Star Trek: The Original Series

"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

3 stars

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

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

48 comments on this post

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.
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?
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.
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.)
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!
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!!
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.)
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!".
Sun, May 29, 2016, 11:51am (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!'"

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.
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.
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!
Thu, May 18, 2017, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
Close to classic Trek: an interesting philosophical premise with some silly story around it that nevertheless is affecting.

@nosewings: yes that was an incredibly phallic stalactite. It even had balls. Tell me that was a coincidence, prop master.

Kirk is such a stone cold lover, he can even seduce an android (I have to say, the "I will kiss you" phaser blast scene is hysterical.)

So, it's heavily implied Korby is banging Andrea. Another progressive thing for 60's tv. Also speaking of Andrea, what happened to the real Andrea? Since the replication process doesn't seem to occur from scratch.

Is the screenwriter the same Robert Bloch who wrote Psycho?

I like how Korby lost some part of his humanity by transferring himself into the robot body. He didn't seem desperate enough to kill himself at the end though, I think it would've made more sense if poor malfunctioning Andreabot offed them both.
Fri, Aug 4, 2017, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Another re-watch -- I do think this is a pretty important episode in terms of the original idea of creating improved androids (ongoing idea in Trek), solving some of humanities problems (with all the flaws, of course). I do think Corby should be referenced in TNG and later Trek episodes for his work on androids.

I decided to up the rating to 2.5/4 stars because of the interesting philosophical issues posed -- the episode has quite a few flaws as I previously mentioned but it does somewhat create an emotional response with Chapel's loss and how Dr. Corby realizes the flaws in his plans. It's not a totally mediocre outing.
Thu, Aug 24, 2017, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
Watching the HD remasters you really notice the makeup they put on Kirk and the others!

Anyone else think Corby looks a bit like Trip from Enterprise?

And Lurch there - I was going to ask whether it was the same actor as Mr Homn in TNG only to find the latter actually played Lurch... well, freaking hell XD
(scrolls up and reads other comments - eeyup, AJ!)

An interesting early examination of AI and the philosophy of what it means to exist.
Thu, Aug 31, 2017, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
I like Kirk's last line - "Dr. Korby was never here". Korby never achieved a perfect 'download' of himself into the android, so Kirk was correct. Korby lost his humanity.
Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:37am (UTC -5)
Good early Trek episode, perhaps not among the best but entertaining nonetheless, and not just for the oddly shaped Kirk rock and creative Andrea costume or even for Ted Cassidy's fun guest turn as Ruk. This is good philosophical Sci-Fi, a foray into what it means to exist and to be yourself. And the final reveal of Korby, with Chapel's tragic loss and the pathetic self-explanation of "Korby," comes across as surprisingly affecting and poignant. I give it 3 or 3 1/2 stars.

Ironic that TOS gives us androids that actually look MORE advanced than Data on TNG supposedly 70 years later in the Trek universe. At this very moment, in 2017, we have androids (see that freaky prototype in Japan) that look and act entirely human. So Data's yellow/green skin and fake eyes on TNT is actually the more primitive design than TOS, where Roddenberry was probably just trying to save money by having androids who looked human. Very intriguing. Incidentally, we'll give Ruk a pass on "looking human," since he was designed by "the old ones" on Korby's planet centuries ago and presumably resembles them rather than human beings.

So all in all, this is a good introduction to androids for the Trek universe, although I personally find "I Mudd" in Season 2 more entertaining if not as thought-provoking as this one. "What Are Little Girls Made Of" also helps develop the TOS characters further, firstly giving us more backstory for Chapel in the only episode where she plays the central role. Secondly, we continue to learn about Kirk's resourcefulness (the methodical way he scraps out of an impossible situation) and the observant qualities of Spock in his budding relationship with Kirk.

And this show has one of the best mic-dropping ends in the Trek universe -- gotta love Andrea's response to being refused a kiss (snap snap) and Kirk's "Dr. Korby was never here" line at the end. And Korby's final monologue, railing at his own limitations as he realizes his lack of compassion/emotion makes him less than the perfect copy he had hoped, is affecting. Some of the cat-and-mouse games in the cavern feel a bit like filler, but the red shirt deaths are iconic, and the closing exchange between Kirk and Spock on the "half-breed" gambit cements their growing bond. Good Star Trek here.
Trek fan
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
PS -- I disagree with people asserting that the main TOS cast is acting out of character too much in these early episodes before we get to know them. The space phenomena that make our protagonists act out of character is actually a great storytelling device: It helps us learn who these people are in the course of dramatic contrast and conflict, as thoughts like "Kirk isn't like that!" leads us to form conclusions about what Kirk IS like. And so on.

So early TOS ends up "showing rather than telling" by allowing the characters to develop through their interactions with the main plot -- much more like modern movies do (including the Trek reboots) than the long-winded exposition of later Trek spin-offs, i.e. the long-winded speeches Picard is always giving about his values in TNG, especially Season 1. Sometimes the character speeches in later Trek spin-offs are good, but the speechifying ("I am Worf and honor is important to me") gets dull and many key character development moments (i.e. Data on the holodeck) often get relegated to B-stories which sometimes exceed but rarely intersect with the main plot, leaving the shows feeling strangely bifurcated into two unrelated plots or two plots which are poorly balanced (i.e. either the A-story or B-story is incredibly forgettable) or so poorly related that it's hard to remember they share the same episode space.
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
Trek fan: "At this very moment, in 2017, we have androids (see that freaky prototype in Japan) that look and act entirely human."

What? No we don't. There's nothing that *really* looks human. Close enough to be uncanny, but that's a valley short of passing.

The behavior, of course, is much harder and much farther away.
Peter Swinkels
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Okay, I know not to expect much from a 50 yeard old low budget series, but sheesh, the sets were cheap, the costumes absurd and the acting wooden. Also got to love how things in most Star Trek episodes keep gettings utterly vaporized without even leaving a scorch mark... Hate to say it but this episode was pretty bad.
Peter Swinkels
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
(year, getting)
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -5)
Korby wasted his Android Kirk. If the real Kirk’s memory is in the copy then Korby has access to top secret Starfleet info. He could sell that intel to the Romulans for a pretty penny.
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Trek fan: “So Data's yellow/green skin and fake eyes on TNT is actually the more primitive design than TOS, where Roddenberry was probably just trying to save money by having androids who looked human.”

The technology to make Data (and Lore) have natural pigmentation existed, but Dr. Soong purposely made them that way so they’d stand out.
Sun, Nov 26, 2017, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
I liked the wintery atmosphere of this episode. This was Trek's first iceplanet, and the establishing shots, broad windows offering views of snowscapes, and deep tunnels leading to underground alcoves, really lend a nice, cosy-but-clausterphobic ambience. Reminds me a bit of "The Thing".

Ruk, the giant, bald, broadshouldered being was also quite impressive, and features some excellent makeup. Nurse Chapel - I'd forgotten how smouldering she was - also gets a chance to do some real acting. I also like that Kirk immediately calls for a security team when he beams down and begins to grow suspicious. It's touches like this which elevate the episode above a somewhat familiar Frankenstein/ForbiddenPlanet/CloneKirk tropes.
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Something I always wondered about this episode - they beam down to the icy snowball world of Exo III, temperatures at 100 degrees below zero - shouldn't they have worn jackets or something? Chapel's in a miniskirt for goodness sakes!
Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
I will forever enjoy this episode because of the presence of Sherry Jackson. Trek has had a lot of beautiful women as both regulars and guests across all of its series, but few if any are as stunning as Sherry.
Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 6:00am (UTC -5)
It's interesting to me that Chapel's primary dramatic function for most of the series was to be in love with Spock, who was emotionless, and then here it's revealed that her fiance wants to replace humanity with emotionless androids. And these are the two men that Chapel chooses to love.

This says something about her, though I'm not sure just what.
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
where's susan calvin when you need her? dammit jim, you're a starship captain, not a robopsychologist!
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
The Andrea-sexpot part was just cringe worthy, especially Kirk "turning her" with the power of his sexy manliness.

But setting that aside (because what else is there to do?), a decent ep, if fairly slow moving (it took Korby forever to reveal his plan to give humanity immortality through androids).

The Nurse Chapel character development was good. And her hair is a lot nicer.
Mon, Jul 8, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
This feels like vintage Star Trek, which is pretty good in my book. I liked the thug Ruk who threw Kirk around like a ragdoll. He added to the feeling that this whole episode was a chapter out of old monster movie -- which is great casting because as others pointed out he played Lurch in the Addams Family.

One thing that especially worked was Kirk trying to tease out the emotions of each android. The love from Andrea, the jealousy from Ruk, and the pride from Korby. Majel Barret was also great with her quips, which helped make her an excellent costar in an episode which is more or less a story about her lost love gone mad.

Of course, I agree with the others that this was cheesy what with the Kirk-flirting that looked like it inspired the Fembot scene from Austin Powers. The phaser special effects were also odd, and it oddly felt like people were getting vaporized because their scene was done but not for any real story reason.

Nevertheless, the basic idea that people could somehow be replicated entirely in lab is a good subject to tackle, and the way each android felt creepily off-human - like the Uncanny Valley in action - was a real treat.
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 9:38am (UTC -5)
(not)rewatching the old episodes. I think many of them are more or less new for me.
It is kind of hard to get past the silliness of it all. Quite a few scenes where I laughed out loud (I know, I know, I could have written lol to save time but the pandemic has given me plenty so I can AND will spare the time to write laughing out loud as it was meant to be written long ago, saving time is the enemy right now. Everything has to be drawn out as long as possible. Wasting time is the the right move. No matter what, we cannot fall into boredom because we have literally done everything. That could be the end... So stretch, waste, slow down as much as possible. Your sanity is on the line!)

I still find the female uniforms distracting. I don't care if everybody runs around naked but these super short skirts really take me out of every scene. Lots of pelvic inflammations on the enterprise, I guess.

Lots of androids aka synth in this episode. Not as twins though. I guess that came later. I'm kind of reminded of the Orville. The thing is and what NuTrek is sadly lacking is that positive feeling. People are not broken and sad or traumatized. They are just people flying around in space doing things that they find fulfilling. mhhh yeah give the good stuff...

I cannot really say anything of substance about the episode. Sure back then that wasn't possible/thinkable but this should have been a two parter. There is far too much going on. The whole Kirk/android is the captain is not used appropriately. AndroidKirk beams onto the ship, then reacts completely out of character to tip Spock of and immediately leaves. Bad writing. I guess there will be other episodes where we see a replaced Kirk (there is the misogynistic episode where a women takes Kirk's place and cannot keep it together for 5 minutes before mega PMSing. I'm looking forward to that one (Kirk behaving like the "womenpeople" will surely be entertaining)). Sorry, I'm past my second glass of wine... ehhh what else... I don't know. Kirk is so convincing he basically reprograms the androids through talking which is pretty stupid. There is so much more to say but I'm not one who could write these really long in depth reviews.

2 1/2 penis shaped stalactites pieces
Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Picard season 1 seems to get a lot of influence from this one
Sun, Aug 16, 2020, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
As noted above, this really is the 'Kirk hits a monster with a stryofoam dong' episode. It actually appears to break in half - Ruk seems to be pushing it towards Kirk so you can't see the bottom has fallen off. Kirk seducing an Android is basically Austin Powers and the fembots though that was actually trying to be cringeworthy for humor.
Fri, Nov 6, 2020, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
@Cloudane, I don't know about Korby, but if you want someone who looked a lot like Trip, check out Paul Carr from "Where no Man has Gone Before."

Also, why do they call this episode "Little Girls"? All the robots - except one - are boys! I guess it's just really hard to see anything beyond Andrea's glorious side-boob.

Speaking of which, @Vanessa, I think it goes even further than "implied" that robot Korby and robot Andrea are reverse ratcheting.

To wit:

KORBY: Christine, you must realise an android's like a computer. It does only what I program. As a trained scientist yourself, you must realise that.

CHAPEL: Given a mechanical Doctor Brown, a mechanical geisha would be no more difficult.

Geisha. Nurse Chapel calls it out plainly.

Peter G.
Sat, Nov 7, 2020, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal,

"Also, why do they call this episode "Little Girls"? All the robots - except one - are boys!"

It's a reference to the nursery rhyme, wherein girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice." Since the plot is about how beings of different construction (robot vs human) can still apparently understand desire in a similar way, the nature of what we are 'made of' is relevant to the theme. And it also seems that one thing the episode is saying is that robot or human, they both love the same girl, whatever she is made of. i.e. that being female (and everything nice) trumps on some level whether she is humanoid or machine. And I think this idea is generally applicable to other TOS episodes, where Kirk's view of sex is that women are a universal constant regardless of race (or species). It's obviously a heteronormative idea but nevertheless I think very forward-thinking in terms of the idea that girls are awesome and we should understand that they are *all* awesome, not just white women.
Lawrence Bullock
Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
I believe those who didn't actually experience the sixties will find the attitudes towards men's and women's societal roles quite dismal. For those of us who did live through these years, it all seemed quite proper and normal at the time.

We grew up, we gained experience, we either changed or grew bitter because we refused to.

I think the android/human argument here is disguising societal roles in general, as many of TOS episodes do, though some more hamhandedly than others.

The struggle to remain human, even in the face of rapid evolutionary and technological changes, is also apparent.

As we all continue to evolve, even as we achieve this or that year's enlightenment, may we retain our own humanity as well and either forgive the Old Ones, or at least not cast too scornful an eye because time moves through us all.

I always found this episode highly watchable and still do.
Kevin Eanes
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
I liked the little moment in Act 1 where Uhura hugged Chapel before she left the bridge to beam down to the planet. It was a nice, small touch that showed a bit of human sympathy and decency.
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 2:31am (UTC -5)
I don’t have much to say that has not already been said. Just that there are some great philosophical “sci-fi” ideas about the nature of true humanity versus logic of androids. B the episode is so laughably dated in its production values (those polystyrene sets!), plus some way OTT acting...
Entertaining no doubt particularly to see an “android “ straight out of the Addams Family. We are beginning though to see the Enterprise in its comforting series familiarity.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
At the risk of sounding like a horny adolescent, Andrea, daammnn! Did Shatner have a hand in creating the costume? Or the script? "Kiss me," indeed.

Two Kirk's in as many episodes!
The Styrofoam penis shaped rock is hilarious!
Ruk was quite the Adams' Family monster.

An entertaining 50 minutes with some interesting ideas about what it means to be human / an android.
Thu, Sep 16, 2021, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Very good episode, and so great to see Majel Barrett in a role that is not annoying. Laid the foundation for androids in TNG and beyond. Bonus for having Lurch in there (I also thought it was Mr. Homm at first).

My only gripe is how repetitive the ideas are in the TOS. The episode before this is about yet another duplicate of Kirk...I mean you literally have back-to-back episodes about Kirk playing an alternative Kirk and himself. Before that, there were back-to-back episodes about humans who had secrets/abilities that no one knew about.

Looking at TOS as someone who grew up in the 90s, the effects look cheap and the technology is laughable. However, it was the strength of the characters and the acting that really carried the show. You could never have a Harry Kim or Neelix on TOS because their crappy characters would have sunk the show.
Fri, Sep 17, 2021, 2:19pm (UTC -5)

"My only gripe is how repetitive the ideas are in the TOS. The episode before this is about yet another duplicate of Kirk...I mean you literally have back-to-back episodes about Kirk playing an alternative Kirk and himself. Before that, there were back-to-back episodes about humans who had secrets/abilities that no one knew about."

I think it's for sure more nuanced than how you put it. There are some general themes that run throughout TOS like liberation/emancipation, dealing with more advanced aliens, examining the human condition etc. But what appears to be repetitive here are plot mechanics, I'd say. Like "The Enemy Within" and this episode, yes they do have duplicate Kirks and they come in quick succession of each other, but the stories told are very different. Similarly for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "Charlie X" -- it's not simply about dealing with a human who has acquired incredible powers putting the ship/crew in danger (though that is a large part of the plot dynamics). I think the showrunners for TOS struggled with the order of the episodes.

"it was the strength of the characters and the acting that really carried the show. You could never have a Harry Kim or Neelix on TOS because their crappy characters would have sunk the show."

This is spot on, I'd say, though I'd add that it was also the stories/themes/ideas that carried the show. I don't know if the special effects etc. impressed people in the 60s/70s but I don't think that was ever meant to be one of the pillars of classic Trek like it is for nu-Trek. Some of the visuals/studio sets/backdrops of TOS still impress me -- the vintage nature of the 60s vision of the future.
Proud Capitalist Pig
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 9:34am (UTC -5)
This one is surprisingly prescient for the 1960’s. It’s more relevant today with global billionaire elitists actually talking about one day transferring their souls/consciousness into artificial bodies to prolong their lives. One thing Star Trek seems to often do well is put up horrifying mirrors to our current issues and challenges, even ones that seem hokey at first glance, in sort of a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror way.

Personally, I’m normally all for technological advancement and proactive innovation that will make our lives better. If there’s money to be made, this Pig endorses it--with one exception: “sentient” AI. That’s my red line. Science fiction has adequately warned us over the years about exactly what will happen if we invent machines that can think for themselves without any input from us--in some way, they will eventually decide biological life is obsolete and possibly enslave or more likely exterminate it. Hell, Lurch even states this in dialogue within this very episode. Unless we collectively agree to restrict any form of artificial intelligence to the “dumb” variety--robots performing menial tasks and strictly unable to “grow” beyond their programming, and software capable of nothing more than suggesting playlists and organizing schedules--we’re pretty much done for. Some kind of international treaty banning the development of this technology would probably be necessary (and this is not without precedent).

But of course, who am I kidding. Probably only a few years from now, someone working for Mr. Musk (despite his warnings about “summoning the demon”) or some lonely mouth-breather deep in a secret underground lab in America, China, Russia or Korea will create a Frankenstein monster. In short order, it will be revealed “by accident,” and suddenly the new arms race will be on. I give us fifty years, tops.

I like how this episode drops the other shoe and reveals that Roger Korby is no longer a “he,” but an “it.” As I mentioned above, there’s already talk about prolonging life by transferring a person’s consciousness into an artificial body, or “golem” if you will. “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” shows us pretty viscerally how great of an idea that will turn out to be.

So I appreciate how Star Trek seems to come down on the side of humanity on this one, however flawed we might be. The writing here is fairly thoughtful, and the acting was pretty amusing--hammy Shatner pays his dues and I liked Majel Barrett’s turn as Nurse Chapel. I agree with some above commenters that it’s nice to see some other characters get some love in this show as it makes the ship seem more lived-in.

Best line:
Spock -- “I was dismayed by your use of the term “half-breed,” Captain.”

My Grade: B+
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
@Proud Capitalist Pig
>Unless we collectively agree to restrict any form of artificial intelligence to the “dumb” variety--robots performing menial tasks and strictly unable to “grow” beyond their programming...

I think we may have to create robots to replace us eventually because our planet won't last forever and life as we know it is not suited to space travel. Artificial life has a better chance of surviving the void of space and exploring the galaxy.

In the short term I agree with you that artificial life shouldn't be made sentient or to have emotions. I think we will have to build robots that can learn like humans in order to replace many occupations but they can't develop too much. There needs to be balance.
Trek Fan
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Happy birthday William Ware Theiss, the designer of Andrea’s outfit. Thank you from boys and men everywhere!
Thu, Apr 28, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
This episode was interesting. Helped that Andrea was hot!
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
This episode seems to be the initial original series installment of android vs human vs feelings. It's too bad that the majority of episodes end up with the androids losing.
Tue, Jun 6, 2023, 10:22am (UTC -5)
This is such a fun episode, it was never one of my favorites, but it really is the first “Trek” of the initial TOS episodes so far. Here we have all the glorious cliches:

- Red shirt massacre!
- The raw power of Kirk’s sexyosity, even emotionless android babes can’t resist him!
- Kirk’s amazing destructive logic loops, Ruk never stood a chance.

So many TOS tropes seen for the first time, I love it. Also, possibly the funniest scene ever:

“Kiss me” “Illogical” ZAPP. Brilliant.

There’s also the ever present philosophical issues and fantastic character beats that represent the bread and butter of TOS, but for me this episode is all about the fun.
Sat, Jun 10, 2023, 2:54pm (UTC -5)

I also enjoy this episode for the fun of it, but always with some disappointment. It raises some really intriguing questions, for example: just think that, like Korby, you can preserve a your mind in an android body – would that still be you? Given Chapel’s horror and Kirk’s line “Doctor Korby was never here”, I guess the answer here is “no”, but I think this could have used some discussion. Does their refusal have an ethical background? Or do they simply object to Korby’s plan to introduce his androids in human societies, drawing profit from someone else’s invention and ignoring the risks? We can only speculate. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with episodes which raise more questions than they answer – most TOS episodes do. My problem here is that here they don’t even really try and instead they spent the time on flirting, kissing, running around and fighting – it feels like a wasted opportunity.
Sun, Jun 11, 2023, 4:34pm (UTC -5)

The philosophical potential is definitely a bit short changed in this episode, I agree. Normally that would bug me more, but for some reason this episode just hits me in the “goofy fun” department of my brain, and I accept it on those terms.
It still does some thought provoking work of course. The idea that the pursuit of perfection is an inherently destructive, even dehumanizing, affair is pretty potent stuff. Or the notion that technology will invariably destroy its creator, unless of course your name is Jim Kirk and you can run logic circles around it;)
But I prefer to value this episode as a trend setter in the Trek universe, pushing redshirts into bottomless pits with abandon!

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.