Star Trek: The Original Series
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
Air date: 11/10/1966
Written by Jerry Sohl
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Traveling into uncharted space, the Enterprise encounters a mysterious alien probe. When the probe poses a threat, Kirk is forced to destroy it, much to the ire of the apparently superior alien race that created it. The alien commander, Balok, subsequently sentences the Enterprise to destruction for trespassing in their space.
Every element is in place to make "Corbomite" a big winner: The mysterious alien ship is intimidating through its immensity and its implacable commander; watching Kirk under such a high-pressure situation gives us the chance to learn a great deal about his poker-game tactics; and crewman Bailey (Anthony Hall) cracking under pressure is certainly a relevant story piece. Unfortunately, it all goes on just a little too long. Under Joseph Sargent's uneven direction, the initial suspense gives way to repetition until the whole crisis runs out of steam. The games with the tractor beam just can't sustain the energy level that the initial countdown to annihilation promised.
The ending, where it turns out Commander Balok (a 7-year-old Clint Howard) was testing the Enterprise crew, is still a neat twist—but it can't quite make up for the pedestrian execution in the latter passages of the plot.
Previous episode: Dagger of the Mind
Next episode: The Menagerie
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63 comments on this post
Fri, May 11, 2012, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
Sure some parts fall into the cliche category (It Was All A Test and Countdown to Doom, for instance), but they're *good*, well-executed cliches, which are different from bad clichés.
Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 10:48am (UTC -5)
I've read reviews commenting that the pace was too slow, but "slow" is a pretty relative term. There's not a lot of action in it, but there's a lot of tension, and a decent amount of humor. In addition, there are many excellent Kirk-Spock-McCoy moments, and those are ultimately why I watch so obsessively.
And I like to see Kirk being bold and taking chances, even counterintuitive ones. I always feel like Spock is watching and learning and with every move Kirk is solidifying the love and trust the crew has for him. Compare the reactions of Bailey and Sulu in this episode, for example. Sulu demonstrates complete trust in Kirk, while Bailey doesn't have the experience to know that he can count on Kirk's leadership.
And I bet that Spock would be the world's best poker player.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 4:03pm (UTC -5)
While the crew is trying to break free of Balok's tractor beam near the end of the show, increasing the engine power to dangerous levels, we get a closeup of Kirk's face, then of Scotty's face, then of Spock's face, then of Bailey's face, then of McCoy's face, then back to Kirk. . . etc. During this series of closeups, nothing is really happening or changing in the plot. We are just staring at a series of intense faces looking at the view screen. This happens a lot in Star Trek, and seems to be time-filler or an attempt to build tension. But I find it annoying. And the later Star Trek spinoffs didn't really do this.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
It wasnt actually common in the era, but still, the editing was very much a product of its time.
Part of the pleasure of The Original Series, though, is the over-the-top melodrama. It didn't really go for realism.
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Poor Bailey. Everyone basically picked on him and treated him relentlessly like an idiot until he cracked under the pressure of their judgement and made mistakes, thus seeming to prove them right, and feeding his sense of self-doubt into itself. I know how he feels, I've been suffering that myself with my manager at work; though oddly, recognising it may have helped me there.
I find it interesting how "purely Trek" this is, where rather than firing everything they've got, they sit and think, and don't even resort to it in last second desperation (if you're gonna die anyway..), instead just keeping calm. A couple of hundred years later with Janeway or Sisko, they probably would've blown that sphere thing to millions of tiny pieces the moment it showed the slightest hint of aggression. Makes you think.
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
My first line was:
but I used pointy brackets, and the comments form seems to interpret HTML literally. Tut tut.
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 11:53pm (UTC -5)
My favorite scene was the Bailey freak out. It's not often you see something like that on Trek. He is kind of like Lt Barclay. I did enjoy the whole cast, but Doctor McCoy, Spock, and Kirk are the break out stars in this episode.
Only the second episode of the series and it didn't take them long to move most of the pieces in the right place like changing the communication officer to a woman, moving Sulu to helm, and making the Doctor younger. I love the international flavor of the crew. I'm glad they were able to remaster the special effects, but it's a shame they couldn't show more alien crewmembers. Despite the fact they were able to produce a few episodes with many different alien races in one that is one of the few things Star Wars had over Trek that made it endearing.
Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 7:03am (UTC -5)
I loved watching Kirk bluff his way to a flop, but the end of the hand came far too slowly.
It was interesting seeing Clint Howard appear at the end. I recently saw the Twilight Zone episode Walking Distance, in which a very young Ron Howard appeared.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 12:15am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 3, 2015, 9:41am (UTC -5)
Weakness (and one for me that is especially galling in that it mars the strength, above) -- scene-stealing and line-counting.
I mean, one of the underlying tasks throughout this situation is to establish and maintain contact with Balok's ship. And every time Kirk gives an order that logically would have Uhura proving spectacularly that she's more, much more, than the Enterprise's Ernestine, Spock jumps in. Excuse me. Mr. Science, don't you have some sciencing to do? At your science console? Let the lady do her job. In my head, those scenes makes much more sense when Uhura speaks some of the lines that go to Spock, and I wonder if it was, in fact, that way in the first drafts ...
Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
The crew members in the corridor when Kirk addressed them were walking around way too calmly.
Bones bringing up his plans to enter a complaint about Bailey in his medical logs when they had three minutes left was bizarre. Same with Scotty smiling at two minutes left, and Yeoman Rand bringing coffee. Bailey was right: everyone was way too calm and casual.
What were those belts for, that they put on just before transporting over?
Some cool directorial/camera effects in this episode.
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 10:27am (UTC -5)
Maybe it's just me, but Bailey's freakout definitely explains why would Kirk see himself in him, because that's some quality Shatnering.
Thu, Jun 16, 2016, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
"Sulu demonstrates complete trust in Kirk[.]"
I didn't get that, actually. Near the end, when they're trying to pull away from the scout ship, Kirk says something like "Now, Mr. Sulu. Impulse drive too" and Sulu turns around and gives him a look like "Seriously?" before he carries out the order.
Wed, Jul 6, 2016, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
Still, the plot was fine but a bit too stretched out, as Jammer said. The face close ups are pure padding shots, they remind me of Dragon Ball Z scenes. In that anime, every single time somebody did anything of significance you had reaction shots of every...single...character remotely related to the plot, going as far as showing characters half a continent apart.
But I digress, in general I liked this episode. The final revelation works well for me and Spock and Kirk has some nice scenes together.
Spock: "Has it occurred to you that there's a certain...inefficiency in constantly questioning me on things you've already made up your mind about?"
Kirk: "It gives me emotional security."
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
I can understand Jammer's complaint that the rest of the obstacles the Enterprise encounters after the famous bluff can be seen as a let-down compared to the tension there. It certainly makes sense for that part to be the climax. Not only does it show the crew at their most stressed (people sniping at Sulu for his countdown, Kirk losing his cool momentarily), but it also seems to be the most dangerous element of the episode (countdown to doom) and definitely the most gripping part. But in the end, it is revealed that Bartok is testing the crew's reactions, rather than being a true showdown. Thus, from that perspective, Kirk showing mercy is the climax of the story, and needs to be at the end to tie this whole episode together. So while the ending may not have been as tense, it still was needed I thought. Besides, it drove the point home that one great bluff isn't all you need. Kirk and the Enterprise were tested to their breaking point, and that includes throwing more calamities at them even after they barely escaped the big one.
(It occurs to me that this episode is pretty similar to TNG's Where Silence Has Lease, both in the sense of a new species testing the Enterprise and the use of a big bluff. So if you want the bluff to be the climax of an episode, you can watch that one.)
One thing I don't get, though, is Bailey serving as mankind's ambassador to the First Federation. Or even why he was brought over there in the first place. The sub-plot of him cracking under pressure on the bridge and then asking to take his station again, to at least meet death with dignity, was fine. And I guess if Kirk was really grooming him for command it makes sense to bring him on this away mission, and possibly leaving him with Bartok makes sense too. But then, I thought the point was that Kirk was pushing him too hard? So shouldn't he have eased off on Bailey and not pushed a first contact mission on him? Furthermore, Bailey's breakdown had nothing to do with fear of aliens or anything of that sort, so his redemption by becoming best friends with Bartok also seems out of the blue. It doesn't ruin the episode for me or anything, but it does feel somewhat muddled unfortunately.
Tue, Sep 13, 2016, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
If there was never any intention to destroy the ship, the whole exercise becomes embarrassingly pointless, and Balok is basically a cosmic prankster. If he DID intend to destroy the ship for failing the test, he's an amoral killer no better than Dr Mengele. Rather than share a drink and a laugh with the guy, Kirk should make one of his trademark speeches about the value of human dignity and storm off in high dudgeon.
Otherwise a fine episode. :)
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Bailey is a central figure here and adds a needed human element to the countdown to destruction. It's fine if Kirk wants to let him return to his position given that he sees the situation as hopeless (before his bluff).
I haven't seen this episode since I was a kid in the 80's - somehow I don't think I feel differently now about it than I did then.
Just as a comparison, "Balance of Terror" later in Season 1 does a better job of the tension.
If Balok is actually looking for some type of interaction with another species, he does go about it in an odd way. He could have announced peaceful intentions at first, but then we wouldn't have an episode.
For me, 2/4 stars.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 11, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 2:24am (UTC -5)
Well, it is the last of the four episodes that could be called the "first" one.
The Cage - rejected pilot
Where No Man Has Gone Before - accepted pilot
The Man Trap - first episode ever aired
The Corbomite Manuever - first episode created after show was greenlit
Wed, Aug 16, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 22, 2017, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
There's a fairly realistic sense of shipboard life on a deep-space mission in this one. We see the cast struggling with fatigue, confusion, and fear as they work together to face a problem that quickly escalates from an annoying obstacle into a Kobayshi Mary "no-win scenario." Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Rand all get little personality moments here, and some of their interactions build the characterizations in key ways -- Kirk's patience in exhausting every peaceful option before being forced to bluff, Spock's early inability (which will soften over the course of the franchise) to go beyond the strict logic that tells him they are doomed, McCoy's concern for the welfare of the crew, Scotty's earthy practicality, the cool professionalism of Uhura and Sulu, Yeoman Rand's ongoing tension with Kirk, etc. And with all of these developing characterizations we still get room for the deftly woven subplot of guest navigator Bailey, whom Kirk has promoted too fast and whose freakout brings a welcome sense of emotional honesty (i.e. regarding Sulu: "He's starting a countdown!") to what everyone else on the bridge is holding in. Kirk's command style emerges vindicated in this episode as he cheats death (good foreshadowing for Wrath of Khan) and eventually finds a better use for Bailey than bridge crew, giving him a chance to develop and mature as an ambassador to gain some confidence. There's a lot of character stuff happening in this deceptively simple space showdown plot, but all of it feels effortlessly earned through cast chemistry.
While the scenes of the Enterprise facing off against the little cube and later negotiating with the enormous sphere start to feel repetitive and go on perhaps a bit too long as buildup to the titular bluff, knocking this one down a peg for me because of the uneven pacing that peaks early, the ending reveal of Clint Howard remains one of the most memorable and creative endings to a Star Trek episode of any series. Not only do we get adventure and the curiosity of facing the unknown in this episode, but an unusual first contact that results in both sides growing closer together through a "game recognizes game" scenario where they respect each other's ability to bluff in facing the threats of the galaxy's unknown. It's intriguing how the Enterprise crew never succumbs to the temptation to judge Balok negatively or lash out at him in fear even at the moments when he's threatening them or appears vulnerable to counter-attack; they seem to hold out hope of finding a peaceful solution to the misunderstanding even when things seem bleakest. And it all ends with them drinking Tranya with the tiny little alien in his tiny little ship. It's not one of my absolute favorites, but this is classic Trek idealism at its best.
Sun, Oct 15, 2017, 10:05am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 7, 2018, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 26, 2018, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
but i think charming is a really fair description coming from an old spacefart like me, because even though the episode drags a bit for me now, i do recognize that it is in some ways a perfect template-story from way early in production that informs many many later installments of trek. it’s pretty solid on every front even though it fails transcendence and there is something to be said for that--especially when you think about how little trek there was in existence at the time. where the writing fails at pacing and wild creativity in certain areas, it picks up slack in character work, wit, growing the ensemble etc (for the most part anyway, round of apologies to golduhura--thanks for sticking out that meeting and the first few eps. we see you girl. you’re there). sometimes it’s okay for trek’s quality to flag in one area and long as it flares in another and corbomite has a lot going for it when i take off my trekcynic detractor hat and put on my reading glasses.
no doubt that corbomite’s use of humor in character building is its crowning glory because the zingers here are tight, sharp and pass the test of time. spock suggesting bailey get his ‘adrenaline gland’ removed is a classic establishment of his acerbic wit, jims solicitation of ‘emotional support’ from him is a joke i’ve been laughing at for years and am currently chuckling at. i mean, seriously tho, getting too critical of this episode for being slow is failing to appreciate how QUICK it is amiright. points for just how much good banter this show spreads across the ensemble. the kirk/mccoy scene that starts in the lift is a wonderful expansion of bone’s brusque, trenchant moodiness (‘i never said that’) as well as his intuitiveness. kirk’s amused ribbing is playful and piquant and what it shows about their dynamic in a few short moments is a nicely knit piece of scenework that gets real mileage for how short it is (negpoints for yeoman rand jokes though, not cuz sexism cuz quality). points for spock/scotty exchange about spock’s mother.
i also give points to the episode for being interested in strategic thinking and emphasizing kirk’s tactical prowess (though it succeeds in this better dramatically than narratively). shanter really sells the whole matching-of-wits scenario better than the writing writes it. the episode lacks the nuts and bolts of a real move/countermove exchange and relies on spock’s exposition (this balok seems like my father) to establish baloks cleverness more than actually supplying it. still, we’re in the ballpark, going through the right motions to explore a psychological-game-as-first-contact scenario. i just think the ‘game' itself is ill-defined when it doesn’t have to be--but then kirk says POKER! and i guess that gets the point across well enough dramatically so maybe it’s a nitpick to wish there was more substance to the actual back and forth leading up to it. the bluff he comes up with is clever enough for the plot here even if it’s not as clever in point-of-fact as its name. shanter’s pokerface(voice) is on point enough to get a ‘well-played’ from spock though, so points for delivery too.
A lot of the drag in this episode really comes down to the editing’s slavish mirroring of background music/sound effects in the dramatic sequences, presumably an attempt to signal import and heighten intensity. im pretty sure the numerous reaction shots are a purposeful byproduct of this choice (rather than just for the sake of themselves) and felt artistic at the time rather than plodding and onerous, but switching to a different close-up in (literal) time with every change in the two oscillating motifs of the main piece makes every sequence with this gimmick feel long and over-directed. the music selections themselves aren’t terrible selections for the action, but the tethered editing detracts from both the pieces and the ensemble rather than enhancing either. some good ensemble writing is served poorly here by the close-ups too because the viewer loses the wider context of everyone’s reaction to new information and each other when the action must be stretched out to fit the musical phrasing.
the final revelation is classic twilight zone and plays as such--but this early on aspiring to TZ is not only forgivable for ST, it’s a smart move (again, works better dramatically than narratively) and the payoff of a twist-ending that dashes human expectations of alienness is cheesy but cheeky too. from the time i was quite a young trek fan, it has always been kirk’s (dareisay heroic?) decision to return at balok’s distress signal and render aid to his adversary (of moments before) that i have remembered most about this episode between viewings--and i guess if that’s what sticks with me, corbomite is basically star trek doing its job.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Transitioning at the end from this tense tactical situation to a borderline cute one, with a cute alien with a cute sense of humor, is an incredibly deflating experience. It's good in that way, because it shows how much of the tension was fueled by the almighty question mark, but weird also because it tempts us to discount that there really was an danger before. I don't think the takeaway should be "It was all a joke" or "all a misunderstanding" or something. It wasn't: the unknown danger really did threaten them, as Spock would attest to logically. So it seems to me that the episode really highlights just how hazardous it is to face the unknown, and yet how beneficial it is to meet new things and learn about them. That's a pretty core Trek message to me, but instead of batting you on the head with it as a moral message, it's shown instead through the simple arcs or the story tension. Very nice. Even as a kid I found the ending uplifting.
Another question the episode poses is how one should go about meeting the unknown. The temptation when facing such dangers is to flee, or to resort to barbarism (which Spock comments on); but the Trek message is that it takes a combination of desire, pure logic, discipline, and yes - simple guts and courage, to be out there facing that threat and stand up to it. The titular maneuver is a "trick", yes, although I wonder whether Balok ever really believed it. Could it be that there's something inherently respectable about a species that's willing to stand up to a superior force and puff out its feathers? That kind of guts may just earn respect on its own. People often seem to admire videos of a tiny animal taking no shit from a large threatening one. And I do think that facing what we don't know requires a kind of guts, because we have to be willing to give up what we thought was true to make room for new knowledge, which is a scary prospect for anyone. The bluff itself encapsulates this aspect of learning: You go in willing to risk it all on a gamble that you'll come out how you went in, being ok with either result. Now *that* is the attitude necessary for learning to take place. It fits right in with the "risk is our business" motto, which again I feel like TOS got right much more so than the other franchise series.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
completely agree. i had a little trouble figuring out how i wanted to talk about this one because i think of it quite fondly and couldn't quite put my finger on why i felt more disengaged this watchthru when i never remember feeling that before, but i like the angle you found for discussing it. much better fare than what i brought to the table. your small animal with puffed up feathers image lit me up. seeing balok as respecting this plucky little monkey with the nerve to bluff him is a great. wonderful metaphor.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
It does have its charm as JTIBERIUS suggests, but that’s something that becomes clear only at the end. It ends on a nice, (and maybe too) hopeful of a note, which is also the usual Trek. Quite the contrast with “Dagger of the Mind”!
Kirk’s bluff is the only thing he’s left with — the Enterprise is powerless against Balok’s Fesarius. But given that Balok is actually interested in making contact, I think he allows himself to get bluffed. Would he really have destroyed the Enterprise at the end of the countdown? I think not. But it was a test for Kirk & co. and facing an unknown alien, they definitely have to believe their lives are about to be ended. But Balok wants to set up first contact on his terms — the Enterprise is in no position to dictate, until they cause some grief to the pilot vessel tractoring them.
Bailey’s role is that of the wildcard here. But he’s used in the familiar transition — going from the outhouse to the penthouse, so to speak. He is being tested as well — he fails, but is given another chance and is ultimately “rewarded”. This is another common theme in fiction, not isolated to Trek, but one that is also quite primordial.
So I think “Corbomite” really establishes a few fundamental Trek themes and it should have aired among the first 3 episodes.
Wed, Nov 28, 2018, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
you're absolutely right about the production order--i didn't go back to check specifically but it's obvious from golduhura alone. watching it 10th definitely does not do it any favors--i routinely try to watch naked time a few eps later in personal viewing already, maybe i'll think about just switching the two from now on. i bet id like both better that way. plus, as you and Peter G both kind of say 'first contact' is part of the business of trek, so the earlier the better honestly.
also, per you're comment from dagger thread re: bailey. basically the whole time watching this i was thinking how you'd never see that good a young character actor guest starring on a 90s trek.
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
Great point by JohnC above with regard to Spock's comment to Bailey about keeping his voice down :))
Yeoman bringing coffee 2 minutes from destruction is so off the wall.
And what on earth was that crew member wearing in the foreground in those corridor scenes where they were being swung from wall to wall? LOL.
Mon, Mar 11, 2019, 8:05am (UTC -5)
Blalok was in complete control of the situation. The episode is more of an early introduction character study of the crew.
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 3:07am (UTC -5)
I also wrote a short review here, if you want to have a look:
Fri, Mar 15, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
--The Enterprise is mapping new areas when they run into a colorful spinning space bouy.
--The cube keeps moving to block the Enterprise's progress. They destroy it.
--Very, very little going on. Rand makes an appearance so she can be referred to as a possible object of sexual desire. So the required sexy-sexy part is over, I think, with Rand serving as the usual fallback female when no there are no sultry-siren guest stars.
--Now, they've run into a sphere. Lt Bailey getting freaked out. The sphere plans to destroy the Enterprise in ten minutes, generously giving them time to prepare themselves to meet their maker.
--Jim has a weird, forced, nonsensical exchange about bluffing with the Doc, plainly giving us a clue about how this will be resolved.
--The ever brash Kirk fakes out the enemy with a big ol' classic Kirky bluff.
--The small ship dragging around the Enterprise reminds me of when I tried to tow a little trailer with my Honda. I sure hope the ship won't have to go uphill, 'cause that's not gonna work
--Eons go by as we watch the small ship out front. Eons and more eons. Finally the Space-Honda has to give up, and the Enterprise goes to help the now disabled Civic.
--OMG, little Clint Howard is driving the ship. Oh, my, my. He does a good job.
--Moral of the story: Size doesn't matter. Ok, Roddenberry, whatever you say.
Slow moving, not great.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 8, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
Lt. Baley had a great arc going from being a green officer we might associate with the military of our time, while Kirk and company sharply contrasted that by being the military (or non-military) of the future. This reminds me much of TNG’s “Darmok” with Riker being the naively aggressive officer and Picard navigating real cross-cultural alien understanding. I think I’ll go 4 stars.
Sun, Dec 29, 2019, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
BAAAAAAH buh-buh BUUUUUH
Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 10:30am (UTC -5)
This is somewhat fascinating. The episode is basically us watching strange objects for 45 minutes. Strangely enough I was never bored. But there is the very boring side plot about Bailey. That guy was 26 during filming but looks 40 and the Make up department really has buy some powder. Oh and I hope Uhura threw those earrings into a bottomless pit.
There are several funny little scenes in the episode. Kirk remembering several quotes which Bones flat out denies to ever have said, the yeoman shooting coffee with a phaser, Kirk eating healthy.
Good stuff wrapped around pure nothingness.
Tue, Mar 24, 2020, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 10, 2020, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 6, 2020, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
In Kirk's first log entry for this episode, he says stardate 1512.2. The second time he mentions a stardate, it's 1513.8. What's odd is the stardate for "The Man Trap" is 1513.1.
We know the order of the episodes to air was not the order in which they were produced but what else is odd is you have 2 episodes with stardates in the 1300s ("Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "Mudd's Women") and then nothing in the 1400s. Then you have some episodes in the 1500s. Haven't looked up how stardates correspond to the regular calendar, but it would seem Kirk's Enterprise went a long period of time without anything worthy of an episode. And it would do so again when stardates jump in to the 2700s for 3 episodes starting with "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 7:52am (UTC -5)
And that ending was cringe-worthy lol. Sorry, but it was.
Tue, Nov 17, 2020, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
I agree with @JTIBERIUS, the banter is top notch. Love the give and take between Jim and Bones in the Captain's quarters:
MCCOY: What are you going to do with that six percent when they give it to you, Jim?
KIRK: I'm going to take it, and I'm going to [???shove it up your ass???]
There are so many fun lines, but the other that really got me literally laughing out loud was pointed out by @Mertov above,
MCCOY: I thought the power was off in the galley.
RAND: I used a hand phaser, and zap. Hot coffee.
Although I guess the internal sensors were also off at the time:
And then of course Lt. Bailey, the 1960's version of silly-Tilly/pts-Detmer. Fun times.
@Chrome, brilliant point about Bones allowing the red alert to go on while he finished his medical examination of Kirk. Really sets the calm, professional tone of this crew. And it puts Lt. Bailey's breakdown into even more of a context. This is really a push-you-to-the-edge type of situation.
The big difference with Where Silence Has Lease, @Skeptical, is that in that TNG episode, it was no bluff. But the foreboding atmosphere was so similar, and of course the crew was equally professional. These days, Michael, like Han, would have shot first.
What's the deal with Kirk identifying himself as captain of the United *Earth* Ship Enterprise?
KIRK: This is the United Earth ship Enterprise.
And Clint Howard is from the Federation?
BALOK: This is Balok, Commander of the flagship Fesarius of the First Federation.
I wonder if Gene had originally thought Earth would stumble upon a galactic federation and join up as part of the ongoing Star Trek plot? Sort of like Andromeda - where Earth had joined a Commonwealth long after it was founded by the Vedrans.
Anyone know the backstory there?
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 1:03am (UTC -5)
I like how Kirk bluffs and how we see the crew act in a tough situation
I also like how Balok is really a harmless person. **I thought he was a midget-I didn't realise it was a kid! That was VERY good acting for a 7 year old! But then again, he's Ron Howard's little brother! And Bryce Dallas' uncle!**
Has anyone read the Shatnerverse books? In that, the mirror universe Kirk tortured and killed the mirror universe Balok. (Off-screen, but still ghastly stuff!)
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 5:27am (UTC -5)
I always assumed it was a little person too. Neat!
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 15, 2021, 4:53am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 6, 2021, 2:26am (UTC -5)
Kirk and poker? That established a theme that would recur several times in Classic Trek.
Sat, Jul 3, 2021, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
Still, I really really like how the early S1 episodes make a point to show all the little details of how the Enterprise is it’s own little world. There are more crewmembers walking the halls, more meetings with “department heads”, even just McCoy sharing some brandy while getting Kirk to eat a salad. The seemed to have the bridge full with extras all the time here (like that over-the-shoulder shot where Kirk first gets onto the bridge; very rarely seen).
The S2 and S3 episodes seem to drop all of these daily life details, but it makes the show so much richer.
Sat, Aug 7, 2021, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
BAAAAAAH buh-buh BAAAAAAH
BAAAAAAH buh-buh BUUUUUH
And I lol'd...
This was the first episode that was made after the show finally got sold, but it wasn't aired until much later, probably because the visual effects took a LOOOONG time to get right in the editing room. Seems like they filmed it, and got the effects shots back and said "Ah, shit, this isn't usable at all" and had to go re-do it. Or they could have just decided to air another episode for all I know, heck.
But the cool thing about this episode is that it has everything basically established for how Star Trek would go on to be (with the exception of Chekhov). It isn't often a series starts out, just having things established that way, and I'm betting this was why the studio suits were willing to give Star Trek the chances it got; this was a strikingly original idea.
Fri, Mar 11, 2022, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
They're chugging along when suddenly they're stymied by the Rubik's Cube from Hell. I'm with Bailey: Just shoot the damn thing and go on your merry way. I wanted Bailey on my crew when Kirk says, "Time for action, gentlemen," and the first thing Bailey does is send a message to arm the phasers.
Next comes the Disco Ball from Hell. It's larger and more powerful, but it looks far less menacing than the demented cube for some reason. Cubes look more evil than spheres, I guess. There's more hand-wringing, and Bailey starts to get cabin fever after a goofy, ominous Voice from Hell threatens their destruction. Kirk is right, by the way -- "Warning Buoy," my ass. The Enterprise attempted to disengage and the Cube from Hell chased them. Then it spewed lethal radiation. So damn right he's going to point that out to the Voice from Hell, if anything to unleash some righteous indignation before he starts playing his cards. And that brings us to:
The Giant Pulsating Alien Head from Hell. The notions of brinksmanship and poker and bluffing is introduced, which I think is the only interesting idea they went with in the entire episode--Spock analogizes this situation to Chess, and says they've been Checkmated, but Kirk decides, "No, Fuck That," what will save them is raising and bluffing----poker. As a player of both chess and poker, I understood both points perfectly and got the obvious allusions to real-world crises: sometimes it's chess, but more often it's poker.
There are a few good lines throughout. Most of them have already been mentioned above (Janice's phaser explanation for the hot coffee was a hoot, and the banter between McCoy and Kirk was delightful); I especially liked Bones' crack about ship-wide alerts: "If I jumped every time a light came on around here, I'd end up talking to myself."
But although I appreciate that they tried to do a quiet, simple Enterprise vs. Alien tale, and Bailey's little arc of freaking out at their predicament was slightly interesting, everything seemed muted and off this time. I think the general pacing killed it. Nothing is wrong with a slow pace, but this was a *boringly* slow pace. There was hardly any tension here, and that's pretty necessary in a submarine movie. We know the Enterprise isn't going to be destroyed, but the events leading to the ultimate resolution just weren't terribly fascinating. I thought they had me with the poker angle, but the bluffing itself was uninspired and obvious. It turns out to be nothing more than childish games, literally.
This brings me to one last thing I have to say about the final scene when they board the ship and discover the alien's true nature:
After all that time of getting blocked, threatened, screwed with, and jerked around...
Had I been the captain, I'd have shot that little brat.
Spock, on the purpose of the Cube -- "Flypaper."
Kirk -- "And you don't recommend sticking around."
My Grade: C
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
PS: I always thought the alien was played by a midget.
Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Plenty to nitpick, but I liked it. I'd give it 3 stars.
Thu, Jun 2, 2022, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 2, 2022, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 27, 2022, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 30, 2022, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 8, 2023, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
As the first episode produced after the series was greenlit, Corbomite has the exciting but challenging task of establishing standards for the rest of TOS. In a way, Bailey represents the TOS production crew, or the viewers, or maybe both. Bailey is just getting started on this five year mission, unsure exactly what to do or how to act. He's overworked, and pushed too hard. He makes mistakes, gets banished, but even so he begs to return to sit and watch what will happen.
Mon, Feb 27, 2023, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
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