Tue
Apr 28 2009 2:36pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”

“What Are Little Girls Made Of?”
Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by James Goldstone

Season 1, Episode 7
Production episode: 1x09
Original air date: October 10, 1966
Star date: 2712.4

 

Mission summary
The Enterprise arrives at planet Exo-III in search of Dr. Roger Korby, a famed archaeologist who disappeared there five years ago after discovering underground caverns on the freezing planet. More importantly, he’s Nurse Chapel’s fiancé, which is why she’s on the bridge anxiously awaiting word from the surface. They don’t expect to make contact with Korby because two other expeditions have already failed to locate him, but the third time’s the charm; he answers their hails with an odd request. He asks Captain Kirk to beam down alone, as he has an important discovery to discuss with him. Spock is puzzled, but Kirk is willing to give the “Pasteur of archaeological medicine” (which means he translated some old Orion medical records) the benefit of the doubt. When Korby finds out Christine Chapel is on board, he agrees to let Kirk bring her along.

Things get off to a rocky start. Kirk and Chapel beam down, but Korby isn’t there. Worried about the change in plans, Kirk orders some decoys beamed down from the Enterprise. Security officer Rayburn stays behind at the landing site, while Matthews tags along as they explore the extremely well-lit underground caverns. Instead of taking the lead, Matthews falls behind the others, looking around him nervously as though he expects something to happen to him at any moment.

Suddenly a bright spotlight shines on Kirk and Chapel and a man steps dramatically in front of it. He presses a button and the spotlight turns off, replaced by normal lighting so they can see it isn’t Korby, but his assistant, Dr. Brown. Before he can explain why he doesn’t know how to work the light switch, they hear Matthews scream—and from the way his cry dwindles away, it’s obvious he’s falling a great distance. While Kirk and Chapel look into the “bottomless” pit with concern, a tall grey man in a pink dress and gray robe slinks away. Could he have had something to do with Rayburn’s accident?

Kirk reports Matthews’s death to Rayburn, evoking an “Oh crap, I’m next” reaction. He asks Matthews to tell the Enterprise to ready a security team in case anything happens, but before he can do so, the same gray man sneaks up behind Matthews and kills him. Kirk and Chapel blithely follow Dr. Brown on his expository tour of the caverns:

Doctor Korby has discovered that as their sun dimmed, the inhabitants of this planet moved underground from an open environment to this dark world. When you were a student of his, Christine, you must have often heard Doctor Korby remark how freedom of movement and choice produced the human spirit. The culture of Exo-III proved his theory. When they moved from light to darkness, they replaced freedom with a mechanistic culture. Doctor Korby has been able to uncover elements of this culture which will revolutionize the universe when freed from this cavernous environment.

This doesn’t make much sense, but it’ll have to do. They finally arrive at Korby’s study, but of course the man isn’t there. Instead, they find Andrea, a beautiful woman in a skimpy outfit whom Chapel immediately finds suspicious. Korby himself finally appears and kisses Chapel as Kirk and Andrea watch avidly. It’s been five years, after all. Kirk next attempts to contact Rayburn but fails to reach him. Before he can report to the Enterprise, Brown pulls a gun on him and Korby orders Andrea to grab Kirk’s phaser. Kirk grabs her instead and uses her as a shield, then fires at Brown. The big guy from earlier bursts into the room and slams Kirk against the wall like a doll. Chapel screams and Kirk notices a large hole in Brown’s torso, which reveals burning electrical components, the universal sign that he’s an android.

Korby has Ruk, the big guy, mimic Kirk’s voice and report back to the Enterprise, buying him some time to convince the Captain to trust him. Kirk, understandably, thinks Korby is nuts, but persuades him into ordering Ruk to follow Chapel’s orders. Then the doctor continues to show off his toys, trying to make them see the promise of this technology. Chapel accuses him of creating Andrea as a “mechanical geisha,” but he protests:

KORBY: You think I could love a machine?
CHAPEL: Did you?
KORBY: Andrea's incapable of that. She simply obeys orders. She has no meaning for me. There’s no emotional bond. Andrea, kiss Captain Kirk. Now strike him. You see? There’s no emotion in it, no emotional involvement. She simply responds to orders. She’s a totally logical computer. A thing is not a woman. Now do you understand?

Chapel understands all too well. Finally, Korby decides the best way to explain himself is to show them how to make an android. Kirk is strapped naked onto one side of a round table, while a man-shaped mass of clay is strapped to the other side. The table begins to spin like a dreidel while Dr. Korby technobabbles the process of copying Kirk’s physical form to the android. While duplicating the mental pattern, Kirk wakes up and begins repeating the lines, “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?” Then he loses consciousness and the android Kirk awakens. Now there are two Kirks, one evil, the other... no wait, that was last week.

Kirk and Chapel discuss Korby in the dining room, and he tests her loyalties to her ship and her fiancé. She begs him not to force her to make that choice, then he reveals that he is actually the android Kirk. The real Kirk walks in (now in a stylish blue and brown jumpsuit, the current fashion on Exo-III) and joins the conversation, testing his double’s memories. Korby finally explains that he could have transferred Kirk’s consciousness, his very soul, into the machine if he’d wanted to—effectively offering him immortality. Kirk objects to this lofty goal, insisting that it’s nothing but programming.

KORBY: Can you understand that a human converted to an android can be programmed for the better? Can you imagine how life could be improved if we could do away with jealousy, greed, hate?
KIRK: It can also be improved by eliminating love, tenderness, sentiment. The other side of the coin, Doctor.
KORBY: No one need ever die again. No disease, no deformities. why even fear can be programmed away, replaced with joy. I'm offering you a pracical heaven, a new paradise, and all I need is your help.

Korby wants Kirk to take him to a planet with the resources to allow him to create more androids to infiltrate society, thinking this will make it easier to accept their existence. Kirk escapes, with Ruk in hot pursuit as Chapel orders him not to harm the captain. In the caverns, Kirk tears off a Styrofoam stalactite and fights Ruk with the phallic club, before falling over the side of a cliff. Ruk considers, then helps him up.

On the Enterprise, the android Kirk makes plans to take Korby and his equipment to the planet he needs, ignoring Spock’s questions. He ignites Spock’s suspicion when he snaps, “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?” Very clever, Kirk! Spock gets a security team together to go down to Exo-III after the android beams down.

Back in captivity, Kirk starts to work on Andrea and Ruk, trying to get at the emotions beneath their programming. He kisses Andrea, but she gets flustered and refuses him: “No. Not programmed for you.” Ruk engages him in a discussion of logic versus emotion, and Kirk convinces him that like the “old ones” on Exo-III, human emotions are incompatible with machine logic. As the android’s creators became afraid of their creations and turned them off in response, the androids determined that the old ones had to be destroyed for their own survival. Ruk suddenly remembers that “survival must cancel out programming,” which allows him to challenge Dr. Korby, who he now sees as a threat.

Ruk accuses Korby of “bringing the evil back” and ignores his commands, and Korby disintegrates him with a phaser. Kirk attacks him and Korby injures his hand in a door, tearing the skin and exposing electrical wiring. (Did everybody see that coming?) Korby explains that his original body was damaged by the freezing temperatures on Exo-III, so that only his brain was left intact; but he insists that he is not a computer, he’s the same person he always was. (Sure, and Davros isn’t a Dalek.) Chapel and Kirk argue that everything he’s done, the ease with which he kills, proves that he isn’t. Kirk asks him to prove his humanity by handing over his phaser, and the stunned doctor complies.

Andrea, who has destroyed the android Kirk after it refused to kiss her (a woman scorned...) now confesses her love to Korby. She approaches him, only able to speak in Cormac McCarthey-esque sentence fragments (“No. Protect. Protect. To love you. To, kiss you. Love you. Kiss.”). She kisses a confused and astonished Korby, who pulls the trigger of her phaser between them, disintegrating them both. Then the cavalry arrives and Spock asks where the doctor is. Kirk replies, “Doctor Korby was never here.”

Analysis
For some reason, I didn’t remember this episode much at all until I started to rewatch it. I kept confusing it in my memory with the next episode, “Miri,” which actually has some little girls in it. In any event, this is a strange but interesting episode, however uneven it may be. Here again, we have debates between logic and emotion, an attempt to improve on the human race, the desire for knowledge and immortality, and the pursuit of love. We also have a brilliant person who has gone completely off the deep end when faced with his own mortality, which will happen again and again in several incarnations of Star Trek. Despite the fact that Korby’s obviously crazy, he seems to have the best of intentions, which lend this episode elements of tragedy, especially for Nurse Chapel.

Kirk constantly struggles to reconcile Korby’s reputation with the reality of the man he meets on Exo-III, and we have to wonder what circumstances could have caused such a change in the famous archaeologist. Kirk posits that it’s his lack of humanity in its android body, but it seems he must have had questionable judgment before the transfer. What happened to the real Brown? He must have been a real person once, since Chapel remembers him; did they kill the original after building the android duplicate? Korby makes it sound like he had no choice but to transfer his own consciousness into a machine body, since he was frozen and dying, with his legs gone—but he obviously relishes the thought of immortality. And then there’s Andrea. How much are we meant to sympathize with Korby’s situation and choices? He ultimately kills himself, either because he can’t face what he really is, or to prove that he’s still human after all.

The episode suffers because despite the massive info dumps to sell us on the premise, it’s inconsistent and hard to follow. Korby’s motivations are completely skewed, as he keeps changing his mind about what he wants to do. His theory that the androids would be seen as mere “objects of curiosity” is feeble justification for his plan to replace people. And remember, he was clearly planning to duplicate Kirk from the beginning, when he asked him to beam down alone. Obviously the extensive show-and-tell is just another way of explaining things to the audience, but it delays the opportunity to engage in real questions of identity and the nature of humanity. In some ways, this episode is a nice sendup of Asimov’s robot stories, with Ruk finally breaking his programming to protect Korby in order to protect himself. This isn’t the last time Kirk will outreason a computer mind to save the day.

The most interesting aspect of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” is its focus on the relatively minor character, Christine Chapel. This is a rare episode to prominently feature the Enterprise’s nurse, played by Majel Barret, who of course later married Gene Roddenberry. She even gets a card all to herself in the end credits, perhaps as a consolation for the loss of her much more impressive part as Number One in the original pilot, “The Cage.” Whatever the motivation for giving her this showcase for her role, it was well deserved because she’s terrific. And it’s nice to get some background information on her character. Kirk mentions that she “gave up a career in bio-research to sign aboard a starship,” but it’s never made clear if she’s just done this and been assigned to the Enterprise to search for Korby one more time. However, her decision to remain onboard makes this seem like her first episode, which is naturally confusing to viewers, though this can’t be blamed on the air date order since this episode was produced after her initial appearance on the show.

Shatner is also terrific, as Captain Kirk gently reassures the concerned Chapel throughout the episode. One of my favorite scenes in this episode is his conversation with his android via the magic of split screen, which is every bit as convincing as modern day special effects. Notably, we also get some back story on Kirk’s family in that scene, learning about his brother George Samuel Kirk and his nephews, who figure into a later episode.

In another bit of setup for later episodes, at one point Nurse Chapel asks Spock if he’s ever been engaged. Though he doesn’t answer, we’ll find out in “Amok Time” that actually, he’s still engaged. But this little moment does raise some questions about Chapel’s admission of her love for Spock in “The Naked Time,” if she still hoped that her fiancé was alive...

This episode has a couple of moments of real surprise: when the android Kirk reveals himself to Chapel, and when we learn that Korby has been an android the whole time. Since I’ve seen this before, I can’t gauge their effectiveness today and I don’t recall what my original reaction was. If anyone has just seen this for the first time, did you see these twists coming or were they predictable?

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 3 (on a scale of 1-6)

Torie Atkinson: You had to pick that picture, didn’t you, Eugene.

To directly respond to some of the questions that Eugene raises: my understanding was that Nurse Chapel gave up her career on Earth in the hopes that one day she could reunite with Korby (who’s always hopping around the galaxy), and that she was specifically on the Enterprise to seek him out at this planet. (By the end it’s noted that she’s transferred to the ship indefinitely, so I think we’re meant to infer that her presence was previously a temp gig.) You’re right, it doesn’t make sense because it implies it’s her first episode. Also, being a Starfleet nurse is clearly supposed to be a step down from bio-research, which surprises me, since I had always assumed that Starfleet was the be-all and end-all of career opportunities. Is that a Next Gen thing?

As for the reveals, I hadn’t seen this one before, but I saw them coming from a mile away and it wasn’t satisfying to me.  On the other hand, I liked the philosophical questions it raised (even if they kind of stumbled upon each other). I particularly liked that they confronted the idea of “practical immortality,” and that Kirk reminds Dr. Korby of that concept’s dark and deadly history from Genghis Khan to Hitler. I do disagree with Eugene about Dr. Korby, though—I really don’t think that he was crazy or had “gone off the deep end.” He clearly made the other androids because he was lonely, and that struck me as an entirely human thing to do. The taking-over-the-universe-and-replacing-humans part...okay, that was wacky. But the trajectory he took, from desperate for survival, to lonely, to villainously ambitious, was a realistic and mostly human one.

My favorite part of the whole episode was Kirk planting the line “Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I’m sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?” I think it’s crucial to note that part of Kirk’s fundamental...Kirkness...is that he would never be a racist asshole. That racism trips Spock’s detectors, because it’s so anti-Kirk and so against what this world and this culture is about. What a great touch, and what an effective way of showing how inappropriate that kind of thinking is in this world.

The other thing that truly delighted me in this episode is the brief exchange between Uhura and Nurse Chapel in the beginning. Nurse Chapel is exiting the bridge to reunite with her fiancé, and Uhura stops her, gives her a supportive little kiss on the cheek, and sends her off. It’s such a nice, touching moment, and the first instance of friendship between women that we’ve seen so far.

My question to the audience: What’s the title about?

Torie’s Rating: Warp 3 (on a scale of 1-6)

Best Line: ANDREA (to Chapel): “I am now programmed to please you also.”

Syndication Edits: None listed.

Trivia: Writer Robert Bloch, best known for his novel Psycho, pays homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft in this episode by invoking the horror master’s subterranean “Old Ones” in dialogue and in the pyramidal doors of some of the ruins on Exo III.

Other notes: Ted Cassidy, who portrays Ruk, is probably familiar to many viewers as Lurch from the television series, The Addams Family, which ended its two-year run just before Star Trek premiered in 1966.

Echoes of “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” can be seen in many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including “Datalore,” “The Schizoid Man,” and “Inheritance.”


Next episode: Season 1, Episode 8 - “Miri.” US residents can watch it for free at the CBS website.

Check the Star Trek Re-Watch Index for a complete list of posts in this series.

25 comments
Herb Schaltegger
1. LameLefty
Excellent summary of an interesting early episode. I haven't commented on your posts before, but let me say thank you for reminding me of the wonderful hours I watched these episodes (mostly in syndication on an old B&W Philco in our basement during the 70's).

Question for Tori. You wrote:
As for the reveals, I hadn’t seen this one before, but I saw them coming from a mile away and it wasn’t satisfying to me.

My question is rhetorical at best I suppose, but would you have seen these reveals coming as a typical network TV viewer in 1966? I mean, "the big reveal" is a staple of a lot of fiction, no just SF, but part of the reason why "Oh noes! Itz a ROBOT!" is such a trope is because we've had 50 years of this on TV, especially in SF, while that was certainly not the case in the mid-60's, especially to mainstream viewers with exposure only to the then-very limited choices available from the networks.

Of course, I say this to you, but at the same time I knew Haley Joel Osment was seeing a dead Bruce Willis about halfway through that movie the first time I saw it to . . . Er, so perhaps I should just shut up now. : )

Anyway, again great job on the re-watch and blog posts! I now have something to check out on Tor.com in between the Wheel of Time re-read posts.
bookworm
2. bookworm
I think you two covered most of the highlights, but to your question Torie, I believe that the episode title is a play on the fact that when given the opportunity to create a "girl", Korby creates Andrea, and all that implies.

It calls the question of the dichotomy between the reality of Korby's relationship with Chapel vs. what he seems to have wanted in a romantic relationship. On the surface, this may appear to set back gender relations into the 1950s, but perhaps the script was meant to get viewers to question their own values more closely.

I think many people still struggle with this today. What do men want? A woman who matches well with the man's interests and values, or a woman who more closely fits the playmate image? For women, there must be a similar struggle in how they wish to be perceived by men. As just as strong and successful as the man who interests them, or would it be better to appear subordinate and perhaps more? More confusing is that the correct choice for one, might not be for the next.

As for Andrea, played by actress Sherry Jackson, it was one of only two notable roles in her attempt to transition from child to adult roles. She had played a daughter in Danny Thomas' TV show Make Room for Daddy which ran from 1953 to 1961. She did a lot of TV guest roles through the 1970s, but I really don't remember any of them.

And, did anybody notice that Ruk had been found, not created by Korby? he was o-l-d, even for an android.
Torie Atkinson
3. Torie
@ 1 LameLefty

Always a pleasure! As for whether the reveal was more effective back then, my instinct is to say "almost certainly," but to be honest I can't say. Historically, the idea was out there: Asimov's Robot series certainly predates it, but I can't speak to how familiar the average viewer was to those stories. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" wasn't until '68. A man-turns-out-to-be-android reveal I can think of is Alien, which was much much later, in '79. So honestly, I'm not sure. I'd guess that yes, it was much more effective then.

@ 2 bookworm

Great points! I was thinking in a slightly different direction, that it tied into what Korby says to assuage Chapel's fears. He calls Andrea "a thing, not a woman." Here (and I say here merely to indicate that I am personally highly skeptical of this assertion), a woman isn't a logical computer--she's an emotional, often illogical creature, who feels and loves and has her own needs and wants. (This ties neatly into "The Man Trap," which argues a pretty similar idea.) It turns out that Andrea winds up fitting that criteria after all, and I think that's what scares Korby more than anything. To see the two blend--that even android girls have emotions and feelings and needs, beyond the programming, and that you can't "write it out" because it's fundamental to personhood (in this case, womanhood)--was a kind of terror. You can't just delete what men and women are made of: neediness, loneliness, and the instinct to want to please others and be loved in return.
bookworm
4. sps49
What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice.

I think it's a play on that, since Andrea (and the others) are made of actuators and stringers and wires and such, but on a deeper level, she actually did learn to love Korby. Korby himself, an android who thought it was human, did act non-robotically at least twice (handing over the phaser, and committing murder-suicide. Talk about ahead of it's time!

I was surprised at the reveal, but 1) it was in the 70's, and 2) I did not notice Sherry Jackson then the way I would on later viewings. Rowr.
I did note Ruk was an original, even then. Old, very old.

But weird. Did two androids desire each other sexually? That went over my head on my early viewings; now I am surprised that got on the air at all (e.g., Christine's snark at Roger).
David Siegel
5. bigscary
I had always assumed that Starfleet was the be-all and end-all of career opportunities.

I think it is for the people we tend to meet, but not universally. Even within Starfleet, it's easy to imagine that she might have had her bio-research opportunity on a starbase or science vessel somewhere, rather than serving as a nurse on a general exploration vessel.
Kage Baker
6. kagebaker
I saw this the night it first aired, when I was 14. My mother had been nagging me to watch Star Trek and I had steadfastly refused, but I remember looking up from whatever book I was reading at Ruk's line "THAT was the equation!" Hmmmm, I thought, that's better dialogue than they write on Lost In Space...

Nope, I didn't see the Korby-himself-as-android thing coming. It wasn't as much of a cliche, in 1966.
Richard Fife
7. R.Fife
Hmm, I agree that Korby's suicide was probably over a mixture his old human self realizing what he had done, and also his robotic self seeing that he had failed. In the vien of Star Trek, I think we were meant to think that it was his old human self taking "the noble path".

And yes, Torie, he did have to pick that picture. The sheer... well... you know... of it hit me when I watched it like... I don't want to finish this thought.

To the big reveal: I was waffling on it until I saw it, honestly. I think my over-thinking threw me off, in particular, that Kirk was able to overpower Korby and choke him with the rope. If robots don't need to eat, why do they need to breath? Also, to the last, when Korby winced in pain at the door being closed on his hand, I was still in doubt. Maybe I'm still just sick with frog-cold, iunno.

That Kirk convinced Lurch, er, Ruk to rebel actually through me for a loop, though. I was disappointed at how anti-climactic that was, though.
Ruk: Gar, I want to kill you!
Korby: PHASER!
Ruk: Gah, I'm dead.

Oh, on Korby's sanity, I think he lost it post robotification. It was a measure to surive that he became a robot. I'd imagine Brown was in the same shoes he was, although I'd guess the transfer didn't work as well for Brown since he was less human acting.

But yeah, being lonely and a Robot himself, he probably did a standard human survival trick and convinced himself that he had it good. It was a small step from there to deciding that humanity at large needed his "services." Again, I think it was right there at the end where Kirk out-witted the logic that Korby went all samurai-seppuku.
C.D. Thomas
8. cdthomas
You comment on the pink dress under Ruk's grey robe, but not on the fearsome androgyny of him generally?

Yeah, we get Cassidy's bulk and voice, but note how the costume and makeup create a space for a really butch guy to be androgynous. (Hell, during UK repeats glam boys probably took notes.) His eye makeup was fierce, and the layering of Barrett's voice as his own? Chilling.

This isn't about the generalized American cultural fear of the effeminate. This is about a creature having that much potential, with no moral scruples about using those capacities.

One of the things under-explored in TNG was how Data could mimic probably any voice he heard; we first see that trait here, with Ruk imitating both Kirk and Chapel. Ruk, unlike Data, wouldn't join Starfleet and be grateful to be considered as human, and unlike Lore he wouldn't seek revenge because of his daddy issues. Ruk would be like Asimov's Mule, and tear up the joint. The ST book canon includes a novel, MORTAL COIL, which includes Ruk, Mudd's androids, everyone with a wire in their brains... and it's *awesome*.
C.D. Thomas
9. cdthomas
And let's give a hearty handclap to the master, the craftsman, the guy who made bare midriffs, low waistlines and diagonal bra-like fitting a signature of the ST babe costume, Mr. William Ware Theiss, ladies and gentlemen....

MUDD'S WOMEN was when we sat up and took notice, but this was the episode that locked in the *regularity* of the babe candy we'd see every week. The complete coverage of naughty bits yet the expanse of toned flesh possible.... and this was a worker bee, not a golddigger! EVEN GIRLS IN JUMPSUITS WOULD BE HOT!!!

This realization cannot be underemphasized.

Also, this is another episode depicting Nurse Chapel's dependency problem. (in ST:TMP, I even think she was a doctor by then, who came back on board to help McCoy.) Again, Christine loves a man who can't love her back -- and I'm placing the human Dr. Corby in this category, since what sort of man expects his fiance will sit and wait while he goes off into the wild blue yonder, for years? The typical Western hero embedded in ST, that's who, but as we see, that's the culture ST soaks in.

And I'd put it as a trait of its time, except for one character: Dr. Crusher, lovesick mom, who actually would grow up enough to captain her own science vessel, but still had that pesky love for the man who sent her husband to his death....

(Tell me one of the parents of ST isn't soap opera, and I'll call you a liar.)
Joseph Blaidd
10. SteelBlaidd
@Cdthomas:
Three Cheers for The Theiss Titillation Theory

The reveal in this episode, and ST:TOS in genral tends to suffer from a severe case of being the originator of a great idea.

This is certanly one of the eraliest episodes to ask What Measure Is A NonHuman,and to broach the idea of the artificial girl as bespoke Spouse.

We also have mental degridation as a result of extream reconstructive surgery.

All this in one episode. The writeres on ST definatly earnd their (meager) pay.
bookworm
11. cbyler
Obviously the extensive show-and-tell is just another way of explaining things to the audience, but it delays the opportunity to engage in real questions of identity and the nature of humanity. In some ways, this episode is a nice sendup of Asimov’s robot stories, with Ruk finally breaking his programming to protect Korby in order to protect himself.

That's not a sendup, it's You Fail Engineering Forever. Asimov's robots were *designed by engineers*, who understood how they worked, and they actually worked that way. They obeyed the laws of robotics because they obeyed the laws of physics, and the connections between one and the other were understood by the roboticists. Asimovian robots are a *technology* - and a well-understood one, at that. (Clarke's Law only works for the audience. For the technologist, sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from *stage* magic.) Their programming can't be "broken" by acts of will any more than your biochemistry can.

In Star Trek (and other space opera, and I agree with cdthomas that soap opera probably has something to do with space opera, although some of their tropes also go back to *actual* opera) robots *constantly* behave in ways inconsistent with the expectations of people who supposedly designed and built them. In other words, they have free will just like the incomprehensible collections of neurons on the other side of the screen. There's a ghost in those machines.

I don't claim to be able to solve the philosophical problem of free will for collections of neurons. But if you correctly understand how your robot works, then *that's how it actually does work*. It can't decide to work differently. (That's probably true of collections of neurons too, except that nobody *does* correctly understand how they work.)

Shorter me: if you plan to use robots to examine the nature of humanity, it might help to remember that robots are different than humans. Having your robots act human is a failure of writing.
Richard Fife
12. R.Fife
cbyler:
I think the usual hand-wave away (that I accept at least, as a Computer Science Engineer with a major focus in hardware) is that the A.I.s created for these "emotional" robots are not constrained to some high order operating system or "three laws". These creations have been given the ability to not only learn, but the inability to understand. That is to say, the programmers built in an intrinsic flaw that created the Ghost.

Clarke's law is something I honestly agree with on a daily basis in reality. I work with computers that do the strangest things that I know follow perfect logic somehow, but programming already is approaching chaos theory: too many variables to completely track all the interactions. So, it is easy for me to forsee humanity having the arrogance to create a "magic spell" (computer program) that they themselves cannot predict the outcome. Turing would have a heart attack, but the rest of us get Liz Gorinsky's favorite apocolypse: the Robot Uprising.
Joseph Blaidd
13. SteelBlaidd
@R. Fife
A-bloody-men.

My day job involves debugging Hardware and Software on radios for aircraft. Some days it resembles divination a lot more than it resembles forensics.
bookworm
14. DemetriosX
For all its melodrama and plot holes, this really is one of the better episodes of the entire run. But it is Ted Cassidy who makes this episode work. There are times when he seems almost embarrassed to be there and flirts with the patented Lurch eye-roll. But his big scene -- The Old Ones. The ones who made us. etc. -- is always a pleasure to watch.

Asimov did eventually succumb to the ghost in the machine concept. His robots, led be Daneel Olivaw, developed the Zeroth Law (and may have committed mass genocide of all non-human sentients in the galaxy) all on their own.

My question is given all of the androids we see in TOS -- here, I, Mudd, the episode where Kirk falls for the scientist's daughter who turns out to be an android -- why was Data so unique by the time of TNG? Dr. Soong should have had so much to work with that there should have been whole crews of sentient androids by the time Picard took command of the Enterprise.
bookworm
15. bufsprite
Saw this episode the night it aired, when I was 13. Did not see the 'Dr. Corby as android' coming as it was not yet a staple plot device. Also-I was 13 and had only been devouring SF for 2 years at that point. I was surprised to see that much revealed flesh on tv, but did not-and still do not-read all that much into every nuance. Just enjoyed the show.
kagebaker listed above: the real Kage Baker? Love the Company series!
Mitch Wagner
16. MitchWagner
DemetriosX

My question is given all of the androids we see in TOS -- here, I, Mudd, the episode where Kirk falls for the scientist's daughter who turns out to be an android -- why was Data so unique by the time of TNG? Dr. Soong should have had so much to work with that there should have been whole crews of sentient androids by the time Picard took command of the Enterprise.


It's because Trek isn't science fiction -- it's fantasy, with blinkenlights.

There was at least one TNG episode where the Enterprise was sent out to retrieve the one, working prototype of some important device or another. In the real world, there would have been no need for that mission -- there would have been plenty of notes and designs and a whole series of prototypes.

But this wasn't the real world and that prototype wasn't, in fact, an engineered machine -- it was a magic artifact, like the Ring in LoTR. Machines aren't unique, but magic artifacts are.

Note: This isn't a criticism of Trek -- I am, in fact, describing one of its major charms.
bookworm
17. trekkiechick
I always thought this was a strange episode. Not one of my favorites. My take on the episode title was that it was showing what Christine was made of, not physically but emotionally. Like, that she was so dedicated/strong/whatever to go hunting for her missing fiance and deal with this whole situation when it came up. And I did not see the Kirby-as-android thing coming. of course, I was like 14 the first time I saw this.
Torie Atkinson
18. Torie
@ 16

Thank you making that point. Star Wars is the same way, and that's part of its charm for me, as well.

@ 17

Interesting! I hadn't thought it could be about Christine but I like that take on it. It's easy to ignore what she goes through amidst all the android and immortality business.
Church Tucker
19. Church
As a child in the seventies the Korby-as-android reveal was a surprise but the murder-suicide at the end was the real shocker. I'm surprised that nobody else commented on that.

I've constantly reevaluated the episodes as I've grown, but that's still one that I puzzle over. He already knew he was an android, and he's seeing that even the 'limited' androids are exceeding their programming. So why kill himself? My current thinking is that he realized that his sense of superiority over the other models, which fed his conceit that his 'soul' was intact, was unfounded. Korby had died on the roundabout.
Rajan Khanna
20. rajanyk
I had some of the same issues with this one that others did, particularly in reference to it being a bit uneven.

I love that a kiss from Kirk is enough to inspire free thought.

I also like that Kirk isn't anti-Vulcan, but he isn't entirely non-racist as his sentiments in Star Trek VI will tell.
bookworm
21. Ruk iv
DemetriosX has it right on when he asked:

"My question is given all of the androids we see in TOS -- here, I, Mudd, the episode where Kirk falls for the scientist's daughter who turns out to be an android -- why was Data so unique by the time of TNG? Dr. Soong should have had so much to work with that there should have been whole crews of sentient androids by the time Picard took command of the Enterprise."

Considering just how sophisticated the androids were (particularly in this episode, "What Little Girls Are Made Of"), it's hard to believe that Data/Lore was considered to be such sophisticated androids when you consider that not only did the androids in this TOS episode have and feel emotions like humans but they also happened to look human, unlike Data/Lore who look like a pair of glittered up fudge-packers!
bookworm
22. Bluejay Young
You can see ten-year-old Sherry Jackson doing a stunning piece of acting as the baby saint Jacinta Marto in the 1952 Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima.
bookworm
23. Ivanova
I'm sure no one is reading this thread anymore, but I had to chime in to comment on first viewing experiences of this episode. This is one of those I do have quite vivid memories of watching when I was a child (probably younger than 10 years old). I didn't see any of the reveals coming. I think the most shocking one to me was when we find out that Chapel had spent the past few minutes talking to an android instead of the real Kirk. I was also surprised at the "Korby is an android" reveal, but not as surprised as the Kirk reveal. Even today, when I know the episode so well, every time I watch this one, I can still feel the shock I felt the first time I watched this episode with the Kirk reveal.
bookworm
24. DrCroland
I must say the ending upset me a great deal, what a waste! I felt bad for Korby but especially Andrea, who had to have been the hottest female of all time ever to appear on the series, hands down. No other even came close, as far as I am concerned... Look, even if she WAS an android, W-WHO CARES???? :-D
bookworm
25. feenix219
I would guess that no one understands the technology of the "old ones" and that Korby just used what he found already there.... not to mention it was probably quarantined and put on some kind of blacklist somewhere.... I'm sure Soongh never had access to that type of technology during his research. It was apparently capable of replicating the human experience in every way... its neural net was on a human intracy level, while Data's positronic brain was definitely built with standard 24th century tech.

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