By David Beck
Okay, here's what happens:
Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to some forest in what would correspond to Oregon on some other planet. They find this obelisk thing into which Kirk falls, bumps his head, puts his hand into an oversized electrical socket, loses his memory, and walks around for the rest of the episode among American Indians and thinking he is the Sun God incarnate. Bu-lyeech. (Gotta love them barf-pitching noises. -- GP)
First of all, the whole amnesia thing is so painfully irritating -- not just here but in any show in which it is used. It's not just trite, but cruelly overused -- what is it, something like 1,000 television people get amnesia for every real-life person? And the thing is, if it worked it would be okay, but it doesn't work. The formula is the same all the time. In "Paradise Syndrome" Kirk spends the first half hour trying to discover who he is, and he fails. What a waste of time!
The second half hour is spent with Kirk (pardon me, Kirok (Sometimes Kurak. -- GP)) and Miramanee (Oh, no: I can hear that insipid incidental music now.) frolicking through the forest in vacuous bliss, while Kirk belches out the occasional "I... am... Kirok!" and "Miramaneeeeeee!"
At the end (after the gratuitous asteroid-heading-in-a-collision-course-for-the-planet is misdirected) Miramanee bumps her head, and does she get amnesia? No, she dies. (Sort of like on Barnaby Jones. -- GP) Yeah, you figure it out. The last scene has Kirk fawning over her, and because the whole episode fails miserably to evoke any sympathy from us, the sappy ending's highlight is the fly that buzzes around (and lands on) Kirk's face. Gruesomely bad, and my nomination for Leonard Pinth Garnell's next installment of Bad Television. Eeyugg.
I really think the thought was promising, but it eventually manifested as this garbage and it's only fair to be honest. The major strike against it is that it was just so poorly made. The directing was bad, the writing was bad, the acting was bad, the camera work was bad -- everyone working on it just seemed to be going through the motions as though they knew it was bad, so why bother? It was like they all had slept in six days into the week, realized they had an episode to shoot, came up with something and splished it all together -- while all anyone could think about was the fruit salad he or she forgot to make for the annual potluck office party scheduled that evening. You know what they say: "Aplegg alegga...."
This is also one of two episodes I know of -- there may be more -- in which Kirk (or anyone else) is shown for a split second in a reversed frame. That is, if one pays close attention, for that one or two seconds Kirk can be seen with his hair parted on the other side of his head and his tunic insignia reversed and on his right pec instead of his left. In both episodes -- the other is "The Way to Eden" -- it happens toward the end, and I'm certain this is because the editors knew the audience would have been squirming in pain, struggling to pay attention to such garbage, that they could get away with rushing out of the editing room with such an amateurish effort. (In fact, you can also include "The Enemy Within" here, though my understanding is that they deliberately showed the bad Kirk backwards -- something about fitting into the frame. I dunno. -- GP)
I don't even remember much more than that because it was all so horridly insipid, except that McCoy-is-terminally-ill-and-on-this-asteroid-he-gets-cured-all-the-while-courting-this-babe-the-end. Wow.
Again I'm certain that the editors knew this episode was so bad that they thought they could slip some shoddy sequencing together, but if you're a dedicated Trekkie (I prefer "STV" -- Star Trek Viewer. -- GP) then at least some of these silly moments will not get past you.
Anyway, we then realize that these women need some kind of drug to remain young (though it does little for their looks) or else they get old and "unappealing" -- so they say. After that it gets so predictable that the time is better spent polishing the bathtub stopper. The women run out of drugs, the miners' pants are split, and the Enterprise must make things all better again. Ho hum. At least we get introduced to Harry Mudd, who appears in a genuinely good episode a year later.
We got a woman who phases onto the bridge, zaps everybody into unconsciousness and manages to take Spock's brain out of his head while somehow keeping his body alive. What good Spock's body would have been without his brain is beyond me, (Nurse Chapel could find use for it, probably. -- GP) but what do I know? Kirk and Scott (or somebody) then beam down to some planet to see if that is where Spock's brain is ("Hey, let's try this planet -- it's worth a shot." -- GP), and they encounter some lobotomized he-men who are found to be enslaved by some silly-looking women who are actually stupider than the slaves. This, of course, does not say much for Kirk et al., who allow themselves to get strapped with ludicrous belts sporting a pain box -- resembling something I used to wear playing Batman when I was six -- that gives them an instant case of gastroenteritis anytime they sneeze.
The next half hour of futile effort in trying to communicate with these morons would be unbearable to watch if it weren't so hilarious. During this time we hear probably the most memorable line (among several other gems) in Star Trek lore: "'Brain' and 'brain,' what is 'brain'?"
This is all a wonderful hoot, but the best has yet to come. McCoy incredibly (Actually the word should probably be "credulously," but that's obvious.) (Really? Why? -- GP) gets Spock's body to move with his little control box down to a planet where McCoy dawns the "Skullcap of Superknowledge" (That's not what it's called, I'm sure, but it was probably something sillier.) (I think that's the "Yarmulke of Superknowledge." -- GP) that looked like something from Lost in Space. McCoy can now reinstall Spock's brain and we can all get on with our lives. But wait: McCoy begins to forget what he has learned. Here, sprawled out on the operating table, is the most valuable first officer in the fleet, not to mention just an all-around good guy, with half his cerebral connections laying unattached in the hands of someone who is now an incompetent ignoramus.
The thing to remember here is that at the beginning of the episode Spock's brain was snatched like a caramel apple from a candy tree. Now at the end of the episode it is vastly different. First of all, if Kirk et al. managed to get the Dorfgirls (or whoever) to let them use the Skullcap of Superknowledge, why didn't they just make them -- the brain-extractors -- put it back in? Why put the task in the hands of an amateur like McCoy? And if the Dorfgirls have at their disposal the supergodlike technological ability to snatch brains at will without so much as a finger lifted in effort, then how do they expect us to believe that this Skullcap of Superknowledge would fail miserably in giving McCoy the necessary sustenance of ability required to finish the operation? And the major question above all: why am I wasting my time asking these questions?
Well, McCoy finishes up the job by relying on his own medical knowledge, which still doesn't explain why Spock did not emerge with the personal and social awareness of a Vulcan avocado, but the episode is still one of the best laughs one could have.
Note: several other episodes could merit mention here, but it is not because they're bad -- they're just non and deserve only indifference.
"Amok Time" -- This episode is not bad, really, but it far from merits the acclaim most Trekkies lavish upon it.
Most people just love it because it really "opens up" Spock; we get to know what he is really like. Well, if after a whole first season full of exposition you don't know what Spock is like, then you haven't been paying attention. Spock's character has already been fully developed, and in "Amok Time" what we see is his human side (revealed to us several times already) which is combined with the Vulcan love call involving intense lust impulses. Now, if this is the most appealing thing about him, seeing what he is like when he needs to get some you-know-what, then I am in the Trekkie company of some pretty damn shallow people. (Again, I question the use of the term. Trekkies are the folks who ask William Shatner what the combination was to the grain locker in "Trouble with Tribbles." -- GP)
"We get to see what his mating responses are like," they say. Big deal. I don't want to see Spock's seven-year itch -- if I did, I'd switch on the Tom Ewell/Marilyn Monroe movie. I'm watching a science fiction adventure series and I want to see Spock figure out how to keep the aliens from Hemorrh from blasting the rectal tissues of all the crew. It is great to see his human qualities seeping out at times, but not in regard to coping with when he can blow a load. I just don't care.
Let's assume, though, that we are drawn to Spock's plight -- and, granted, the show does do a decent job of that. First we see T'Pring, and I'm convinced that Amanda (Spock's mom) has never seen this non, because if she did, she'd erupt with a railing Spock would never forget. Now we know that Vulcans can indeed be very interesting and even genuinely fun to be around; we know this from Spock. But from the second we even see that picture of T'Pring even as a child we know she is hopeless. She then speaks as an adult and our perceptions are confirmed. Spock is seen with that special Vulcan glassy-eyed look while off camera his pants are smeared but every other crewmember is holding his or her nose with the thumb and index finger in utter disappointment.
Well, Kirk and McCoy then escort the now rampant Spock down to Vulcan so he can finally get pon-farred, and we get to endure the whole mating ceremony. Cripes, first we get a parade, and sheez, I hate parades. At least they could have had a huge plastic mugato balloon held down with ropes carried by some of the paraders.
Then we see T'Pring again and are amazed that she has another suitor besides Spock. Those Vulcan hormones must be viciously powerful if such a logical race can have its male members taken so easily. So Spock and this other doof must fight to the death for T'Pring, except that T'Pring doesn't want the already ordained challenger to fight, she wants...
The battle between Kirk and Spock is fairly well done, but again, a) Spock is fighting to get his rod juiced, and b) Kirk is fighting just to make everyone happy. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not going to put on a little show and get killed doing it. Uh-huh. To me this only shows how much of an idiot Kirk is for not knowing beforehand what the hell he was getting into -- cripes, Spock had already nearly killed half the Enterprise crew because he'd burst every pair of shorts he'd had, how could Kirk be so stupid as not to figure out what he was in for?
Kirk gets out of it rather cleverly, though, when McCoy injects him with a knockout drug that simulates death. Spock returns to the ship thinking Kirk is dead, and when he sees him alive he has a look that is one of the more unforgettable in the whole show.
Spock still has not gotten pon-farred, however, and the fact that Kirk is still alive should have led Spock to really kill him with one launching right cross through his skull for denying his seven-year-long-awaited fun. But only one minute remains in the episode, just enough time for Spock to put on nine jockstraps (to keep his genitals from expanding to more than the standard 47 cubic ("Pubic"? -- GP) centimeters when Vulcans are in heat) and return to the bridge for the chuckling remarks made at his expense.
Copyright ©1988 by David Beck
Last updated 7/7/96
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