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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: The Original Series—Volume #31 (1968)

"...the Enterprise lies derelict in uncharted space. We have no way to determine our position in relation to the galaxy. We are in a completely unknown void."
- Kirk (William Shatner)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: May 01, 2002

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Marj Dusay, Diana Muldar, David Frankham
Other Stars: James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett
Director: Marc Daniels, Ralph Senesky

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (Nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:40m:23s
Release Date: August 28, 2001
UPC: 097366003141
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+B+A- D

DVD Review

To see all Star Trek: The Original Series reviews, click here.

"No structures. No mechanized objects that I can read. No surface consumption, no generation of energy. Atmosphere is perfectly all right, of course. Temperature a high maximum of 40. Livable." - Chekhov (Walter Koenig)

Spock's Brain
Stardate: 5431.4
Original Airdate: September 20, 1968
Directed by: Marc Daniels

This particular episode is often pointed to as an example of some of the absurdities that the third season of Star Trek could employ in the search for different stories in a season of remakes of earlier episodes. In the first scene, a strange vessel appears that seems to be using "ion power," which gets Scotty in a lather. There is a very nicely directed and edited montage sequence that shows the crew in operation as they prepare for the unexpected contact and then a pan around the bridge as Kirk consults with his officers. Suddenly, a mysterious, beautiful, smiling woman appears and stuns the entire crew of the ship. As we fade to the opening credits she is fondling the unconscious Spock's head.

When we return to the show, Spock has disappeared and McCoy is on the intercom calling Kirk to sick bay. There the Captain finds his first officer on a medical table on full life support and McCoy informs him that, through an amazing medical procedure, Spock's brain is gone! His incredible Vulcan physique keeps his body alive despite the absence of his mind. Remembering the woman who appeared, Kirk determines that she must be responsible and against the long odds of possibility, he must search for Spock's brain. McCoy tells him that the limited nature of their medical knowledge means that even if they find the brain, it cannot be restored. But Kirk is determined, asserting that "they took it and they can put it back."

Following the traces of the ion trial of the ship, the Enterprise determines that the woman and her vessel must have entered a planetary system near where the trail has disappeared. Among the planets are none that could possibly have the technology to build a ship like the one they had encountered. With a time limit on how long Spock's body can survive without his brain, Kirk must make the correct choice on which planet to search. They detect unusual energy impulses on a planet that seems to be in a glacial age and Kirk's hunch leads him to try to find Spock's brain there.

On the planet they encountered a primitive man who warns them of the "givers of pain and delight." Finding what seems to be an elevator, they end up underground in what appears to be a society of women. The leader is the woman, called Kara (Marj Dusay), who had appeared on the Enterprise. They know Spock's brain is somewhere on the planet but must figure out how to find it and how to put it back in his head.

This episode certainly has its campy qualities, but on the other hand it has some intriguing moments. There is a nice dose of humor and the cast acts out the plot with great flair and enthusiasm. It harkens back to that "laugably godawful" style of science fiction of the 1950s featuring scantily clad young ladies usually looking to enslave the men of Earth like Cat-Women of the Moon or Fire Maidens From Outer Space. In a way, this is a quintessential example of the light-hearted nature of Star Trek that enabled it to succeed when many other science fiction series failed and are forgotten.

Cast Note: Playing Kara is Marj Dusay who has had a long career in movies and television. Fans can catch her currently as Vanessa Bennett Hayward Courtlandt on the daytime serial All My Children.

This one is really an enjoyable Star Trek romp and gets two Enterprises for "brain and brain, what is brain?"





"While the thoughts of the Medusans are the most sublime in the galaxy, their physical appearance is exactly the opposite. They have evolved into a race of beings who are formless, so utterly hideous that the sight of a Medusan brings total madness." - Kirk (William Shatner)

Is There No Truth in Beauty?
Stardate: 5630.7
Original Air Date: October 18, 1968
Directed by: Ralph Senensky
Featuring Diana Muldaur as Dr. Miranda Jones, this episode is one of the most potent emotionally in the whole original series. The strong story is written by Jean Lisette Aroeste, and it is difficult to go too far in introducing the plot without revealing a spoiler. Miranda is the companion to the ambassador from the Medusans, Kollos, who is being transported back to his home planet by the Enterprise. Humans can go insane if they look at the Medusans, but Vulcans with a special eye-shield are able to survive an encounter. Miranda has studied for years Vulcan techniques and hopes to achieve a mind link with the Medusan.

Also, accompanying the ambassador is Larry Marvick (David Frankham), whose job is to design a way for Medusan navigators, reputed to be the best in the galaxy, to be employed on star ships. Unfortunately, Marvick is also deeply in love with Miranda and is determined to stop her from continuing her mission with the ambassador. Needless to say, he causes a difficulty on the journey and the Enterprise crew find themselves in sticky situation.

There is fine acting by all in this episode and demonstrates how a strong script always brings out the best in actors who are comfortable in well-developed roles. Speck's edgy relationship with Miranda is balanced by the infatuation that the other officers have with the lovely doctor. The directing is very good with some nice camera work simulating the madness that is inflicted by contact with the Medusan. Fine acting by Leonard Nimoy from beginning to end make this one of his best turns as Spock.

Random notes: Muldaur had a another leading role as a doctor in Star Trek, playing Ann Mulhall in the episode Return to Tomorrow. The Star Trek tradition of quoting Shakespeare is in full bloom in this episode and Spock quotes the poet Byron at one point. Scotty breaks out the kilt for a formal dinner. Bones gets a bonafide "He's dead, Jim."

This one is well written, acted and directed and gets, well, four full Enterprises.



Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Excellent consistency in the transfers with nice colors, skintones and detail inSpock's Brain. Is There No Truth in Beauty has some special effects that actually are enhanced by the clarity and stand as some of the best in the series.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
no


Audio Transfer Review: Is There No Truth in Beauty has a nice soundtrack that is on excellent display in the Dolby 5.1 track. There is no hiss or distortion in either episode and each makes for a fine aural experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Informational Booklet
Extras Review: As with the other discs in this series, there are no extras other than the trailers and the information booklet.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

This is a pretty good Star Trek disc with a nice mixture of camp, comedy, suspense and drama in the two episodes. These are definitely two of the better shows from the much-maligned third season of The Original Series.

 


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