Gene Coon and Spock’s Brain

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by EnriqueH, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. EnriqueH

    EnriqueH Commodore Commodore

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    So I’ve read a lot about how Gene Coon was one of the brains behind the very best Star Trek episodes.

    But unless I misunderstood, he wrote Spock’s Brain under his pseudonym.

    What the hell happened?

    Did Coon drop the ball and make a human mistake? Did somebody take a good story and just rewrote it into a monster?

    I mean, I guess if George Lucas can make the original Star Wars AND Phantom Menace, then I suppose any writer can understandably make “a bad one”.

    Anyone know for sure?
     
  2. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe he needed rent money so he cranked out a quick script.
    :shrug:
     
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  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Coon wrote this one. Nobody else deserves the blame for the script.
     
  4. Maurice

    Maurice ATARI CX5200 Premium Member

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    As part of his early exit deal on Trek Coon agreed to write some scripts for the 3rd season. It's not as if he was short of work.
     
  5. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think Spock's Brain can probably be summed up in two words: Contractual Obligation.
     
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  6. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Did Coon do the rewrites to include RoboSpock in the landing party? My understanding is that the original version left Spock’s empty shell back on the ship, but Nimoy complained about being left out of the action.
     
  7. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I'd have to review the script pages to know for certain (and a visit to UCLA is certainly out of the question any time soon).

    But my recollection is that Coon was the one who made all the major changes (some at the direction of the staff).
     
  8. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    IIRC, after Coon quit Trek he, after a brief break, agreed to write some Trek episodes (possibly existing commitments, ask Harvey), even though his new day job barred him from doing so. Hence the pseudonym.
    Quite possibly his new bosses knew, but the pseudonym allowed them to pretend they didn't. According to Inside Star Trek he did need the money as he'd just left his wife for his childhood sweetheart.
     
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  9. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Spock's Brain is superbly entertaining and has a number of terrific moments, including the involvement of Scotty as the first officer after Spock is incapacitated, and the discussion on the bridge where Kirk requests feedback from Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov. It doesn't even have as many plotholes as some episodes that many hold up as not just good, but fantastic. It's a fun romp and really sells the Kirk/Spock/McCoy friendship in an uplifting way. The episode is not designed to be taken completely seriously, either. I have no idea why Gene Coon didn't put his real name on it and ultimately I don't care.
     
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  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    You may not care, but the reason he used a pen name is not a mystery.

    He was under exclusive contract at Universal, but as part of the release from his earlier Star Trek contract, had agreed to write stories and scripts for season 3. In order to honor both commitments, he couldn't use his real name on Trek.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  11. MrPointy

    MrPointy Captain Captain

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    How do you think the Spock's Brain planet is doing in the 24th century?
     
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  12. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It could happen! :shrug:
    Plus wasn't he the full time script-Editor on To Catch A Thief for another company and legally he couldn't write for Trek? :whistle:
    JB
     
  13. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Lol. Er, then so much for everyone in this thread and so many others saying Coon was too embarrassed to put his name on it? Where have you been with the above information?
     
  14. alchemist

    alchemist Commander Red Shirt

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    Spock's body was definitely left on the ship in Coon's outline (April 22, 1968) and first draft script (June 11, 1968).
     
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  15. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    And in the Blish adaptation for Bantam Books.

    Supposedly, according to one angle, Coon intended the episode to be more light-hearted, like "Tribbles", and that Fred Frieberger could only see it as being played straight. Although I also saw articles refuting that it was intended as comedy.
     
  16. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, "Spock's Brain" is filled with great moments. Just to name one more: I love the eerie bit in the teaser when Kara prowls across the darkened bridge and finally lays her hand on Spock. What is she up to? I could go on citing other scenes, but I'll just say the music score is also great, and I've always enjoyed this one.
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It’s been thoroughly debunked that “Spock’s Brain” was initially intended as a comedy. By the third season GR had dictated no more comedic episodes as had been seen in season two. So Freiberger already had his marching orders on that point. Little doubt Coon was also aware of this as well.

    There is a genuine science fiction story in “Spock’s Brain”—a living mind needed to run a civilization—but the execution foundered along the way. The missteps could have been fixed with a bit more rethink and rewriting.

    For me the otherwise viable story is hurt by specific elements that could have been fixed.
    - Make the Eymorg women less airheaded.
    - Leave Spock’s body on the ship.
    - Not have Spock speak during his own brain surgery to guide McCoy to complete the surgery.

    That last point alone along with rewriting or eliminating the line, “Brain and brain, what is brain?” would have elevated this episode.

    Finally a better sounding title would have helped. Even something as simple as “The Controller” would have sounded more serious, but I’m sure something better could have been found.
     
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  18. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Some rumors never die! (Also, my post reads kind of harsh, that was not my intention).

    Interesting! That script is pretty late. Maybe zombie Spock was from a staff rewrite?
     
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  19. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    As a 70s kid, it was fine. Now as an adult . . . eh. And the fact that Spock's voice comes through sounding like Nimoy's . . . which would require Spock's actual vocal chords and throat structure, not to mention a MOVING MOUTH to come out sounding like his old self. Oh well. There are even several things about Breaking Bad I can't stand, my top Gold Standard for TV plotting and wording.
     
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  20. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Agreed, Zap. The score is excellent. And that scene is very good and "eerie" just as you say. I like the way that Kara pauses and looks at Kirk for just a moment, as if she's considering him for a second, in whatever way. (If I recall correctly, the Blish adaptation also adds that she hovers over Scotty for a moment too, but she doesn't do this on screen.) I like the idea that she knew the crew well enough to evaluate their fitness to be the Controller. I've always assumed that the "ancient knowledge" that she used somehow caught her up on the exploits of the Enterprise. If they had ion power, then presumably they also had sophisticated scanning equipment or access to Starfleet records. One question left by SB is what Starfleet did with Kara's ion-powered ship, the Teacher, and the rest of the advanced technology. Which is not the same as a plothole.

    Thanks for that, sincerely - but that's my fault, not yours. When I typed my post including the overly zealous statement beginning with "I don't care," I was responding to those who persistently slag SB by insisting that Coon was embarrassed to put his real name on it. I should have said that whatever Coon's feelings may have been, and whatever the reason for the pseudonym, I don't just like SB, I really like it. That would have been a much more positive and constructive way to make my point, and would have led nicely and far more smoothly into your delivering the Hammer of Authority. :)

    As you said, some rumors never die. I appreciate you debunking it here.