Star Trek: The Original Series

"Spock's Brain"

0.5 stars

Air date: 9/20/1968
Written by Lee Cronin
Directed by Marc Daniels

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A woman steals Spock's brain for use as a utilities regulator on her home planet, leading Kirk and crew to go on a mission to retrieve it. Yes.

How or why she came about choosing Spock's brain is as unknown as why this episode was ever produced in the first place. Possibly the dumbest episode in the entire Trek canon, "Spock's Brain's" sole saving grace is the fact that it's so bad it's downright funny. The unintentional hilarity of this episode almost makes it worth experiencing, simply so you can shake your head and laugh in disbelief.

What on Earth was Gene Coon (entering this under his pen name) thinking? The plot is beyond hopeless and utterly nonsensical; the performances are beaming in from another galaxy; and the jokes fail to be funny while the (apparently) serious moments cause unrestrained laughter.

My snickering continued throughout the episode, occasionally peaking at the many moments when Kirk demands in desperation, "What have you done with Spock's brain?!" Before long, the very words "Spock's brain" become laughable. Perhaps even Marc Daniels couldn't take this remotely seriously, having seemed to direct it with all the cheesiness the story is worthy of. The epitome of bad science fiction.

Previous episode: Assignment: Earth
Next episode: The Enterprise Incident

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80 comments on this post

Daniel L.
Sat, Jan 10, 2009, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
"When the facts become legend, print the legend," the old proverb goes. NBC's refusal to reach an agreement with Gene Roddenberry over what day and time the third season episodes would air resulted in Roddenberry, for all intents and purposes, leaving the show; no longer was he concerned with the day-to-day details.
After NBC called his bluff (Roddenberry threatened to "quit" in the manner described if the time slot were not changed from FRIDAY AT 10 P.M. for frakkin' crying out loud!), Roddenberry became increasingly bitter toward the studio and even toward the man whom NBC picked as the 3rd season showrunner, Fred Freiberger.

Folks talk about Star Trek's "legendary" bad third season. This legend is just that - a legend - because there are just enough very unfortunate facts out there to allow tbe uninitiated to come to the incorrect conclusion that the season was horrible.
These facts include the existence of "Spock's Brain," "And the Children Shall Lead," and "The Way to Eden," a three-course turkey dinner if ever there were one. Further facts include the existence of extraordinarily wanly executed premises ("That Which Survives," "The Savage Curtain"); premises which were rather dopey to begin with. And finally, the season contained episodes that had some intriguing high-concept ideas that were presented in a rather pedestrian/obvious manner ("Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," "The Mark of Gideon," "The Paradise Syndrome," "Is There In Truth No Beauty," "For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky," "Wink of an Eye").

The facts that remain, though, include:
1. The season contains several solid to excellent episodes, most notably "The Enterprise Incident," "Spectre of the Gun," "The Day of the Dove," "The Empath," "The Tholian Web," and "All Our Yesterdays" (can't agree with Jammer about "Plato's Stepchildren" and "The Cloudminders"; they're both guilty pleasures, but not three-star episodes. "Requiem for Methuselah" is a semi-guilty pleasure that I would not rate quite as favorably either. And let's just say that "Turnabout Intruder" is an acquired taste. It's one I acquired long ago, but one that many fans, understandably have not).
2. As is well-documented in Inside Star Trek, authored by the late Herb Solow and the recently deceased Robert Justman (NBC executive in charge of production and show producer, respectively), the show, in its third season, had its budget drastically reduced, suffered waves of departures of talented individuals in the special effects, makeup, lighting and editing departments, and, as per NBC edict, was forced to churn out episodes with a full day's less shooting time than it had been given in the previous season.
Therefore, given the extraordinary circumstances under which the individuals who toiled to make what is the third season of Star Trek, the season as a whole is far from the nightmare that people assume/hold as an article of faith that it was.

Of course, this assumption is necessary for an even greater legend to be maintained: that Star Trek, a show that was "rendered virtually unwatchable" in its third year, was cancelled, only to be discovered in syndication, where it gained a wordlwide following, spawning an animated TV show, a motion picture, etc....

The myth sounds more enchanting to hear, but the facts are actually more interesting, if one actually is willing to accept and recognize them.
Tue, Feb 3, 2009, 10:36am (UTC -5)
I agree on the most part with Daniel. On the other hand, a lack of funding is no excuse for bad storytelling, and there is a lot of that in the third season.

And on a side note: I just watched "Spock's Brain" and the part where Scotty suddenly "faints" to give Kirk the chance to overpower the woman with the pistol is so dumb it ends up as one of the funniest moments in TOS history.
Thu, May 28, 2009, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
Brain and Brain - What Is BRAIN! I agree this episode was SO bad that it was funny! I would LOVE to see what those characters from Myster Science Theatre 2000 would do to this episode...
John Pate
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Spock's Brain - why does everyone diss it so much? It worked well for me when I was a kid back in the seventies and, for all its faults, it's highly entertaining. Sexy alien woman steals Spock's brain - how could it be wrong!

The Empath - great performances from everyone, a real old school sci fi story aliens vs humans trope, and the staging was genius.
Turnabout Intruder - hysterically funny performance from the Shat and, again, thoroughly entertaining.
Mon, Dec 14, 2009, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
As silly as "Spock's Brain" is, I do think there are some redeeming values to it. I like the concept of "The Teacher" as well as the early conversation on the bridge as the crew admires and investigates the mysterious ion powered ship. But the standout scene to me, which I think goes unacknowledged is the scene on the bridge where Kirk consults with Sulu, Chekov and Uhura as to which of the 3 M-class planets to investigate. It is not often we see Kirk consult with these characters and it's great that all three of them contribute ideas, theories and reasons for their choices. It's a logical, reasonable scene of investigation and I also appreciate the fact that Uhura asks the forgotten question "Why did they take Spock's brain? What was the purpose?" It reminds me of the conclusion to "Bread and Circuses" where it is Uhura who deciphers the meaning of "Son" to the Big Three. Sulu moments are so rare that they all stand out, so to see him actively conversing is a pleasure, as well as Takei getting to record his one captain's log of the series. When I first saw STVI in the theaters, I was upset that Sulu wasn't on the Enterprise with the rest of the crew. It just didn't feel right having him apart from the other regulars. But after many rewatchings it makes perfect sense for Sulu to have been promoted by that time and to see his obvious admiration of the Excelsior at the end of STIV, it felt right that he become the next commanding officer for that starship. At any rate, yes, "Spock's Brain" is silly, but it is fun and the bridge scene with K, S, C and U is a well done dramatic scene which doesn't get the respect it deserves (in my opinion).
Thu, Jul 15, 2010, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
I don't think Spock's Brain was the best, but it certainly wasn't the worst, as indicated. The ratings for Plato's Stepchildren, Mark of Gideon, and Cloudminders were really overstated!!!
The Flaming Nose TV Blog
Fri, Oct 15, 2010, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
One thing that never changed during Star Trek is the high quality guest stars in the episodes. Season Three had so many -- Jeff Corey, Michael Dunn, Mariette Hartley, Ian Wolfe, Kate Woodville, Lee Meriwether, Kathie Brown, Jason Evers, James Daly, Skip Homeier, Steve Ihnat, Frank Gorshin and more -- that any episode here is well worth watching for that fact alone. 3rd Season TOS seems more two-dimensional somehow, probably reflecting the more limited budgets, but as another commenter noted, the cast always did their best despite script inconsistencies and with the clock running out for them.
Sun, Nov 28, 2010, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
I never thought "The Way to Eden" was as bad as most, and "Spock's Brain" is extremely entertaining because it's simply laughable. "And the Children Shall Lead," on the other hand, is the worst episode of the series and "The Lights of Zetar" isn't far behind.

The third season just isn't as daring as the first or second year. There's no improvement from the previous years -- whereas TNG and (arguably) DS9 got better after the first two seasons.

TOS season three is a lot like VOY -- nothing interesting to say in a larger sense, some good one-off episodes, bad continuity and a ton of clunkers.

But my opinion is weird. I'd watch ENT and bad TOS before most of VOY.
Mike Meares
Sun, Jan 23, 2011, 12:11am (UTC -5)
Leanord Nimoy is quoted as saying about the The Third Season of Star Trek that it was "very weak in general, but it was especially not good for Spock." That was an understatement!

At the start of the Third Season after Gene Roddenberry left the show for all intents and purpose most of the writing staff had also leftthe show. Fred Freiberger took over as producer, with Arthur Singer replacing D.C. Fontana as script consultant. According to Fontana, Singer came to the set one day, and asked "By the way, what does that transporter thing do again?" And people wonder why the scripts were so poor?

Robert Justman, who desevered to be given the Producers job was promoted to co-producer, but left the series after "That Which Survives". Gregg Peters became the new associate producer. This was another reason the stories were weak.

A most important change was the leave of cinematographer Jerry Finnerman after "The Empath", and his replacement with his former camera operator, Al Francis, which affected the visual style of the series. The overall look and feel of the show changed dramatically and this was the reason.

Probably not a big deal to some people but it bothered me a lot was the look of the uniforms in the Third Season. The uniforms were no longer made of velour (which shrank every time it was cleaned), but of double-knit polyester.

I don't own the DVD for the Third Season and never will. To me it is not Star Trek but a weak subsitute. Star Trek will always live for me in the First Two Seasons. The people behind the camera and in front of the camera were the best people to ever work in TV.

When people say the Third Season was "pretty good" I am reminded of what Spock once said, "I refuse to stand here and be instulted."
Sat, May 18, 2013, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
I watched this episode recently--having heard of its reputation but never having seen it. I posted this brief review on my Facebook page:

So while many other Star Trek fans were gearing up to watch "Star Trek Into Darkness" (which sounds like an awesome movie--can't wait to see it!), instead, I finished watching the notoriously bad episode "Spock's Brain." Three thoughts:

1) Yeah. It's bad. Really bad. Plays out like a *parody* of Star Trek rather than the genuine article. The plot doesn't stand up to close scrutiny--in fact, it doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny.

2) But still--REMOTE-CONTROLLED SPOCK?? Wow, that's almost as cool as Park and Rec's DJ Roomba!

3) Nevertheless, the episode is much much better than bad Voyager or Enterprise (which is unfortunately too large a percentage of those shows). It's over-the-top campy, and I think it was meant to be taken that way. My sense is that neither the director nor the actors (particularly Shatner) didn't buy the premise, so they just hammed it up. As bad as it is--it's one of those things that's so bad I actually rather enjoyed watching it.

I'd also add that I agree with the comment above by Jeffrey that the bridge scene is a highlight of the show--almost TNG-like in its problem-solving approach. A nice touch in an otherwise rather embarrassing episode.
Nick P.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 11:30am (UTC -5)
Funny thing about this episode, I hated the bridge scene between Kirk, Uhura, Checkov, and Sulu....It was too dignified for this schlock! I had heard the reputation fo this episode before I saw it for the 1st time a couple years ago, and that very well done bridge scene had me thinking Netflix had skipped to a good episode. But I didn't need to worry, once they got to the planet it got stupid again!!!
Thu, Aug 1, 2013, 12:17am (UTC -5)
I actually have always really liked this episode. Already when I first saw this, long before internet, or reading any bad reviews for this I ranked it among my favorites.

I was impressed with the unusual story for being so different and shocking, the acting (Kelley) and the memorable alien woman and her planet, the little we get to see of it. And beside Scotty collapse scene LOL, this episode did not make me laugh as I generally only watch SciFi show for the entertainment and the story, not to debate is it technically possible to do this or that with the brain.. or the tricorder or the warp engine.

I also found many Voyager episodes exciting due to the risk factor i.e that they were willing to risk it and try things like "Twisted", "Tuvix" or "Threshold". While by no easy means realistic or believable these shows do offer something others don't!

I have seen Spock's Brain well over 50 times over the decades and it was very good episode from the start. When the first VHS releases came out it was among my most re-watched eps. It should be watched disregarding all the "is this possible" speculation and leave it at that.

Spock's Brain: 4 out of 4.
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 4:06am (UTC -5)
The direction of this episode is positively hilarious. Granted it's a stupid premise, but they could have done something with it if a single person on the cast or crew had taken it seriously. My favorite bad direction is the dramatic surgery scene where McCoy looks like he's possessed. My favorite bad line is Chekov's Captain Obvious line in the cave when he says something like "If they capture the creatures, they'll capture us too!" There were several instances where I saw an actor crack a smile. In every case it was subtle and nicely contained but they were unmistakably holding back laughter. Definitely the bestworst episode.
Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 12:56am (UTC -5)
I have seen this episode at least 10 times (I grew up in the 70's, Star Trek was on every single day!) and while I thought it was a bit silly, this one is one of my favorites. You see, I liked it well before I found out it was supposed to be bad :)! Despite the premise, I thought it boiled down to Kirk and the crew trying to find and save their friend. Anyone that is a TOS fan thought of this episode when they saw the Matrix, in fact, all through medical school I wish I had a device like the "Teacher". 3 stars on my list.
Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
It's a shame Gene left. Despite upsetting many writers he did a pretty good job polishing episodes and a lot of these episodes could had been saved with the proper polish by Gene and his team.
Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
@stallion: Coon or Roddenberry? 'Cause Gene Coon was largely responsible for shaping the writing up to Season 3, so you can understand why, with this episode, he flipped the finger on his way out the door.
Wed, Apr 23, 2014, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
I meant roddenberry. This episode would had been better if they said spock's conscioness got stolen and uploaded to a computer instead of his brain. Also drop robotic spock. I like the character interraction to this episode.
Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 10:52am (UTC -5)
Awful, yet charming. Cheesy, but certainly not without some tasty bits. I can't help chuckling over a (arguably more fitting) "robot Spock reaches Kara's wristband scene" where Kirk has our brainless Vulcan repeatedly bumping into walls and crashing into furniture for over an hour before finally reaching her. And why in the world was Spock's actual brain never shown? Imagine the impact had they suspended it in a clear bucket of green biogel with a couple of sparking FIOS leads attached? Oh well. For some of us it is way too late to rate 'Spock's Brain' a clunker... there are too many decades between the boy who treasured it and the man who enjoys living on the M-class planet of denial where all TOS is concerned. Perhaps someone should take a sonic separator to MY brain.
Fri, May 2, 2014, 10:22am (UTC -5)
Not THE worst TOS episode :
-at least we DONT get the hated Yet Oneother Earth [TM]
-And we actually visit a ALIEN planet, and get to see an ALIEN ship (does happen far to less too)

but makes the same mistakes like
-All aliens speak english (-> universal translators anyone?)
-All aliens look like humans [TM]

The central plot : supercoputer use a brain for it's CPU, needs replacement part, spocks brain is taken as replacement part, while corky, stands.

Though there are massive plotholes as well :
*the ion ship should be parked somewhere.. they don't at least try to learn SOME things from this knowledge but just leave?
*Should a system build like this, not insist on education, whats the point of building a repository of knowledge without the ability to do something with it?
*Why would in any appocalips, a society force all the man out in the open and all the woman down in the "safehouse", very chivaldry, not very logically, one might want to preserve the spiecies?
*They don't know what man are, yet there ARE man walking around IN the woman base?
*etc etc etc..

But I guess what bothers me most is that they are just totally ok, to destroy a MASSIVE leap in science, just to save 1 man's life. AND doom a complete civilization in the process.
This is one of these cases where I would have called the shot, to trade spocks life, for unlimited acces to all this knowledge.. progress has it's price, and this one was a bargain, not taking it and ruining this option forever should have gotten jim shot, or at the very least courtmarshaled and cast out of starfleet.
Thu, May 15, 2014, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
I sat down to watch this having seen all the hype about this being one of, if not the, worst episode of Star Trek. By the end of the episode, I was left thinking: "What's the big deal? This wasn't that bad."

Certainly wasn't one of the best episodes, but I really don't see why it has received so much ire.

Sure there are major suspensions of disbelief, but I'd argue the ones required in this episode are no worse than those in MANY other episodes of Star Trek.

For example, I'll say I was way more annoyed with The Omega Glory than I was with this episode.

On the positive side:
+The concept of a society who relies so much on the technology of its ancestors that its own technical skills have atrophied is a good sci-fi topic. I think there was a TNG episode that touched on this idea.
+The remote-control Spock was just a fun gimmick.
+The "Teacher" helmet was also a fun, fine concept, not unlike the "I know Kung Fu" instant-learning capability in the Matrix.

Anyway, my opinion: this is a decent middle-of-the road episode of Star Trek. Not the greatest, but CERTAINLY not the worst either.
Mon, May 19, 2014, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Agreed, dgalvan. The remote-controlled Spock was pretty terrible -- as was the fact that his hair didn't change despite having two surgeries that would have opened his skull.

There's also some TOS-era sexism when Kirk, Scotty and Bones are asking to talk to the community's leader. But, that wasn't anything we didn't see in a bunch of other episodes.

All that said, I'll rewatch "Spock's Brain". Getting through "And the Children Shall Lead", "The Alternative Factor" and "The Lights of Zetar"? That's something else.
Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 6:30am (UTC -5)
I am always reminded of Einstein's conserved brain.
William B
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
"Dammit Smithers! This isn't rocket science! It's brain surgery!" -C.M. Burns, The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror II"

"Brain and brain! What is BRAIN?" -Kara, Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain"

"Can you PROVE it didn't happen?" -Criswell, Plan 9 From Outer Space

I actually thought I was prepared to rewatch this! I saw it once as a kid (I've seen every TOS episode at least once -- and this was *not* one of the few I'd rewatched). I remembered the tick-tick-tick of Spock slowly walking about, the episode's glacial pace once they get to the glacial planet, the endless goofy jokes which fail completely, the extreme close-up of McCoy's sweaty face when he suddenly "forgets" how to do brain surgery. And then, somehow, the episode just outdid itself with Kirk's log entry where he mentions that they have now placed priority on reconnecting Spock's vocal chords so that Spock can help with the surgery! I guess it's bizarre to find *this* more overtly ridiculous than the rest of the episode up until now, but something about that just pushed it over the edge.

I will say in the episode's defense that its anti-logic is so bizarre that it kind of loops around to dream-logic -- it has the same magnetic appeal, particularly toward the end, that an Ed Wood movie has, a kind of jolt that *this is actually happening*. The episode's various "ideas" forming the basis of the "plot" suggest some kind of dark fairy tale (or, maybe, dork fairy tale). The episode steals from ghoul body-snatcher stories (like Frankenstein), but the biggest influence seems to be the (excellent) Forbidden Planet, which according to the Wikipedia article for that film was an influence on Star Trek (it's kind of obvious that it was), which also includes a long elevator ride into a high-tech area below the surface in which there is a device that leads to radical (and dangerous) brain boosts. This episode's (presumably accidental? subconscious?) subtext is something about having to split mind and body apart, use lots and lots brain power in order to run a society that keeps the sexual energies of men and women from expression out of a futile effort to control, turning women into idiots and men into brutes and idiots...I guess? I mean, I don't even know what the hell was going on here, this episode defies rational explanation or interpretation.

0.5 stars, yeah, but wow.
Sun, Dec 28, 2014, 12:24am (UTC -5)
I would rate this episode a lot higher. Why? Because it's watchable, and in fact far more watchable than many OS episodes, including Assignment Earth, which Jammer rated at 2 1/2 stars.
Tue, Feb 3, 2015, 12:32am (UTC -5)
"Brain and brain, what is brain?" is to this episode what "You're a f***ing CHOIR BOY compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!" is to the Arnold movie End of Days - i.e. an unintentionally funny line going down as a classic for all the wrong reasons in the midst of utter dreck.

The novelization scrapped the remote-controlled Spock, which I think speaks volumes about just how stupid that idea was.

And I'm out. Zero stars.
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Spock's brain, wish I had it to regulate my utilities the brain could probably make it so I didn't have to pay any utility bills for awhile! Yea for brain and brain. What is brain!!!
Dave in NC
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
This episode is supposed to be funny, right? It has to be . . . the produces sand actors could not possibly be naive enough to expect viewers to take this tripe seriously.

A diverting amusement, only marred by the almost glacial speed which the such-as-it-is plot unfolds and bland-for-TOS musical score.

As a comedy, I give it

** ½
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Read somewhere that "Spock's Brain" was intended to be a comedic episode, but "the powers that be" didn't want to do any more Funny Trek. So "Brain" was rewritten. If that's the case, the rewrite was ... not comprehensive.
Fri, Mar 27, 2015, 11:43am (UTC -5)
This is probably one of those episodes that seemed good on paper to the producers (although I can't imagine why), but ended up oh so bad on the screen. I mean, to open your 3rd season, which the fans fought for, with this terrible story is an embarrassment to the franchise. As for the excuse they were on a tight budget, bull! Look at the STNG episode "The Measure of a Man". That was probably super cheap to produce, but it's one of the best episodes across all of Star Trek. You don't need aliens, phasers, ships blowing up, and worm holes to tell a good story.
Mon, Aug 3, 2015, 10:47am (UTC -5)
Watching Trek requires so much suspension of disbelief I found this episode tolerable, though obviously not plausible, but then again nothing on Trek is. It has been quite some time since I've seen it, but I thought I'd mention something in a similar vein that actually works. 2011's movie called "Source Code" [spoilers follow] about a soldier so brutally wounded that only his brain and brain stem survive. Goverment scientists are able to hook it up and keep him alive as a way to find a bomb on a train.
Tue, Aug 4, 2015, 1:36am (UTC -5)
Probably the second worst story of the series. But I agree with some of the commenters that it has some redeeming value for its unintentional humor. A bad episode but not a total waste like And The Children Shall Lead.
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 2:25am (UTC -5)
With which eyes should you watch any Star Trek? With those that you scientifically analyses the world or the ones that amuses you?

I chose the second one and found this, very ridiculous story, really enjoying. Yes I am a man who can survive and even enjoy the antiquated sexism in the story.
Tue, Jul 26, 2016, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Agreed w/ Tornado. So bad on so many levels... and yet like John Pate I remember watching this episode as a kid (freaked me out Spock talking McCoy through his own surgery!) so I wanted to revisit it. Random analogy: as a sports super-star occasionally has mediocre games and slumps - so does a great franchise like ST, at times, falter.
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
As bad as this episode is --- and it IS BAD --- it does have the quality of remaining in one's "brain" long after episodes like "The Cloud Minders" or "That Witch Survives" have long faded due to their complete banality.
Tue, Sep 20, 2016, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Not a good episode, but certainly not the worst. It was watchable, unlike the episode before it.

I was kind of interested in how the male/female separated society worked and came to be, but the episode didn't care and used it for a joke that fell flat on its face. (Why was Spock so excited about it, anyway? I mean, it couldn't have been /that/ interesting.)

Reminds me of an episode of He-man where a similar society is used to teach the lesson "sexism is wrong", except that episode was actually good. Gotta love He-man.

How is Spock's body still alive when they even took out the lower brain functions that run it? Why were the aliens nice enough to drop his body off at sickbay after stealing the brain? Surely they knew the Enterprise didn't have the technology to restore him. Whatever.

The remote-controlled dead body. Why. I guess it gets points for making me uncomfortable though, what with Kirk constantly looking at and trying to talk to it when Spock was on the communicator, and the constant close-ups of its not-reactions. It was so hokey though, did they expect us to take this episode seriously or not? If they had really been going for humor then they should have made it crashing into walls and stuff.

The brain surgery was painful to sit through, I was sure they'd mess it up for the sake of "humor" and we'd get stuck with a retarded Spock for the rest of the series. (Lucky me, Status Quo is God in this show.) Also why didn't they just use the "learner" on one of the other crew members down there or beam down another doctor to use it on? Spock helping them do brain surgery on himself? Really? They could have brought down Dr. M'Benga or whatever, the guy who interned in a Vulcan ward.

Spock's haircut already reminded me of Frankenstein's monster (movie version(, now we get FrankenSpock.
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
I've been reading these reviews, and comments, off and on, for a few years now. Very enjoyable reading. I began watching Star Trek in elementary school, early 1970s. Even as a child, I knew this wasn't a good episode. As a youngster, I liked the friendship of the main three most of all. I also really wanted to be a crew member on the Enterprise. I had a vivid imagination.

I know Gene Coon wrote this episode. I don't believe he would have submitted a script this bad. I believe the damage was done after submission. Fantastically bad episode, however I admit that I still rewatch it.
Tue, Apr 4, 2017, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
While I don't think this is a great episode, I don't think it is as bad as most people say.

Basically, this is a B-movie. There is nothing wrong with a B-movie as such, but when people watch Star Trek, they are not expecting mindless entertainment. They are expecting thought-provoking science fiction, raising moral, philosophical, and ethical issues. However, at least Spock's Brain is a good B-Movie, unlike And the Children Shall Lead, The Way to Eden, and the Turnabout Intruder. Those episodes don't even work as B movies. Spock's Brain is extremely silly, but at least it is funny and is still entertaining.
Tue, Apr 4, 2017, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
If you want a so bad its funny episode of the original series, I'd suggest this one.
2.5 stars
Betty Taylor
Sat, May 6, 2017, 3:47am (UTC -5)
I have really got to sat I love these comments.

Pay attention, people: the reason the younger folks do get this treating women like crap and idiots it because even in the 1960's a girl, woman, grandmas and aunts etc lived under the taboo that good girls did not have sex until they married. People pretended that there was no such thing as fornication except in the Bible. Of course there was and a lot of girls wore their satin white wedding gowns down the aisles of said churches from three months pregnant on.

It was this way in Hollywood, if the female wanted to be in a movie or tv show, put out, biatch or no go. A few short months as the 1960's petered out, couples began to "shack up" and have illegitimate children. Soon it was the norm to be that open and in so many ways our culture is better off. You have no idea how bad it was and be glad you will never know.

With this ep I like it. I've been watching Star Trek since it began in the'60's.

I get a kick out of Spock being brainless and the hold back the laughter when everyone runs into Sick Bay and just look at Kirk's face as he does not crack.....this is precious!

Peter G.
Thu, May 18, 2017, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this one again for the first time in a long time and you know what, I think it's really good. It's not nearly as corny as everyone claims, maybe it's mass hysteria over the meme of it being the worst episode. The group discussion on the bridge is outstanding, as others have pointed out. The scene of McCoy doing surgery and then losing the knowledge is also excellent, as is the moment when we realize that it's not a question of *who* the crew speak to, but rather of someone temporarily acquiring the knowledge to answer their questions. It's a cool sci-fi answer to the question of how to allow a people to remain emotionally immature while yet being able to take care of their civilization. Overall it's one of the heavier sci-fi episodes in the series, dealing with various concepts all at once.

There are definitely two awkward scenes in the episode, one of which is when the crew fight their captors to escape (although in fairness this one was clearly designed to be cute rather than exciting) and the other is when Kirk keeps insisting to the leader "But you MUST restore Spock!!!" Maybe after the third or fourth time repeating himself the writers might have had him change tactics, since obviously the logic was unassailable that they were going to value 10,000 years of saving their civilization compared to giving back one crew member. In fact, the issue there, which is underplayed and which Kirk is rather flippant about at the end, is very interesting even compared to other TOS episodes, which is the notion that it's better for an entire civilization to fall rather than to have it continue at the expense of individual rights. This was an especially crazy message to put out there during the Cold War, and even to this day is a striking message to hear when all the rage is to suspend freedoms for the sake of "security". Kirk would seem to claim that if the society in question needs to sacrifice people on its alter in order to survive then it is faulty and should die instead until people are ready to build a free society that respects all life. In a way it's good the episode didn't explicate this point further because it might have ended up sounding preachy, and perhaps too subversive. It was better left subtle.

I also really liked Spock speaking as the Controller, and then when he was returned to his body, sounding almost full of pride as he recounted what he had learned. It must has satisfied his Vulcan ego (sorry, his Vulcan intellect) to have been chosen as the perfect CPU for an entire civilization. Perhaps most interesting of all is that while his personality was intact while in the computer interface, it seemed to be his subconscious processing power that was being used since his conscious mind didn't have control over the functions of the complex. This is, as far as I understand it, what the original premise of The Matrix was supposed to be - that human brains would be used in network as the processors for the machine world. The producers apparently intervened because they thought that was too esoteric, but here we have that same premise in the "worst episode" of Star Trek.

No, on the contrary, this is a good one. I'll stand by that.
Wed, May 31, 2017, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
This is really well written. A stellar acting performance too. I was apprehensive going into this after all the bad reviews, but I am glad to say they are all unfounded. This episode makes up for Sub Rosa in every way.

Well done!
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
"Brain and brain, what is brain?"

My wife (of nearly 40 years) still, and strategically, uses that line on me today when our opinions about something seemingly important are at an impasse and my frustration with my ability to "convince her" has become visible.

She never fails to crack me up and defuse the situation with that line. I do love her so. :)

So here's to one of the worst TOS episodes ever, but one that has helped keep my marriage intact for decades!
Fri, Aug 4, 2017, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
For me, "Spock's Brain" is the worst episode of 60s Trek. I don't think it was intended as a comedy although there is the comedic moment at the end with Spock rambling on about what happened on the planet -- I would actually like to know that!

Anyhow, the premise is just ridiculous -- it is basically sci-fi gone wrong. The only thing I liked was Marj Dusay as "Kara" -- a very attractive woman and one of my top Trek babes. But seriously, this is just such a stupid episode and requiring more than the usual amount of suspension of disbelief.

The part about McCoy doing the surgery with Spock telling him what to do -- give me a break. It is an insult to the intelligence of Trek fans. McCoy forgetting parts of the knowledge he gained -- come on...

Maybe it is so bad it is enjoyable for some folks but, in evaluating it seriously, I give "Spock's Brain" ZERO stars. I have to compare it with "And the Children Shall Lead". That episode at least had some suspense at the start with the suicides of the adults. In this episode, it's just beyond belief and ridiculous right up front. There are some things that could have been explored that are more interesting -- like how the interactions go down between the women and the men, how the society exists etc. "Spock's Brain" is just what sci-fi is not meant to be. Unfortunately somewhat prophetic for TOS S3.
Trek fan
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
To me, old-school Star Trek is like pizza: Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. And "Spock's Brain" is a fun little slice of B-movie 1950s Sci-Fi pulp that sneaks its way onto the series for an offbeat hour of quirky amusement. As a kid, I actually found this one pretty terrifying, as the brainless remote control Spock left me with a queasy and uncomfortable feeling of terror. Ditto for the surgery scene at the end. I suppose I'd give this one 2 1/2 stars, as it's not nearly as embarrassing as TNG's "Sub Rosa" and many so-horrible-I-wish-I-were-dead shows on Voyager and Enterprise.

John DeLancie ("Q" on TNG) describes "Spock's Brain" with utter seriousness as his favorite TOS because it shows actors at the top of their game doing what actors do best: Trying to sell low-budget material as top-drawer stuff. If some TOS shows like "The Deadly Years" are examples of good concepts suffering from pedestrian execution, "Spock's Brain" is an example of an bargain-basement concept (crew seeks to recover Spock's brain from alien thieves) that gets a wonderfully fun execution. The whole notion of organ thieves terrified me as a kid; it didn't matter to me that a brain doesn't seem ideal for transplant, as I suspended my disbelief to believe anything in the future is possible. Also, this plot is not unlike the Vidians and their Phage on Voyager, where Neelix basically wakes up like Spock in one episode: Missing the vital parts he needs to survive and (like remote-control Spock) temporarily stabilized by Future Medicine, Neelix must wait for the crew to recover his organs. So the basic story setup of intergalactic organ thieves, despite the gloriously silly "brain and brain" line, is believable enough in the Trekverse for me. It's actually pretty terrifying. And the idea of a civilization living off technology it doesn't understand, despite Gene Coon submitting this story under a pseudonym, works for me. So no, I don't think SB is as bad as everyone says! It's not great, but it's GLORIOUS, to quote the great Commander Kor.
Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Oh man, I've been waiting on this TrekFan review. Your love for these episodes is so infectious.
Wed, Jan 31, 2018, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Having sat through "Threshold", "Profit and Lace", and "Acquisition", and a couple of other turkeys recently, I'd have to re-rate "Spock's Brain" to 0.5 star.

Being mired in the stupidity of this episode, one can easily lose sight of a terrific musical score. The idea of organ theft, coming to think of it, isn't a bad one for sci-fi -- just that it totally falls apart here. Bottom line: "Spock's Brain" is still the worst TOS episode for me, just that there are some bigger turkeys in the Trek canon, so that it deserves 0.5 star.
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 10:25am (UTC -5)
The thing that impressed me most about this episode was that they spent some money on it. With a bargain basement budget, sixth in production order, and we got a new spaceship miniature (not much to look at, but at least it wasn't the generic spot of light we'd gotten in most of the second season), a new planet miniature for the orbit shots, and the rear screen projection set-up on the bridge viewer. Not too shabby.

And I can't help but add that that bridge scene was a highlight. Kirk pacing in front of a moving starfield, the staff contributing like the professionals they were, it was awesome.
Derek D
Sat, Mar 3, 2018, 12:52am (UTC -5)
I remember watching this when i was young and thought it was utterly ridiculous. That recollection stuck with me as I read various people rating it as the worst episode of TOS. After many years I just watched it again and I still think it is utterly ridiculous but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I would say for me I think Plato's Stepchildren, The Omega Glory (because of the INCREDIBLY STUPID ending when they bring out the U.S. Constitution), and especially And the Children Shall Lead (I cringe when I even think of it) are all WAY worse.
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 11:08am (UTC -5)
I re-watched this episode last night for the first time in many years. I do remember thinking the concept of Spock having his brain stolen by aliens was silly even when I first saw the episode as a kid.

Ironically, I think the intervening years actually helped me appreciate it a little more. For one thing, I found one of the comments here interesting: that the novelization of this episode left out the remote-controlled Spock. As I recall reading somewhere, James Blish, the sci-fi writer who produced those novelizations, was working from the scripts rather than watching the episodes. So, if he left out remote control Spock, it's likely because that wasn't in Gene Coon's pseudonymous script. That change alone would have made for a less ridiculous episode.

Watching it last night, I was struck by the similarities to HG Wells' The Time Machine. Here you have a society of people who have reverted to helpless simplicity. The main departure is that the big, brutal men (called Morgs, which even sounds a bit like Morlocks) dwell on the surface, and the innocent but helpless people are the ones living underground. Of course, these Morgs/Morlocks are not there to do all the work/feeding of the child-like Eloi, but still the influence is evident, in my opinion. Maybe Coon was trying to make a point about the helplessness of people who are dependent on technology they have long since lost the ability to understand?

In any case, I kept wondering why the Enterprise would have a device around to remotely control a brainless person. It's not like that occurs often enough to drive such a tool's invention. It would have made more sense to keep Spock's body on life support in sick bay until his missing brain, once located, could be transported back to the enterprise for re-installation. They could STILL have used the alien technology of The Teacher, of course. I'll have to go read the novelization now (I own all the Blish adaptions) to see how this was handled in the story.

As others have pointed out, the bridge scene in the beginning was very well done. It is one of the rare instances where such a consultation is held between the senior crew members (and outside of the conference room, no less) where there are notable contributions made by Chekhov and Sulu.

I also really liked that no red shirts were harmed in this episode. Chekhov and two security crew members spend the bulk of the hour warming their hands over a phaser-heated boulder and there is no subsequent attack by rock-throwing Morgs to kill at least one of the red shirts! (I recently read the novel Red Shirts, so I admit the idea of expendable crew members is one I think about much more now.)

In any case, I would give this one a single star, although it could have been a two-star one if not for the remote-control Spock.
Thu, Aug 16, 2018, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Ended up watching this for the first time since I was a kid. It's mostly incredibly tedious and amateurish, rather than the kitschfest I was expecting. As well as the general concept and the guest performances, the pacing is a big reason why this episode is so bad. Half a star. (Code Of Honor is worse though!)
Wed, Jan 9, 2019, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Its not the worst because of humorous scenes and the officers using remote control devices to make Spock walk. How some AI machine decided to acquire Spock's brain and use women to acquire it from the ship and to return it back to a planet far away seems so ridiculous. 1 star at most.
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
As that old saying goes-it could be worst, ill take spocks brain any day over The Alternative Factor.
Thu, May 16, 2019, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
It was not so bad.

Cheesy as a large pizza with double mozzarella? Yes. But hey, sometimes I'm in the mood for double mozzarella.

I had fun watching it.

Not nearly as bad as it's reputation. In its way, a classic.
Sarjenka's Brother
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 12:07am (UTC -5)
I've always had a fantasy of taking bad "Trek" episodes and turning them into good ones while sticking to the original premise.

And I don't think the premise is all that bad. In fact, it has something of a Borg quality to it -- the forced melding of the organic and the mechanical.

The main fixes:

-- Spock is kidnapped and his brain is still in his body. His body is attached to a device that immobilizes him and keeps him alive. He's forced against his will to function as an organic computer.

-- Keep the men on the surface, women below. Add more action on the surface. Make the women less hot, more menacing.

This could actually make a very good, dark episode in the right hands.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Thu, Sep 19, 2019, 7:46am (UTC -5)
I am fascinated with the idea of being one of those star trek hipsters that tries to argue that dreadful episodes are actually good for reasons you all missed, but with material this bad everyone would be able to tell I was lying to myself. This is TOS' equivalent of TNG "Conspiracy", an episode so off kilter that it feels like its being shuttled in from another, inferior, sci-fi show. Maybe they accidentally switched the scripts between Lost In Space for this one. Was there originally a character called Dr Zachary Smith?
Sleeper Agent
Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 10:43am (UTC -5)
I like the premise, too bad they never bothered to complete the script.

This could've been a good episode though, it had the right ingredients, but unfortunately no experienced cook.

On the whole some 50 minutes of underwhelming Trek. Nothing more, nothing less.

I of IV
Sun, Oct 4, 2020, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
I always find it hard to concentrate during this episode - I'm constantly distracted by Scotty's hair.
Sat, Jan 9, 2021, 3:25am (UTC -5)
Spock’s Brain

Star Trek season 3 episode 1

"A hunch, Captain?”

- Sulu

2 stars (out of 4)

This final season of Star Trek starts out with a below-average episode, but one not without it’s charms.

“Spock’s Brain" begins on exactly the right note: the crew encounters an obviously superior ship, and instead of immediate hostility or fear, the crew displays that awe and wonder which is the hallmark of Star Trek. As Scotty puts it,

KIRK: Well, Scotty?

SCOTT: It beats me, but isn't she a beauty?

KIRK: Interesting design.

SCOTT: I've never seen anything like her. And ion propulsion at that. They could teach us a thing or two.

The crew is visited by a beautiful female alien who looks just like a human. She has a very similar device on her arm as those Kelvans had back in “By any other Name”, which can immobilize you instantly. Only’s this week’s version is even more powerful - it works throughout the ship, not just in the room where it is, which was the limitation of the Kelvan’s device. Immediately we know that this woman is more powerful than even Rojan had been in that episode.

After she steals Spock’s Brain, the crew is under a ticking clock (Bones gives them 24 hours) to find the organ and find some way to reconnect it to Spock’s body, before he succumbs to his injuries. Instead of panicking, the crew undertakes a most logical analysis of their options.

We are treated to a brand new view of the bridge in what a few folks (@Jeffrey, @Nick P. - belatedly, @Peter G., @Bill, @Peter) have rightly called a genuine highlight of the episode. I don’t think Star Trek had anything like this in its first two seasons. In a lot of ways it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in all of Star Trek canon: Picard and Data in stellar cartography tracking the nexus ribbon,

In this case we get a great from-behind-the-captain’s chair direct shot of Kirk and Chekov systematically going through their three options for where the alien woman might have taken Spock’s Brain.

Time is short, and they will only get one shot.

The rest of the bridge crew chimes in with helpful comments. As @Jeffrey points out, Uhura asks perhaps the most important question of all: why did they take Spock’s brain? Uhura was no cipher on this show - no mere beautiful Nubian in a short shirt. Instead she very much earned her keep. Say what you will about the reboots, but Zoe Saladana did a great job carrying forward that heritage from Nichelle Nichols.

Which brings us to my favorite exchange from the episode, after Kirk makes a decision on which planet to visit,

SULU: A hunch, Captain?

KIRK: A hunch, Mister Sulu.

CHEKOV: What if you guess wrong, Captain?

KIRK: If I guess wrong, Mister Spock is dead.

That’s the thing about being captain - you have to make a choice, and live with the fact that if you are wrong, people will die. Which reminds me of another of my favorite scenes in all of Star Trek canon:

CRUSHER: I'm not sure whether we should go over this hill or that one. The topography on this map is a little vague.

PICARD: Let me see. This way.

CRUSHER: You don't really know, do you?


CRUSHER: I mean, you're acting like you know exactly which way to go, but you're only guessing. Do you do this all the time?

PICARD: No, but there are times when it is necessary for a captain to give the appearance of confidence.


I like that the writers gave Sulu a chance to include Kirk’s hunch in his Ship's Log ("Captain Kirk's hunch that Spock's brain is on this planet appears to be correct.”).

Down on the planet we are met with a few interesting ideas, although the execution is a bit weak. I agree with @Peter, when watching the episode, I was immediately reminded of The Time Machine except that the Eloi and Morlochs were inverted - with the more delicate half down underground in this case.

The idea of a separation of the sexes doesn’t quite get the depth it deserves either, as @Rahul points out (“There are some things that could have been explored that are more interesting - like how the interactions go down between the women and the men”). Spock’s last line in the episode is cut off when he is comparing the situation to a time when the Romans were warring with the - who? We never find out. Maybe he was going to say Sparta? Spartan women had a reputation all their own, and quite separate from the formidable reputation of their men. Who knows?

These lost threads remind me of The Omega Glory, which had so many threads largely because it was supposed to originally be a Pilot episode. Spock’s Brain had the job of reintroducing our crew at the top of Season 3, and so you can see why they might have over stuffed it.

Finally, the episode has some silly hijinks which some find hilarious (through obviously @Jammer was not amused).

I love the robotic Spock. In DS9, Nog did a fun job of it with a Vorta rigged up to walk after he had died accidentally. @Peter asks about how this was done ("I kept wondering why the Enterprise would have a device around to remotely control a brainless person.”). But Nog explains in DS9 that it would actually be pretty easy,

NOG: Well, there's no doubt about it. According to these readings, this man is dead.

QUARK: Thank you, Doctor Nog.

NOG: I just wanted to be sure. I thought maybe we could revive him but I guess not.

[Keevan's arm twitches]

GAILA: He's alive!

NOG: No, he isn't. It's just the neural stimulator. It caused a reflexive impulse in his cerebellum.

ROM: I never knew you studied medicine at the Academy.

NOG: I didn't, but if you think about it, medicine isn't that different from engineering. It's all about keeping things running, fixing broken parts.

QUARK: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

NOG: Find me more neural stimulators.

If Nog, an ensign with zero medical knowledge - and certainly no knowledge of Vorta anatomy - could rig something up to get Keevan’s body to walk around (and Keevan was dead!), certainly Bones can do the same for Spock.

Speaking of Bones, I love how this episode continues with his long-term reluctance to operate on Vulcans. All the way back in "Journey to Babel," Bones had been very, very reluctant to operate on Spock’s dad (Sarek). In a "Private Little War,” Spock’s care is turned over the Vulcan expert, Dr. M’Benga. Here too, Bones says again and again that reconnecting a brain is way above his paygrade. Bones is so un-like Bashir. While the episode does give Bones a boost with the “Teacher” matrix-like insta-learning device (as per @SpyTV), the writers are also good enough to let that learning wear off halfway through the operation, so Bones and Spock simply have to figure it out on their own. That’s how you build real lasting confidence.

The episode ends on a happy note. Spock gets his brain back. The men and woman on this planet will again start to enjoy each other’s company. And Star Trek gets one more year on TV!

I have no idea why people insist on dumping on Spock’s Brain. It is below average, sure. But, I agree with @Trek fan, it is not bad at all. Plus, I get a new ring-tone out of the whole thing,

Wed, Apr 28, 2021, 2:12am (UTC -5)
This must be the third time I’ve seen this. The first I would probably have just waited to see the denouement, the second I’d have probably forgotten the first and giggled my way through. This time I concentrated, knowing how bad its reputation has become, in order to offer a sensible review.

Actually, without the brain plot (yeah yeah, I know...) it would make a half-decent episode: the technological separation of men and women after the arrival of the Ice Age (though it wasn’t explained why) with the sophisticated underground city for the women, the concept of Controller and Teacher, was inherently quite interesting.

As for the ‘brain component’, it was so absurd it was laughable. In fact you could visibly observe the regular cast members trying hard to keep a straight face during the most ridiculous bits of dialogue.

For the non-brain parts of the plot, and the risible entertainment value of the rest, I think it deserves a star. Just one, mind...

Footnotes: Scotty has a new 50s rock’and’roll haircut, and there appears to be some changes to the bridge - gadgetry to both sides of the view screen.
Sat, May 29, 2021, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
This episode is really sad. You can see how embarrassed the cast was while making this episode. Season 1 and 2 brought classic after classic, with very few bad episodes, specially when comparing with the other Trek shows. This is the moment where TOS jumps the shark for me (or shall I say "stole the brain"?).

Not every episode on Season 3 sucked though. There are some hidden gems, but overall it's very disappointing.
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
Like other posters, I saw all of TOS before I knew anything about season three being bad, and when I was rather young.

So I always kind of liked Spocks Brain. Watching it as an adult, I do see all the hilarious moments.

I too am skeptical Season three is really that much worse than the others. After all, the truly awful Alternative Factor and Omega Glory were not Season three.

I do think they were reusing stories and themes a lot though, so it was definitely tired.
Jeffery's Tube
Fri, Jul 2, 2021, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
This is far too friggin' funny to be the worst episode of TOS.

I'll go one step further and say that Star Trek, as a whole, would be lessened if this episode never existed. It's Star Trek making fun of Star Trek. (You'll never convince me it isn't intentional.)

I'll go one step EVEN FURTHER and say that our culture, as a whole, would be lessened if this episode never existed. Think of all the meta-humor episodes of other shows that have surely, directly or indirectly, been influenced by this one. Would some of the best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes have happened in a world where Spock's Brain never existed, just as an example? Every show where the writers just say "you know what, we're going to parody ourselves and camp it up and have fun at our own expense in this episode" owes a debt to Spock's Brain. The TV show Supernatural, anyone? I appreciate a lot of those sorts of episodes--you have to be careful about it and you shouldn't do it often, but it can be really entertaining and memorable if you do it right.

I think, overall, we're lucky to have this episode. Still can't rate it higher than a bottom-five episode, though, since no one will admit it was intentionally bad.

I would love to know the thought process that went into choosing this episode as the opener of season 3, though. Wrong slot for it for sure. Anyone know how that came about?
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Wouldn't the Prime Directive have prevented them from stealing back Spock's brain?
Fri, Apr 15, 2022, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
@Paul (2014)

"The remote-controlled Spock was pretty terrible -- as was the fact that his hair didn't change despite having two surgeries that would have opened his skull."

It’s a good thing Spock's katra didn’t go missing while his brain was being moved around and futzed with.
Fri, Jul 15, 2022, 6:05am (UTC -5)
hahaha what did I just watch? This episode is MOST FASCINATING because it is so bad AND so good...

It beggins very well: almost 1 minute without dialogue, just the real time tension of a encounter with a unknown vessel. That's just gold.

Then a HOT BABE™ comes aboard and, to our surprise, proceeds to just casually take everybody down. (Kirk falls with a very exposed butt), and the intro as always kicks in in the most dramatic moment (SNW seems to never get this right...).

The crew wakes up and discovers spock's brain is missing. I mean, they didn't take spock. They literaly REMOVED JUST SPOCK'S BRAIN OFF OF HIS HEAD. Of course it wold make much more sense they just taking Spock's body altogether, but that wouldn't be SO AWESOMELY BIZARRE. This episode deserves at least 2 stars just for daring to put itself to resolve such a bizarre premisse. I'm writing this on year 2022, we've seen a lot of stuff on TV, and it's difficult to point out something so remarkable as this premisse.

And we get to see Kirk at his most kirkness. We don't know where spock's brain is, don't know who took it, don't know why, don't know how to put it back if we find it ...but we are gonna after it anyway!

And in the end Spock will happily tell us finally what this place is about, but they are all like "haha shut up spock nobody cares" hahaha what the hell hahahahah
matt h
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 7:02am (UTC -5)
This episode shouldn't be seen as containing a lot of garbage, it should be hauled away AS garbage.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 7, 2022, 8:31am (UTC -5)
"And that's when you hit matt h?"
"Yes, sir."
Mon, Dec 26, 2022, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
Pretty Lame Brain episode by my standards, although I did like the givers of pain and delight.
Thu, Jan 19, 2023, 10:21am (UTC -5)
During August 1968, two Trekkers were talking about the upcoming start of TOS Season 3:

Trekker 1: I heard about the new season! In the first episode, Spock's brain is removed. Next, Kirk and Spock turn into thieves. Then Kirk gets married.
Trekker 2: Bahahaha! OK, I have one for you. After that, kids take over the Enterprise by using this highly-mockable hand gesture. (demonstrates)
Trekker 1: Bahahaha!

Spock's Brain is so bad it avoids a zero rating. Jammer's 0.5 sounds about right. The episode has to be treated as an intentional farce because the alternatives are too ugly. This really should have been a Lost in Space episode, in fact, I can already hear Dr. Smith bemoaning, "Oh! The brain! The brain!"

I wish I had McCoy's does-everything-with-10-buttons remote control. Surely it could easily deal with the horrible navigation of the TOS HD DVD set. Press the red button to start something other than Season 3. Ah!
Wed, Mar 29, 2023, 1:49am (UTC -5)
There is one saving grace that gives this episode that somewhat deserved half-star rating - that being DeForest Kelly's mini-dramatic performance beginning with "a child can do it..!!! and then losing his memory just in time for Spock to talk him through the rest of the procedure which is when the hilarity begins again.

I must admit I really thought this was a pretty intense episode the very first time I saw it...when I was 7 years old.
Thu, Jun 22, 2023, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Watched it for the first time in years. (Just killing time waiting for the next episode of SNW.) Hahahahahahaha. Didn't expect to keep laughing out loud. So bad it's good.
Sat, Jul 22, 2023, 8:31am (UTC -5)
I have to join the surprisingly sizable chorus of commenters who have a bit of love for Spock’s Brain. I personally don’t think any episode that’s as iconic as this one can be considered “bad”, although it’s iconic status is derived largely from how bad it is, so there’s kind of a paradox at work there. But still, I actually enjoy this one, it’s cheesy in some really fun ways, it’s entertaining, it’s memorable, and it begs the eternal question “brain and brain, what is brain?” which I’m sure will be mulled over by philosophers for centuries to come.

None of that is to say it’s a “good” episode of course. It’s not, mostly because the premise is just so out there. But compared with some of the other duds in the Star Trek universe I’d say Spock’s Brain gets more flak than it deserves.

I would love to know what the reasoning was to have this be the kickoff episode for season 3. I’ve heard it speculated that this episode was a sort of “fuck you” to all those pesky, letter writing fans that saved TOS from cancellation, but I’m skeptical.

A few thoughts:
-Why did remote controlled Spock make a clicking noise? I mean, of all the nits to pick with this episode I know that’s low priority stuff, but it’s not like his body would start making ticktick noises when it moved just because his brain got snatched. Was it the neural stimulator? If so that’s a noisy piece of equipment.

-the remote used to control brain-free Spock was a remarkable bit of engineering. Especially when you consider McCoy or Scotty must have rigged it up on the fly. That is, unless they had a remote control for a brainless body just laying around.

-Chekhov and a few redshirts are just left hanging on the surface of desolate caveman planet. I wonder how long they chilled there before getting really awkward and slinking back to the enterprise

-the ending is pretty ridiculous, not because McCoy somehow spontaneously forgot how to preform surgery or because Spock has to assist with his own brain reimplantation, but because of how jovial Spock seems ranting on about all the super cool stuff he’d learned and experienced. Tonally, it’s a very strange way to wrap things up.

1.5/4 hairdryers of mega-knowledge.
Sat, Jul 22, 2023, 3:21pm (UTC -5)

Considering this episode’s reputation, perhaps I’m being much too kind, but I honestly think there are some serious elements in it.

For once, I’ve always wondered about the history of this planet. Obviously, both Morgs and Eymorgs are primitive societies, neither of which is capable of building something as complex and sophisticasted as the Controller. In fact, Scott says that the women could not have accomplished it, but the men don’t seem any more intelligent. So I suppose that once, when they were still living together on the surface of the planet, this was a highly advanced civilization – which then regressed. Why? The episode makes a big deal about the gender separation, so if we assume that’s the reason, this would lead to the conclusion that in the absence of women, men will inevitably turn into cavemen. Now that’s debatable… but what about the women? I think, rather than the gender separation, it was the Controller itself which made them regress. Over the centuries they spent under its care, they have outsourced all their intellect and knowledge as well as their creativity and inventive talents to this machine. Why think when the Controller can do it for them? And when the situation requires some kind of knowledge, they can just put on the Teacher, let it blow the information into their heads, for single use, and forget it afterwards. Sounds strangely familiar… I wonder if, buried under all the silliness of this episode, there’s some kind of serious comment, a warning that wrong use of computers etc. could potentially lead us in a similar direction? It would indeed fit together with the critical assessment of AI we’ve seen in other episodes.
Sat, Jul 22, 2023, 3:53pm (UTC -5)

At the risk of a serious consideration of Spock’s Brain, I’ll wager that in this society the men were always idiots. For whatever reason the dudes were just hopelessly brutish and dumb, constantly breaking stuff and never doing anything productive. The reason I see it this way is that it’s the only explanation as to why the men were living in a state of caveman-esque, super primitive conditions. After all, they didn’t have a knowledge repository thing, they should have started inventing stuff to make their lives more livable and in the process accrued their own social development on the surface. But instead they were a bunch of goons, wowed by basic displays of technology. The only logical explanation is that that’s just who they are.
The women, on the other hand, were once quite brilliant, tech savvy, rational, capable of building an advanced civilization. At one point these smart ladies must have gotten fed up with their stupid men and kicked them out of society, thinking they could live a better, near utopian life sans oafish meatheads constantly making messes everywhere. But they became overly reliant on their awesome technology, especially their knowledge cheater, and slowly melted into a life of coddled ease. In a twist of irony, kicking out the stupider part of their society eliminated the motivation to remain smart themselves, and thus caused their own dumbening.
Michael Miller
Fri, Jul 28, 2023, 5:08am (UTC -5)
Everything about this episode was stupid. The whole idea of a culture advanced enough to transfer knowledge directly from a database into a biological mind, and possesses brain surgery skills unknown to the rest of the galaxy, yet needs a biological brain as power source? The whole remote control Spock thing where all his fine movements with his hands, wrists, and fingers could be controlled with a whopping 8 buttons? The whole male-female conflict and cave dwelling aspect with guys dressed as literal cavemen yet are more advanced than the rest of the galaxy in Neuroscience? Please.
Peter G.
Sun, Aug 13, 2023, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
Alright, I'm ready to go on record:

(McCoy goes over to the device, and Kirk adjusts it onto his head. McCoy winces in pain as knowledge is fed into his brain, then falls to his knees.)
MCCOY: Of course. Of course. A child could do it. A child could do it.

This is one of the greatest moments in the history of not only Trek, but science fiction. This line encapsulates what is so cool about this episode, but much more, it suggests something about the far future that other episodes only vaguely hint at: that advancement of knowledge and society will not only progress, but that we will progress along with it. That somehow being in the midst of great advances in knowledge and learning will result not just in a certain ultra-elite having access to the ridiculously sophisticated knowledge, but in our general ability to learn improving. It says that knowledge will make reality more clear to us, rather than more complicated; that further advances will reduce complexity in our understanding rather than rendering it impregnable. In some distant future, the knowledge mankind will possess would allow even a child to perform a brain transplant, because of the simplicity of the first principles known to those people. I take McCoy's remark very literally, that this ancient people were so far advanced compared to the Federation that their children made Federation scientists look like cavemen. This is one of the most optimistic "can do" statements Trek has ever made about the future. The entire episode is worth it for this line and how Kelley delivers it. And that's putting aside the fact that many elements of the episode are interesting besides the backstory, including Spock speaking as the central computer of a planet, and the reasonable tone Kara exhibits despite the strange situation she's in with three aliens trying to take her Controller away. Sure, it's not a classic, but it takes itself much more seriously than one would think given its reputation. I don't think it's cheesy or campy, and frankly even "brain and brain" is a much overhyped line. It's neat.
William B
Thu, Aug 17, 2023, 10:15am (UTC -5)
"Of course. Of course. A child could do it." - Peter G. when an alien device gives him the ability to give a positive review for Spock's Brain :)
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 17, 2023, 10:26am (UTC -5)
PETER G: All the wasted scenes, the cavement. There are a million of them. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?
WILLIAM B: Bones, you can't stop now.
PETER G: I'm trying to thread a needle with a sledgehammer. What am I supposed to do? I can't remember. I don't remember.
PETER G: No one can award four stars to Spock's Brain.
Thu, Sep 7, 2023, 7:51am (UTC -5)
This episode held my interest and message-wise, continuity-wise, entertainment-wise is not as bad as many others in the canon.

I am baffled as to why this episode is so hated. It doesn't "ruin" anything.

But then again, I love TNG's The Royale. I am a sucker for straight-up levity episodes. I cannot stand slapstick scenes in a serious episode, but if the whole thing is a departure, then I am on board.

Science-wise, every TOS episode on time travel except City on the Edge abd All Our Yesterdays is exceedingly stupid and awful and you should feel bad for liking them if you do.
Gideon Marcus
Fri, Sep 22, 2023, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
This is a non-review, the easiest of stream-of-consciousness throwaway denigration.

Our group just spent 14 years in the past, living day by day, up to and including the first two years of Star Trek to experience Spock's Brain in as close to the original context as possible--original commercials, contemporary Trekzine readings, the works. And you know what? We kind of liked it.

Is it a dopey premise? More or less, but no more dopey than Return to Tomorrow, the inverse of Spock's Brain. Plus, it's well put together. Marc Daniels has always been one of Trek's better directors, and those shots of the bridge with the view screen front and center are beautiful and prescient.

The dialogue is bad, 50's b-movie bad...and yet, somehow the veteran actors make it *work*. Particularly Kelley. "Where are we going to look for Spock's brain?!" He *sells* it.

And we get Sulu back in the captain's chair where he belongs! We get the first new scoring in many months. We get some very convincing sets. We get Scotty's new hair! Alright, that's actually not a good thing--one has to wonder what new wife Anita Doohan thought of it...

Anyway, this is far from Trek's worst hour. Even before Spock's Brain, you've got "The Alternative Factor", "Gamesters of Triskelion", "Catspaw" (though I kind of enjoy that one), and the execrable "Omega Glory".

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