Siskoid welcomes Kill All Monsters' Michael May to the show to discuss Star Trek's campiest and goofiest, with an eye towards their role in the show's popularity and longevity. In other words, do we NEED "Spock's Brain"? Listen and judge for yourselves.
Listen to Episode 27 below!
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"Star Trek Theme" by Alexander Courage, with the Irredeemable Shagg on vocals. End theme: "Deep Space Nine Theme" by Dennis McCarthy.
Bonus clips from: Star Trek's "Spock's Brain", starring Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan and DeForest Kelley; and "The Way to Eden", starring Jack Napier and Deborah Downey.
And thanks for leaving a comment!
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10 responses to “Gimme That Star Trek Ep.27: Trek’s Goofiest Episodes”
Very much enjoyed the episode, and I agree, I think it’s that varied tone the original series had that makes it so distinctive.
In regards to Shatner/Kirk’s “bigness”, Leonard Nimoy has talked about this, indirectly, saying that when he was playing against Jeff Hunter, he couldn’t find an “in”, since Pike as a character was so quiet and brooding. But when Shatner came in and was so theatrical, Nimoy was able to modulate his take on Spock to provide greater contrast. And in reference to an earlier episode, I think it was that tension that helped make the show work. If Hunter had not been replaced, I don’t think Trek would have lasted three seasons. Might have been one of those shows that did 13 nice episodes and then disappeared.
Maybe I’m in an overly sensitive mood because of the outcome of yesterday’s elections, but I feel like TOS took too many lumps in this episode. You guys didn’t quite venture into “crazy old uncle” territory, but I’m a big defender of TOS, because I feel a lot of TNG-era fans look down their nose at it. Clearly you two don’t, but it tends to make me defensive. I myself feel TNG hasn’t really aged all that well in many aspects, due in large parts to everyone being just so damn polite and often, well…dull. Maybe its because its hard to relate to people being civil to each other these days. Also, the effects are approaching what we see today, but they are pretty primitive by today’s standards, so in many way TOS very old-school approach holds up better for me at times.
Sure, TOS has some truly goofy moments, and maybe those moments, balanced with true instances of greatness, help even it out and make it more enjoyable on multiple levels. My daughter will always sit down and watch TOS with me, for instance, but she ran away screaming from MeTV’s reruns of the very silly and over-the-top Lost In Space season 2 episodes.
As for Shatner… I do think he went for a certain character for Kirk. An exaggerated ideal version of himself. He was bigger, bolder than Shatner really was. Sometimes he may have laid it on a bit too thick, but there’s no doubt that he always commanded the screen. An older style of theatrical acting is apparent here, while Nimoy was more into the then-newish school of “the method”. The dynamic intermingling of those approaches is probably a huge part of TOS’ appeal. Add in DeForest Kelly to modulate and you have TV magic.
Interesting discussion that I still enjoyed, despite my grumpiness. 😉
The different tones of TOS are what make it fun! There are differences between goofy episodes that are fun (“Spock’s Brain” and “The Way to Eden”) and ones that are just awful (“And the Children Shall Lead”).
Spock’s Brain is one of my favorites, and, no offense, you guys didn’t even hit some of the high points. The line we constantly quote at work is “Brain? What is Brain?” Then, there is McCoy under the hair dryer….excuse me, the Teacher. The real highlight…after McCoy has hooked up, for lack of a better term, the part of Spock’s brain that controls his speech and Spock tells McCoy how to complete the surgery. All of it….just fun stuff. Really, you guys could have gotten an entire episode out of Spock’s Brain and probably The Way to Eden as well.
I hope that didn’t sound too negative. I did enjoy the show. I just want more Spock’s Brain.
That isn’t to say I don’t appreciate City on the Edge of Forever or Balance of Terror. They are great, too.
I almost said “Brain? What is Brain?” at one point, but didn’t want to interrupt Michael!
Found you for the first time today through Michael May’s Adventure Blog, and enjoyed this episode tremendously. I was of an age to see TOS first-run, but was off doing my obligatory military service, and didn’t catch it until around 1970-ish. I was getting serious about my fiction writing at the time, and what it did for me was to show me that we could be the aliens in the flying saucers, and that that would make for a captivating story; it also stunted my output for about a decade as I struggled to separate my themes and plots from those of the show.
But enough of that. This episode brought back a lot of great memories, and I’m going to feature it prominently on my Thursday blog feature which highlights fun and/or profound things I’ve found on the web. I think my readers will really grok your style! Let me also invite you to visit me Sunday, when I’m presenting a tongue-in-cheek WTF dissertation on the Coast-to-Coast radio show. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go add you to my recommended links.
Thanks Jack. Too kind!
Very interesting topic. For me, the bottom of the barrel was the goofy Ferengi-centered Mirror Universe episode of DS9.
Shatner played Kirk in the way CFranks noted above. And then he became Kirk.
Those kinds of TOS episodes remind me a lot of Silver Age comics, with their no-holds-barred creativity brought to life in the medium of television. Some of them are fun to make laugh at. But many times they give a warm friendly feeling inside, when we didn’t take stories too seriously and just went with along for the ride.
Excellent episode, guys!
This episode was great! I have been a fan of TOS and TNG forever, it seems. I’ve watched the others (DS9, etc.) but those two are still my favorites.
I’d never thought of the difference between silly and goofy and campy until listening to this. Even at it’s worst, TOS is still so much better than much of what’s available even now, simply because it was such a ground-breaker. The type of thing, as you said, that we go back to.
The visual design, acting and action were all superior to TNG, DS9, etc.. TOS actually hired well known science fiction authors.
So even the lincoln, the Roman, the Nazi, the Hippie, the Native American, Cowboy, Gangsters, Greek God(s) etc… stories all have some merit.