I have been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. To my delight, this has turned out to be something my 14 year old daughter and I enjoy together. The older she gets the less time we can spend together. So I look for, and take advantage of, every opportunity as they present themselves. One episode that has been especially helpful is “Spock’s Brain”. It is a 60’s reject that has brought us closer together. Who knew?
For those of you who may not have seen it, Spock’s Brain has got to be the all time worst episode ever made. It was written by Gene Coons and Directed by Mark Daniels. It's the first episode of the third season. In his book, I Am Spock, Leonard Nimoy writes: "Frankly during the entire shooting of that episode, I was embarrassed - a feeling that overcame me many times during the final season of Star Trek."2 William Shatner called this, one of the series' worst episodes, calling the plot a "tribute" to NBC executives who slashed the show's budget and placed it in a bad time slot.2
In Spock’s Brain, Spock's brain gets stolen by a female alien who needs it to run a computer on her home planet. The plot revolves around Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy getting it back. I was surprise to learn that Vulcans are like chickens, they do not need a brain to live. Seeing Spock moving by remote control was unbearable to watch. They even added a “clicking noise” when he walked to make him sound robotic.
I was surprised when my daughter asked me to watch it with her. I must admit, I originally put up resistance. However, when opportunity knocks, we are supposed to open the door. I was so glad I did. The two of us laughed our heads off. I have never had so much fun being shocked by a horrible plot line and ridiculous dialog. Spock’s Brain is a must watch, only if, you have someone with you who is quick witted and enjoys being cynical and sarcastic. I have found teenagers have these attributes in abundance.
Afterwards some of the dialog kept us laughing and rolling our eyes for several days. The funniest line in the whole show was immortalized by Dr. McCoy. Captain Kirk is called to the sick bay. He gets there and sees Spock on the table and wants to know what happened. Kirk asks if Spock is dead. It is here that McCoy utters those immortal words that will go down in the annals of diagnostic history.
“He's worse then dead Jim! His brain is gone!”
The second worst line is uttered by Captain Kirk. It comes from the same scene, and is his response to the devastating news. It is clear that something must be done and Kirk is going do it! You may ask, what is there to do, isn’t too late? Hasn’t the deadly deed been done? Surely Spock is a goner. The audience believes all is lost until Kirk says;
“We’ll have to take him (Spock) with us!”
Then Dr. McCoy, with a look of confusion and southern skepticism, communicates our thoughts for us: “Take him where?” To which Kirk responds,
“In search of Spock’s brain!”
I know, I too was shocked into silence. However, my daughter had no problem finding her tongue. She laughed uproariously, declaring “Oh Snap!” and then she hid her face in the palm of her hand and said in a way only a teenager can, “Face Palm!”
Personally, I think Dr. McCoy’s next line should have been, “While you’re at it, see if you can find Coon’s and Daniel’s’ brains as well. Kirk’s line is especially funny when you consider that Leonard Nimoy (Spock), went on to host the television documentary series called, In Search Of….
In the end, you have to give the cast and crew a big thumbs up. They managed to pull off an impossible script. Despite this episode’s flop, it managed to win its way into my heart. I will forever remember my daughter's reactions and the fun we had laughing together. I posted on her Facebook page the next day “Where are you going?” She promptly replied, “In search of Spock’s Brain!”
Thanks Spock, I owe you one.
1.Nimoy, Leonard (1995). I am Spock. p.115.
2.Shatner, William (date unknown). Star Trek: Memories. Memoir and Shatner, William (date unknown). Up Till Now. Full general autobiography.