Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Original Series, Season 1: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

The Original Series, Season One
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Airdate: October 20, 1966
10 of 80 produced
7 of 80 aired
Click here to watch on


The Enterprise travels to Exo III in search of long lost archaeologist and Nurse Chapel's fiancé, Roger Korby. They are to find that he has made a startling discovery that could alter the course of human development. Exo III was once home to a race that produced sophisticated androids, a project Dr. Korby plans to continue.
Android or not, Andrea can turn my knobs any day...


Kevin: The story is essentially a good science fiction story, and one revisited in greater detail in The Next Generation with Data. What is a human? Can humans be mechanically replicated? I particularly liked Roger Korby's transition in the eyes of Kirk and the viewer. Everyone, Kirk included, gives him the benefit of the doubt when he suggests Kirk beam down alone. The android replicator seemed to suffer from exactly the defect Kirk needed. Wouldn't a sophisticated brain scanner detect Kirk's attempt at deception?

Matthew: Actually, another key sci-fi concept in this episode is human immortality. Remember, Korby has engaged in all of this research in order to free man from disease, untimely death, etc. He mentions how his discoveries from the long-dead culture of Exo III will revolutionize humanity forever. So, actually, there is sort of a triple-threat of high concept sci-fi here - what makes someone human; the potential of immortality; and the remnants of a highly technological culture having an impact on a less developed one.

Kevin: Overall, I found the plot interesting, and I would argue that it is among the better forays into the issue of androids and the human soul of the franchise. I like the addition of Nurse Chapel to the story. It was an efficient way to expand her character and provide a little viewer resonance to Korby's transformation. The twist that Korby was already an android was, in retrospect, entirely foreseeable, but in the moment, I found it shocking enough to be entertaining.

Matthew: As I alluded to above, some relatively high-concept stuff was addressed in dialogue at least in this episode. Kirk questions the utopian notion of humans placed in immortal androids with violent and negative emotions programmed away. I agree that some of the twists and turns were foreseeable to a degree, but all were entertainingly executed. Kirk sitting down for dinner but revealed as an android, the reveals of each android replicant, etc. To some extent, you and I are conditioned AGAINST finding these things surprising, because we've seen so much Trek. So it comes down to how much panache there is in the reveal, not how much surprise.

Kevin: As far as a weak point, this becomes the first in a long line of computers of one stripe or another being flummoxed by simple logic puzzles. Clearly Ruk was not programmed with Asimov's three laws and Andrea didn't know to double check the target before she fired. She knew there were two identical Kirk's running around. Shouldn't she have thought to make sure she was shooting the right one? I also found her sudden emotion for Captain Kirk anomalous and incredible.

Matthew: I agree that the destruction of the Andrea robot was silly, and was subsequently redone in several Kirk vs. Computer confrontations. But hey, if it works... The death of the redshirts was pretty bad - and this was an early redshirt offing. And for all the high concept stuff I mentioned, none of it was really dramatized, it was more just spoken in dialogue.


Kevin: I actually think everyone turned in an above average, if not amazing performance. I enjoyed Korby's progression. "Mad scientist getting madder" is a bit of a trope, but the actor played it well. I want to give particular praise to Majel Barrett for a really good turn as Nurse Chapel. I thought her initial reaction on the bridge was a little stilted, but beyond that, she was really good. The look on her face when she asks if Korby loved Andrea was genius.

Matthew: Shatner was very good yet again as Kirk. I didn't find Barrett as compelling in this episode as she has been in other scenes in the show, which is too bad, since this is her big spotlight. But part of it owes to the script, and her chemistry with Korby - or lack thereof. The whole setup was a little odd - I'm so in love with this guy, but he's been missing on some planet forever and I'm just now doing anything about it? Plus, clearly she already has a thing for Spock, as seen in "The Naked Time," which was both produced and aired before this episode. The whole relationship is just kind of a mess.

Kevin: Ruk was a tad stiff, but I suppose that was the point. This isn't really an acting comment, but Andrea was painfully hot. I'm gonna discuss the outfit in the next section, but, even as a big homo...that woman was FINE. That's all.

Matthew: Andrea may be the single hottest girl in TOS. Which is saying something. If course, her outfit doesn't hurt - sort of a 60's mod precursor to The Fifth Element's Leelo. And again, it pays to note that, despite this outrageous, Nth degree hotness quotient, Kirk is moved only by his desire to accomplish the mission - he uses his Kirk magic to destroy her, not to bone her.

Production Values

Kevin: The caves were convincing enough. They evidenced several of the bizarre lighting schemes that pervade The Original Series. Andrea's costume is really going to be the focus of this section for me. That outfit was fantastic. I do not know how that outfit got past the censors. It's two hankies and some prayer. Well done.

Matthew: The outfit is a masterpiece. Or, as you say, two masterpieces with some judicious home economics in between. Kudos, William Ware Theiss! I agree on the caves, too. They were quite in keeping with production values of the era, and were more than adequate. The set dressings inside also were nice.

Kevin: Like I said above, Nurse Chapel was a highlight for me. She was credible and gave the viewer a riff on the everyman avatar. The android special effects were pretty good. Korby's injured hand looked a touch hokey, but I still found it somewhat unsettling.

Matthew: To me, the hokiest effect was the dummy going into the whirlygig android machine. That blob was nowhere near as tall as Kirk. And the concept behind it was clearly keyed to budgets, not the writers' or producers' imaginations.

Kevin: Overall I would say that for a tech-heavy concept, the effects at worst don't detract from the episode.


Kevin: This episode gets a three from me. It's a solid concept with at least okay execution, but there isn't enough that really grabs me to give it a four. I know, based the above comments, it seems like the whole is less than the sum of the parts, but that's kind of how I feel. Nothing is really wrong with it, but it's just not there for me to give higher than a 3. It's a high three, but still not a four.

Matthew: I really wanted to give this a four. The ideas in this episode are really meaty. There just wasn't a ton done with them. What drags the show down into average territory for me is the lack of a believable relationship between Chapel and Korby. If you're going to spend so much time on it, it had better WORK. And it really doesn't. Barrett and Nimoy had much better chemistry - here it just falls flat.

That gives us a total of 6, so again, another average score, well within the standard distribution for an average TOS episode. This certainly isn't one to skip over in your general Trek marathons, but it certainly isn't the first one you queue up for a "best of." It would be pretty high on the list for "best Trek babe," though. Oh, Andrea - if only you had been fully functional...

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