The “Spock’s Brain Award”: All Star Trek 101’s worst episodes ranked from to bad to worst

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the television series, "Star Trek."
Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the television series, "Star Trek." /
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Star Trek: The Original Series – “Spock’s Brain”

Why does it deserve the “Spock’s Brain Award”?

"““Spock’s Brain” ranks as one of Star Trek’s most memorable episodes—but not in a good way. An alien woman steals Spock’s brain to replace the out-of-warranty controller for her planet’s complex environmental system. Kirk races against time to find the missing organ before Spock’s brainless body dies. Although ostensibly a “serious” episode, the script is rife with lines that seem lifted from a hokey B-movie.”"

The original series’ third season was famously compromised by network shenanigans, shrinking budgets, and an exodus of writers and creatives. “Spock’s Brain” was the first episode of the third season, and according to William Shatner, “Spock’s Brain” was a “tribute” to the suits who’d sabotaged the show.

It’s hard to say what he meant by this, as I can’t find the actual quote. The simplest explanation is that he was saying that the badness of the episode was a direct consequence of their meddling. But I’d like to believe that he meant that the plot was a sly dig at how they were rendering the show brainless.

Star Trek 101 wasn’t the first publication to liken “Spock’s Brain” to a B-movie. But I’d say it’s more of a schlocky B-movie charm. “Spock’s Brain” is thoroughly camp in its silliness. Yes, the dialogue is especially silly, but would serious dialogue really make sense with a plot this silly? Besides, without that B-movie dialogue, we wouldn’t have “brain and brain and brain and what is brain?” the most perfect piece of television dialogue ever broadcast.

Just try to be sad while saying that line.

“Spock’s Brain” has one thing going for it that even its critics would agree with, it’s memorable. As the third season wore on, there were too many episodes that just weren’t. It’s difficult to define the difference between so bad it’s good, and just plain bad, but there’s something to be said for anything that sticks in your mind the way “Spock’s Brain” does.