Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Animated Series, Season 1: The Infinite Vulcan

The Animated Series, Season 1
Airdate: October 20, 1973
2 of 22 produced
7 of 22 aired


The Enterprise has been ordered by Starflleet to investigate a newly discovered planet on the periphery of the galaxy. On this world, they discover an ancient race of sentient plant life. Soon, however, they realize that this race is held in thrall to a... giant... who appears to be related in some way to a scientist from Earth's past. This... giant scientist... has designs on Spock, who he deems the most perfect specimen he has yet encountered. Creating a giant clone of Spock, named (wait for it)... Spock 2, the maniacal giant clone Keniclius 5 seeks to dominate all life in the galaxy. 

Notice the stitch work on my impeccably resized Starfleet uniform, Captain!



The question of this episode, for me, is: how far do two irredeemable facets of the story knock the rating down? As far as the first problem, I wonder if this episode says anything about the psychology of Walter Koenig. This is definitely a case where bigger is not better. The entire episode might be salvageable if the clones had simply not been giants. Why giants? How does that make sense? As best I can tell, Keniclius 5's plan runs as follows:

1. Wait centuries for someone to visit faraway planet
2. Create giant clone of perfect specimen
3. ?????
4. Dominate Galaxy!

The second problem is Spock 2's ability to mind meld with Spock 1, somehow transferring his persona back into his body, yet retaining his own. So Vulcans can copy their katras? Maybe only infinite Vulcans can do this... Then, in a move which surely verges on non-canonical, Spock 2 keeps on truckin' with Dr. Keniclius, working to better humanity on this faraway world.

It's too bad, because otherwise there is a lot to recommend this episode. We have dialogue references to Spectre of Gun, (maintain friendly relations with natives), a good science story of non-native germs affecting locals, a mention of the Eugenics Wars, McCoy talking about his great, great grand-daddy in the south, and, predictably for an episode written by a supporting cast member, a lot for the supporting cast to do.

Many TAS episodes are reprises of or sequels to TOS shows. But if you're going to reprise a TOS episode, is "Spock's Brain" really the one to choose? Maybe Koenig felt he could do that story justice. But then the giant walked in...

As far as production, the flying creatures were kind of stupid-looking. Nichelle Nichols does the computer voice, and she is no Majel Barrett. One detriment to animated shows is the lack of a true director for the voice cast - it's pretty obvious based on the differing renditions of "Keniclius" that we hear that there was no one enforcing pronunciation.

PS: Sulu is "the most scrutable man I know?" Wink? (facepalm!)

So how low does this go? I'm sorry, Walter, despite the good elements, this is a 1. This definitely sinks into the bottom decile of Trek.

Kevin: I really liked the idea of the sentient plant people, and design-wise thought they were really well done. But sadly, I must agree with Matt in terms of the plot. This is one of those times that someone, maybe an intern, should have just raised their hand and said "Giant Spock? What? Does that sound stupid to anyone else?" There is a kernel of a good idea here, and some nice Rodenberry exposition at places, but overall, this is a 1 for me as well for a total of 2.

1 comment:

  1. I think this episode has done more than any other to sour people on The Animated Series. There are terrific episodes but people just remember the giant Spock and think the whole enterprise is silly. On the whole "is TAS canon" question (just debated at:, this is my go-to episode in saying it's not. I just refuse to believe that there's a second gigantic Spock hanging out somewhere in canon.