8.31.2013

Captain's Blog pt. 64: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

On October 20, 1966, Endora moved in for a spell over on Bewitched, Steve had driving woes over on My Three Sons, and Star Trek asked America:


I thought I'd try something a little different this time. I'll give you all but one of the scores up front and then use screencaps and lines from the script to justify them with a minimum of my bullshit text. Hopefully some semblance of meaning will still be conveyed.

Script/ Theme: (9 / 9 of 10/10)
Kirk and the Gang: (35 of 10)
Visual Design: (3 of 3)
Internal Logistics: (3 of 3)
Guest: (5 of 5)
Memorability: (5 of 5)

These are for the most part chronological, but the astute reader will notice several that are not. Most lines from the script do not match the image, either; many liberties were taken, all in the name of science.


Michael Strong plays Nurse Chapel's fiancé Dr. Richard Korby, who was of course required reading for Kirk at the Academy.

"His last signal told about finding underground caverns."
  
"When they moved from light to darkness, they replaced freedom with a mechanistic culture."
Ted Cassidy plays Roc.
"Is it possible they built their machines too well? Machines that wanted logic and order and found that frustrated by the illogical emotional creatures that built them?"
"A mechanical geisha would be no more difficult."
Bill Theiss's costume design caused a near-riot at the sci-fi convention at which it was revealed. Allegedly, Harlan Ellison hit on the lady modeling it so relentlessly that security followed him around the convention floor.
"I don't remember Doctor Korby mentioning an Andrea."
"Christine, an android's like a computer. It only does what I program."
"Mind your own business, Mister Spock..."
"Do you think I could love a machine?"
"Did you?"
"Mind your own business, Mister Spock..."
"She simply obeys orders. She has no meaning for me."
"Mind your own - UUUGGR!"
"She's a totally logical computer. A thing is not a woman. Now do you understand?"
"Mind your own BUSINESS Mister Spock. I'm sick of your half-breed interference do-you-hear?!"
...
"You... you will not?"
"It is illogical."
Meanwhile...
Uhh...
I, uhh... hrrm...
"That was the equation! Existence! Survival must cancel out programming."
"That's it, Ruk: Logic! You can't! protect someone! who's trying! to de-stroy you!"

I AM ROGER KORBY!!

"Ask me to solve any... equate... trans-mit...!"
"To love you..."
"To kiss..."
"You..."
... hrrm...
"Doctor Korby was never here."
  
The End.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This episode is pretty much perfect. Provocative, exciting, dramatic, thoughtful, and visually stimulating. And Sherry Jackson's Andrea is a bit on the iconic side. So many "Trek Girls"are, when you think of it. 



Given the thematic concerns of this episode, casting Ms. Jackson or someone similarly bombshell-ish as Andrea not only makes sense but is probably essential. But lest anyone think I'm reading her only as hot chick in skimpy clothes, she plays the part quite well. Imagine someone like, I don't know, Kim Kardashian in the role, and you can easily see how easy it would be for a poor performance to pull the rug out from under the story.


Title: (5 out of 3) "...Sugar and spice and everything nice..." Works well on many levels, but speaks most particularly to the what-makes-a-human-human business, not to mention Kirk's objections to Korby's ideas re: programming-a-utopia (or Nurse Chapel's concerns re: mechanical geishas.)

Total Points Awarded: 74

6 comments:

  1. This episode is noteworthy to geeks (besides the fact that it's an episode of Star Trek in the first place) for the H.P. Lovecraft references - the Old Ones are directly mentioned, and some of the architecture has a touch of the Mythos about it.

    Bloch knew Lovecraft, as well as some of the other great horror writers of the pulp era, like August Derleth. One of the niftier things about all that is these writers wrote stories using the Cthulhu mythos, in effect creating a larger literary tapestry, a shared universe before that term came into being. This started while Lovecraft himself was alive, who not only approved it and encouraged it, he participated in it.

    It's very, very fun that Bloch took the opportunity to bring Trek into the Lovecraftian tradition. By extension, then, Trek is part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Best of all, to me at least, is that another powerhouse writer of that era and friend to Lovecraft, also tied his most important character to the Cthulhu Mythos. I'm speaking, of course, of Robert E. Howard and his greatest creation: Conan the Cimmerian. Thus, by further extension, Captain Kirk and crew exist in a universe in which Conan the barbarian once strode the Earth.

    Sherry Jackson would go on, about a decade later, to slum in a really bad grindhouse flick called Bare Knuckles. The movie is bad, really bad, but the trailer is one of my very favorite from that genre and era - and you can get a glimpse of Jackson in it, to boot.

    http://youtu.be/SQJ9SyAiFEo

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  2. That screencap of Korby -- or should that be "Korby"? -- standing backlit in silhouette is awesome. Don't you love it when you can get a great frame like that?

    I wonder two things about this episode, primarily: one, whether it fits well with later incarnations of "Star Trek"; and two, why Nurse Chapel got this important a role. Not that Barrett isn't good; it's just so unusual for someone not name Kirk, Spock, or McCoy to get anything really substantial that I always wonder how it happened.

    Back to the first question. As you point out, the title is clearly an indication of the existentialism of the story. And I always wonder what Data's reaction might be if he were to stumble upon Kirk's log entries pertaining to this incident. What would Thomas Riker's reaction be, for that matter?

    It's a complicated issue. Personally, I'd have to say that that android is demonstrably NOT Dr. Korby. But at the same time, he/it is clearly an intelligent, self-aware being. So maybe he isn't Korby, but he's SOMEBODY, and he's valuable in his own right.

    Speaking of valuable, pardon me while I go and right-click/save all those screencaps of Andrea...

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    Replies
    1. One thing I enjoy about the first half of season one episodes is how beefed up other crew-members' parts are, as you point out here. That fell to the wayside, really, as the series went on. This is definitely Chapel's finest moment. Too bad she never really got much of a chance to shine anywhere else.

      Yeah, I've always wondered the same thing. Would've been nice for Kirk or someone to mention this planet to Sargon and the gang in "Return to Tomorrow," or for Data or Thomas Riker, as you say, to double back and check it out.

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    2. To the fitting in with later incarnations point, that would have been great if this had been referenced as an example of "Earth's barbarous past" or something during "The Measure of a Man." Someone should really do an episode by episode comparison of those two and the implications therein. The titles reflect each other, as well.

      Kirk, on one hand, is just thwarting someone who claims to just want a peaceful solution but is actually pursuing a more villainous course and is justified in all he does. But he seems motivated from the first by a fundamental rejection of the idea of android life having value, or at least motivated by feeling threatened by it.

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    3. That's a good point about Kirk, from his perspective, opposing an evildoer. As the episode presents things, he IS justified in his actions, I'd say.

      That makes me think of your "Spock's Brain" review, which very plausibly pitches the idea that the episode is a sort of riff on "Amazon Women of the Moon"-type sci-fi cheesecake. A lot of original Trek is sci-fi pastiche of that sort, if you look at it that way. This episode has echoes of both "Frankenstein" and of mad-scientist movies in general. The twist is that -- via the lovely and almost entirely sympathetic Andrea -- it does put in just enough material to make you stop and wonder if there isn't some validity to what Korby was saying.

      In other words, an episode like "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" helped pave the road for an episode like "The Measure of a Man" to exist.

      Fascinating.

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  3. I liked this episode a lot. It had great acting and a great script.

    However, it really lacked originality. Once again, it's the "long lost love" used to establish the emotional component. Didn't Kirk have a total of 5 of these?) Once again, it's the isolated scientist that is the villain. Writers used these crutches early and often in the series.

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