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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 4:02pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Watching just now on BBC America. Call it masochism.

This was the one the brought STAR TREK back to us, after a write-in campaign. Talk about disappointment! Some of the really bad points (noted before):

• Heavy handed scripting with hammy acting. (Supposedly, Gene Coon intended this as a comedy episode, but the 3rd Season had very little room for humor.)

• Third season music, which managed to make the hammery even hammier.

• Scotty's hair! Amazing that such a small thing would have such a big impact, but it did.

• Scotty's orgasmic reaction to "ion powerrrr".

• Constant repetition of almost ever point.

• For me, at least, the embarrassment of all conerned seemed almost tangible

• Spock pretty much a caricature

Things that were not so bad:

• Some interesting new angles on the Bridge

• The suit warmers in the standard uniforms. An economic dodge, obviously, but one I used in my own "ice age planet" story. (Had to remind the Keepers of Trek. Guess they can be forgiven for forgetting this episode.)

• The whole thing is reminiscent of WORLD WITHOUT END, one of my favorite B level sci-fi movies from the Fifties.

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Robin Taylor
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 4:29pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

It's hilarious to me in hindsight that I LOVED this episode as a child. I had barely seen Star Trek and it seemed cool. I also thought Bigfoot was the best part of the Six Million Dollar man so take that for what you will.

RT
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Eric Smearman
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 5:00pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Even as a kid I didn’t care for “Spock’s Brain”. But I loved “Let That Be
Your Last Battlefield “. Did I mention I was 6 or 7 when I started getting
into TREK?
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 8:36pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Interesting. I was also about 6 or 7 when I started watching Star Trek and this is one of the episodes that I remember vividly from that period. "Doomsday Machine" and "Galileo Seven" are the other ones. These three stuck with me. 
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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 10:20pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply


The best way I can describe "Spock's Brain" is that it feels like a dry-run from the Zucker, Abrahams & Zucker team, long before they made AIRPLANE!



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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 10:39pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

It could be argued that certain other episodes ("And The Children Shall Lead", "That Which Survives", etc.) are perhaps technically worse, but "Spock's Brain" is so memorably, cringe-inducingly bad that I often tend to think that it deserves the top...er...bottom spot.

The final moments, with Spock prattling on just after having his noggin put back together, McCoy saying that he should never have reconnected Spock's mouth, and Kirk jokingly using the Spock-control box to try and get Spock to shut up, are jaw-droppingly clumsy and bizarre.
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Ron Goad
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Posted: 05 January 2018 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

It does at least, have a few funny moments - okay - so, they weren't MEANT to be funny but...
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Andrew Saxon
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 3:40am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I know fans hold Spock's Brain to be the worst episode of Trek, but I remember how scared I was by this story, seeing it for the first time as a kid. It absolutely terrified me! Seriously, I had nightmares about coming down to breakfast and finding my parents slumped on the dinner table with their skulls open and brains missing. Because of that, I've never been able to entirely write off this story as other fans do.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 8:06am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It really is tough to watch, but if I convince myself that it's a comedy played straight by the cast it's bearable. I try to imagine the players cracking up after every "cut!".

...remote control Spock, what a gag!
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 10:19am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I would imagine they found almost nothing amusing about being stuck for the third year in a career dead-end, knowing the material they were required to play from then on would likely be of such low caliber. Shatner's still managing to have a little fun with it, but then Shatner could have fun anywhere.

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Brian Kirk
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 11:06am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

“Spock’s Brain” On Stage!
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Matthew Chartrand
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 11:40am | IP Logged | 12 post reply



 I wonder what this episode would be like with a sitcom laugh track added.
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Jonathan A. Dowdell
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 2:00pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Spock's Brain kind of fits into my current theory about the quality of Star Trek episodes.

The are great episodes, solid episodes, bad episodes with some good Star Trek moments (Spock's Brain, Tholian Wed) and bad episodes. 

I have not done the break down of each episode because I am scared to see how few of the 79 fall into great or solid?


Edited by Jonathan A. Dowdell on 06 January 2018 at 3:02pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 6:01pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Almost the whole first season and much of the second is great.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 6:22pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I discovered Star Trek in its early reruns... as a kid. I think those three words are key to my never quite being able to despise "Spock's Brain." Some forty-five plus years ago, I enjoyed it. So, even though as an adult I found that I agreed with all the criticisms brought up in this thread, ... still! (For me, as a tiny tot, I couldn't stand "The Paradise Syndrome" -- and that's never changed.)
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Eric Smearman
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 9:18pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I think “Turnabout Intruder” is worse.
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Ron Goad
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 10:36pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

"And The Children Shall Lead" - 'nough said...
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David Miller
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 10:58pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

"For The World Is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky" was very moving and affecting when I read James Blish's adaptation in my grandmother's house at age  six.
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Ron Goad
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Posted: 06 January 2018 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

That's not a horrible episode - not a great one but, watchable.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 4:07am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?" scared me senseless when I was four years old(the Kirk clone looked something like a mummy to me, when it was still in its 'whitish, clay-like' state, and that, coupled with the jarring grating buzz of the machinery, with Kirk writhing  and moaning as part of the process, made want to get the hell out of the room fast!)
Later, although I got over that  'fear of all things Trek',and watched the movies, my childlike heart had already been captured by 'Doctor Who', and 'Trek' was 'just another old show'.
That finally changed when I watched the Sci-Fi Channel's uncut showings of every episode(20 years ago!). I still found that sound effect annoying, but I nearly laughed remembering how scared I'd been of the whole scene just over that noise!
No, the episodes that stood out to my 'adult self' as stinkers were the already-mentioned 'Paradise Syndrome', and 'Miri'...both notorious examples of Shatner being a little too 'Shatner'.(Plus, damn 'Miri' and damn 'Bonk Bonk' on the damn head...make them stop...)

'Spock's Brain', and even the allegedly worse 'The Way to Eden', I find more than passable compared to the aforementioned space turds.
Finally, although 'Shore Leave' feels like a two-hour episode containing a one-hour and forty-five minute Kirk-vs. Finnegan the brain-damaged imaginary Irish 'boyo' showdown, the excessive length and overall stupidity of that sequence doesn't ruin the rest of the episode.
Nimoy's 'out of character' scenes as a love-struck Spock save the day. In fact, I tend to prefer episodes that deviate from Spock's normal behavior, and let Nimoy explore the character's usually-hidden sides.


Edited by Brian O'Neill on 07 January 2018 at 4:18am
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 8:47am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Futurama: "You know? 1966? 79 episodes, about 30 good ones."

Usually I can find elements to enjoy in most episodes, even those considered the worst. "The Way to Eden" is the closest thing this side of Mad Magazine to a Star Trek musical. It's also a dry run of sorts for Shatner's "Star Trek V." Picture Lawrence Luckinbill talking with a smiling George Takei; "You're young, brother! Think young!" Sulu: "You sure make it tempting..."

"And the Children Shall Lead" also serves as prologue for that misguided film with it's heavenly being who is not what he pretends to be and needs a starship to transport him away from his prison and out into the larger, more populous, galaxy. But the kids all do good work with bad material, including the always-charming Pamelyn Ferdin, who was ubiquitous on TV throughout the 60's and early 70's. And we get to really, really hate Christine Chapel who's decided that the death of a child's parents is an excellent occasion to pile on with ice-cream-lessons about "unpleasant surprises." What a sadistic b*tch.

"Paradise Syndrome" has Sabrina Scharf, lots of attractive outdoor photography, and a swell-looking obelisk. You can look at that thing and say, "Well, there's Season Three's entire budget, right there."

"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" has subtle, you should forgive the term, shadings in among the painfully obvious premise and script desperately in need of another draft or two. Or three or four. Plus, it's a wonderful celebration of Trek's often stage-conscious approach to setting and drama. Those guys are acting their hearts out there on-set in just greasepaint and leotards.

"Spock's Brain," having watched it again recently, is just... awful. But Kirk (okay, really just Shatner) playing with the remote control unit was funny and McCoy gets some good screen time. You really do feel Nimoy's pain, though, watching him robot-walk through the episode, wishing the show was dead, dead, dead in its grave. 

Watching some episodes recently, I do have a hard time with the compressed time frame in which so much of the action takes place. (another point in "The Paradise Syndrome's" favor. The similarly-themed "For the World Is Hollow..." literally takes place over the course of an afternoon, depending upon how long Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were unconscious. How long did McCoy's other marriage last, I wonder.)

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Shaun Barry
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 9:36am | IP Logged | 22 post reply


"Spock's Brain," as many have noted, is enjoyably bad.  For me, the standout Worst Episode of the 3rd season (and the entire series) is "The Lights of Zetar."

Now THAT one is all kinds of horrible, and deserves more scorn than "Spock's Brain," a goofy episode that probably has such a bad reputation because it was chosen to open the Third Season back in Sept. 1968.  Had it been buried, in viewing order, smack in the middle of the season, I wonder if it would get slagged as much as it does today.




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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 10:55am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I think "The Lights of Zetar" is forgettably bad, whereas episodes like "Spock's Brain" are memorably bad.

When it comes to picking the worst of anything, the general rule is "go big or go home". Bad episodes which are "meh" seem less deserving of the top spot than episodes which have unforgettably bad moments and ideas.
It's the stuff that aims high and lands low that we remember and criticize the most vividly, rather than the "meh" stuff.

In "Spock's Brain" alone, we have the discussion between Kirk and McCoy in sickbay ("His brain is gone!"), the pain-inducing belts (and the accompanying writhing of Kirk and crew), Kirk bizarrely dropping to his knees in supplication, Scotty randomly fake-passing-out so Kirk can grab the phaser from Kara, and Spock's disembodied brain directing his own surgery when McCoy starts to lose it. 

Lots of memorably bizarre and terrible moments, and lots of memorable quotes. An episode like "The Lights of Zetar" contains very little, in those areas. It's just dull, goofy, and forgettable.


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 07 January 2018 at 11:10am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:06am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I'll go with Greg's "memorable" over Shaun's "enjoyable". As one who was there for first broadcast, I found nothing "enjoyable" about the decline in quality represented by "Spock's Brain". And time had not improved anything.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 07 January 2018 at 11:09am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

No, the episodes that stood out to my 'adult self' as stinkers were the already-mentioned 'Paradise Syndrome', and 'Miri'...both notorious examples of Shatner being a little too 'Shatner'.(Plus, damn 'Miri' and damn 'Bonk Bonk' on the damn head...make them stop...)
++++++++

I'm fascinated by the fan responses to "Miri", as well as "I, Mudd". Many call "Miri" out as a bad episode, but I think it's quite good, for the most part. On the flipside, I can see why some wouldn't like "I, Mudd", but I personally don't consider it a bad episode. Not a favorite, but not bad, either.


For me, the bad episodes in the otherwise-stellar first season are "The Galileo Seven", "The Alternative Factor", and "Operation: Annihilate!", and even those still have good ideas, moments, and first season production values.

I consider the second season's only real clunker to be "Obsession" (which veers close to third-season levels of bad), followed in short order by the likes of "meh" episodes like "Catspaw", "The Apple", "I, Mudd", "Bread and Circuses", and Assignment: Earth". But those episodes have enough good elements in them that they're more dull and/or disappointing than they are "bad", for me.

As I have noted in the past, "bad" STAR TREK is kinda like bad pizza, and still tends to be very watchable. There are only a handful of episodes I don't have much of an interesting in rewatching. I only watch third season episodes if I run across them on TV, or when I give the entire series a run-though, every few years, and, even then, there are only a few that I don't look forward to seeing (like "The Lights of Zetar" and "The Empath").

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