Little Girls are Made of Sex Droids: Star Trek asks the Android Question
Trek Through Trek – Part X
Extremites, what are little girls made of?
That is the central question at the core of today’s Trek Through Trek. According to the episode, that uses this question as a title, little girls are made of sex droids.
The Enterprise is on a mission to discover the whereabouts of Nurse Chapel’s scientist husband Dr. Korby. Korby has been kept alive in the tunnels of the planet by androids left over from an extinct race that used to populate the planet’s surface. These androids don’t wish to leave the planet when the rescue team, headed by Kirk, arrives. Instead, their intent is to kill off human Kirk and replace him with an android. Why they wish to do this is unclear, but this is the 1960s and in the Sixties androids were evil by virtue.
Androids have always been a favourite ‘go to’ in science fiction. Questions like “what constitutes individual thought?” and “what does it mean to be a human?” have shaped this genre since its conception. This episode begins Star Trek’s storied legacy of discussing these most frightening of inventions.
Even though this episode was the beginning of a legacy that would drive story lines right up to Next Gen, it almost never happened. Unlike the others in the first season, the final script seen on-screen had very little similarities with the first draft. Gene Roddenberry read the first submitted script and tossed it in the garbage. He claimed that androids capturing Kirk and replacing him with an android version was so cliché that it bordered on copyright infringement. Gene’s answer was to rewrite the whole thing. Instead of capturing Kirk and taking over the Enterprise, the androids would talk about doing that but never get there.
Roddenberry is a brilliant idea man, but he’s a terrible writer. He enjoys lofty conversations rather than heightened action. Sometimes this pays off, but most of the time a Roddenberry story becomes a meandering directionless mess, full of philosophical speeches and civil dinners.In this episode there are tons of those. A debate over the nature of intelligence occupies a full act while each character tries and fails at distracting the audience from the obvious coloured blocks of painted wood they are pretending to eat.
Ignoring all the nepotism and pedantic dialogue, this episode does present some compelling ideas. Andrea, an underused character, is a creation of Korby’s for the single purpose of companionship. One of the inevitable reasons we will create androids in the future is to use them as sex toys. What will this do to relationships? How will human interaction change? This is an underlying powerful discussion of the episode but it is never touched on beyond passing reference.
The passive ignorance of the female characters in this episode upsets me. They become watchers of the plot rather than participators in it. There are so many questions they could pose as women that are ignored because of zeitgeist misogyny.
…Little Girls… was written fast. It was also rewritten during filming to the point the show went over deadline and budget.
Sometimes poor execution can destroy any good ideas.
Until next time, Extremites, I remain Julian Munds.
The Episode We Are Watching: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (Episode 9 of Season 1 of The Original Series: October 20th, 1966)
My Rating Out of 5 Tribbles: 2 Android Tribbles That Are There To Serve You.
My After Episode Thoughts: “So much eating and talking…. eating and talking.”
Pros: Some wonderful philosophical conversation. Charmingly cliché ending.
Cons: The sexism. The nepotism. The boringism.
—> PART XI
Posted on May 9, 2014, in Star Trek, The Original Series and tagged Christine Chapel, Gene Roddenberry, Julian Munds, Kirk, Korby, Majel Barrett, Original Series, Roddenberry, Star Trek Original Series, Star Trek: The Original Series, StarTrek, What Are Little Girls Made Of?. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.