“WHAT ARE LITTLE GIRLS MADE OF?”
Season 1, Episode 7 (Production 10), Story 7
Written by Robert Bloch; Directed by James Goldstone
PLOT: Kirk and Nurse Chapel discover her fiance wants to remake the universe with androids.
SUBPLOT: Hottest female android ever?
KIRKISM: “Eating is a pleasure, sir. Unfortunately, one you will never know.”
HEADER QUOTE SPOKEN BY: Dr. Roger Korby
WHAT ARE LITTLE GIRLS MADE OF? is another of these ’50s retro sci-fi stories where humans head down to an alien world and find some kind of super-powerful alien tech hidden underground. It’s an effective story that nonetheless isn’t very engaging, and the emotional promise of having Nurse Chapel along in her quest to find her fiance, Dr. Roger Korby, never pays off.
Forget for a moment that we know something sinister is going to happen because there wouldn’t be a show without it, but when a mysterious guy who’s supposed to be dead asks the Captain to come down alone and then doesn’t meet him at the door … you know trouble’s brewing.
But, whatever. That’s how the show works. It bothers me more that Kirk lets the guy he’s rescuing dictate terms, but maybe that’s why they make such a big deal about Korby being super-famous or something.
Kirk, Chapel, and Red Shirt #1 start walking through some cave tunnels and when Kirk and Chapel aren’t looking because they’re talking with Korby’s assistant Brown, Red Shirt #1 falls off a cliff into a bottomless abyss. Of course, he doesn’t actually fall so much as he’s pushed by this tall, bald, freaky dude who looks like the progeny of Lurch and Uncle Fester. (In fact, Ted Cassidy plays the freaky alien Ruk, and he also played Lurch on The Addams Family.) You have to question Kirk’s decision to keep descending through the cave tunnels with all of the weirdness already going on, but you have to thank him, too, because the plot moves faster because of it.
Bloch’s script perhaps pushes too much, too soon onto the situation on the ground. While Kirk and Chapel are on the Enterprise, looking for the presumed missing Korby and then hearing from him, Bloch provides the right amount of intrigue. How did this guy survive on this ice planet? Why isn’t he weeping with joy at the sound of his fiance’s voice after this multiple-year ordeal? Why does he just want to see Kirk alone, but is willing to allow Chapel to come, too?
The mystery, as they say, is set.
Then they beam down and within minutes there’s no Korby, two security guards beamed down, the cold Brown (who doesn’t seem to recognize Chapel until he’s reminded he knows her), the descent into the purplish caves, Red Shirt #1 falling off into the abyss, the tall, creepy alien walking away, Brown’s cold reaction to that death, the tall, creepy alien killing Red Shirt #2, and the happy but reserved Korby. The pacing just feels a bit off – there’s the perfect set-up, the quick pile of mysteries, and then the slow attempt by Korby to convince Kirk that the world really does need to be remade as androids.
Kirk isn’t having it, which sets the action into motion. Brown tries to kill him and Kirk blasts him instead, revealing wires where there should be blood.
And that’s his secret – Korby didn’t want anyone else to beam down because his big, change-the-universe discovery is that this alien tech allows him to make android duplicates of anyone. Of course, we all know from the start that Korby is going to be an android, too, but the show keeps enough things going that even if you know it, it doesn’t really ruin anything.
He’s convinced that the way to prepare the universe for this takeover is to slowly integrate androids into society. It’s completely lunatic, of course, but give credit to Bloch for soft-shoeing this. Korby never comes across as the MUA-HAHAHAHAHAH type of villain, but instead delivers his appeals with the soft, distant approach of an academic.
What hurts LITTLE GIRLS, too, is that Nurse Chapel isn’t really given anything to do. I get that the episode is a showcase for Shatner, but if you’re going to have Korby be Chapel’s fiance, it’d be nice to spend a bit more time with her to understand why she’s so shellshocked. Instead, what we really get is that she’s jealous of Korby’s gorgeous android assistant, Andrea.
Chapel is instantly thrown by the presence of Andrea, and that’s understandable being that she’s a younger, hotter woman living underground with Chapel’s fiance. Combine this with the subtly dropped revelations that Chapel used to be a student of Korby’s, meaning she’s well aware of Korby’s potential effect on young women. Andrea walks around wearing a very revealing outfit and the obvious, but unraised question is why? If she’s an android, why wear something so revealing? To impress visitors?
Korby orders Andrea to kiss Kirk and then to slap Kirk, showing that she has no emotional connection with her actions. Kirk, because he’s a man, doesn’t buy it and later on when he’s captured he forces Andrea to kiss him again to try and unlock her emotions. What’s great is that it works, but not as he (or we, really) would suspect. Her romantic desires are awakened, but they’re not for Kirk, but Korby, after all.
We get another duplicate Kirk in this episode as Korby makes an android copy of Kirk. The difference between Flesh Kirk and Android Kirk comes down to the former’s need to eat, and as simple a split as it is, it’s really the key to Korby’s obsession to turn the universe android – unlike humans, androids don’t get sick. Kirk completely takes the pro-emotional side of the argument, countering Korby’s assertions by lamenting the loss of love and desire.
Which is exactly the kind of argument the Doctor was making in THE AGE OF STEEL, which is only relevant because I watched it last week. There was probably a similar argument made in an episode of Riptide along the way. Both Korby here and Lumic in AGE OF STEEL are propelled to their positions by their own mortality. Both were dying when they were converted to machinery and there’s something deranged about then wanting to force that conversion onto the rest of the world.
It’d be nice to see a story about a villain who gets turned into an android and then actively tries to keep everyone else from their own conversion. Maybe that’s what the Riptide episode is about.
Trapped underground, there’s no way to get a message to the Enterprise, so Kirk sabotages his android duplicate by calling Spock an interfering half-breed. When the duplicate goes to the Enterprise to check on their schedule so Korby can determine which planet he wants to start his conversion empire from, the android repeats the harsh line to Spock, who then instantly realizes something is wrong.
Yeah, it’s a bit lame, but the show needed to make this resolution happen quickly and this is what they came up with. Personally, I think it would have been more dramatic to have Chapel betray her fiance and contact the ship but she’s too shaken by everything that’s happened to be effective.
Kirk eventually convinces Ruk (who’s a holdover from the original people who built all this tech) to turn against Korby, but Korby kills him with a phaser blast before that goes anywhere. It’s Andrea who eventually does him, kissing the scientist after it’s revealed he’s an android. She kisses him and he’s so ashamed or confused by the display of emotions that he was convinced wouldn’t be there that he uses her phaser to kill them both.
It’s a bit of a downer of an ending (why not something more hopeful where the androids live on together?) but it’s a solid enough episode.