This is a bit more like it. Now that Dr McCoy’s in place, Star Trek feels much more like Star Trek. Although it’s slightly jarring to hear Kirk call him “McCoy” rather than “Bones” everything else about their relationship feels right. This means that this episode – the first DeForrest Kelley recorded – could be broadcast later in the series one run without it seeming too out of place (which is what happened).
I do like the sight of sweaty Kirk (following a punishing medical from McCoy) casually strolling through the corridors. Clearly he doesn’t mind showing his pecs off to the lower orders.
Although Kirk later makes it quite clear to the increasingly hysterical helmsman, Bailey (Anthony Call), that the command structure of the Enterprise isn’t a co-operative, he does actually listen to the advice of both Spock and McCoy.
But as Spock says, Kirk ultimately tends to goes his own way (“Has it occurred to you that there’s a certain inefficiency in constantly questioning me on things you’ve already made up your mind about?”). That’s a nice building-block moment which helps to define the Kirk/Spock relationship.
Kirk’s interaction with McCoy is much more sparky – at one point we observe raised voices after McCoy questions whether Bailey is fit for duty. Indeed he threatens to make it official. “I intend to challenge your actions in my records. I’ll state that I warned you about Bailey’s condition”.
But everything works out in the end as Bailey redeems himself. True, Anthony Call is required to go soaringly over the top several times but this doesn’t feel too unrealistic (compare and contrast to The Next Generation, where everybody tends to exhibit a Zen-like calm whatever the situation).
The Corbomite Manoeuvre is the one with Balok, the alien who sports a permanently shocked expression and spends most of the episode threatening deadly vengeance. That Kirk manages to outwit him with nothing more than a nice spot of bluffing feels satisfying. This episode might be a bottle show which – on the surface – appears to move very slowly, but there’s plenty of character interest throughout (Scotty pipes up with a few witty comments, for example).
The modelwork and special effects stand up very well (good as the replacement CGI often is, I always prefer to watch the originals).
The Corbomite Manoeuvre would have made an excellent opening episode, so it’s a slight pity that it was shunted down the order somewhat. Never mind, since the episodes can now be watched in any order, going down the production order route is one that I’d recommend.