The Corbomite Maneuver
|"The Corbomite Maneuver"|
|Star Trek: The Original Series episode|
Yeoman Rand and Captain Kirk
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Joseph Sargent|
|Written by||Jerry Sohl|
|Featured music||Fred Steiner|
|Cinematography by||Jerry Finnerman|
|Original air date||November 10, 1966|
"The Corbomite Maneuver" is the tenth episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series, Star Trek. Written by Jerry Sohl and directed by Joseph Sargent, it first aired on November 10, 1966.
The episode features a young Clint Howard, brother of actor-turned-director Ron Howard, who plays the alien at the end (with an overdubbed, ethereal voice provided by Walker Edmiston). This was the first regular episode produced after the two pilots and the first episode filmed in which DeForest Kelley played Dr. Leonard McCoy, Nichelle Nichols played Lt. Uhura and Grace Lee Whitney played Yeoman Rand (although viewers saw them for the first time in "The Man Trap").
On stardate 1512.2, the Federation starship USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain James T. Kirk, finishes a third day of star mapping when novice navigator Lt. Dave Bailey (Anthony Call) spots a large spinning multi-colored cube floating in space. First Officer Spock orders Helmsman Sulu to sound an alert. Chief Engineer Scott cannot explain how the cube works. Bailey advocates attacking it with phasers. Kirk instead orders the ship to back away from the object. The cube comes even closer, emitting harmful radiation, and Kirk reluctantly destroys it.
As Kirk is having lunch in his quarters, Spock announces that a much larger object has been detected. A gigantic glowing sphere quickly approaches the Enterprise, filling the bridge viewscreen even at low magnification. Commander Balok identifies his ship as the Fesarius, the flagship of the "First Federation", explaining that the destroyed cube was a border marker. Balok ignores Kirk's greetings and announces that he will destroy the Enterprise for trespassing into First Federation territory and destroying the marker buoy. He gives the crew only ten minutes to pray to their deities. Spock obtains a visual of Balok, a grotesque, blue-skinned humanoid with a frightening face. Bailey succumbs to hysteria, and Kirk orders him off the bridge.
Asked for his opinion, Spock compares the situation to a game of chess: "When one player is outmatched, the game is over." Kirk, inspired by an argument with McCoy, replies that the answer is not chess, but poker. He then tells Balok that the Enterprise contains "corbomite", a protective substance that automatically destroys any attacker. Balok apparently falls for the ruse and does not destroy the ship. Instead, a small tug ship detaches from the Fesarius and tows the Enterprise deep into First Federation space where Balok states he will intern the crew and destroy the Enterprise. Kirk orders the Enterprise to gradually resist the tug ship's tractor beam. Just as its engines are about to explode from overload, the Enterprise breaks free. This apparently disables the alien vessel, which is unable to call for help from its mother ship.
Rather than flee, Kirk, McCoy, and Bailey form a boarding party to render assistance. Scott warns them that the alien ship is cramped and beams them over. They soon discover that the "Balok" on their monitor was a dummy. The real Balok, looking like a hyperintelligent human child, enthusiastically welcomes them aboard. He offers them his favorite drink, "tranya", to toast their meeting; they all drink to their new friendship.
Balok explains that he was merely testing the Enterprise and its crew to discover their true intentions. As Kirk and company begin to relax, Balok expresses a desire to learn more about humans and their culture, and Kirk suggests Lt. Bailey volunteer to remain on Balok's ship as an emissary of the Federation. Bailey happily accepts, and Balok gives them a tour of his ship.
The episode was the first episode of the regular series to be produced, after the two pilots, "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which had been made in 1964 and 1965. It was shot at a different stage, in Hollywood. Sets were transferred from Desilu's Culver City location, where later in the series a new engine room set would be constructed for a following episode ("The Enemy Within" production 005). Shooting started on May 24, 1966. The episode was held back until November due to the amount of special effects scenes that were not completed, becoming the 10th episode to be broadcast. NBC preferred planet-based stories which were ready to air before "The Corbomite Maneuver" because the miniature footage was not completed or ready when the series premiered.
In 2009, Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave the episode an 'A' rating, describing it as "TOS [The Original Series] at its best—gripping, well-paced, and thematically coherent," and noted the ending's note of optimism. In 2016, Hollywood Reporter ranked this episode as the 16th greatest episode of the original series. Io9 rated it the 14th best of all Star Trek episodes in 2014.
Actor Clint Howard, who played Balok in this episode, was very impressed with the acting opportunities in the Star Trek franchise: having acted multiple times including in three other Star Trek series. On being interviewed by StarTrek.com about his roles in Star Trek (TOSs "The Corbomite Maneuver" (1966), DS9s "Past Tense: Part II" (1995), and DSC's "Will You Take My Hand?" (2018)), stated "Oh, sure. I'm an actor and I love gainful employment. Virtually every job offer gets a legitimate consideration from me, but the fact that it's Star Trek is a yes at the drop of a hat. How many people have been on shows 50 years ago and are still being asked to be in incarnations of the same franchise?"
In 2016, Hollywood Reporter rated "The Corbomite Maneuver" the 45th best television episode of all Star Trek franchise television prior to Star Trek: Discovery, including live-action and the animated series but not counting the movies.
- At the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on October 30, 2010, Jon Stewart used the imaginary threat of "corbomite" in bottled water to illustrate how media figures (personified by Stephen Colbert) create and magnify fears in the public.
- Clint Howard reprised his role as Balok as a parody during the Comedy Central roast of William Shatner.
- Futurama episode, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" shows the image of Kif as Balok in the ending credits.
- The Simpsons episode "The Man Who Came To Be Dinner" shows the image of Mr. Burns as Balok in the ending credits.
- "The Deadly Years" - A Season Two episode in which Kirk reuses the Corbomite bluff to escape the Romulans.
- Van Hise, James, "Walker Edmiston: A man of many voices talks about his off-and on-screen appearances." [sic], Starlog No. 58, May 1982, O'Quinn Studios, Inc., p.21.
- Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman (1996). Inside Star Trek: The Real Story. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-00974-5.
- Handlen, Zack (February 13, 2009). "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"/"Miri". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
- ""Endgame" - 'Star Trek': 100 Greatest Episodes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- Stanglin, Doug (October 30, 2010). "Stewart and Colbert rally thousands to 'restore sanity'". USA Today. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
- Itzkoff, Dave (October 30, 2010). "Live Blog: At the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "The Corbomite Maneuver"|
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" on IMDb
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" at TV.com
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" at StarTrek.com
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" Review of the remastered version at TrekMovie.com
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" Side-by-side comparisons before and after remastering
- "The Corbomite Maneuver" Script Review