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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45 comments on this post
Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 8:05am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Fri, Nov 28, 2014, 10:18pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 29, 2014, 4:09am (UTC -5)
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)
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 3:36am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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)
Thu, May 18, 2017, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
@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)
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)
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)
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 10:37am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
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)
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.
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 6:00am (UTC -5)
This says something about her, though I'm not sure just what.
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 12, 2019, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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)
Sun, Aug 16, 2020, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 6, 2020, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
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.
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.
Sat, Nov 7, 2020, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 2:31am (UTC -5)
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)
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)
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.
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 9:34am (UTC -5)
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.
Spock -- “I was dismayed by your use of the term “half-breed,” Captain.”
My Grade: B+
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
>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.
Sat, Nov 20, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 28, 2022, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
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