Sunday, May 3, 2009

Star Trek--"The Corbomite Maneuver"

This is one of the few episodes I remember seeing as a small tot. Bother versions of Balok scared the bejeebus out of me, as I recall. But I was mad about science fiction at an early age thanks to Star Wars, so I was not discouraged from watching further. This remains a middle of the road episode for me not that I am older. The plot was way too thin to stretch out for an entire episode and the idea Bailey went from being a terrified weenie to an unofficial cultural ambassador in such a short time is implausible, , but Balok’s masquerade, which scared me as a child, is a redeeming factor now. I dig the weird aliens.

But that is the only redeeming factor. The motif of TOS to not use a “B” story to pad out the time is a serious detriment here. The basic plot is that the Enterprise crosses into First federation space and encounters Balok The alien threatens to destroy the Enterprise with his cube of floating Christmas lights. Kirk responds by warning him the Enterprise is carrying a fictitious volatile element called corbomite that will destroy both ships if it explodes. Tensions die down when balok reveals himself to be a childlike, friendly alien who only wants a cultural exchange. Enter fraidy cat Bailey.

If there was supposed to be a sense of claustrophobia about the crew being trapped in one place with no escape, it failed. The failure is even more glaring when “Balance of Terror” will play on the theme much better later on in the season. Maybe the production staff knew the claustrophobia would not come through with the confrontation and decided to make the inside of Balok’s ship to scale to give the impression that way. Who knows.

Balok was played by Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s little brother and one of the most famous character actors out there who never actually made it big. While Ron has cast him in a few projects, you have to admire Clint has never tried to ride his brother’s coattails to success. I am sure he was tempted to do so. I recall years ago he won a joke Lifetime Achievement Awards at the MTV Movie Awards. MTV stopped giving out the award after he received it because he was so genuinely flattered by for the recognition they could not justify keeping it as a running joke. I have always liked when he popped up in the oddest films and television shows.

I cannot end this without mentioning the curiosity of the First Federation. Aside from wondering why they assumed there would be subsequent federations, it was apparently decided to call the Starfleet governing body the Federation instead, so the region of space was never mentioned except in passing in the Deep Space Nine episode “Facets” as a trading partner with the actual Federation. The First Federation appears, but is not mention, on the star chart behind Dexter Remmick in The Next Generation episode “Conspiracy.” it is surrounded by Federation territory, but appears to have remained independent over the century.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment