- Written by Robert Bloch
- Directed by James Goldstone
- October 20, 1966
- Captain Kirk-William Shatner
- Spock-Leonard Nimoy
- Dr. Roger Korby-Michael Strong
- Andrea-Sherry Jackson
- Ruk-Ted Cassidy
- Christine Chapel-Majel Barrett
- Lt. Uhura-Nichelle Nichols
- Dr. Brown-Harry Basch
- Mathews-Vince Deadrick Sr.
- Rayburn-Budd Albright
- Lt. Leslie-Eddie Paskey
Nurse Chapel is reunited with her long-lost fiancé, but not all is as it seems as he hides a shattering secret.
Nurse Chapel looks for her fiancé who traveled to the penis rock planet to build sex robots.
If you don’t think the latter is an accurate description of the plot then you haven’t watched this episode. I can’t take credit for that description, and I wish I could give credit to the individual that originated it, but honestly I forget their name. There is a reason for why that is accurate and we will get to it.
What Are Little Girls Made Of? is a classic episode of the original series. Not their best but it is good. This episode asks what exactly makes us human? Can we edit those things and still remain human?
Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Strong), Christine Chapel’s (Majel Barrett) missing fiancé, disappeared while on an archeological expedition to the planet Exo-III and stumbled across abandoned technology of the planet’s long-gone inhabitants. His plan now is to essentially turn the galaxy into a bunch of golems and edit out our bad personality traits. Creepy.
Kirk (William Shatner) demonstrates his usual insightful nature in this episode by pointing out the flaws in Korby’s thinking. Korby is trying to create perfect people, but they still kill or act impulsively. Human nature is too complex to easily fix. Kirk is often depicted in popular culture as an unrepentant horndog following around his penis but in truth he was an intelligent captain and often a creative thinker though the best example of these qualities would not arrive until Star Trek V which ironically is the weakest of the original cast films.
Kirk’s solution to the whole situation, which happens to be the same way James Bond fixes things, is basically to create chaos and come out on the other side by taking advantage of that very chaos. Seriously. He just goes about disrupting this insulated world that this archaeological crew has created and uses the chaos to stop the plan.
And the resolution to the story isn’t a shoot them up of any type but rather Korby coming to the realization that despite the illusions he has crafted in his mind he is not human any longer and what he wants to do will strip away the humanity from humanity. And then there is the android Andrea (Sherry Jackson), created by Korby and pals, who in what strikes me as a little bit of an out of left field moment confesses her love for Korby and then shoots both of them with the phaser in a passionate embrace. I’m not sure how else you could’ve disposed of the character but that was probably the least messy and most time effective for a weekly series.
Andrea is where the ‘sex robot’ portion of the latter of the two plot descriptions comes from. She is an attractive creation crafted to look like a very young woman that does only as commanded. By a group of men. On an isolated planet. Men who were alone for five years. And they made a hot android.
One thing I was bothered with from the start was that Andrea used a disruptor. I saw the original series back in the day when they were syndicated around the clock around the world so I never saw them in order until I bought the series collection and what she uses is a pilot episode phaser which honestly was a cooler design than what they used in the series. The thing is it was called a disruptor by the time the show went to series and those were illegal in the Federation.
All good storytelling allows you to understand the character motivations even if you do not agree with why they are doing things. You understand Korby’s motivations here. He sees the problems of his world and wants to fix them by fixing people. The sentiment is good but fixing people is not easy and that is where the character of Korby goes wrong.
This was the rare episode that put Chapel out in front and was quite possibly the first time we got good biographical data on her. It’s heavily implied to the point of being all but directly said in this episode that Nurse Chapel gave up a successful career to become a nurse in Starfleet in order to hopefully stumble across Korby. She couldn’t find a ship to take her there? Admittedly the Enterprise was often out on the fringes of explored space far from civilization but the line there is no logic you can really find to explain her actions. That makes Chapel kind of pathetic no matter what decade it is.
What Are Little Girls Made Of? is also an early on demonstration of the bond between Kirk and Spock (Leonard Nimoy). While Spock doesn’t think anything is necessarily wrong at first he does pick up on the difference in the voices when the android is faking Kirk’s voice. On some level he gets that it is not his friend and commanding officer speaking.
And Kirks signal to Spock is rather and genius. This is only the seventh episode but they had demonstrated a bond in the series already. Kirk knows he can’t speak directly to Spock so instead he screws up the android copy in hopes that someone will pick up on the oddity. A desperate move.
The character of Kirk usually works best when he has Spock to play off of. If Spock is lacking then McCoy is the perfect Plan B. Spock is barely in this one and McCoy is completely absent which leaves the character of Kirk almost entirely without his chorus. Kirk thus is a little less interesting in this story. He has no one to bounce ideas off of or be examples of what is going on in his mind.
Ted Cassidy shows up as Ruk who is an android that has been tending to the equipment on the planet of Exo-III for longer than even he can recall. So long in fact that he has forgotten exactly what happened to the planet’s original habitants. How does a machine forget? Korby was apparently able to re-program him which opens the possibility that Korby’s re-programming affected Ruk’s memory but that’s just creating my own head canon.
There is probably no one else you could get at the time that could not only act but would be menacing as an alien android like Ted Cassidy. I am not calling him a great thespian, but he was a man of talent. And that voice. I wish my voice was that deep.
And how can we talk about this without mentioning the dildo that the prop people gave to William Shatner. This was only seven episodes in but he was already viewed as a bit of a jerk to those working on the show. I’m not going to apologize for his actions. He probably was and from the looks of it still is a bit of a jerk. And I say that as somebody that looks up to him. I think he has even admitted to it somewhat. The man was the star of the show and I’m sure that pressure had something to do with it but it’s probably also in his personality.
In a joke for themselves that somehow got past the sensors of the era, Kirk has broken off a piece of rock (or is that ice?) and he is getting ready to club Ruk with it. You can clearly see what it looks like. How nobody picked up on it is beyond me. Perhaps they got away with it because it was not one random element but rather incorporated into the overall design.
What Are Little Girls Made Of? is a little weird but a very good encapsulation of what good Star Trek is. Interesting ideas, a good script, and an intellectual but not necessarily action oriented resolution. As with any episode of the series you should check this one out!