Saturday, October 27th, 2012

image of balokThe Corbomite Maneuver is one of those Star Trek episodes that I thought was the absolute cat’s ass when I saw it back in high school, but when I watch it now it’s so full of cornball I can hardly see anything else going on.

It starts off with a mystery: A giant multicolored cube blocks the path of the Enterprise as the crew ventures far out into an unexplored part of the galaxy. Blocks their path. I love that. Hey guys, you’re in space! You can move in other directions!

Well, to give them credit, they try to duck around one side of the cube, but it gets in their way again, so they stop, scratch their heads. Spock is in command. He does the only logical thing: He calls Kirk and tells him there’s a big cube blocking their way and he can’t figure out how to get around it. This does not make Spock look like the big-brained alien he’s supposed to be.

Kirk’s going to figure this out. Nothing stops him. He’s brash, he takes chances. He … just sits there, brooding at the cube. They puzzle over it for a long time. “Sensors show it is solid, but its composition is unknown to us,” Spock tells Kirk, and then, barely thirty seconds later, Sulu says its mass is “a little under eleven thousand metric tons.” Kirk turns to Spock and says, “Hey, Spock, Sulu seems to know what the cube’s made of. Maybe you should’ve asked him.” No, he doesn’t, but he should have.

They puzzle and puzz till their puzzlers are sore. “We’ve been held here, motionless, for eighteen hours,” Kirk tells his captain’s log. Eighteen hours? Really? You sat there for eighteen hours, shrugging your shoulders and saying to each other, “I dunno, whadda you wanna do?”

Finally, Kirk has a brainstorm: They’ll move away from the cube. Oh yeah, that’s a bold move! Took you only eighteen hours to come up with that? No wonder they gave you the keys to a starship.

They start to move away, but the cube follows them and starts to fry them with radiation. Kirk tells Sulu to throw the engines into high gear. Even at warp speed, the cube not only keeps on coming, it’s getting closer now. Spock tells them the radiation has passed lethal levels, but for some reason they don’t die. I think maybe Spock’s sensors need a little tune-up, don’t you?

Finally, they do what they always do: Fire phasers. It happens almost every episode: Kirk, standing on the bridge in front of the view screen, tells the aliens, “We come in peace,” and then, sometimes in the very next sentence, he turns to Sulu and says, “Fire phasers.” I love that trigger-happy guy.

So, just to recap: A giant cube stopped them, followed them, tried to turn them all into crispy critters. They blew it to pieces. They don’t know what the cube was supposed to be doing out there, and it’s entirely possible there’s another cube, or maybe even dozens of cubes, hanging around the neighborhood, maybe heading their way. What would you do in this situation?

Wait, what I meant to ask is: What would you do if you were Kirk? Well, sit and wait for another cube to show up. Of course.

And something else does show up, but it’s not a cube, it’s a sphere. A giant, glowing ball. The props department must’ve been on vacation that week, leaving the lighting department to design and build the alien space ships. “Well, I’ve got these Japanese lanterns.” “Okay, that’ll have to do.”

The aliens on the giant glowing ball menace the Enterprise crew: “You will be destroyed!” Kirk does the “We come in peace” speech but never gets around to “Fire phasers” because the aliens turn off everything but the lights on the Enterprise and start dragging them to their galactic impound lot. It’s game over for the Enterprise.

But Kirk has an ace up his gold-trimmed sleeve! Suavely stroking his chin, Kirk tells the aliens, “Y’know, before you attempt to destroy us, I’m obligated as a gentleman to tell you about the doomsday device on our ship. It’s made of, ah, corbomite! Yeah, corbomite! That’s the stuff! And you don’t know about it because we deleted every mention of it in our computer’s memory banks! (Remember when computers had “memory banks?”) Yeah! So, go ahead and destroy us if you want to, but you’ll be sorry!”

No, really. That’s what he does. Watch the show if you don’t believe me.

Eventually Kirk makes friends with the alien, who turns out to be Ron Howard’s brother, Clint, in a satin christening gown. I’m still not making this up. Clint plays Balok, who scares the Enterprise crew speechless when he uses a foam-rubber head on a stick to stand in for him because he guesses, correctly, that they would not have been scared by a baby in a christening gown. Why they were scared by the least-convincing foam-rubber head ever created is a question left unanswered.

corbomite | 9:37 am CST
Category: entertainment | Tags: ,
Comments Off on corbomite

Comments are closed.