Thursday, June 25, 2009

Star Trek--"Spock's Brain"

Were you dreading the beginning of the third season reviews? I admit I was. There is an incredible drop in quality between the second and third seasons, which is saying a lot considering the shoestring budget and recycling of plot elements that plqued the second season. The series was all but canceled after the second season. Much of the writing staff dispersed throughout Hollywood before a fan campaign won the show another season. The budget was reduced even further 9only two episodes have location shooting because of cost0 and Gene Roddenberry became executive producer in nme only after the show was given the 10 PM Friday night death slot.

The bright spots of the third season are fewandfar between, but admid the lackluster plots and minimalist sets, a few gems managed to shine. “Spock’s Brain” is not one of them. I will confess thereis a certain absurd fun to it that keeps me from saying it is the worst episode of TOS. It is not. I am not even certain I put it in the bottom five. There is a mocking entertainment value to it. The best way I can think to describe it is I feel this episode is what most other fans think “The Trouble with Tribbles” is. You may make preparations to burn me at the stake for blasphemy now, if you deem it necessary.

The idea behind the plot is a good one. It was already established in “Amok Time” Spock’s service in Starfleet has made him a legend. It makes sense someone would think his brain would be something highly prized. Now, from the vantage point of 2009, the plot would have been better served twenty years later if someone had stolen Data on TNG in order to run their planet, but we have to work with what we have. What we have is an amusing mess.

The Enterprise discovers a ship being propelled by ion drive. A woman appearson the bridge, renders thecrew unconscious, seeks out Spock, and places her hand on his forehead. When thecrewawaken, they discover Spock in sickbay, brainless and on life support. McCoy explains they have 24 hours in order to restore Spock’s brain even though he has no clue how to transplant a brain in the first place. Presumably he is counting on cooperation from the thieves or beginner’s luck on his part.

They follow an ion trail to a system with a handful of planets. There are only eight hours lwft to save Spock, so they can only search one planet thoroughly. Energy readings from the most primitive planet make it the most likely place to search. The landing party is ambushed by primitive men called Morg. They subdue the Morg, who declare there is a big difference between the landing party and the hot, half naked, but brainless babes below who cause pain and delight. Back in college, we called those Alpha Delta Phi or Chi Omega, if you were fortunate enough to snag one. The morg do not seem to know what women are. There isno fraternity equivalent I can joke about there, sorry.

Chekov discovers an underground city with his piddling tricorder the Enterprise Sensors were unable to pick up from space. How did that happen? McCoy subsequently beams down with Spock as the coolest remote controlled toy ever. Seriously, after you have jerked a Vulcan around, model planes are trite. Our heroes discover the underground city is populated by hot babes with the minds of children, thereby reinforcing my Alpha Delta Phi analogy.Our heroes are knocked out. When they revive, they discover they have been fitted with pain belts. Kirk wants answers, but the best he gets is, ’Brain, brain. What is brain?” I am sorry, but around two AM in Five Points back in the day, that is about the best an Alpha Delta Phi could manage, too.

They eventually incapacitate their guards and discover Spock’s brain has become the central controller of the planet. He quips that, while he would trust McCoy to pull a splinter out, he would not trust him to put his brain back in. They should have left the ingrate right then and there. Loyalty trumps lack of faith as it should, I supoose. They eventually find spock’s brain in a black case, but one of the childlike hot babes is guarding it. She activate their pain belts, but Kirk uses remote controlled Spock in order to shut them off.After a minor struggle to subdue the girls, they learn there is a helmet that provides temporary knowledge necessary to perform complicated tasks. McCoy uses it to learn how to restore Spock’sbrain. When he has the knowledge, he remarks a child could do it. Well, duh. A child did do it. More or less, at any rate. The woman only had to touch Spock’s head. McCoy actually had to perform surgery. But it is always easier to break than repair, so I will let it slide.

There is a incidental explanation how the retrograde civilzation came to be with the genders split, but who cars at this point? We lost most of the audience back at Spock’s brain having been stolen without the most obvious esults like, um, him being dead and all. Bad episode, yes, but like a horrible car crash you cannot look away from.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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