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Old October 3 2012, 12:08 AM   #26
Joel_Kirk
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Re: Joel Revisits TOS....

The Corbomite Maneuver

Story
:
Mapping an area of space, the Enterprise comes across a space buoy and destroys it, drawing the attention of a bigger ship called the Fesarius, which deems the Enterprise crew violent and must be destroyed.

Theme(s):
  • Never judge a book by its cover...
  • Themes of Maturity...

Plot Points/Holes/WTF? Stuff:

  • We don’t get what Balok actually does. He is the only one of his kind, we assume, and just goes around space “testing” people; and if he deems them non-threatening he invites them over for Tranya to exchange knowledge. So, what does he do to those who don’t pass his test?
  • At one point in the episode, Kirk, after leaving McCoy, calls the lift to the bridge, but heads to his quarters. Now, are his quarters near the bridge? Or did the lift computer automatically know...? (This little bit was just odd).

Miscellaneous Notes:

As aforementioned, this is the clichéd “test” story...where humans are tested by aliens to see if they are worthy of something (be it life, knowledge, etc). TOS will have many more of these episodes, and even this type of story will creep into TNG, particularly with the “Q” character. Arguably, Ben Sisko’s life is a test of the Prophets.

In this episode, I felt the size of the Enterprise. It is busy with crew, it is (for lack of a better term) “alive”...unlike later years of the show, where the corridors are usually have very few passerby; and the corridors usually are populated by those who are the main characters, guests, or those actors playing security officers.

The theme of “never judge a book by its cover” is in regards to the crew seeing Balok, and expect an imposing creature, but coming across a presumably knowledgeable humanoid that resembles a little boy....with a grown man’s voice....and an addiction to a beverage called Tranya, which I think tastes like Tang. (Production notes, if I remember correctly, stated the drink was actually grapefruit juice). In turn, Balok has his expectations overturned when he meets the crew of the Enterprise (or, at least, three of them) and finds people willing to learn from him.

Even though I was mistaken that Sulu had no lines in Where No Man Has Gone Before Sulu spoke, I still think his character is more noticeable here than that previous episode. He is at the helm now...and I definitely remember him having various bits of dialogue! Too, his character seems cooler (literally) than the anxious “white guy” Bailey who is more action before thinking...aka “that guy who looks like the professor from Gilligan’s Island”. Moreover, Sulu’s “Asianess” is not played out; he is just a character who happens to be Asian, and he is an Asian male character.

On the note of Bailey, he is the standout guest character, and possibly even a Mary Sue character; a foil to the main characters, especially in regards to comparing him with Sulu. However, towards the end, he is given the chance to “grow up” as he is given the choice to travel with Balok and exchange ideas. Bailey is also the brunt of a cliché, where a younger character reminds the older lead of his or her early years; in this particular episode it is McCoy who brings up that Bailey may remind Kirk of his younger self. (This cliché will turn up in TOS again, as well as TNG several times, and in other shows and franchises). With that said, I can believe the Chris Pine version could grow into this 1st season Kirk. (This goes back to the idea of Bailey being a foil to the leads, here particularly Kirk, who comes off the more mature individual).

Uhura seems to be on the command track (since she is wearing yellow, and Trek lore seems to have those wearing yellow looking to have their own ship someday). Even though her dialogue is next to nothing, at this time, it is interesting to have a sexy black woman on the small screen. Too, she is not doing anything different since Dorothy Dandridge was doing the same years before on the big screen, but still was limited because her ethnicity. (Of course, even Nichelle Nichols would complain her character wasn’t doing much, but told by M.L.K - Martin Luther King, Jr. - that her presence alone was something). Of course, today, I expect a lot more from a franchise that claims to be the forefront in diversity: *cough* Enterprise and Ensign Travis Mayweather *cough**hack*

The producers were - possibly unconsciously - promoting James T. Kirk to be the cool, seasoned starship captain. This is apparent when he is walking bare-chested in the corridors while crew scurry around him to their stations. This is an interesting contrast to Picard of the 1st season, who was almost unlikable, crochety, elitist, etc. However, Kirk is also a bit sexist, when he mentions that he is upset at whoever assigned him a female yeoman....in this “diverse” future. Hence, the future of Trek isn’t perfect. There is still sexism, and what we may gather from other episodes - not only in TOS, but the franchise - racism. Still, aside from that character flaw, he is more level-headed than his TNG counterpart (in this 1st season, not as reckless as he is usually made out to be) and the “William Shatner” persona or ego didn’t cloud the character as it will in later years of TOS, and the movies.

Lastly, John D.F. Black’s name was familiar to me, as I noticed that he wrote or co-wrote some films in the “blaxploitation” era, namely Shaft, which wasn’t a “blaxploitation” film per se, but inspired the era, since said film was successful.

Score:

I was going back and forth with 3.3 and 3.4, since this is a clichéd story (even for its time, I think) but a good dramatic story that is usual for the 1st season. So, I give it a 3.35. The overall pacing is slower, more dramatic than later seasons; and unlike some other Trek franchises, the TOS 1st season, at least for me, is the strongest.

Next Up:
Mudd's Women
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