Star Trek

Season 1 Episode 10

The Corbomite Maneuver

Aired Unknown Nov 10, 1966 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
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  • The Enterprise encounters an alien ship and is tested by Balok of the First Federation.

    The first regular Star Trek episode to be made, "The Corbomite Maneuver" originally aired after several other episodes because of the time needed for the massive amount of unique special effects; but it's a chance to see Trek in its infancy with a bridge-based bottle show designed to highlight the interaction between the characters. (In fact, with DeForest Kelley and Nichelle Nichols - not to mention Grace Lee Whitney - joining the cast for this episode, it marks the first time the original Star Trek crew we know and love was able to begin building their chemistry as a whole).

    Like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, much of "Corbomite" features Kirk and his crew standing on the bridge watching effects and attempting to outthink an unknown adversary who doesn't know what to make of them. It's not a story for everyone, with some people preferring more action and excitement (or more pretty girls); but it's very Star Trek, and director Joseph Sargent successfully builds the tension in each act, creating a natural sense of curiosity for first time viewers unsure about what's going to happen next.

    Anthony Hall stars as Lieutenant Bailey, with the character getting his own little story here (with enough interest to merit a sequel, though it never happens) but it's Ted Cassidy ("You rang?") as the voice of "Balok", the alien puppet, that steals the show.

    The main cast members themselves begin to settle into their roles quite nicely. McCoy delivers his first variant of "I'm a doctor, not and Spock (at the request of the director) responds to a stunning sight with "fascinating" for the first time. Kirk himself is firmly in command of the ship, almost enjoying the cat and mouse game with Balok. But the chemistry between the three is not yet there. McCoy spends much of the time playing the ship's counselor, talking down to Kirk and ignoring Spock (who sits helpless in his chair, unable to present Kirk with ideas and strategies). Looking back, it's easy to see how the relationship needs to be reshuffled to set up a tripod upon which an episode can be built upon.

    Other rough edges would later be smoothed out as well, including lighting issues, awkward camera angles, extraneous stage noises and uniform inconsistency. But for a beginning, "Corbomite Maneuver" accomplishes a lot, giving future directors a nice example of what a bridge-based story should look like.

    Remastered Version: As an effects heavy episode, this one provided CBS Digital with lots to do, though the original effects are rather stunning themselves and an example of early Star Trek's best work. As such, the remastered version is fun to watch but not as much of an upgrade as some other "effects" episodes (like The Galileo Seven and The Doomsday Machine). Sticking to the original ideas, the CGI team basically gives us the original ideas in a more realistic way. But with about six minutes of new effects, the work stands out.

    Almost as notable as not fixing Kirk's grave in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", CBS Digital leaves another mistake alone here: Sulu, supposedly responding to Balok announcing "You now have two minutes" says, "I knew he would". It would be a genuinely funny moment, except the sound editors forgot to insert Balok's line. While some versions of the episode delete Sulu's line to eliminate evidence of the mistake, the Blu-ray edition keeps it intact. (On the other hand, the ship's chronometer, with the original (also appearing in "The Naked Time") being incorrectly geared, is replaced with a visual that counts down time correctly.

  • A classic

    The Enterprise encounters a strange buoy sent out by an alien species in unexplored space. After destroying the buoy and proceeding forward, they also establish contact with the alien flagship Commander, Balok, who is well capable of destroying the ship. This is one of the earliest episode, so the sets, props, characters - Spock especially - and the general atmosphere of the show are a bit different than the later episodes, but that isn't really a problem.

    What I personally love about this episode is the suspense, the encounter with the unknown. We get a good demonstration of what the Enterprise really is about, and a demonstration of Kirk's command skills (only rivaled by another season one episode, "Balance Of Terror"). Balok's mother ship, The Fesarius, is also quite beautiful!
  • The Starship Enterprise encounters a mysterious alien being identified as 'Balok', which blocks their way and refuses to allow them to leave, threatening to destory this ship. A very good episode that leaves you guessing throughout...

    After 'Where No Man Has Gone Before', this was the first regular episode to be produced, but was held back until a bit later in the season (reportedly because NBC wanted more 'planet' based stories near the start of the run).

    Anyway, it is a really good episode. At some points, there really seems no way out for the Enterprise crew and you wonder how they're going to escape.

    Anthony Call is fair as Lt. Bailey, the episode's 'featured crew member', the edgy crewman who nearly loses his head when the Enterprise is caught in Balok's grip.
    Also keep an eye on Mr. Sulu, who for much of the episode carries out both his own duties and that for the fazed Bailey.

    There is the notable goof later in the episode, as Sulu says "One minute ... I knew he would". Balok's dialogue of "One minute" was supposed to be dubbed in between but never was.

    On first viewing, you are led to really wonder who or what Balok is. The outcome of the episode, on first viewing, is quite surprising, and a real twist.

    Although on repeat viewing you know the truth about Balok, the episode still holds up well thanks to some good writing and performances.

    All-in-all, a great episode.
  • Kirk tries to bluff an alien bully, and gets told.

    This episode is absolutely one of my favorites. When I was watching it, I had no idea what was going to happen so it was actually pretty dramatic. I also loved the side story of the tension between Kirk and McCoy over the erratic crewman. But I think what I really appreciated most about the episode was its sense of humor. I was totally cracking up when Balok gave them ten minutes to live, and every time Kirk would start to try and talk to him, all nice and haughty, he'd get shut up by "7 minutes," "3 minutes," etc. Sometimes I think Kirk is a little too cocky and it's nice when he gets taken down a peg, so the whole thing was so funny.
  • A little suffering is good for the soul

    'The Corbomite Manoeuvre' is an unfortunate episode that has its beginning, middle, heart and overall premise in the right place, but unfortunately fails to pay off by the time the credits role. Nevertheless, before I go on about the reason why this episode ended up failing to be what it could have been, let's go over just what makes the majority of it so enticing.

    First of all I have to say that even though it looks pretty dated by today's standards, I love the Balok puppet and regard it as one of the best original Trek prop aliens to be used in the series. Every time I see the thing on the Enterprise viewscreen, I get the creeps. There's just something about it that's always been unsettling for me. In fact, the episode's effects in general are pretty decent overall and as I said, even though they are completely rubbish compared to what we can achieve today, they still do their job well without distracting.

    Joseph Sargent who directs this episode, does a great job for the first two acts: pacing the action and character development; balancing them well to achieve dramatic and cerebral tension. Particularly effective is the scene involving the threat of Enterprise's destruction in which radiation is rapidly being projected at the ship. Not only does he create an atmosphere –with the help of the brilliant performances of cast of course- of immediate panic and fear, but he manages to escalate it to a heart-thumping climax, that pays off excellently. Unfortunately, it's a shame that he couldn't work better with Sohl's script to build this kind of tension throughout the entire episode.

    Nonetheless, what 'The Corbomite Manoeuvre' also gives the Star Trek fan (and this is something I could only really appreciate second time round, having watched the entire series) something to enjoy is the very rare circumstance of all the main cast being aboard the bridge for one very prolonged set of time. Now inherently, this isn't really something to write home about, but thankfully Sohl's script uses this opportunity to create many scenes for characters to establish themselves early on in the series, and to develop themselves and the relationships they have with those around them. This is further exemplified through the entire cast's fantastic performances, giving some of the greatest enthusiasm that they give for the show throughout its entire run. Particularly striking was Nimoy's sometimes aggressive take on Spock, although not in an emotional sense, strictly in a logical command-driven sense of course.

    The main star of this episode however is Kirk. Indeed watching him keeping his cool and dealing with the situation at hand is rather interesting to watch and Shatner does a great job portraying the captain. He nails his personality, even for so very early on in the series. However, aside from all the command and dealing with alien bullies, my favourite scene of the entire episode occurs when Kirk and McCoy take a trip to Kirk's quarters and engage in a conversational scene that really could have been left out for plot purposes, but would have surely damaged the show's sentimental warmth. Both Shatner and Kelley do a brilliant job here, and having just seen Star Trek II, really wish that they could have pulled off something just a little closer to what we have here in 'The Corbomite Manoeuvre'. For an episode so early on, it really feels like these guys have known each other for years upon years, it's amazing and amusing to watch at the same time. Although not fully developed enough for my liking and in the end seeming like such a waste of development, the character of Bailey is an interesting one, often creating some dramatic scenes that show the pressure involved when working aboard a starship; something we rarely see. Indeed, it's not only Bailey who seems to crack under the stress, many of the ships crew begin to act irrationally at times, creating rather striking scenes with conflict between crew members that is so rarely seen in the Enterprise's sterile crew. In the end however, everyone eventually comes together and works to 'defeat' Balok. Unfortunately this is done through a series of rather repetitive and unimaginative scenes that really hinder the preceding acts. Then comes the twist ending that I'm still not so sure about. In one sense it seems like a cop-out, seems like the writer couldn't be bothered with it anymore, and decided to throw in a cheap wrap-up. On the other hand however, it is naturally a fitting ending for a Star Trek episode and suits the show's overall arching message well. Plus, I can't deny that I didn't see it coming; I was genuinely surprised on my first watch, even if I was genuinely aghast at the same time. Overall, a great episode, but it's a shame about the lackluster ending.
  • Thats why I love this show because of the Action & Drama.

    I love the music selections that that they picked for this episode. So I like all of the characters and the storyline was superb. Every thing about this episode is superb. I loved all of the script's in this episode. Now "Balok" I wounder what species he is?. So I give this episode and this show 5 Stars. Okay I watch episodes of this show all the time and sometimes a ship explodes and the graphics are not very realistic but hey it was the 60's anyway. So this has to be one of my favorite episodes in this series. Good Day.
  • Kirk Plays poker with a bluffing bald midget

    Sound the red alert! This episode is in my top ten! I adore watching this episode over and over again. The side story of Baily coming of age as a crewman is wonderful. I can't say enough about this one. Did anyone watch the William Shatner roast on Comedy Central? Well, they got the actor who played Balok to dress up in that outfit. Of course he is a grown adult now. They even had his voice off sync with his mouth as they did in the show. It was terribly funny too. I couldn't believe it when they aired it.
  • Follow the bouncing cube!

    This epsiode has the enterprise encounting a alien race, who ,is out to test them. The first is a cube, then a space ball that is blocking them. there is plemnty of tension on the enterprise, especially when it came from Dr. McCoy. Tension is what I like on board the Enterprise. The crew is battling a alien spece ship which is testing them. Kirk and the crew just can't blast them. it's not their pledge. they must see this though and they had. I like the ending with clint Howard as the alien. the epsiode ended on a peacful note. I like that.
  • Poor Clint Howard, he wasn't even a cute kid.

    Definitely a classic episode. First off, the alien who turns out to be a dummy, and then the antagonist revealed as a small child played by Clint Howard. Even though both Howard brothers hardly qualify as handsome now, at least Ron was cute as Opie Taylor and decent-looking as Richie Cunningham. I wouldn't be surprised if those were actually Clint's real teeth. Is he British for crying out loud?

    Definitely playing with the audience until the end, this episode keeps you guessing what will happen to the crew. The "bad guy's" technology is obviously superior to the Enterprise, and it's not until Kirk's thoughtful rouse the alien appears vulnerable.

    All ends well for the crew and, true to form, the extra crew member joins the antagonist at the end. Good for him, since the extra crewman usually dies.
  • Establishes a series standard - Kirk's bluff

    "The Corbamite Manouver" may not be the best epsiode in the first season of STAR TREK, but it establishes Kirk's tendency to bluff his way out of sticky situations.

    When faced with a threat from an apparently overwhelmingly superior technology, Kirk tries everything he can think of to extricate his ship and crew from the dangerous situation. He tries running, avoiding and even fighting. When these fail, he tries good old Earth psychology. He tells the alien ship - piloted by a fearsome-looking alien called Balok - that if attacked, the "Corbamite" built into all Earth ships will detonate, destroying the Enterprise and its attacker alike.

    This stops the attack, but the alien ship takes Enterprise in tow for destruction elsewhere. The Enterprise breaks free, crippling the alien ship. Kirk's compassionate side is shown when he beams aboard the alien vessel to see if he can help and meets the childlike pilot - the real Balok - who explains this was all a test to determine the true nature of Kirk's race - and they've passed and will be accepted by the other civilisations of the galaxy.

    This was an important episode, as it was originally intended to be the second episode of the series and would have marked the Enterprise's first encounter with a representative of an alien race.

    But more than all this, it's an effective character study of how the various crew members react to a crisis of such magnitude. Of all the ship's command team, only Kirk has the quick-thinking creativity to come up with a way out of the danger that threatens the destruction of the 400+ crewmembers of the Enterprise.

    Guess that's why he's the best ship's captain in Starfleet ...
  • overall a great episode, neat little \\\"poker\\\" game that spock must now learn, and interesting lifeform...

    Well first of all the ship and the crew encounters a cube that blocks their path, when they try to go around it it matches their speeds and they try to go back they way they came, still it blocks their path. Eventually the little cube comes so close it emits a dangerous radiation harmful to the ship and it\\\'s crew, they destroy the cube. Later they find out it was a \\\"warning buoy\\\" and since they are a \\\"violent race\\\" according to this new giant ship they have 10 earth minutes or some amount to some things up before they are destroyed. The capt. tries to tell the lifeform that hey they had no idea, and the buoy was actually hurting them, the lifeform simply ignores him. Finally the capt. bluffs saying they have corbomite which if he attacks them, and equally destructive force will be returned back to his ship destroying it...the lifeform finally decides to send a small craft to send the ship toa planet where they can life then the ship can be destroyed. As the enterprise is being pulled along by this smaller ship, the enterprise drains it\\\'s enegry by breaking free (using their engines goign in the opposite direction always) the little ship then puts out a distress signal to the bigger one, the enterprise then surprisingly goes aboard the ship to help the lifeform as it\\\'s lifesupport is failing, they find out it\\\'s a child like lifeform with a pupper per say for speaking so people will take him seriously. The lifeform was the same in the bigship, it emitted a distress signal to see the enterprises true intentions. They end talking about ships and how their really quite alike.
  • great episode

    this is one of the best episodes of star trek.
    the Enterprise encounters a strange cube.
    When Kirk discovers that the cube will follow the ship or block its path, he orders the cube destroyed. At this point, an enormous vessel appears, and alien captain Balok declares that he will destroy the Enterprise in minutes. Kirk bluffs his way out by claiming that all Federation vessels have 'corbomite' aboard, which he will detonate if Balok threatens the crew. Balok attempts to escape in an escape craft, but the Enterprise catches up and contacts the real Balok - a representative of an alien race whose members, in adulthood, look like human children. Lt. Bailey, whose emotional outbursts had been disrupting the already fatalistic attitude on the Enterprise, agrees to stay with Balok as an 'exchange student' so he may learn more about the diversity of life in the galaxy.

    very good,unmissing for the series.
    my rating:10