Star Trek: The Original Series

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

***

Air date: 10/20/1966
Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by James Goldstone

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Nurse Chapel is reunited with her fiancé Dr. Roger Korby, a brilliant scientist who has "perfected" the ability to create an android copy of a human being, and hopes to replace humanity with these superior, emotionless androids in the interest of removing dangerous emotions from society. Needless to say, Kirk does not agree with Korby's views.

"Little Girls" is a good example of Trekkian ideology. There's a plot here featuring a kidnapping and some attempted escapes, but the story is much more concerned about dialog concerning the nature of existence. For example, would stripping away humanity's ability to feel in favor of cold, strict logic make it less prone for violence and aggression? What about stripping away the positive aspects of emotion, like compassion and generosity? And what happens if you can preserve a person's mind in an android body, potentially forever? And what happens if the androids somehow evolve and create these pesky feelings all over again? Those are some of the intriguing questions posed by the story, though the answers provided only begin to scratch the surface.

There are some moments in the episode that are a tad silly, like a scene where Kirk somehow manages to trick Ruk (Ted Cassidy) into turning against Korby by using some strategic use of logic and semantics ... although the argument Kirk comes up with doesn't really seem to make much sense. Of course, two redshirt deaths also come across as a little pointless, but, hey, that's how clichés are born. (Also, another story so soon after "The Enemy Within" featuring a duplicated Captain Kirk may be pushing it.)

Previous episode: Mudd's Women
Next episode: Miri

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11 comments on this review

Strider
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 8:05am (UTC -5)
This one confused me because we'd already seen Chapel confess her love for Spock, and suddenly she's got a fiance and she's all excited about that? I tend to focus on relationships, so I didn't mind her conflict, but if you're going to make her a central character, the meat of the episode should have been Chapel's conflictedness. And, geez, maybe just a flicker from Spock at the news that a woman who said she loved him has another guy?

Of course, as a philosophy professor, I'm also very interested in the question--not so much can we exist without emotion (having Vulcans in the ST world effectively wrestles with that), but if you put your intellect into a different body, is it still you? I think this episode came down on the side of no.
Peremensoe
Sat, Aug 9, 2014, 10:52am (UTC -5)
^ Indeed. "Dr. Korby was never here."

But was Kirk correct? The android-expression of the Korby personality does seem pretty similar to the later android-expression of Dr. Ira Graves (TNG, "The Schizoid Man"). Picard seems convinced that it is legitimately Graves himself, not a simulacrum, that inhabits Data (but is not able to be transferred again, to the ship's computer). Did Graves improve on Korby's technique? (Was he aware of it? Picard thinks the man-machine "bridge" is unprecedented.) Or does Picard's acquaintance with Data make him open to an interpretation Kirk was not?
Thelia
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 6:29am (UTC -5)
I would just like to point out that as a Vulcan Spock was NOT devoid of emotion. He used logic and Vulcan techniques taught to him as a child to CONTROL his emotions. And that was true for full blooded Vulcans as well.
navamske
Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
There's a fairly suggestive line in this episode. When Chapel meets Andrea, she immediately becomes suspicious and maybe even a little jealous. Korby says, "Do you think I could love a machine?" which I take to mean "Do you think I could have feelings for a machine?" Chapel asks not "Do you?" but "Did you?" By phrasing the question that way, Chapel is asking Korby if he had sex with Andrea. (This, of course, is before she -- and the audience -- knows that Korby is an android too.)
SlackerInc
Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 4:09am (UTC -5)
I noticed that suggestive line, too. Hard not to think suggestive things about Andrea: she was smoking hot and really rocking that suggestive outfit.

Spock had a hint of a grin there at the end. He's getting closer to the character we recognize, but not quite all there yet. Sure, he always had a sardonic nature, but he used it much more drily later on.

Jammer's last observation: "Also, another story so soon after 'The Enemy Within' featuring a duplicated Captain Kirk may be pushing it". In the comments section under that episode's review, I noted that it "is the fourth of the first five episodes in which at least one of the main actors deviates from the typical way they would play their character: either because someone or something was causing them to act nutty, or because they were playing an imposter." So now this makes five of the first seven. I wonder if some viewers in 1966 were starting to see this as almost the premise of the series!
lt.holman
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Ruk!!! No kill!!! No kill!!! Ruk!!!! My favorite chapel line Ruk is the rock love him he makes me laugh soooooo hard!!
nosewings
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 3:36am (UTC -5)
The "so bad it's good" trope gets invoked too often. When something is bad, it's usually just bad. Many supposedly "so bad it's good" movies are just boring or painful.

This episode is a shining example of something that truly is so bad it's good. In fact, it's one of my favorite TOS episode.

This episode is never, ever boring. Here are just a few highlights.

Dr. Korby's plan is hilariously counterproductive. If he had just told them straight up what was going on, they might not have gone all "robots = evil" on him. There was absolutely no need for him to kill anyone.

Out of nowhere, there is a vampire dressed in what looks like a nightgown my grandma might wear.

The vampire kills Kirk's meager security force. Kirk shows no remorse at all.

Kirk demonstrates his incredible strength by ripping off a stalagmite made of styrofoam. It looks so much like a penis that I seriously think it might have been intentional.

Kirk sits down to eat with Spock. But wait -- it was actually Robot!Kirk all along! WHAT A TWIST.

For no reason, Kirk tries to seduce Andrea in a pretty rapey way. Our hero!

Andrea: "Kiss me."
Robot!Kirk: (with a ridiculous hand gesture) "No: that is illogical."
And then Andrea just shoots him without hesitation.

Classic Star Trek breaking its own rules when it comes to computers, and just not understanding computers in general. We are told that Korby's replication process makes perfect copies. But then he goes on about how robots are superior because they are perfectly logical. You can't have it both ways! Korby's own logic is self-contradictory -- which, according to Star Trek logic, should cause his head to explode or something.

Furthermore, robot!Kirk clearly does not act like human!Kirk. So really, he's just a bad copy, and Korby's process is technically flawed. But that's not supposed to be the point -- indeed, the episode thinks that Korby's process really is technically perfect, but it fails to capture "humanity" or something. Look, guys: if robot!Kirk really does perfectly replicate human:Kirk's brain, then he will act exactly like Kirk. (TNG continued this tradition of flat-out lying about robots, constantly insisting that Data had no emotions when he very clearly did.)
AJ
Fri, Nov 6, 2015, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Majel Barrett who plays Nurse Chapel, also plays Lwaxana Troi and the android Ruk looks just like Mr. Homn? I know that the actors are different but the minute I saw Ruk I said "Oh wow, it's Mr Homn!".
navamske
Sun, May 29, 2016, 11:51am (UTC -5)
@AJ

"Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Majel Barrett who plays Nurse Chapel, also plays Lwaxana Troi and the android Ruk looks just like Mr. Homn? I know that the actors are different but the minute I saw Ruk I said 'Oh wow, it's Mr Homn!'"

Apparently other people saw the resemblance too -- both Ted Cassidy (Ruk) and Carel Struycken (Mr. Homn) played Lurch in productions of "The Addams Family," Cassidy in the original series and Struycken in the movies.
Rahul
Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
Not a great episode although very much classic Trek in that it poses philosophical questions about androids, eliminating negative emotions, and preserving humans forever through androids -- a true sci-fi episode with a mad scientist aiming to propagate androids to create utopia.
Majel Barrett does a great job acting as Chapel here -- showing her emotions for Korby, jealousy toward Andrea, concern for Kirk.
The story isn't very strong and it has its holes. How does Kirk submit to having an android duplicate of himself made? How does he choke Korby (an adroid) such that the latter is gasping for breath. And I'm never a big fan of episodes where the solution is Kirk convincing an android to destroy itself - funny how Ruk finally realizes what the "equation" was after Kirk talks him through it.
The ending is quite anticlimactic with Korby killing himself and Andrea. Did Kirk magically convince them that they don't need to preserve themselves anymore?
For me, 2/4 stars.
NCC-1701-Z
Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
This particular trope of Kirk convincing Ruk to destroy himself is what Jammer calls Kirk Outsmarts the Computer ;) It's a proud Trekkian tradition!

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