That One Time Spock Was Giant (Manic Episodes)


While I have highlighted the best of the worst Star Trek has to offer here on Manic Episodes, I tried to warp-drive the point home that these aren’t typical examples of the shows in their entirety. I had to take a list of 3 to 7 seasons worth of episodes and narrow them down to prime examples of extreme misfires. The choices were carefully calculated. Even Voyager and Enterprise have some excellent episodes. It’s not all salamander babies and magic reanimated dog goo tubs. I couldn’t just pick any old episode. This is not the case with Star Trek the Animated Series, because I could have picked pretty much anything from it and it’d be hilariously bad. It is… not a good program. That’s just my opinion, but I’m sure you’ll let me know yours. But look, dudes. It just isn’t. Every episode is patently ridiculous. And I can forgive some shows a lack of budget, because Lord knows the live-action series had nothing but shoestring and moxie, but when it comes to animation, if you got nothing, it really shows. Movement is limited, cels are constantly reused, they keep getting all up in everyone’s faces, and really, the big thing for me, they play the same damn music track over and over again, and it’s too loud, and I hate it. It is not a show made for binging. Here’s some credit I’ll give it: the aliens were weirder and the stories bigger, because their designs weren’t limited by live-action, and I think the women had a lot more to do. On top of that, I think they tried to be ambitious with their storytelling and that’s cool. But also… Man, was it goofy. This was animated by Filmation. I know this was a typical style and budget for the time, but I still think it looks bad. But look, everyone has some missteps. For instance, I could have said in the last episode but alas, I failed as a comedian and a human being. But we must push forward, and sometimes the only way to do that is by looking back. I picked an episode about a giant Spock, because why not? This episode was written by Walter Koenig who played Chekov, who is not a character in this show. Apparently Gene Roddenberry made him write 12 drafts of this and really wanted some plant people. And somehow after 12 goes, this was the result. Enjoy. We open on the Enterprise as they’re called to survey a strange new planet, and the excitement begins. *intermittent beeping* Kirk, Spock and McCoy head off to investigate some power readings, and Sulu’s fine over here, because after all, Kirk doesn’t know the motherfucker. [William Shatner voiceover] I don’t know the motherfucker. “A stupid purple dandelion. I must report this! Captain.” “Sulu! I don’t know you, motherfucker.” “Blblblblp.” -I think it likes me. -We always encourage our officers to make friends with the natives. “I guess I’m really happy about whatever I’m looking at.” [Shatner VO] I don’t know the motherfucker. [George Takei voiceover] Oh, my!
*canned laughs* -He’s been poisoned, unknown toxin. Wow, a wonderful Sulu episode. Well, this will surely build up some tension as our heroes try to find a cure for their fallen friend. -He’s got about one minute to live unless I can find an answer. Oh damn, never mind, that escalated quickly. Also, everyone’s taking this super calm considering Sulu’s got one minute to live. Bones is trying everything, but it’s just no good. Can no one save poor Mr. Sulu? “Fear not, we will help you!” “Uh, no, we got this.” Yeah, cool. You’ve got time to take some readings, it’s not like your friend has 40 seconds left in this mortal coil. -Just a minute. I can’t let you, whatever you are, inject him with some alien… dewdrop. God, it’s just so bad… It’s bad! “Did you know that vaping has never been proved to have any negative health effects?” “Ah Jim, I really don’t know about this.” “What do I care? I don’t know the motherfucker.” “Fair enough. If you have time later I can take you to this restaurant that specializes in molecular gastronomy.” “I’ve seen enough!” “Legalize it!” -These beings are of botanical origin. -Intelligent plants? Oh, whoa, what clued you in? Now, why are they wondering how they communicate? The universal translator was definitely a thing… Why am I even asking? Anyway, now that that whole Sulu dying business is over with, our crew gets an introduction to the rest of this alien species, a highly intelligent race called phylosians. -Readings indicate the beings used almost 70% of their brains. A very high ratio. A, not that high, B, let’s not go talking about brains again. Anywho, these phylosians are dead and the alive ones just keep their corpses around because… ehhh… Some human stopped by and gave them a disease and nearly wiped them out. So right away, we know it was a white guy. *bird screeching and spring sounds” Oh my God, I’ve rarely seen a design that makes less sense. I love it. -Plant life, captain. Primitive and aggressive. That’s plant life? Okay, yeah, sure. And I’m made of leather. -What do you think they’ll do with this, sir? [Shatner VO] FUCK OFF! Well, our crew is in some deep trouble. But perhaps there’s more to this than just some random attack by spring legged purple pterodactyls. -Something tells me we’ve just been used as a diversionary tactic. Look. So one thing I’ve learned about the Animated Series is that there’s no such thing as an understatement. Another thing I’ve learned is that if you’re being attacked by flying purple people eaters, if one of them takes one of your crew away, this was a diversionary tactic? Yes, the flying bedsprings were in league with the pod people, because once again some races deem Spock their only hope for some stupid reason. “Sabotage!” -Praise to the Master… praise… “You thought our fake voice sounded ridiculous? Looks like you’ve understimated the power of 70s voice acting. Legalize it!” Anyway, the plants are just following the orders of their leader, the Jolly Peach Giant. -Another plant? -No, definitely human, Jim. How- *laughs* 12 drafts! Giant says Spock’s his, so suck it. They either go back to their ship or face the consequences, and things could not be more dire. *bird screeching and spring sounds” -Beam us up, Scotty. Oooooh, he said iiiiiit. The Enterprise is in a real predicament. Because of a weapon-deactivating force field around the planet they have to look for alternative ways to get their first officer out. -One of my great-great-granddads way back had the finest garden in the south. I’ve got his recipe brewing now. Ah yes, an ancient southern brew. “Eh, if anyone wants to hear it, I might have an idea.” “Not now, Arex!” So the giant guy is or more accurately, a clone of him. He was a scientist during the Eugenics Wars, meaning yes indeed, this is tied into deep Star Trek canon, and we can assume Khan had his own springy pterodactyl thing. Keniclius was looking for the perfect specimen to clone and create the master race, which is Spock? Like, he wants an army of Spocks so he can stop war or something? I don’t know. This doesn’t seem correct. Also, cloning made him giant. Anyway, let’s go get Spock. “Would you be interested in buying some beard wax?” So, I don’t know, the plant dudes want clone Spocks to carry on their work of protecting the galaxy, because I guess they can’t be cloned for some reason and their race is dying. “Now that I’ve given you the let’s go see him in this not-trap. Vote for Bernie!” -Agmar.
-Use the belt lights. -They don’t operate. “We don’t have that animation available.” *Allison laughs and sighs* Oh, that conveniently led to where Spock was, that’s nice. -He’s dying, something’s happened to his brain. *dramatic sting” Damnit, why does this keep happening to Spock? Leave Spock’s brain alone! Well, he might be dying but at least they have a backup. -The dawning of a new era! The salvation of the galaxy! -Spock 2! “Sup?” The sequel to Spock. You know, I see where they were going with this but sometimes it’s best to just not mess with the original. [60s Batman theme] Nananananananana, nananananananana… *60s Batman fight stings* “Check it out. I can stop the weed spray from moving in my shot.” “Did somebody say weed?” Weird how the facemask goes over the light and everything. -His mind is gone. He no longer thinks. Spock’s Brain 2: Spock Harder. Our crew must get Spock back to the Enterprise to save him but giant Spock stands in their way. And as Keniclius explains, Spock’s mind has been transferred over to Spock 2. See, getting all angry, that’s classic Spock. -Spock’s death is meaningless. If it is only to create a giant version of himself. “Is that what I’m doing? Wow, I just realized what this all sounds like and yeah, I just got so stuck on this idea. I’m like, what was it even for? Creating giant clones, just like, big versions of the same person. What would that even do? Jeez, I suck.” “For the man buns!” -Murderer, you’ve killed Spock! [Shatner VO] FUCK OFF! Spock 2 will have no more of this nonsense. Rather than perpetuate the violence, he suggests he simply do a mind meld to bring Spock 1 back to life. Sure. Wha- Oh my God, where’s his body? Whaaaaa… So I guess there’s just gonna be a big Spock now and because he says there won’t be a master Spock race I guess Keniclius has to honor that for undefined reasons. Both giants will work together to help the phylosians rebuild. -How does that sound to you, Keniclius? “Could you please pronounce my name correctly?” -Any chance of teaching me that body-throw? -It isn’t just physical, you know? You have to be inscrutable. -You’re the most scrutable man I know. [Shatner VO] FUCK OFF! Well, this was just a bunch of nonsense. I never thought I’d say this but it was like I was watching a worse version of “Spock’s Brain”. The dialogue was terrible, the concept silly and the animation laughable. This was not my favorite era for this particular medium so I’m probably coming at it a bit more negatively than some people might. But I will say there were chuckles to be had. If you’re curious about the Animated Series I’d check out some plot synopses and see what tickles your fancy. But otherwise, I don’t know man. I’m gonna go back to the drawing board. [Music: Star Trek the Animated Series theme]

100 comments

  1. The animated series was dire by Star Trek standards, but it was alright by seventies animated series for kids standards. But I think you picked the worst animated series episode.

  2. Oh awesome, I'm glad you're sending up some of the animated episodes. They may all have been ridiculous, but it was always entertaining looking for flaws in the animation, continuity errors, and the just plain inanity of the plots. One exception, though: I thought "Yesteryear" was a truly excellent story.

  3. I dont know why but when I refresh this video, the ONLY suggested videos coming up in autoplay are kids toy videos and weird peppapig shit.. removed them all and asked not to have that stuff popup anymore and now it wont suggest any other content to play after this episode.. very odd lol youtube is a weird place sometimes..

  4. Ah, Filmation, the one American animation company that can make outsourcing animation look good.
    To loosely quote Animaniacs, "We're only limited to three new scenes per episode, and we use those to get here!"

  5. Consider this in context. TOS had been canceled several years before and they'd only just become aware of how starved Trekkies were for a continuation. So they did animated updates of favorite episodes (TAS had this redo of "Spock's Brain", there was a "Harry Mudd returns" episode, a "More Tribbles, More Troubles" episode, a revisit to the Guardian of Forever (where we finally get to see that Vulcan teddy bear Spock had as a child). Then the first ST movie which was widely derided as "Where Nomad Has Gone Before", followed by the first season of TNG where they got the mind-altering sweat from "Amok Time", among others before settling into some actual original ideas.

    You want something else to make fun of in this arena, there was also "Starlost", which gave us the wooden Keir Dullea fresh off his riveting "2001: A Space Odyssey" performance (not for nothing did Noel Coward once refer to him as "Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow"), doing a Logan's Run on a giant ark of a spaceship. And Walter Koenig even contributed to that (he did a little better when he got farther from Trekistry and directed some "Land of the Lost" stories).

  6. The Animated Series…yeah. In their defense, they were half-an-hour long (i.e., about 25 minutes) which made them kind of slap-dash. Not much time to tell a great story. There seemed to be more than a few that just kind of did the "we reversed the polarity and everything was fine."

    That said, I liked "The Practical Joker" and "The Lorelei Signal." The latter episode was sort-of a payback episode for Uhura/Nichelle Nichols since there was an episode of the original series where she was supposed to be in command because Kirk, Spock, Scotty, and Sulu were on the planet. NBC S&P said, "There is no way you're having a woman–a black woman, no less–in charge of a starship!" So they brought in a random guy to be in charge.

  7. Yesteryear and the Time Trap are the best episodes of the Animated series (though I also like Slaver Weapon). Everything else, meh….

    The whole point was to do episodes that they couldn't have done on the original series because to do so would cost more than the $5 per hour budget. So … we get a giant Spock. Right.

  8. I laughed when the word "GAR-BAGE!" appeared on the screen.

    Filmation deserves credit. The show ran for two seasons, completing the five-year mission mandate when added to the original series' three seasons.

  9. This was a blast. I'm so glad you have done an episode from each of the old series. I have no idea if there is a Discovery episode that is goofy enough for this treatment. I hope you take a look at more silly Star Trek episodes in the future. It is always a blast when you do.

  10. This episode is so bad the Two Ronnies basically copied it, called it a spoof and it was actually better.
    "Spock: (Ronnie Barker) You see Captain, whilst you have shrunk in the vertical I seem to have expanded in the horizontal. Most concerning for you sir.
    Kirk: (Ronnie Corbett) Why for me, Spock?
    Spock: Well sir, that which expands can only keep growing but that which shrinks may well disappear altogether"

  11. “Caniculus” in Latin = “bunny rabbit”. The character is called “Bunny Rabbit”. No wonder it wants to propagate.

    The episode was too short.

  12. I never heard of the Animated Star Trek show until it aired on a new animated channel we got up here in Canada in the late 90s. And I will admit it's a guilty pleasure. Hope you do this to other episodes.

  13. The thing with filmation is if you just pause and look at it it looks pretty nice but even Hanna-Barbera had better movement

  14. Say what you want about TAS; I did enjoy watching this show when I was a kid. Except for TOS, it was the only other Star Trek we had. And as far as I'm concerned, the first ship with warp drive will always be the Bonaventure.

  15. TAS is more canon to me than the Kelvin timeline. I love the style, it's so Hanna Barbera. At least with animation they were able to do creature designs that weren't just people with face ridges.

  16. If this cartoon is canon (and it was originally meant to be), then there's still a gigantic Spock somewhere out there….

  17. Ok, I have a soft spot for the Animated Serious – and this episode in particular. But this was really funny – great job, Allison!

  18. No… no.. you want a really BAD Filmation cartoon based on a live action adult's TV series, track down Gilligan's Planet. And no. Not even the Gilligan's Island cartoon, as goofy as that was. Gilligan's Planet. This is high art compared to that one.

  19. I asked on another channel whether the animated series was worth watching and someone posted the link for this and said it might answer my question. So funny, thank you so much for doing this, I think it does answer my question :))

  20. This was very much of a 1970's series. Limited colors, goofy as hell, and often horrible. Sometimes so bad they were good. Not in this case unfortunately.

  21. The only STTAS episode that matters is where spock goes back in time and pretends to be his older cousin to hang out with his younger self. Most logical.

  22. This is the one most people mention as the weirdest, most insane episode of the animated series. Definitely the right choice for an episode.

  23. Allison: you should cover the Vulcan psychic AIDS episode of Enterprise.
    And the one where they give a (stupid) explanation for why TOS Klingons don't have head ridges.

  24. DID I JUST SEE THE BARCLARY HOLODECK FANTASY EPISODE IN THE FIRST 20 SECONDS OF THIS VIDEO? Come on that was awesome.

  25. What I liked about TAS was that they actually wore protective gear when beaming on an unknown planet or a ship stranded in space. Unlike any other Trek series where they would scan the environment for like a whole nanosecond and then head straight into a potential toxic environment.

  26. There are PREEMPTIVE "Actually"s now?! I am equal parts amused, alarmed, and annoyed on your behalf.
    Actuallys gotta Actually, I guess.
    You rock, don't ever change.

  27. The voice you use for the alien at 4:07 cracks me up every time. I saw this video weeks ago, and just now randomly thought of that voice and chuckled again.

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