Star Trek

Season 2 Episode 18

The Immunity Syndrome

Aired Unknown Jan 19, 1968 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
158 votes
  • The Enterprise encounters a space amoeba cutting a destructive swath through the universe.

    This budget saving bridge-based bottle show is basically "The Corbomite Manuever" meets "The Doomsday Machine", but with a focus on the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship in place of the guest stars. Specifically, by highlighting Spock and McCoy's common scientific backgrounds and contrasting their specialties, writer Sabaroff brings out their competitiveness while maintaining undertow of hidden respect and friendship, laying the template for the relationship fans would want to see more of. Then there's the captain having to be the captain, forced to decide which of his friends' lives to risk to save the ship. It's all great drama in the short term, but there's also an enormous takeaway: an enriching of the big three's relationship that not only spills into all the future episodes and feature films, but also reverberates into past when old episodes are seen again.

    So why is "The Immunity Syndrome" a second tier episode, never showing up on top ten lists and rarely mentioned as a favorite? Well, the truth is it gets off to a slow start that features a lot of pain and suffering (including Spock feeling a great disturbance in the Force, as if dozens of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced), but little story. And while the episode gets by without any guest stars, it does lack the wild cards and outsider's perspective new characters can provide.

    All the same, while "Immunity" might be a poor man's "Doomsday Machine", it's still one of TOS's better second season episodes and worth a look.

    Remastered: The genius of the original episode is how it saved money while presenting dynamic new visuals, thanks to a simple colored liquid effect layered into the background. The end result has always been impressive, and the new version simply uses CGI to achieve the same idea. A "zone of darkness" gets a similar treatment, but there's a notable change in the timing of its first appearance. In the original episode, the intention is to have Mr. Spock hit a button to punch it up on the viewscreen. Just one problem: the show's sound editors forgot to take out the sound of Nimoy's finger thudding against the panel and substitute it with some kind of "boop" to sell the idea of a working button. So now CBS Digital comes along to do their upgraded versions, and you'd think the obvious fix here would be to simply add a "boop". (It wouldn't even have to be from the original sound effects library; no one would know the But the CBS team steadfastly refuses to change any audio, so they instead attack the problem a different way. The "zone of darkness" appears before Spock takes any action at all, rendering the button pushing moot and making it seem like he's just tapping the console for effect. This is all well and good, except for Uhura. In the new version, the effect is already up on the viewscreen when she asks Mr. Spock what he's looking for. When he says, "I would assume, that" and indicates the viewscreen, it looks like Uhura simply isn't paying attention.

    Meanwhile, there's also an oddity with the shuttle bay. The original version uses both a live set (for the actor's to use) and a miniature set (to show the shuttle rotating in preparation for launch), but the floor markings for the two don't match. The remastered version uses CGI to replace the miniature set and has different floor markings, but they don't match the live set either! The real issue here is that both versions steal their "shuttle about to launch" shots from other episodes ("The Galileo Seven" for the original and "Journey to Babel" for the remastered). In the end, it doesn't really matter too much, and these sort of discrepancies can be part of the show's charm. Besides, the added benefit of using stock footage is that it frees up the effects team to work on something else, with the CBS Digital team using the opportunity here to create a whole new look for the Enterprise for when there are no stars to light it. (Truth be told, lighting for space sequences is usually a cheat. But in this case there's such an extreme circumstance, it makes sense to drop the Less noticeable, but just as impressive, CBS Digital fixes a quick shuttle shot (where Spock falls down) which has dark windows in the original because the camera is shaking, making it impossible for a 1968 effects crew to composite anything into them. Using some fancy rotoscope work, the CBS team adds the proper view outside.

  • When Giant Amoebas Attack!

    Sorry guys I just can't agree on this one. Perhaps the worst of the star trek clunker episodes ever done. The story was hoaky. The effects terrible and the science non existent. If not for the great chemistry between DeForest Kelly and Leonard Nimoy this episode would be completely sunk.
  • Attack of the Giant Germ!

    Attack of the Giant Germ sounds like the title of a Powerpuff Girls short subject but it's the plot synopsis of Immunity Syndrome, an episode of the original Star Trek TV series. This slightly ludicrous premise actually turns out better than one might reasonably expect.

    The story: a protozoan of planetary size and capable of interstellar flight destroys wherever it goes, its negative energy field draining the power of both machines and things living. Kirk's orders from Starfleet Command: Destroy it!

    It's a weary crew aboard USS Enterprise and this motive seems to be projected a bit too effectively, exhausting the viewer as well. Just as well, then you won't worry how the ship and shuttlecraft manage to manoeuvre in a colloidal mass. Or why the ship doesn't turn about while on the retreat. A few maudlin scenes in Act II, culminating in the plan, daringly executed as always, to strike the nucleus with a ballistic missile with an anti-matter warhead. A fair conclusion, I suppose, but I would have enjoyed it more if Bones had quickly synthesized a super-antibiotic and Spock flew a shuttlecraft with a huge needle attached to the bow into the nucleus.

    No new sets, no guest stars, no new wardrobe, no new miniature shots, incidental music largely recycled from The Doomsday Machine are factors likely to have been critical in the selection of this script as it helped Desilu Studios recoup budget overages on certain previous episodes.

    Of the original 79 episodes, I would rank Immunity Syndrome around number 40.

  • The Starship Enterprise is threatened by an enormous, energy-draining space amoeba when it becomes trapped in a 'void of nothing'. A surprisingly good episode…

    I wasn't expecting much from this episode, but it turned out to be a very good instalment.

    In many respects, this story is rather like the first season's "The Corbomite Maneuver", and "The Doomsday Machine" earlier this season, in that instead of a new planet to beam down to, and / or a new space creature to tackle, instead the Enterprise is threatened by a giant space entity.

    The episode is captivating as the amoeba just seems too vast and too powerful for the Enterprise to escape. Of course, we all know they'll survive in the end, but HOW...?

    Kirk being forced to choose between McCoy or Spock going on the shuttlecraft mission into the amoeba is great, and one of the best sequences of the second season in my opinion. Both the writing and acting of it are of a very high quality.

    The moments when Spock is assumed to be dead as a result of his exploration are also of a high standard, and play out excellently.

    Then there is one of my favourite pieces of dialogue – McCoy "Shut up Spock! We're rescuing you!", to which Spock replies "Why thank you, CAPTAIN McCoy".

    On hindsight, this may actually be one of the best episodes of the second season. It's certainly amongst the best down the latter end of the season.
  • Kirk gets hooked on uppers and can’t pronounce Lt. Kyle’s name

    Top ten episode, folks. Fantastic piece of writing. The intensity of this episode is one of the best in the whole series right up there with "The Doomsday Machine". The remarkable thing is that there is no planet to beam down to or special guest alien or crew member to bring a refreshing element to the script. It's all done with the regular crew. I get all choked up when Kirk agonizes over who to send into the giant amoeba via the shuttlecraft, McCoy or Spock.
  • Of pseudopods and nucleii

    The reason I rate "The Immunity Syndrome" quite highly is that it doesn't follow one of the stock STTOS plot scenarios. This one actually has an original idea at its core, one which is developed well and gives Mr Spock a chance to sacrifice himself as he is "the only logical choice."

    The concept of a huge single-celled organism that absorbs all energy probably isn't a new sf concept, but neither was it a cliche when this episode of ST originally aired. There's no flab in the script. The Enterprise crew gets right to determining what the problem is, then takes the necessary bold steps to set the galaxy to rights.

    The character development isn't neglected, either. McCoy is irracible, Kirk is off his face on stimulants and Spock gets to try some sarcasm - "Why, thank you, Captain McCoy!". How can you go wrong?

    Overall, one of the better TREKs and worth catching next time it's on Sci-Fi Channel.
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