|||[Boldly Going]||| Star Trek: The Original Series—Season One: Ep. 1.7 “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” – (Original air date: Thursday, October 20, 1966)

TrekWhatAreLittleGirls

Welcome to my rewatching of the original 79 episodes of the series that launched the franchise. Below are the bulletpointed notes I jotted down while watching “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”

  • The main piece of trivia I remember about this episode is that it was written by Robert Bloch, the author who gave us Psycho.
  • Bloch also gave me one of my favorite lines to quote: Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk.”
  • We immediately know that something’s different about this episode as we open on the bridge and Nurse Chapel (who will one day be Lwaxana Troi) is standing beside Captain James T. Kirk.
  • Kirk is making small talk with Chapel, saying that he heard she gave up a career in bio-research to sign aboard a starship. She responds to this with the seemingly non-sequitur “I know he’s alive down there, Captain.”
  • When Kirk points out the “as you already know” fact for the viewers to Chapel that it’s been five years since “his” last message, Chapel says that Roger’s a very determined man, and he’d find a way to live.
  • So, here’s the dramatic set-up so far. Someone named Roger, who is important to Nurse Chapel for some reason, possibly from her days in bio-research, hasn’t been heard from for five years and is possibly on the planet that the U.S.S. Enterprise now approaches.
  • I notice that there’s an inordinate amount of technical chatter on the bridge, unlike anything we’ve heard so far in the series. Things like All sections, security check in progress. Report. Forward phaser. Forward scanner to bridge. Aft scanner to bridge, status report, please. Engineering controls. Lines that are all off-camera, and possibly added in post. Lines that sound good but really mean nothing.
  • I wonder if these lines were put in the original script by Bloch to achieve some kind of verisimilitude.
  • Uhura, our communications officer with that silver thing in her ear, announces that she’s beginning signals to the surface of the planet. Uhura’s miniskirt is still enticingly short and riding up dangerously high as she sits in her swivel chair.
  • Spock then offers all of us a visual presentation on the planet, which is called Exo-III on the overhead monitor. The planet’s gravity is 1.1 of Earth’s and the atmosphere is within safety limits. Kirk points out that the surface temperature of the planet is 100 degrees below zero.
  • He should probably send Sulu down. Sulu has had recent experience surviving subzero temperatures.
  • But the exposition dump is not over. The planet is no longer inhabited since the sun in this system has been fading for a half million years. Then, Spock shows a headshot of Dr. Roger Korby, who he says is often called the Pasteur of archaeological medicine, because his translation of medical records from the Orion ruins revolutionized our immunization techniques. Now we know who this “Roger” is that Chapel is worried about.
  • Kirk wonders aloud if there’s any chance that Korby is still alive. This seems a little heartless with Nurse Chapel standing right there. Chapel mentions that his last signal mentioned that he found underground caverns. But, Kirk reminds her, two expeditions since then have failed to find him. He definitely doesn’t want Nurse Chapel to get her hopes up.
  • What do you think, my friends? In Trek gambling odds, I’d say that locating someone or something that identifies as Dr. Roger Korby is a sure bet. I have the inside scoop.
  • I failed to mentioned more off-screen technical chatter: Warp capacity point zero seven and building. Communicator, we need more lines to the impulse deck. Insane gobbledygook.
  • And then, suddenly—and no surprise to anyone by this point—we receive communication from Dr. Roger Korby from the planet surface. A series of insane closeup reaction shots of various actors on the bridge follows, along with the musical sting, and then the teaser is over.
  • The TOS opening credit sequence with the Shatner voiceover remains, to this day, my favorite of all the Trek series. Possibly because it’s the only one I didn’t have the ability to fast-forward through when I first watched this series with my face much too close to the television tube.
  • Dr. Korby makes an odd request for Captain Kirk to beam down alone, as he has made discoveries that will require an extraordinary decision from Kirk.
  • Kirk agrees, but says that there will be two beaming down. Then, Nurse Chapel says hello to the long-lost Roger. He sounds excited to hear from her. From comments Nurse Chapel—Christine, if you’re nasty—made to Spock, she had been engaged to Dr. Korby.
  • When there’s no Welcome Wagon to greet them down on Exo-III, Kirk requests that Spock have two security men beam down to join them. Both security men are wearing red shirts, and I’ve seen neither of them before.
  • The crewmen are given names, though. Rayburn, who is ordered to stand post there where they materialized, and Matthews, whom Kirk asks to accompany him and Chapel as they look for Dr. Korby.
  • Kirk, Chapel and Matthews move deeper into the tunnels. They encounter Dr. Brown, Roger Korby’s assistant, whom Chapel greets familiarly as “Brownie.” They find out that Korby was detained, and then they hear a man’s fading scream as Matthews meets his untimely demise by falling into a bottomless chasm. He knew the dangers when he put on that red pullover this morning.
  • We get a glimpse of a creature slinking back into the shadows that looks suspiciously like Lurch from The Addams Family.
  • Dr. Brownie Brown pronounces Matthews’ death as “Unfortunate. Terribly unfortunate.” He’s all heart, is Dr. Brown.
  • Chapel must sense something strange about Dr. Brown. He’s a cold fish, all right. But, he recalls her name, and introduces himself to Kirk as Korby’s assistant. He exhibits no emotional response to Matthews’ death.
  • Kirk contacts Rayburn and tells him about Matthews’ death. He also tells Rayburn to tell the Enterprise to have a full security “party” standing by and await hourly reports from Kirk and Rayburn, beaming the party down if they fail to hear from them.
  • As soon as Kirk signs off, Lurch comes out and attacks Rayburn. Killing him, it’s safe to assume.
  • Kirk and Chapel follow Brownie down the tunnels to Korby’s study. In this scene, Brownie serves in the role of Basil Exposition, telling all of us that, as their sun dimmed, the inhabitants of Exo-III moved underground, replacing freedom with a mechanistic culture. Elements of this culture will certainly revolutionize the universe when revealed to everyone outside of Exo-III.
  • Kirk and Chapel meet Andrea, a beautiful female who is wearing a barely there ensemble. She knows about Chapel, but Chapel knows nothing about her. Then, Korby and Chapel are reunited and share a passionate kiss.
  • The joy of this reunion is short-lived, though, because Kirk can’t raise Rayburn on his communicator. Then Brownie pulls a weapon and forbids communication with the Enterprise. Kirk ends up shooting Brownie with his phaser, revealing his mechanical innards: Dr. Brown is an android. Then Lurch comes into the study and easily takes Kirk out, pinning him to the wall.
  • Lurch, whom Korby insists on calling Ruk in this episode, demonstrates an ability to imitate anyone’s voice. Korby has Ruk contact the Enterprise, sounding like Kirk, and tell Spock that contact was established with Korby and everything is all right. He says they’ll return to the ship within 48 hours. Spock detects something in Ruk’s voice, however. He tells Ruk-Kirk that he sounds “tired.”
  • Korby has Ruk launch into a Rich Little routine after signing off. He imitates Andrea, and having a woman’s voice coming out of this giant man is unnerving. Then, without Korby’s direction, he imitates Christine Chapel. This angers Korby, who tells Ruk he is not to mock Christine. Nor will he ever harm her.
  • Because Kirk is apparently a tactical genius, he convinces Korby to also command Ruk to never disobey Chapel. I’m sure this sketchy piece of writing won’t somehow figure into the final act of this story.
  • Afterward, Kirk finds out that his other crewman was killed by Ruk as well. Korby dismisses Ruk’s actions, saying that the logic of his “machine mind” saw danger to Korby and reacted, totally against his wishes, I assure you.
  • So, Ruk is another android. Like Brownie.
  • Kirk says as much, but Ruk is insulted by the comparison. He is much more complex than Brown. Much superior. He was left there on Exo-III by the old ones.
  • Korby confirms that Ruk was tending the machinery there when the doctor and his gang arrived. Even Ruk doesn’t know how many centuries he’s been there.
  • Kirk decides to seize opportunity and escape the room, but Ruk easily grabs him and tosses him around like a rag doll. Or like a stuntman body double.
  • Then we get another talky scene between Andrea and Nurse Christine Chapel. The subtext is that Chapel is jealous that Andrea is there with her fiancée Roger.
  • Korby enters the scene, with Kirk controlled by Ruk behind him, and decides to make subtext textual. He orders Andrea to call him “Dr. Korby” from now on, instead of the more familiar “Roger,” because this apparently bothers Christine.
  • It is revealed that Andrea, like Brownie, is an android. Chapel accuses him of creating a mechanical geisha. Korby denies having feelings for Andrea, and demonstrates that she’s incapable of having feelings herself by having her kiss Kirk and then slap him, both without emotion. The androids just do what they are programmed to do.
  • Then why did Brown try to shoot me?” Kirk wants to know. Which prompts Korby into saying he will answer all of his questions now. He probably won’t, but we’re about to learn something new, I think.
  • Speaking of “new,” all of this fifty-year-old talk about androids and mechanical geishas dovetails quite neatly with the current episodes of HBO’s Westworld that I’m watching, which do indeed feature, ironically enough, mechanical geishas over in Shogun World.
  • I’ve learned not to believe in coincidences. This is a sign. From Robert Ford, maybe. Or the Great Bird of the Galaxy Himself.
  • Dr. Korby shows us how to make an android. Ruk places a man fashioned out of clay or plaster or something on one side of a circular table. We’re making a Golem. I get it. Andrea turns a red dial that makes some important-looking lights begin to flash. A naked Kirk is strapped down to the other half of the Yin-Yang table, his privates cleverly concealed by the huge piece of metal or plastic that’s strapping him down.
  • At this stage of the series, we seem to be trying to get Kirk topless or nearly nude as often as possible.
  • Andrea turns another large red dial, one that looks like something from a Playskool activity center, and the round table begins to revolve.
  • As the table turns faster and faster, Chapel begins to vocalize her doubts about her former fiancée, who once held all life in such high regard. I think I can safely say that Roger Korby is an example of the Mad Scientist Trope that transcends Trek. He is certainly a spiritual brother of both Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Emmett Brown.
  • Korby orders Ruk to turn another lever. I guess because Andrea is incapable of using more than one hand at a time. Eventually the table stops spinning and we have two Kirks.
  • The physical duplication is complete, but they still have to complete the memory duplication. As this process is being completed, the real Kirk says, “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?” You see, he’s trying to get this imprinted upon the brain of the android Kirk.
  • Chapel can’t tell the two naked Kirks apart.
  • Then, Chapel and Kirk have lunch, served by Andrea. Nurse Chapel is too upset to eat, but she tells Kirk to go ahead. He smiles at her as he pushes his own plate away and says, “Androids don’t eat, Miss Chapel.” Psyche! It’s the Android Kirk. Who saw that one coming?
  • The Real Kirk (maybe) comes in with Dr. Korby and Ruk. He’s now wearing a blue-and-green jumpsuit that matches Korby’s own. Kirk explains to the android that eating is a pleasure. He will demonstrate that when he stops taking his shirt off on the show.
  • The Real Kirk tests Android Kirk’s memory, to see if it matches his own. We find out that Kirk has a brother, George Samuel Kirk, whom only he calls “Sam.” He is married and has three sons.
  • Korby says he could have completely transferred Kirk’s consciousness into the android. He’s discovered a way for humans to become practically immortal.
  • Kirk compares these promises to those made by Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Hitler, Ferris, and Maltuvis.
  • According to Memory Beta, that website for licensed Trek works, Asahf Ferris was an Augment dictator in the 1990s on Earth. She was in charge of the Ferris Dominion in South America and possibly the New American Empire at some point, if you can believe your fictional sources.
  • Maltuvis, again according to Memory Beta, referred either to Bernard Maltuvis, another 1990s Augment dictator, ruling over the Pacific islands, Australia and New Zealand, or a Saurian named Maltuvis who conquered all of Sauria in the 2160s. I prefer the Saurian version since we’ve already established Ferris as an Augment.
  • Hitler, Caesar and Genghis Khan were real people.
  • So, Korby’s master plan seems to be to create a better universe by turning everyone into androids. His goals aren’t terribly inconsistent with those of the Borg.
  • Korby confesses that he needs Kirk’s help. He needs transportation to a planet colony with proper raw materials, where he can begin producing androids carefully, selectively. He wants to infiltrate society before their existence is revealed.
  • Kirk waits until Korby has unveiled his entire diabolical plan, as any good Bond villain must, and then he attacks the doctor with a cord he untied from his chair leg. Kirk holds off Ruk with Korby as his hostage just long enough for him to slip out the door. Korby manages to croak out a “Ruk . . . protect” command, which we know involves pushing people into bottomless chasms, and Ruk goes after Kirk. Chapel goes after them both, calling out to Ruk.
  • Chapel shouts out an order to Ruk. She orders him not to harm Kirk. You will recall that Dr. Korby gave her administrator’s clearance earlier and she is allowed to command Ruk.
  • Kirk breaks off a stalactite that unfortunately looks like a giant pink penis. Ruk uses Chapels voice to attempt to lure Kirk out. Kirk attacks, then falls into the yawning chasm, barely hanging on by his fingertips as Ruk glares down at him. Just when it seems that Ruk might kill Kirk, he reaches down to help him out.
  • On the Enterprise, Android Kirk and Spock meet long enough for the android to use his “half-breed interference” line on him. This is apparently enough to tip off that something is wrong to Spock. He orders a security detail to meet him in the transporter room after the captain has beamed back down.
  • Android Kirk has brought Korby the specs to a suitable colony for them to relocate to.
  • Meanwhile, Kirk confuses the android Andrea by kissing her. Then, using words alone, he manages to convince Ruk that Korby is the root of all the evil that has suddenly befallen them. Ruk begins to attack Korby, who is forced to disintegrate him.
  • When Kirk and Korby scuffle, Roger Korby is revealed to be an android as well. An alarm is set off at the outer perimeter. That will be Spock. Korby sends Andrea, who manages to kill Android Kirk, who refuses to kiss her. Then a confusing psychological exchange follows, which results in Korby giving up his phaser. Then Andrea professes her love for Korby and wants to kiss him. Korby says she is incapable of love because she isn’t human, and while the two embrace, Korby triggers her phaser, which disintegrates them both.
  • When Spock arrives with the space cavalry, he asks where Dr. Korby is located.
  • Kirk responds that Korby was never there.
  • In the short afterward, on the bridge, Spock objects to Kirk’s use of the term “half-breed,” which he says is a rather unsophisticated expression. Kirk says he’ll keep that in mind if he ever finds himself in a similar situation.

And so, we’ve completed another episode of Classic Star Trek. Overall, it’s a good episode, with some neat ideas about androids that were probably pretty fresh fifty years ago. I’m subtracting points because the ending is a confusing mess of dime-store psychology that just doesn’t look right when held up to the light. I’m not certain how Kirk managed to convert the female android Andrea by kissing her, and Ruk seemed overly susceptible to the Jedi Mind Trick from a non-Jedi. In spite of these gripes, it was still watchable. 3 out of 5 stars from me.

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