This is a favorite episode for me; perhaps because it is one of the first episodes I bought on video tape with allowance money I had saved up.
You don’t see “The Corbomite Maneuver” brought up a lot as a top and/or favorite episode. “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “The City on the Edge of Forever” inevitably come up. However, if you bring up “The Corbomite Maneuver” it seems a lot of people seem like it, it just doesn’t necessarily come to mind when top episode lists are made.
“The Corbomite Maneuver” has some interesting interactions between the crew and probably the largest starship ever to be shown during TOS.
As a child, Ted Cassidy’s voice, along with the creepy cat eyed alien puppet, both scared and intrigued me. Cassidy would give me the heebie-jeebies again a few episodes later, in person this time, as the intimidating android Ruk in “What are Little Girls Made Of?”
This episode was the first to be filmed when the series was picked up. In-universe, this makes it sometime after “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” obviously some time has passed — crew members have come and gone and the Enterprise has been refit with new warp engines, deflector dish, and a new bridge module.
Along with the ship upgrades, is also a new mix of crew member: Uhura is relatively new, Rand appears to be brand new, and Sulu’s promotion to helmsman is recent as well. Kirk and McCoy are already quite comfortable and casual with one another; McCoy is rather candid about Kirk’s actions with Bailey, and even gives Kirk a little friendly jab under the guise of psychology.
Kirk’s mettle really shines in the episode; the name of the episode is titled after his famous bluff of the obviously superior force. He would use it again to get out of trouble with the Romulans in the second season.
McCoy, Kirk, and Lt. Bailey go exploring
We’re reminded that not every young officer is perfect, newly promoted Lieutenant Dave Bailey is being pushed hard and he flips out as the time to their destruction ticks away, can you blame him? A very large starship is sitting directly in front of your ship, there is a creepy alien on the viewscreen, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. This reminds us that people in TOS aren’t perfect and new bridge officers often have an adjustment to make in the face of real stress (*cough* Wesley Crusher).
While the cast interaction has mostly found the formula we will come to know and love, Spock is still a bit out of character; he makes a rather caustic comment to Bailey about getting his adrenal gland removed.
Production wise there are still some rough edges. The odd height collars on some of the uniform shirts soon disappear. Some very obvious zippers on the collars and even a few collars not fully zipped up make it into the episode. The bridge is lit differently then it would be in the later episodes. There is a lot of emphasis on the lighting over the top of the workstations which flood colored light down. The lighting scheme used in this episode also brings out a shininess in the actors skin. Thankfully, this will change after the next episode produced (Mudd’s Women). Lastly, Spock is still being shot significantly different than the rest of the crew. He gets odd angles that shoot upward or slightly askew. We get it, he’s an alien… move on. Again, after “Mudd’s Women” this mostly stops.
Spock with high collar and shot from slightly below
The CBS Digital team has really hit their stride with this episode. In an early interview with the CBS team Mike Okuda said he really liked the work they were doing on “The Corbomite Maneuver,” I can see why. The new CG shots add up to around 6 ½ minutes. This is quite a bit more then most other episodes.
The new CG is awe inspiring. The detail on the Fesarius as it dwarfs the Enterprise is incredible. The CBS Digital team made a good call and kept the overall design esthetics but made it look like an actual ship, the round Christmas bulbs of the old model are now geodesic domes interconnected by machinery and docking clamps, etc.
Dwarfed by the Fesarius
The team also paid attention to the light the objects in this episode emit. The buoy’s spinning colors are reflected on the Enterprise’s hull, likewise the giant yellow-orange Fesarius washes the tiny Enterprise in light. It feels like what they would have wanted to do in the 1960s if they could have. Remember TOS was touted by NBC as a reason to buy a new color TV set. So the proper lighting from the spinning cube and the wash from the Fesarius is perfect. It would sure make me want a color TV if I were watching Star Trek on an old black and white set. Sort of like how we all want to have the remastered episodes in their full high definition glory, who knows it might help sell an HDTV or two …are you listening CBS?
The CBS Digital team has gone above and beyond their initial mission of simply recreating the space shots in CG. There are two new shots that have no equivalent in the original episode which is just fine with me as the shots that these replace in the original were simply recycled shots. The first is a shot of the buoy sitting in the Enterprise’s path as seen over the saucer section, the second is a wonderful starboard flank shot of the Enterprise being towed by Balok’s pilot ship.
Being towed by Balok’s pilot shop
The last Enterprise sequence of note is when the Enterprise finally overloads the pilot vessel and is able to break free of the tractor beam. The break away actually breaks away! Kirk orders a right angle sheer and we finally get it!
Other smaller fixes include redoing the ship’s time clock on Sulu’s control panel for better continuity with other Star Trek timekeeping methods, as previously seen in “The Naked Time” remastered. And of course the ship’s phaser fire is made consistent, with the awkward angled beams now shooting straight, and the color standardized as blue.
Perhaps the best compliment is that the new CG looks like it belonged all along. At a quick glance of the cube or a shot of the Fesarius on the viewscreen a casual viewer may not even notice something has changed, things “just look good”, and this is a huge accomplishment.
Excellent review. I never even noticed Spock’s low angle shots before. Fascinating.
Nice review. I’m also a big fan of this episode but tend to overlook it!
So did they replace Balok’s missing cue to which Sulu responds ‘I knew he would?’
Or was that bit cut?
I’ve always liked the script on this episode. The actors seem more natural.
The lines sound as a ships captian would speak to his crew. The light
is softer as mentioned and enhances the photography. Rough yes but a
very good beginning. The CGI on the remaster is remarkable.
#2 They cut it entirely which is fine by me.
Things just look good….. indeed! Best job by CBS Digital yet! Keep it up!!!!
Matt, thank you for another excellent review.
And thank you as well for contributing some excellent content overall to this site. I would like to read your thoughts on the original series movies as well (eventually of course!).
Thanks for the great review. I wish the second and third seasons were as good as this episode was, is.
If you’d like to see some clips of the deleted scenes from this and other TOS episodes, head over to http://www.startrekhistory.com/restoration/lost4.html and check out this great resource and archive of many bits of Trek’s past.
BE WARNED!! startrekhistory.com is a trap! once you click on the link you will be bombared with requests to access your clipboard and you will be unable to leave.
This page has been linked to many times before in these comments and ive been tricked into clicking on it almost every time. But not any more!
I know better now, and i feel it is my duty to warn you all about it.
If someone knows how I can acess it without my computer going crazy id love to hear from them.
On topic: From what ive seen on youtube this episode looks fantastic and a great improvement on the original.
It’s not a trap. I can view it with no problems whatsoever in Safari. Just get a browser that’s not made by microsoft and has a pop-up blocker and you’ll probably be fine.
#8 I think you might want to check your system for malware/viruses.
#8 – It”s not a trap as such .. just a shoddy way ( and dangerous ) of stopping you from cutting and pasting the content of the website somewhere else by resetting your clipboard to spaces every second. IE6 and IE7 will show warning when a page is trying to do it.
As for the episode – they are only getting better. Well done CBS
I disagree with this review, especially the bits about the original filming styles. The angles and lighting of this episode a superb and I find that the changing of the shows style to more normal and less artistically daring lighting and shots in the the later half of the first season as something terrible. I also liked the higher collars. More science-fictiony looking.
As for the modern CGI, my one complaint is that the enterprise is way to big in the shot when the fesarius approaches and it approaches far slower than the original. The graphics look good, but the composition and timing of the original shot was far more shocking and impressive.
I’m not necessarily against the bridge lighting in this episode, I am mostly just pointing out that it is quite different. The negative side of the lighting they used in these early episodes is that it made people’s complexion look quite greasy from certain angles.
I’m also not opposed to Spock being shot differently, but they did it differently 99% of the time in these early couple of episodes, I would rather that they use it sparingly.
Really Good Review Matt. The Balok Puppet and the Salt Vampire both got to me when I was a kid. That’s the thing STAR TREK was in my pre-teen years — it was Scary!
Well im looking at startrekhistory.com with firefox and it is indeed a fantastic site.
So my warning is apparently only for people using IE7
hey, McCoy mentioned a galley in this episode. I guess they do have them on board the ships. ST VI was right!
This episode was one of my early favorites that got me hooked on Trek. I agree with Greg Stamper – Balok and the Salt Vampire both scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid, along with Ted Cassidy in ‘What are Little Girls Made Of’ and the plague victim that attacks the landing party in ‘Miri’. But I loved every minute of it. The CG team at CBS continues to do a stellar job with the series. The Fesarius looked a lot like the original 1966 version, but with a higher level of detail that the original production team could have managed back in the day. That’s one of the things I really like about Star Trek Remastered – they are successfully updating it without changing the feel or the spirit of it. Way to go, guys!
As one of the co authors of Star Trek History, It’s great to hear some many great comments about the site-Thanks.
Curt is really the artist behind the site and deserves the loins share of credit. We have some great videos I have worked on that will be appearing in the near future so keep an eye out for that.
Yes our site does use some “crude’ methods of trying to protect the content but then again we are just a couple of guys with no ad revenue and limited time so please cut us a little slack…
**enough of the shameless plug..**
As a child I was always struck by the different look of this episode and Mudd’s Women, in particular the greasy/sweaty look of the cast. You can sure tell they are early in the production order. I appreciate how you bring this out and explain it in your excellent review. To me, these early shows also have more shaky camera work, but the somewhat shaky shot from behind Kirk exiting the turbolift and walking onto the bridge in this episode is one of my favorites. I really felt like I was part of the scene.
Indeed, I like how the “sweaty” look makes the actors seem more tense, the ship less comfortable, and the situations more perilous. What a strong contrast to the polished look of TNG, its bridge that Matt Jefferies referred to as “a Hilton”, and the lack of peril that afflicted some of its episodes. The early Borg episodes finally brought a real threat to that series.
I too loved several of the brand-new shots you highlighted. It is most rewarding to see the CBS Digital team hitting their stride.
Did anyone notice McCoy’s tunic changes from his stanard uniform to that of his medical tunic while he is on the bridge?
A toast of Tranya to CBS Digital! Nice! I really loved the portrayal of the Enterprise this episode; great looking! Only odd thing about episode is Balok’s “tour” of his ship, lol, it looks quite underwhelming… a circular corridor with curtains(?) !
Can’t wait until break is up! I hope they fix the earlier Remasters to get up to this “standard”, it’d be a shame not to!
8. Lti – December 10, 2006 – It’s most certainly not a trap or anything. Just start using civilized browser that won’t permit a website to access your computer in offensive ways (which means raising, lowering, resizing or any other manipulatons of your browser window, disabling your adress bar, accessing your clipboard in any way, automatic opening of new windows, disabling right clicks and so on). I highly suggest using Opera (www.opera.com), where you can specify if you want to allow any of these actions.
18. Dave R – December 10, 2006 – Well then, when we’ll be able to purchase those restored images from your website? There were some talks about book in planning for 40th anniversary, if I remember correctly… If you don’t want people to use your content for free, I’d gladly pay for high-resolution images without watermarks which I could reprint in my (paper) fanzine or use as my wallpaper. :-)
#20 – Yes – that’s a classic TOS continuity error. I was curious to see if CBS -D would do anything with that, but I guess that was a bit beyond their scope,
8. Lti – That site works great with Firefox.
18. – Dave R. – If you’re the Dave I think you are, please come back and post at SpaceStation K7. We miss you. Thanks to you and Curt for restoring those images so that all can see and appreciate them.
re: 18. Dave R – December 10, 2006
“As one of the co authors of Star Trek History, It’s great to hear some many great comments about the site-Thanks.”
Well, here’s another one. Great site! Have spent a lot of time there.
My only compaint about the episode was CBS-D’s new shots of the top rear of the E’s saucer. We can clearly see the cylindrical turbo-shaft-shaped protrusion on the back (the very back) of the bridge dome.
They should’ve removed that useless and empty turbo-shaft shaped object from the digital model since we all know that no turbo-shaft is actually in that turbo-shaft shaped space. Because if there was a turbo-shaft in that turbo-shaft shaped object, then that would mean that the command stations on the bridge are angled slightly to the left. And everyone KNOWS you must stear a warp-speed starship sitting facing precisely forward, not slightly angled. I mean, duh. CBS-D is just taunting us with this inaccuracy.
Not anything to do with any upgrades, but I noticed for the first time something that was done. I always thought in the back of my mind that the single door on the turbo-lifts was a cheat. You must have double-doors, inner and outer, for en elevator or anything like that to work.
But near the beginning of the show, several times we see a blue inner set of doors that opened at the same time the red outer bridge doors did! That made the lift seem more real, but I guess it was too mych trouble to coordinate cause they stopped it about the middle of the episode and we never saw it again in others, that I am aware of.
The new effects were awesome! When the Fesarius appeared, I could hear fanboys everywhere saying, “That’s no moon, it’s a space station!”
Great job all around on the new effects. And you know what? It just shows how great the original show is, that you could insert upgraded effects and not make the rest of the show look bad.
Realising that this was the first episode of the series, the first with McCoy, Scotty and Uhura, and how natural they all seemed, shows how well it was put together. It didn’t seem any different from the other shows where they had been there awhile.
I have a new appreciation for this episode.
^26. Moving the turbo-shaft would mess up the symmetry of the model. I believe the bridge in “reality” would be designed like this:
but for filming they swapped the turbolift and communications modules to put the doors behind the best camera angle of the captain instead of literally behind him. Obviously when they had a chance to fix this in the movies they added a second turbolift to make it symmetrical again. To do it in the series they would have had to move Spock forward one station and put the second turbolift where he was.
I really Love the episode , I so happy and thankful for CBS’s hard work!
Good review, Matt.
“The Corbomite Manuever” actually is in my “top ten” list of TOS episodes. I agree that CBS Digital did a great job — I liked the new Fesarius once I saw it in the episode; the shifting light levels pulsing across its surface were recreated really nicely.
One last thought (oh, if only it were…) on the position of the Turbolift. In Feng Shui, as in old Westerns, it’s very bad to be seated wtih your back to the door. In Trek, it’s bad for Kirk because Klingons might get the drop on him, or he might miss a chance to sideways glance a new ensignette in go-go boots and a mini.
Great job CBS! Great job on ST:Legacy too!
What #31 said on the go-go boots thing. :)
According to the old Star Trek blueprints, the bridge actually faces off center. The turbolift actually sits at the back of the bridge.
This was a milestone effort for Trek Remastered.
The interactive lighting, The Fesarius, nothing to really disappoint.
One thing that really stood out was that you could SEE INSIDE the windows on the E- even at 480i! In hi-def, this is going to be awesome.
The only things that still bother me are the small size and lack of luminance of the rear nacelle domes and the five windows under the fantail not being illuminated as they usually were on the 11-footer.
Correcting these things would add some life to the otherwise flat-looking rear-angle views of the ship.
ARRRRG. Fox 28 Spokane re-ran last week’s episode (Menagerie Pt 2). Its the second time they have done this. Missed Space Seed the first time.
And I was looking forward to this episode too
#34 — How can the bridge be off-center?! How can they drive the ship if they don’t sit facing “forward”.
Besides, CBS-D has now established in “Menagerie” that the interior turbo lift is in a different location that the tube on the exterior of the dome. I just wish they’d explain what that turbo-lift shaped cylinder on the back of the dome is! They showed that it can’t be the turbo lift. So what is it? They should either explain it or chage the digital model.
“I just wish they’d explain what that turbo-lift shaped cylinder on the back of the dome is! They showed that it can’t be the turbo lift. So what is it? ”
Two words: LOVED IT!!!!
It’s a tool locker for working outside the ship. :-)
Almost forgot my MAJOR gripe- our affiliate here in Cleveland, OH, WBNX,
saw fit to not only stick their ugly solid white station logo in the lower right corner, but also a HUGE green and red Christmas ornament graphic behind it- taking up almost literally a sixth of the screen.
The ignorance of these local yahoos never ceases to astound me.
Yes, I think I KNOW which station I’m watching.
I’ll be e-mailing them with my complaint. (Like they’ll care…)
I agree with with Cafe 5 in #3 above — even with the impressive remastering job this week, and it was phenomenal — the acting in this episode shines through. The interplay with Shatner and Kelly was so natural and “real” feeling, and Kirk’s playful jab with what he was planning to do with that extra six percent is priceless. Likewise Nimoy really makes us feel Spock’s discomfort at failing to provide his captain with any alternatives.
Maybe more than any other episode, this one captures what life aboad ship might be like — routine punctuated by fleeting moments of abject terror!
“I just wish they’d explain what that turbo-lift shaped cylinder on the back of the dome is! They showed that it can’t be the turbo lift. So what is it? They should either explain it or chage the digital model. ”
Having watched Star Trek for over 35 years, it never occured to me that that bump on the outside of the model was supposed to be the turbo lift. I always thought it was a docking hatch (which if I’m not mistaken it was in the first movie) or a jefferies tube. There has never been anything said or shown on screen (which is the only thing that counts) that said it was the turbo lift.
37 & 38 – There’s a TON of threads in previous articles. Basically, it was a production decision to put the turbolife 36-degrees off, so that guest stars and crucial supporting cast could walk onto the bridge in a two-shot with Kirk, the big Pooh-Bah.
Everything else is conjecture as to what the “real” ship might be like. Some are entertaining, but you can’t watch any science fiction only for the continuity gaffs. You’ll go mad. MAD, I say!
I loved the new effects–this is a favorite episode of mine and as someone else on the board noted, it really gives the lie to the TNG-and-after propoganda that said “well, every Trek series needs a few years to get its space legs.” You see sophisticated character interaction here right from the get-go, from Spock cutting himself off before apologizing to Kirk to one of the fieriest dramatic confrontations in the series–Kirk’s argument with McCoy on the bridge, which also brilliantly sets up Kirk’s poker idea.
I liked that we got some new angles here in addition to lovely adaptations of the old shots. The long distance view of the Enterprise after it’s destroyed the bouy is one great moment. The only quibble I would have with the effects shots here is the dynamic “sheering off” shot. To me this gets too far into the “barrel roll” aesthetic we’ve all talked about avoiding–the Enterprise moves so fast that some of the sense of mass is lost (although I love the impulse engines finally getting in play).
Total agreement on that shearing away shot, Jeff. It was the only spot the scale and mass of the ship looked unconvincing. But I liked that they were experimenting with new angles, and I was so enraptured by the rest of the FX, I’ll cut ’em some slack on that one!
I think the sheering off happened so fast simply because there was only about a 1 second amount of time to fit that shot in and keep the original timing intact. Supposedly they are not extending the length of any of the effects shots so that it would affect the soundtrack, etc. This is one shot that would have been better if it could have been done more gradually, but the time window was not there. That’s my guess.
I think the rapid movement when shearing is natural, the result of a lot of constant pressure in that direction that suddenly broke free of the tractor beam. Like straining against a rubber band that suddenly broke… zing!
Great review. Not quite sure why you think Spocks adreniline comment was out of character. I think it is spot on.
This has always been my favorite episode. I love the cat and mouse episodes. I think this is the episode where I realized that Kirk was my hero. He really shines in this one.
I liked the shear away shot. It showed how hard the ship’s engines had been straining to get away. It was like the string broke, and the ship bolted away. The pilot ship tumbled a little, too.