Tuesday, April 21, 2015

We Love Leonard Nimoy: Our Favorite Spock-centric "Star Trek" Episodes

Please accept our apologies for delaying so long in bringing you another Leonard Nimoy tribute.  The loss of him has really sunk in during the past month and we will continue to honor him here.  The Flaming Nose TV Blog has always been close to everything Star Trek, and as you can see from our previous posts we are collectively and completely devastated by the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy.  Though we at the Nose have watched and loved everything else Nimoy ever did, Mr. Spock was and is my favorite TV character ever and I truly can't imagine living my life without the inspiration and entertainment provided by Nimoy's (and now Quinto's) artistry in bringing him to life.

Star Trek: The Original Series fans will argue forever about best episodes, but we'd like to put our two quatloos in and offer up our favorite Mr. Spock episodes.  They might be different from yours but they'll be guaranteed to offer you some prime Spock viewing opportunities.  Actually many of these would be among the best overall Star Trek episodes too, so even more reason to take a look.  Our choices, in no particular order, but the best is first!

1.  "Amok Time" --  Flaming Nose Logline:  Mr. Spock's Vulcan half takes over and he is forced back to his home planet to take part in a dangerous mating ritual.

Naturally this episode, the first of the second season, easily takes this position.  It's got everything -- Vulcan biology, plomeek soup (Vulcan comfort food), Kirk and Spock talking about the birds and the bees, T'Pau,T'Pring, Stonn, the lirpa, pon farr -- and the most famous musical theme possibly ever to come out of a TV show (click here for a fascinating post by Sean Munger on his website).  Jane has already declared this her favorite, and I can't disagree.  Here is the original trailer for the episode:

The trailer for the remastered version which was syndicated a few years ago:

The full episode:

I have to say this next video is quite charming and adorable.  Be warned!  Meet Sarai!

2. "The Naked Time" -- Flaming Nose Logline:  A strange virus infects the Enterprise crew, revealing hidden emotions and threatening to destroy the ship.

Early in the first season this episode revealed a hidden emotional side of Spock as the Vulcan, after being waylaid in Sickbay by a smitten Nurse Chapel -- it's the first time we learn that she has a big crush on him which is referenced in several episodes -- contracts the mysterious bug.  Despite all his attempts at control, he breaks down in a spectacular sobbing scene and it's not until Captain Kirk gives him a super pep talk that Spock gets it together again.  The entire ship is a madhouse albeit a sort of fun one...until the dire consequences rear up.  The original trailer for the episode:

The remastered version trailer:

The full episode from Hulu,  click here to watch and also available on Netflix.

"The Naked Time" is a nutty episode with wonderful Spock moments which put it on our list.

3.  "The Menagerie, Pt. 1 & 2"   Flaming Nose Logline:  Mr. Spock is put on trial for redirecting the Enterprise in an attempt to bring his disabled former commander to a forbidden planet.

Though I don't personally love this episode, it's important to Spock history as we get a chance to see via flashbacks the younger Spock (actually Nimoy as Spock in the 1st Star Trek pilot "The Cage") and learn about his service with Captain Pike.  Kind of an epic episode, two parts, with a taciturn Mr. Spock facing a court martial and a death sentence for hijacking the ship to the mysterious Talos IV.  Pike, played by the terrific actor Jeffrey Hunter (who would have made an awesome starship captain in the series but whose wife put the kibosh on his further Trek participation), is a great character and seeing "The Cage" is a lot of fun.  Here are the two trailers for the episodes, the second with a neat Spock narration:

The remastered Part 1 trailer:

The remastered Part 2 trailer:

You can watch "The Menagerie" on Hulu.com or without commercials on Netflix.

4.  "This Side of Paradise"  Flaming Nose Logline: A mission to relocate settlers from a farming outpost on Omicron Ceti III turns into a fight against alien spores; Spock reunites with a woman who was once interested in him romantically.

This was among the handful of Star Trek episodes (including the above discussed "Amok Time" and "The Naked Time") to deal with Spock and his interaction with females, a subject of much interest in Star Trek fandom for these past five decades. In "This Side of Paradise" the female from Spock's past is lovely botanist Leila Kalome played by actress Jill Ireland, at the time the wife of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. star David McCallum and later married to Charles Bronson; she was also known for her memoirs about her battle with breast cancer.  In contrast to the new Spock of the J.J. Abrams world, our original Spock wasn't a ladies man so when an episode came along with a hint of romance we were all over it.

In addition to Spock's smitten behavior we've got crewmen in mutiny, Dr. McCoy sipping on a mint julep and terrific moments from Kirk as a captain whose command is slipping away before his eyes.  Directed with finesse and thoughtfulness by Ralph Senensky, "The Side of Paradise" was from the pen of Star Trek story editor Dorothy Fontana and shows her deep care and understanding of the characters.  A really great episode which looks particularly great because it was filmed largely on location, "This Side of Paradise" is a must-watch.

The remastered trailer:

The Sci Fi Channel's wraparounds when they aired the episode:

You can watch the full episode on Hulu (click here) or on Netflix.

Sarai brings us her recap of "This Side of Paradise" here:

5.  "City on the Edge of Forever"  Flaming Nose Logline:  When a crazed Dr. McCoy escapes into the past via a time portal called The Guardian of Forever, Kirk and Spock must go back to Depression-era New York City.

One of Star Trek's best known and highly praised episodes (and written by Harlan Ellison), "City..." manages to combine amusing fish-out-of-water scenes with Kirk and Spock with cogent sociological insights and ultimately deep tragedy. One of the treats of this episode is actress Joan Collins guesting as social worker Edith Keeler, a progressive thinker who captures Kirk's heart.  It's hard to believe that so much story is crammed into a mere fifty minutes, so rich is the experience of "City on the Edge of Forever."  Overall terrific, great interaction between Spock and Kirk and also McCoy, and we get to see the guys in civilian clothes which is rare treat also.  Plus, who doesn't love time travel?

This is the original trailer:

Here's the trailer for the remastered version which was shown in recent syndication:

In 1991 on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Star Trek, viewers named "City on the Edge of Forever" their 2nd favorite episode, as explained by the late great Leonard Nimoy:

You can watch the episode on Hulu (with commercials) or on Netflix.

6. "Journey to Babel"  Flaming Nose Logline:  A galactic treaty dispute puts the Enterprise and a shipload of diplomats -- including Mr. Spock's mother and estranged father -- in grave danger.

This is a very Spock-centered episode as we delve into his family and meet his Human mother Amanda and his Vulcan father Sarek.  From Star Trek's second season, "Journey to Babel" is another glimpse into the conflicted inner life of Mr. Spock.  It's an exciting episode with lots of exotic ambassadors in flamboyant get-ups, some great alien make-up, and a whole lot of backstory concerning Spock's decision to join Starfleet and his denial of his human half.

The veteran movie actress Jane Wyatt, a TV stalwart for many years as the mother of Princess, Bud and Kitten on Father Knows Best opposite Robert Young, guest stars as Amanda and she is delightful and effective in the role. (She reprised the role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.)  Actor Mark Lenard (who had already guested in the series as a Romulan in the first season) gave a masterful performance as Sarek, a role he was to repeat in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation as well as several of the big screen motion pictures.  Together they made you believe that a Vulcan could fall in...if not love, then something as good as...with a Human.

The original trailer:

The trailer for the remastered version:

 7. "The Enterprise Incident"   Flaming Nose Logline:  A covert mission involves Kirk and Spock in a dangerous encounter with a brilliant and alluring female Romulan commander.

A third season entry that manages to combine adventure, intrigue and sexual tension in a mix that showcases Spock's Vulcan heritage.  It's the one episode where Captain Kirk gets to try on a pair of pointed ears, a treat in itself.  The terrific actress Joanne Linville guest stars as the Romulan Commander, a formidable warrior, top-notch tactician and beautiful woman who is attracted to Mr. Spock.  Is Spock just playing with her emotions in order to complete his mission, or is there something more to his exotic flirtation with the lovely alien captain?  We think there is.

The original trailer for "The Enterprise Incident":

Full Episode:

8.  "Is There in Truth No Beauty?   Flaming Nose Logline:  A diplomatic mission to transport Kollos the insanity-inducing-if-seen Medusan Ambassador to his home planet creates rivalry between Miranda, the gifted and mysterious telepath assigned to the dignitary, and Mr. Spock.

Another good third season episode.  The tension which develops around the mental bond that Miranda hopes to consummate with Kollos -- and make no mistake, there is definitely a sexual aura around the joining -- but hasn't yet, and Spock who as a Vulcan can easily accomplish, is deep, real and troubling to Miranda.  She's played by the talented Diana Muldaur in her 2nd Star Trek appearance, the first one being 2nd season's "Return to Tomorrow" which almost made our list here (well worth watching, too).

The dynamic between Miranda and her ex-fiance (played by David Frankham) who is also on the mission is complicated and ends badly both for him and the entire ship.  When the Enterprise is thrown into a mysterious void from from which only the superior navigational skills of Kollos can possibly extricate them, Miranda's jealousy of Spock makes the mind fusion a move fraught with danger.  Great Spock moments here and also the appearance of the IDIC pendant which supposedly was a symbol of the Vulcan philosophy, or maybe it was just a marketing idea from Gene Roddenberry to sell necklaces...?

The original trailer for "Is There in Truth No Beauty?":

Full episode:

9.  "Mirror, Mirror"  Flaming Nose Logline:  A strange electromagnetic storm sends Enterprise crew members into a vicious alternative universe where loyalties are unknown and violence is the norm.

Spock with a beard.  That's basically the chief attraction of "Mirror, Mirror" and it's a great reason to watch.  Alternative universe Spock is piratical, sexy, determined, brutish yet still retains the great cool of a Vulcan. Everybody else gets a chance to play outside of their usual boundaries and wear flashier uniforms than usual, too.  It's an exciting episode with lots of action and character moments.

The original trailer for "Mirror, Mirror":

The trailer for the remastered version:

You can watch the episode here:

Here is Sarai's review of "Mirror, Mirror":

 10.  "All Our Yesterdays"   Flaming Nose Logline:  Spock, McCoy and Kirk are thrown back and trapped in the past history of a planet on the verge of being destroyed by an exploding supernova.

This next-to-the-last episode of classic Star Trek is a melancholy one, a mostly successful time-travel tale with no scenes on the Enterprise at all.  Kirk is sent back to a Musketeer-like era where they finger him as a witch, and Spock and McCoy end up in an ancient Ice Age where they encounter a woman exiled there in a solitary existence.  "All Our Yesterdays" gets put on best-of-Spock lists because it's one of his rare romantic outings, made more interesting and sympathetic by the presence of the lovely actress Mariette Hartley as the lonely Zarabeth.  It's basically Spock's "City on the Edge of Forever" moment and even within the time constraints of an hour show there is a deeply tragic note to the proceedings.  Also some good testy Spock-McCoy dialog going on!

The original trailer:

The remastered trailer:

You can watch the whole episode here:

That's all for now.  A mere 10 of the 79 episodse produced are in this list, but there are amazing Spock moments in every episode.  More of those later!

For now, remember how much Leonard Nimoy gave us when he became Mr. Spock.

Unforgettable.  Fascinating.