Exo-III is familiar early Star Trek planet – home to a once great civilisation, it’s now (apparently) barren, save for a few human interlopers.
One of these is Dr Roger Korby (Michael Strong), a brilliant scientist and – by a remarkable coincidence – Christine Chapel’s long lost fiance. The pre-credits sequence does lay on Korby’s research endeavours and general high standing a bit thickly, but I daresay this info-dumping was a necessary evil.
The few first minutes also features a fair amount of Christine looking teary and wistful. The last communication with Korby was some years ago, so will he still be alive or has he perished in the icy wastelands? By a miracle Korby seems fine – hurrah!
But this is Star Trek remember and it quickly becomes clear that something isn’t quite right ….
What Are Little Girls Made Of? gives Majel Barret a major role, although Christine is fairly passive throughout. Nurse Chapel and Kirk beam down to the planet’s surface together, but they’re never as engaging a team as Kirk and Spock or Kirk and McCoy would have been. The fact that Spock and McCoy remain on the Enterprise does weaken the story a little. Indeed, we don’t see Bones at all, which is a shame.
Sherry Jackson (as Andrea) makes a memorable first appearance (her costume has something to do with this). Christine’s hackles instantly rise when she spies the nubile young Andrea – had they spent a few minutes alone together I’m sure Nurse Chapel would have started to scratch her eyes out.
After a fairly slow beginning the pace rapidly picks up. Korby reveals himself to be a highly unstable type whilst Kirk has no compunction in using Andrea as a human shield (or zapping Korby’s assistant, Brown). But the arrival of the imposing Ruk (Ted Cassidy) temporarily stops Kirk in his tracks. Kirk pinned to the wall by Ruk is an arresting sight.
Both Brown and Andrea are androids. Golly. Andrea is a remarkably pretty sort of android, although Korby maintains that he has no feelings for her (and vice versa). Then why make her so drop dead gorgeous?
Kirk being copied is a wonderfully pulpy sci-fi moment – a naked Jim (save for a covering to conceal his modesty) is strapped to a revolving table whilst a shapeless form lies next to him. After a few minutes the object gradually turns into a duplicate Kirk. So does this mean that there was there a real Andrea once upon a time?
Even this early on in the series’ history, What Are Little Girls Made Of? feels like archetypal Star Trek. An ersatz Kirk, a respected Federation man gone rogue, an attractive femme fatale, a dead civilisation which holds the key to untold knowledge and power. But whilst it’s all very familiar, it’s also great fun.
Kirk attempting to attack Ruk with the most phallic stalictite you’ve ever seen is an unforgettable moment. It surely had to be intentional, although how they got that past the censors is anybody’s guess. Oh, and Kirk’s plan to instruct the android Andrea in the ways of human love is another of those moments where it’s hard not to smile …
The first of Robert Bloch’s three Star Trek scripts, this one is probably also his best. It received an uncredited rewrite from Gene Roddenberry, but at this point in the series’ history it looks like Roddenberry’s script tinkerings were beneficial (this wouldn’t always be so).
Bloch may be best remembered today as the author of Pyscho (later filmed by Alfred Hitchcock) but he had written a fair number of pulp sci-fi stories in his younger days, which helps to explain the tone and style of this episode.
Although What Are Little Girls Made Of? seems to be little more than good, clean goofy fun there are some interesting philosophical questions bubbling away close to the surface. I daresay the late twist won’t take anybody by surprise but this is another S1 favourite for me.