just messin’ with you.  We’re talkin’ about “Spock’s Brain.”

Originally airing as the first episode of Trek’s third and final season on NBC, the story is completely bereft of the intelligence, plausibility and disciplined imagination that had characterized the series in its premiere season two years previous.  It’s as hollow and nonsensical as any given episode of “Lost In Space.”

In fact the show would be no sillier if, instead of  having his brain scooped out, Spock had been turned into a giant walking talking carrot.  The episode might actually have been improved by substituting Doctor Zachary Smith for McCoy and Will Robinson for Captain Kirk.

Contemplate the story’s premise for a moment:  a civilization capable of creating a machine that could maintain itself for millennia and teach advanced knowledge and skills in seconds to totally ignorant humans couldn’t come up with a better solution for maintenance than “oh yeah, when the air circulator breaks down jump in this interstellar space ship and fly around looking for a brain to steal.”

Let’s move on.

Nimoy delivers a credible reading delivery of a disembodied brain, and Shatner gives about as flat and uninteresting a performance as he ever would.  To be fair, Kirk is scripted as such a smug and superficial character in this instance that Shatner is just being true to the material.

It’s been said that this script was originally written as a comedy, but that the third year producer (Fred Freiberger) didn’t care for that and had it rewritten as a straight “drama.”  Gene Coon used a pen name on this episode (“Lee Cronin”) so it’s pretty likely that a whole lot of something he didn’t like was done to his script.  There are certainly what seem to be vestiges of comic dialogue and set-ups in the show – Shatner’s delivery of lines like “I’ve certainly noticed those delightful…aspects,” and the whole ending with Spock delivering his lecture while seemingly oblivious to the eye-rolling reactions of his crewmates and the utter lack of comprehension on the part of the imorg leader.

 
Would have been better with a laugh track?

The actors may have walked through their roles on this episode while the long-time producers looked for other projects to carry them beyond the nigh-inevitable series cancellation that was on the horizon, but Walter Jefferies and Fred Steiner continued to give it their best.  Jefferies creates a plausible suggestion of an advanced underground complex from a few odd arches and plant-ons (a number of the wall panels feature spray-painted styrene coffee cup lids as controls).   The design of the “Teacher” helmet remarkably suggests high technology on a very low budget (in this new Remastered transfer, the sphere it’s stored on looks like a green bowling ball…maybe it was).  Steiner’s music is memorable, incorporating everything from a new arrangement of Courage’s “Star Trek” fanfare to electronic sounds reminiscent of “Forbidden Planet” and even a brief segment on the planet’s surface featuring percussion very much like Goldsmith’s score for “Planet Of The Apes.”

Let’s give the show’s producer the last word, here: asked in 1980 what he considered to have been his failures as “Star Trek’s” producer, Freiberger listed four episodes:   “The Cloud Minders,” “That Which Survives,”  “The Way To Eden,” and “Spock’s Brain.”


Jeffries makes do

The New Effects

The Remastered episode opens with a treat – an intriguing new version of the imorg ion-drive starship, which was originally represented by what looked like a rejected design for Tom Corbett’s Polaris.  The first appearance of Enterprise herself is a much-needed upgrade, as the original version of this featured one of the worst matting jobs seen on the series.  An early close-up on the saucer section nicely incorporates the story-specific element of a darkened bridge dome, matching the lowered lights on the live-action bridge set in the very next shot.


Now that is cool

One new effect is a digital matte used to open up the beam-down shot on Sigma Draconis.  The use of such mattes to enhance otherwise stage-bound planetary exteriors has been used before in the Remastered series, most notably in “Amok Time.”  The incorporation of live footage of the actors into the matte in this episode makes it even more effective.


Another great matte painting…do more of these CBS!

Though that matte is the most striking of the remastered effects, I was most pleased by the several shots of Enterprise in space and in orbit.  CBS Digital has finally gotten the starship looking as it always should have looked, in every shot, and that’s a lovely thing.


Good riddance to a bad matte

Still, where "Spock’s Brain" is concerned, all the remastering and updatedeffects in the world can’t accomplish much more than putting lipstick on a pig.
 

Comments

1. OneBuckFilms - June 14, 2007

First !!!

2. FredCFO - June 14, 2007

“Brain and brain ? What is brain?” will live in the anals of the most embarassing lines in television history. Ed Wood could scarcely have done worse.

You mean this ep wasn’t a comedy in the last place ? I think the Improv Theatre stage play says it all — not one line was changed and it was instant MST3K.

Good review, Dennis.

3. CmdrR - June 14, 2007

Still a guilty pleasure. Still love those go-go boots and the beauts in em.

4. last o' the timelords - June 14, 2007

“It’s been said that this script was originally written as a comedy, but that the third year producer (Fred Freiberger) didn’t care for that and had it rewritten as a straight “drama.”

Ah, there must be an original script that was intentionally funny then. Anyone know if it exists?

5. Rabelais - June 14, 2007

Hey No 2 FredCFO, not to be cruel or anything, but you’re rapidly approaching Ed Wood territory yourself when you write of “the anals of the most embarassing lines in television history”.

You do realize you should have written “annals”.

Mind you, there’s plenty of humour to mine in the typo. : )

By the way, I don’t usually comment on people’s grammer, spelling etc, but you made me chuckle out loud.

Hope you’re not miffed.

6. Rabelais - June 14, 2007

Should read “grammar”.

Sigh.

7. THEETrekMaster - June 14, 2007

It’s a GREAT episode!!!

I don’t care what anyone thinks…

TTM

8. THEETrekMaster - June 14, 2007

How could a threat to Spock’s life be funny? I don’t see any way this episode could have been a comedy…

In fact, I think this is one of the most dramatic episodes of the entire series. I think it would have made a great two-parter with the fate of Spock hanging in the balance at the end of part I.

Slightly re-written with an added element of danger, but this could have been a great two-parter. It’s a shame they didn’t do it. Part one could have ended with Kirk’s narration about McCoy’s memory of the Teacher’s training on brain restoral should have ended part I.

9. Redshirt - June 14, 2007

I would take the worst episodes of TNG, DS9 , VOY or ENT over this. its just plain BAD.

*puts his sunglasses on and Gets his Brain Neuralizer and flashes*

What you saw was”The City on the Edge of Forever” if this was a actual episode you have to be completely stoned to enjoy it.

10. Frank - June 14, 2007

Plan 9 From Sigma Draconas…

What I can not understand is why, considering this show was teetering on the brink of cancellation, would the producers even ACCEPT this storyline to begin with. Especially considering this was a season opener, typically a higher rated event. Did the need to get Spock’s name in the title outweigh any consideration for what HAD to be perceived as a horrible and nonsensical storyline. Seems to me that If you’re hanging on to your jobs by the weekly Nielson ratings, this is the last show you want out front in the season opener – even if things ARE going downhill fast. Even back then, when I was 11 years old, I couldn’t help laughing at the ridiculous of a remote controlled Spock. No wheechairs on the Enterprise?

11. Frank - June 14, 2007

Plan 9 From Sigma Draconas…

What I can not understand is why, considering this show was teetering on the brink of cancellation, would the producers even ACCEPT this storyline to begin with. Especially considering this was a season opener, typically a higher rated event. Did the need to get Spock’s name in the title outweigh any consideration for what HAD to be perceived as a horrible and nonsensical storyline. Seems to me that If you’re hanging on to your jobs by the weekly Nielson ratings, this is the last show you want out front in the season opener – even if things ARE going downhill fast. Even back then, when I was 11 years old, I couldn’t help laughing at the ridiculous of a remote controlled Spock. No wheechairs on the Enterprise?

12. Dennis Bailey - June 14, 2007

I don’t think that Freiberger and Singer considered this to be a bad episode at the time it was produced. They liked it.

It’s also not always a fair assumption that series producers have a big selection of finished scripts to choose freely from at the beginning of a season. That’s true in some cases and not in others. The original “Star Trek” had a writing staff of only a couple of people at most – the majority of assignments were let to freelancers, and there was a major turnover of producers between seasons two and three.

13. Dennis Bailey - June 14, 2007

I just checked, and this was the sixth show to be produced for the third season. Those that preceded it were:

“Spectre of the Gun”
“Elaan of Troyius”
“The Paradise Syndrome”
“The Enterprise Incident”
“And the Children Shall Lead”

Assuming that all of those had been completed through post-production, the decision about which to run first would have been NBC’s, not Paramount’s.

14. Dennis Russell Bailey - June 14, 2007

Something else that’s mildly interesting is that the first few live action shots of this episode are cut together from stock footage of the bridge, rather than shot for this episode.

First is a close-up of a “red alert” light that’s not even actually on the bridge set – looks like it may be Engineering.

Second is a momentary closeup of the flashing light atop the Transporter console, standing in for the flashing light between Sulu and Chekov on the navigation/helm console;

Third is footage of the bridge showing the characters in the velour uniforms from the first two seasons – the actors manning the stations to the left of frame are not the actors who in the following shots, and a blond actor with a conventional haircut is manning Chekov’s station rather than Walter Koenig

After a quick close-up of Spock (which actually may have been shot for this episode; it’s definitely third season) we see a side angle of Sulu who is again wearing a first or second season uniform. Different actors at the port side stations.

The first dialogue shot features all of the characters in the third season outfits.

15. Dennis Russell Bailey - June 14, 2007

Something else that’s mildly interesting is that the first few live action shots of this episode are cut together from stock footage of the bridge, rather than shot for this episode.

First is a close-up of a “red alert” light that’s not even actually on the bridge set – looks like it may be Engineering.

Second is a momentary closeup of the flashing light atop the Transporter console, standing in for the flashing light between Sulu and Chekov on the navigation/helm console;

Third is footage of the bridge showing the characters in the velour uniforms from the first two seasons – the actors manning the stations to the left of frame are not the actors who in the following shots, and a blond actor with a conventional haircut is manning Chekov’s station rather than Walter Koenig

After a quick close-up of Spock (which actually may have been shot for this episode; it’s definitely third season) we see a side angle of Sulu who is again wearing a first or second season uniform. Different actors at the port side stations.

The first dialogue shot features all of the characters in the third season outfits.

16. James Heaney - June 14, 2007

Nice review. And I’m harsh on reviewers. :)

I’m glad there *was* a Spock’s Brain, because, forty years later, there are still new jokes to make about it. But the only episodes I can think of that were worse are “Shades of Grey,” “Precious Cargo,” “Patterns of Force,” and, of course, the finale of Enterprise, which was so horrible I dare not speak its name.

17. Robert Simmons A.K.A Vice Rear Admiral Nerd ( TOS Trek Purist / SFB Gaming Dude ) - June 14, 2007

Totally agree with Dennis. Need chips to go with this cheeze.

Redone shots look nice.

18. Harry Ballz - June 14, 2007

Am I the only one who recognizes that “Spock’s Brain” was the precursor to the premise of ST:III, where the crew is desperately fighting both a time constraint and foe in order to return Spock’s brain (katra) to his physical body? Bwahahahaha……….

19. Harry Ballz - June 14, 2007

And, of course, the original working title of Star Trek III was “The Search For Spock’s Brain”!!!

20. Buckaroohawk - June 14, 2007

Dennis,

I know you get a lot of flak for the smarminess of your episode reviews (not from me, though, I’m all about smarmy), but the fact that you decided to forego it for this review shows just how astute you are.

When the glass already overflowing, there’s no need to add more to it.

On the other hand, with (a lot) of tweaking, I think “Spock’s Brain” could have been a very dramatic episode. Here’s my treatment for a revision:

The opening is basically the same. Ion Ship. Girl beams onto bridge. Uses magic bracelet. Crew goes nighty-night.

McCoy finds Spock in sickbay. His brain is still gone, but it wasn’t surgically removed; it’s been transported out of his body. Kirk figures that if it was beamed out, it can be beamed back in, if found. Scotty says “nae” because their own transporters don’t have the ability to do that. Kirk mentions that the transporters dis-assemble and re-assemble entire people and things all the time. Scotty says that’s the problem. The transporters are set up to scan people or objects in their entirety, not as an assemblage of parts. There are also problems with coordinating a transporter beam into such a small, confined area such as the inside of someone’s skull. Kirk orders McCoy and Scotty to find some way of restoring Spock’s brain to his body, then sets the Enterprise in pursuit of the mysterious ion ship.

Things again progress as in the original episode. Cold Planet. Short Bus Cavemen. Hot Go-Go Girls. “Brain, brain! What is brain?” Pain-inflicting alarm clock belts.

McCoy and Scotty beam down to the planet with Spock’s body. They’ve rigged him with a device that patches him into McCoy’s nervous system, so both Spock and McCoy are wearing funny lightboxes on their heads. When McCoy walks, Spock walks. When McCoy talks, so does Spock. This is where a lot of the comedy would come from, with both McCoy and Spock speaking the same lines at the same time, something which amuses everyone except McCoy.

The landing party find Spock’s brain and discover that “The Teacher” can help them restore it to it’s proper home. McCoy and Scotty must both use the device, however, since it will take both engineering and medical acumen to work the transporter device properly. Of course, they both start to lose their enhanced knowledge part-way through the procedure, but working together they manage to overcome this and make Spock whole again. They then return to the Enterprise, leaving the inhabitants of Sigma Draconis to certain, frozen doom.

The main reason I came up with this idea was because the fact that Spock could go through two separate brain surgeries with his hairstyle intact has always bothered me. The use of a transporter to effect the removal and retrieval of his brain solved this, and the rest grew from there.

So tell me, have a made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? What do you think?

21. scifib5st - June 14, 2007

FredCFO – June 14, 2007
“Brain and brain ? What is brain?” will live in the anals of the most embarassing lines in television history. Ed Wood could scarcely have done worse.

You mean this ep wasn’t a comedy in the last place ? I think the Improv Theatre stage play says it all — not one line was changed and it was instant MST3K.

I think we all know that this line came from the Executies who laid out the schedule for the next season! (without ST)

Who am I to augure with FredCFO ?

22. Xai - June 14, 2007

#20 Buck,

Sorry, A no-go with me…. you added scotty and a transporter to the pile and some comic relief. It doesn’t do anything to help with the overall premise, just keeps Spock’s bangs in place.

23. Gary Seven - June 14, 2007

Thank you Dennis for a much improved review, in my opinion. Compared to your other reviews I found it less flippant (which as you state was the goal) and you focussed on the material at hand. Unlike your past reviews, which I felt were good episodes and launched cheap shots at them, you could have had a flippant party on the awful “Spock’s Brain,” but instead you gave a good and thoughtful review. Thanks.

24. Harry Ballz - June 14, 2007

#20
Nice shot Buck (is that to be forever more known as buckshot?), but it’s like trying to make shit into shine-ola!

25. mrregular - June 14, 2007

20. Buckaroohawk;
Nice try-it’s a stimulating possibility. Wish the actual episode was at least that good, as opposed to the stinking mess that it is.
But that was the 3rd season for you… Roddenberry had moved onto other things and was no longer interested or involved in the show. Budgets were being slashed left and right, and morale was low.
—————————————————–
Thanks Dennis Bailey-a very thoughtful review of this episode.

#16: The final episode of Enterprise misused two of my favorite characters to tell a story that was not theirs to begin with. One wishes for a Pharaonic order to strike the show from the record ala Rameses I’s directive in “The Ten Commandments”…

26. Qweefer Bukakke - June 14, 2007

The scale is all wrong on the new “matte” shot. Look how far away those “distant” mountains are. Unless they are hills, and I don’t think they’re supposed to be, this is all wrong.

27. Cranston - June 15, 2007

While I really liked the new matte painting, the fact that they didn’t use it for the rest of the surface footage (which, I know, would’ve been prohibitively time-consuming) seemed like a glaring continuity error to me. When the scene switched from the high-angle (with mountains) to the low-angle (no mountains), it was really jarring — all I could think was “woah — where did the mountains go?!” It didn’t seem to me that the second camera angle was low enough that you wouldn’t still see them.

Oh, and — good review, as always DB. “It turns out that Spock’s brain has been installed in a plastic light box and is being used to run the lights and air conditioning and plumbing” had me laughing out loud.

And, re: the rumor that this was originally intended to be a comedy, that strikes me as a little too much like wishful thinking on the part of some fan (or, probably, thousands of them). “They can’t *really* be serious, can they?”

28. Anthony Pascale - June 15, 2007

Just like with the guys who did the play straight…the snarkiest way to cover Spock’s Brain is to cover it straight. it is selfsnarking

29. Dom - June 15, 2007

Thanks Dennis.

But don’t strip your reviews of humour because of a few bitches. You write excellent reviews and I enjoyed this one, even if it was a tad toned-down!!! ;)

30. FredCFO - June 15, 2007

Ahem…

“Anals” was not a typo…. :)

31. Cervantes ( looking for that CBS DIGITAL follow up interview... ) - June 15, 2007

#26 Qweefer Bukakke

You’re not wrong… but as it’s an “alien” planet I can live with it’s “little” mountains. ;)

# Cranston

Agree with you and others who have pointed out the jarring lack of continuity with the new matte background and it’s transition to the next bit of footage, which then has NO mountains to tie it in with the previous establishing shot. It’s the unfinished quality of instances like this in this project which undermines the good work that the effects team HAS done.

:(

32. Cervantes ( looking for that CBS DIGITAL follow up interview... ) - June 15, 2007

In hindsight, perhaps the scale of that “mountains” matte painting itself is fine, but the size of the beaming down crew against it has been misjudged…

33. Rover ILP - June 15, 2007

Dennis,

Very nice review. As usual, your byline was enough to catch my attention. A word about LIS’s “The Great Vegetable Rebellion”.

It has always been to the credit of the crew and cast in that episode that they actually knew at the moment just how bad that episode was. This is most clearly evident in the second act.

At the moment when Stanley Adams (the Carrot King and our beloved Cyrano Jones) is making his most threatening demands, it was impossible for Mark Goddard (Major West) to hold character. You can actually seen him ducking behind the women for cover his laugh. According to Goddard, no about a editing could save that take.

34. Rob Walley - June 15, 2007

Dennis, you sure drew the short stick by getting this one, but you made the best of it. Good review!

35. konar - June 15, 2007

The funniest thing about your review is that no one seems to get that your entire premise for the review is to be as flip as ever by choosing this episode to review “straight” and by your hilariously deadpan synopsis — casually relating the most absurd plot points.

Brilliant!

Personally, as much as I love Star Trek (esp. TOS) I enjoy poking a little fun at it. I’ve had 40+ years of taking it seriously!

36. Lou in ATL - June 15, 2007

Greetings,

I believe that “Spock’s Brain” may be the only TOS episode when a rear-projection system was utilized to display an active star field on the main view screen.

37. Tony - June 15, 2007

#9 Redshirt: I think I’d take Spock’s Brain over VOY’s Threshold any day.

38. Original Trek Nerd - June 15, 2007

Wait! Wait! Wait! Spock’s Brain is a joke! David Gerold, writer of Tribbles even says so (somewhere) He was pissed at Gene and wrote it as a joke. He did not think it would be made. Lots of scripts weren’t made. Gene made it on a dare. It really is a JOKE! For god’s sakes, email David Gerold!

39. Yelnick McWaWa - June 15, 2007

The space hippies episode was far worse. At least this is fun. Still better than any of the worst episodes of TNG.

40. Lord Garth Formerly of Izar - June 15, 2007

Nice review from our beloved crumodgeon as usual. Although I and many of my fellow posters seem to love the episode for the pure dumb fun of it
I am not as old as most of you decrepit bastards so I didn’t see the Original SNL first run, but I did grow up with the reruns. and much like Spock’s Brain and Bad Theater with Leonard Pinth Garnell, even the lamest episode of Original SNL was leaps and bounds superior to anything The Next Genie or Voyager came up with. That Original Not ready For Primetime cast was infinately funnier than any of the other incarnations of SNL. In fact much like Star Trek, SNL has not really been any damn good since the early 90′s. (Although the gut who does MacGruder is very talanted and the other who does Al Pacino and Vincent Price is a genious)

41. Plum - June 15, 2007

Bwaahahaha… nice review Dennis. I imagined Dan Aykroyd’s best character voice while reading it. lol! :D

42. Jeff Bond - June 15, 2007

I like Dennis’ reviews, and far from dialing down his snarkiness for this episode, I think he just refined it beautifully. I love classic Trek for its strengths but I also love it for the eccentricities of the period and there’s a wealth of laughs to be mined from that still–we kid because we love…

43. Shaye - June 15, 2007

As usual this reviewer has some snide and wrong comment to make regarding Star Trek.

The opening sequence of the new 3rd season shots they did of Enterprise and this Enterprise shot from the original is FAAAAAR better in every way than the cartoon like cgi filmation looking crap, that they they stuck in just before the Ion ship shows up Mr Bailey!

…(which with regret i admit to liking better than the original)…so I can see why Ensign Bailey ancestor here might need a sip more of his Tranya.

Anyways…Horrible cuts on a horrible episode, AS FILMED…Yes your right, that was a written as a comedy originally but as Freiberger himself said in 1998, for the scifi ch ..
” you can’t hit a home run every time, and if I had it to do over again I would have kept it as a comedy as Gene Coon had once written it in hindsight..” unquote.

p.s. i’m a “trekgirl”…who knows her contacts with the series over the decades, and the facts from the start….yeah, im an old battle/Axeship
(take yer pick) and could give a fiddlers squat…and so what , big deal.

So have a nice weekend and cheers to all!

44. Yelnick McWaWa - June 15, 2007

I had forgotten that SNL sketch. I just bought the first season DVDs and it’s not on there…or is it? Who hosted that particular episode?

“I think I’d take Spock’s Brain over VOY’s Threshold any day.”

Refresh my memory. How awful was it. Course it’s VOY so it goes without saying.

45. Kev - June 15, 2007

After watching this I was most impressed with Shatner’s performance. He’s noticeably edgy, frustrated and cranky from the minute he find’s out he’s got only hours to restore Spock. His eyes are narrowed and he jerks around almost the whole show. Very well done. I think this is an easy target for a joke review as a show; but even a bad show has good scenes. Love when Kirk “drives” Spock at the leader, releases the belts. Yeah, the show has dated sexism, though.

46. docintherock - June 15, 2007

Elliot Gould was the host of the SNL with the Star Trek parody. John Belushi does a great Kirk and Akroyd as McCoy is classic.

47. Dennis Bailey - June 15, 2007

#43: “The opening sequence of the new 3rd season shots they did of Enterprise and this Enterprise shot from the original is FAAAAAR better in every way than the cartoon like cgi filmation looking crap, that they they stuck in just before the Ion ship shows up Mr Bailey!”

You’re wrong – it’s dreadful. The matte’s registration is way off, as you can see by looking at the frame reproduced above. Watching the original version on DVD on any large tv screen undeniably reveals the compositing error.

#43: “p.s. i’m a “trekgirl”…who knows her contacts with the series over the decades, and the facts from the start…”

Arguable.

#43:”.yeah, im an old battle/Axeship…”

Okay.

48. THEETrekMaster - June 15, 2007

Dennis is right. That first shot of the Enterprise in Spock’s brain is terrible. Bluescreen spill city.

Back this “Spock’s Brain was intended to be a comedy thing”: HOW could anyone think the premise could be funny? This plot and script never lent itself to anything other than UNINTENTIONAL comedy….

You’d have to be pretty twisted to find Spock’s life in jeopardy (especially in such a morbid way) funny.

TTM

49. Shaye - June 15, 2007

“47″ ” ..lets agree that we are killers..but….we…wont….kill,..today!
It’s that …simple!..” as Kirk might say..

Mr Bailey…I was one of the “official” Helpers at the first official Star Trek Conventions in the early 1970′s, and knew The Roddenberrys well enough to baby-sit young Rod, while Majel was giving a speech, and not to brag but even helped The good Captain himself, William Shatner, keep his cool (and Tupee on) when the insane screaming fans made a rush for him as he and we helped him make his escape to his suites upstairs above the ballroom at the old Commadore Hotel on 42,nd st. and Lexington in NYC!

I knew about the “Spocks Brain” script being a “comedy” back in 1973 when David Gerrold was talking with Joan Winston and myself on the floor of the convention that year, she bought up a stack of scripts that particular day for research on one of her books, I was on her Star Trek Wellcomitee as staff from 1972 through 1976, Ask, Joan Winston, David Gerrold and Barbra Wenk about “TrekGirl” …thats me!…My credentials are impeccible, and I am not being a snobby know-it-all bitch, but what are yours?

Lastly I still say again the third season shot’s filmed in various and new looks from the previous two seasons were and are far superior to most of the work done by cbs/cgi…to date…not all but the majority of Big-E Shots!

Have a nice weekend whats left of it!

50. Anthony Pascale - June 15, 2007

for more on our host:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Live_TV_show_sketches#Leonard_Pinth-Garnell

other quotes from Mr Garnell
# “Stunningly bad!”
# “Monumentally ill-advised!”
# “Perfectly awful!”
# “Couldn’t be worse!”
# “Exquisitely awful!”
# “Astonishingly ill-chosen!”
# “Really bit the big one!”
# “Unrelentingly bad!”

…and Shaye…you may not like a review or an opinion…and that is your right. But to call it ‘wrong’ implies you are the supreme arbiter of all that is ‘correct’ in Trek…including other people’s opinions. Since we do not really have the facilties here to have everyone run their opinions by you to ensure them being correct or not correct I think we will have to forgo your determinations of what is right and wrong in the future.

51. Shaye - June 15, 2007

“48″ TTM….as per our previous discussions just the other day/night..
you know im right about the script…WTF!?

thank you

your trek friend still I hope

Shaye

52. bmar - June 15, 2007

Re: #43 Not sure who your contacts on ST are, but I worked on the Special Edition at Sci Fi Channel and while Nimoy himself said “This episode brings out my worst memories of Star Trek” – I don’t think we interviewed Fred Freiberger. We did interview Herb Solow and Bob Justman, among any others, but I’m fairly sure Fred wasn’t there. I’ll have to check.

In any case, what we did when we talked about this episode was to acknowledge how bad it was – but try to find something interesting and good to talk about in the primary concepts of the episode.

For instance:

Is it possible that a human brain could power any large system?

Might it someday be possible to “download” knowledge directly into the brain (a’la “The Teacher)?

Might we someday be able to transplant a brain?

The thing about trek always was, no matter how bad an episode might be, there was usually something that you could find that was interesting or thought provoking.

53. Shaye - June 15, 2007

Dear Anthony

TTM and I had this discussion the other day about the SB script, and now its like he forgot ALL about it, and what we said, Sir, I am not the supreme arbiator of anything… but I do know what I do know.

peace

54. Shaye - June 15, 2007

“52 Hi there,
The late Fred Feiburger was there..and hehad alot of things to say…I have every tape of every special edition and just recently transfered onto DVD every special edition guest star segment, they are many indeed, and every segment Fred Feiburger was on covering the third season, would you like me to post them on youtube???

It will be my joy to!

Shaye

55. bmar - June 15, 2007

#55 – No, that’s ok thanks. I just don’t remember interviewing him, of course it was 10 years ago.

Glad to know someone liked it.

56. bmar - June 15, 2007

whoops, hit “say it!” too quick. Anyway, my point was, while almost universally despised, this episode still has SOME merits, at least from a scientific point of view.

Always looking for the silver lining.

57. 4 8 15 16 23 42 - June 15, 2007

Man, you weren’t kidding about the original matte job… what did they cut it with, a spoon?

58. petitspock - June 15, 2007

So, this ep was originally intended as a comedy eh? That raises a few questions. Does Gene Coon’s original script still exist? Could this episode be redeamed if Paramount allowed one of the fan film operations to film it as originally written?

59. NukeGrey - June 15, 2007

Hi, i’m a star trek watcher from Italy. (I even took a degree in architecture by designing a star trek ship).
I’m reading this site quite often to catch some news for the next movie.
I’d like to make a personal list of what i consider the good&bad in the original series espisodes.

good star trek TOS episodes (good science fiction – episodes i’ll never be tired to watch):

The man trap (interesting dilemma between safeness and science)
Charlie X (intriguing)
The enemy within (good and bad? or both?)
The corbomite maneuver (superb example of mutual illusions)
Balance of terror (nice “hunt of red october” in space plot)
Shore leave (another great sf plot, literary)
The devil in the dark (simply pure sf)
The changeling (as far a machine can go?)
The doomsday machine (Nuclear terror located in space)
Journey to babel (reminds me of some episode of DS9)
The immunity syndrome (nice “biological science” episode)
By any other name (not evil, just different)
The enterprise incident (pure diplomatics and action)
Spectre of the gun (again, pure sf)
For the world is hollow and i touched the sky (nice parallel with what we claim to be true for tradition and not by knowledge)
The Tholian web (simply one of my favourite pure sf plots)
The lights of Zetar (another space drama, very cool)

the worst star trek (even the worst fiction in general – episode i would erase from history if i were Hannorax):

Where no man has gone before (the esp part… no way)
Mudd’s women (simply a whole big unconsistence)
Arena (the giant reptile… monster=bad… non star trek episode, really)
The side of paradise (Senator McCarthy’s persistence is futile…)
Who mourns for Adonais? (no, thanks, this is not sf)
A piece of the action (how many american earth copies are there? )
Patterns of the force (no comment!)
The Omega Glory (usa rethorical/religious/ignorant)
Bread and circuses (illogical at the base)
The paradise syndrome (the slaughter of millions is hard to swallow?)
Turnabout intruder (the worst episode ever)

Other episodes… “it is acceptable” (Seven of nine)

60. Scott - June 15, 2007

I can’t believe no one has acknowledged the greatest contribution this episode made to pop culture: the classic fantasy scene in “The Wonder Years” where Fred Savage confronts the mystery of girls as Captain Kirk. It’s in this YouTube ST parody montage about two-thirds of the way through:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e5bTnNc1Yw

Not only does this scene deftly encapsulate the way adolescent boys relate to adolescent girls, but Danica McKellar absolutely CHANNELS Marj Dusay! ;-)

Scott B. out.

61. THEETrekMaster - June 15, 2007

Shaye,

Yep — still friends as my issue is not with you — rather, it has more to do with the *outline* that I have read. I just doesn’t read — to me anyway — like a comedy. I know you said there were notes on the script you saw to “make it so” but as they say — “If it ain’t on the stage, it ain’t on the page”. LOL

You were on the Star Trek Welcomittee? I remember them well from conventions I went to during the 70′s…ahhhh, those WERE the days! Back when conventions were really special.

People who go to Creation cons don’t really understand what the old conventions were like. Completely different animals…

Anyway, I do not dispute what you say about Spock’s Brain — I am just saying I have not read the comedy script and that I *personally* have a VERY difficult time thinking of that particular story in a “ha-ha” kind of way.

Has nothing to do with you…and I do not dispute your seeing the script or even having some inside info that I am not privvy to.

LL&P…should I call you Bjo? LMAO!!! If so, I was a member of Starbase Houston at one time…;-)

62. THEETrekMaster - June 15, 2007

Sorry, meant to say “If it ain’t on the page it ain’t on the stage”…I got it backwards…D’OH!!! lol

63. Gary Seven - June 15, 2007

Shaye
you wrote:
“The late Fred Feiburger was there..and hehad alot of things to say…I have every tape of every special edition and just recently transfered onto DVD every special edition guest star segment, they are many indeed…”

What are these special editions? They have guest star segments? I know of the special edition movies, and I own the TOS DVD’s, but don’t know of these “special editions.” Can you, or anybody else, tell me what you mean by this and where they are available? Thanks.

64. Shaye - June 15, 2007

“62 and 63 and anybody else interested?……..i’ill answer all you with several video clips on to be presented on youtube….Sunday night (U.S.A.D.S.T) via my weblink here, hope to see lots of you!
….and Anthony P….most of all.

Shaye

65. Michael Hall - June 16, 2007

It just wouldn’t be a third-season thread without Shaye’s defending yet another godawful episode. :-)

66. Robert Simmons A.K.A Vice Rear Admiral Nerd ( TOS Trek Purist / SFB Gaming Dude ) - June 16, 2007

I’m sorry people….as serious viewing this episode does not stack up against “Balance of Terror”, “The Doomsday Machine”, “Elaan of Troyius”, “Court Martial”, or “The Ultimate Computer”. With those episodes you had to pry me away from the tube. With this episode I have no problems going to the kitchen while it is still on….and staying in there a while while I eat. ( Same goes for Charlie X as far as I am concerned. I don’t like that some of the TOS Trek episodes qualify as …..”CRINGE FARE”….) The only way I can watch this episdoe is if I deliberately watch it through the prism of deliberate produced “Le Bad”.

But the episode is fun as a self lampooning excercise. Because I cringe at the thought if this episdoe was meant to be serious as a story.

67. THEETrekMaster - June 16, 2007

#64, sounds REALLY good! Can’t wait for “the show”…:-)

68. Dennis Bailey - June 16, 2007

#49: “Mr Bailey…I was one of the “official” Helpers at the first official Star Trek Conventions in the early 1970’s, and knew The Roddenberrys well enough to baby-sit young Rod, while Majel was giving a speech, and not to brag but even helped The good Captain himself, William Shatner, keep his cool (and Tupee on) when the insane screaming fans made a rush for him as he and we helped him make his escape to his suites upstairs above the ballroom at the old Commadore Hotel on 42,nd st. and Lexington in NYC!”

Remarkably enough, I don’t care . All of that doesn’t constitute “credentials” with respect to anything other than establishing your penchant for name-dropping as opposed to reasoning.

69. sharon fisher - June 16, 2007

#38: well, David Gerrold doesn’t mention it in either of his books, or his website, and everything I’ve read about the episode attributes it to Gene Coon.

70. jon1701 - June 17, 2007

I dont have any Star Trek credentials.

Spocks Brain still sucks balls though.

71. Dennis Bailey - June 17, 2007

Yes, Gene Coon wrote “Spock’s Brain.” “Lee Cronin” was Coon’s pen name.

72. Jim J (???) - June 17, 2007

What’s up with Exeter, Dennis? AM I wrong to ask?

73. Dennis Bailey - June 18, 2007

I hope to have something to report about “Exeter” in the next day or two – hopefully something *different* from the last several updates. ‘Twould be nice.

74. COMPASSIONATE GOD - June 18, 2007

“Spock’s Brain” was TOS’ Irwin Allen moment. Let’s be thankful the spirit of Mr. Allen’s creativity did not poison other episodes.

The remastered opening shot was horrible. The 1701 (once again) took on the appearance of a 1990′s video game element, the approach to the planet was a hopless mess of incorrect scale/movement , and again it makes one wonder what kind of low-rent FX “artists” are working on Remastered?

Heck, CBS Digital should take a look at a freaking 1980 approach shot of the X-Wing flying toward Dagobah from “The Empire Strikes Back!” Back in the model and matte painting days!! Somehow, ILM was able to capture the appearance of a solid object flying toward a planet!!

Oh, well..it is not as though i’m expecting anything great from Remastered anymore.

Best moment: the score during the invader’s arrival on the bridge. Beautiful piece.

75. the king in shreds and tatters - June 24, 2007

Dammit, I want more flippancy! Do not bow to the unwashed masses and their lust for boring reviews!

76. bluekatt - April 29, 2008

I am a bit bemused by the fact that Freigberger, as usual gets the blame for Spocks brain. And that nobody brings up the fact, that Freiberger had very little choice in the matter. Roddenberry distanced himself from season 3, after it had been given the death knel in the form of the friday night slot and budget cuts. Gene L Coon had a near mental break down and left, Justman followed soon after.
Freiberger and Justman were in a pinch, NBC was breathing down their necks to produce something. Anything and the first scripts that trickled in from the Roddenberry approved freelance writers, were Spocks Brain, Spectre of the Gun and Elyaan of Troyus. The first two, were approved by the creator and written by one of the writer \producers of the show. Freiberger was under the impression Coon knew the characters better then he did and forged ahead.
If Coon wrote Spock’s brain as a comedy story or a satrical bitter send off, pretty much telling NBC to shove it, nobody knows but Gene and gene is dead.
Obviously Spock’s brain didnt pan out very well, but what to do ? It was there, the script was done, they had to produce something. So it was produced, but its not Freibergers fault that NBC chose that particulair episode to start of season 3.

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