Star Trek: TOS The Best Episodes

“Space, The final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.  It’s five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!”


The Corbomite Maneuver

Season 1, Episode 10

Original air date:  November 10, 1966

Stardate:  1512.2

Plot Summary:

On a star mapping mission to an unexplored part of the galaxy, the Enterprise is confronted by a spinning rubic’s cube that blocks their attempts at circumvention.  A red alert is sounded, yet Dr. McCoy completes Kirk’s physical exam without telling him about the alert, which annoys Kirk.  On the bridge, Navigator Mr. Bailey speaks out of turn and is admonished by Kirk.  Still blocking their way, Kirk orders various maneuvers and speeds to try and get away from the cube, all this triggers the cube to move closer to the ship, increasing the radiation levels putting everyone in danger.  As a last resort, Kirk fires on the object, destroying it.  Annoyed at the slowness of his crew’s response time Kirk orders drills conducted as he heads to his ready room with Dr. McCoy.  In the elevator, McCoy points out that Kirk is too hard on his crew, especially Bailey who he may have promoted to quickly as he reminds Kirk of himself.  This bickering continues in Kirk’s ready room and the tension is not lessened by McCoy having put Kirk on a diet, as Yeoman Rand brings Kirk what appears to be a very nice plate of mixed greens.

Kirk is called to the bridge as a much larger, but elementally similar object heads to the Enterprise.  The large spherical ship holds the Enterprise in a tractor beam and it’s captain, Balok of the “First Federation”, tells the entire ship that he will destroy them in ten minutes no matter what they say or do.  Captain Kirk addresses the crew in an attempt to calm them and perhaps to send a message to Balok.  Kirk tells Balok they’ll happily leave but Balok simply reasserts the time they have left, Spock notates that engines and weapons are dead.  Bailey cracks under the pressure and is relieved of duty and sent to his quarters with Dr. McCoy, upon McCoy’s return to the bridge he and Kirk resume their bickering with Kirk temporarily losing his temper.  As a last ditch effort, Kirk contacts Balok and tells him about Corbomite, a substance incorporated into all Earth ships but not notated in any records, that reflects destructive energy back on the attacker insuring Balok’s ship would be destroyed along with the Enterprise.  The countdown continues and Bailey comes back to the bridge asking to retake his post – the request is granted.

Time runs out, but the ship is not destroyed.  Balok contacts Kirk and asks for proof of the Corbomite, a request that Kirk denies.  A smaller ship breaks off from the larger sphere and begins towing the Enterprise to an earth like planet where they will be incarcerated while the Enterprise is destroyed.  Kirk assumes a vessel that small must use a lot of it’s energy to keep them in tow, he overworks the engines to try and break free, finally succeeding after his crew is thrown from one side of a corridor to another several times, humorously.  Coming to a full stop, they find Balok’s ship is broadcasting a distress signal to the larger ship and his life support is failing.  Kirk sets a course to Balok’s ship to save him.  Upon beaming over with McCoy and Bailey, they discover that the “Balok” they’ve been seeing on the view screen is a mannequin.  The real Balok looks like a young boy and reveals this whole thing was a masquerade to discover the true nature of the Enterprise.  He offers them Tranya and they drink together, he then tells them he is lonely and offers an exchange of knowledge with one of Kirk’s officers – Bailey offers to stay behind.  The episode ends as little Balok takes Kirk and McCoy by the hand on a tour of his ship.

Known to Fans As: 

Ugly Laughing Baby Alien Episode

Notable Guest Stars: 

AD Call

Anthony D. Call as Dave Bailey.  Call’s biggest claim to fame was during his 23 year run on One Life to Live where he played Herb Callison.  Most recently he has worked as one of the rotating group of narrators in Amazon Prime’s true crime documentary series, Murder Comes to Town – which may or may not be returning.

clint howard both

Clint Howard as Balok.  What can you say about Clint Howard?  Like his brother, Ron, Clint began getting work as a very young boy through the connections of his father Rance – who was until his death three years ago a go-to character actor for over 60 years.  Starting with a bit part in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Clint has appeared in hundreds of movies and T.V. shows over the past 55 years including almost every iteration of Star Trek (except TNG) most recently in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.  His unconventional looks kept him from the leading man roles his brother was able to capture, but they have also made him one of the most recognizable and beloved character actors working today.

Continuity Issues:

This was the first regular episode of TOS filmed, they were still calling the Enterprise a “United Earth” ship.  From this point on, the Enterprise represents the United Federation of Planets.

Vulcan Nerve Pinches: None

Damn it Jim: “Am I a doctor or a moon shuttle commander?”

Kirk’s Shirt Off:  For a long-time, Kirk is shirtless and sweaty while undergoing his physical.  He remains shirtless for at least five minutes of run time.  Don’t know why McCoy put him on a diet – he looks pretty fit to me, now Denny Crane should eat some salads.

Aged the Best:

The effects where all over the place, the cube and the fake Balok look terrible – but the rendering of the sphere ship is really, really good.  Apparently is was painted ping pong balls but as a practical effect it works better than the cube which was rendered with the crappy visual effects available.

Aged the Worst:

Once again, there’s some discussion of Yeoman Rand that is uncalled for and points out once again that the women on board are essentially stewardesses, or nurses, or secretaries and if they are scientists of doctors they’re sure to leave that position at the first wink from a cute guy.

Overall Grade:  A, Just a wonderful all-around episode.  For the first episode filmed with the regular cast they have a great, lived in rapport. They very early establish Kirk’s, BFF that I can bitch at and with, relationship with McCoy.


Monday’s Episode:  The Menagerie Part 1 & 2