Some of my friends who follow this blog probably just did a double-take, because my dislike of and/or ambivalence to Star Trek in all its myriad forms is pretty well documented. But Marie’s father and brother both enjoy the series – her dad is quick to emphasize that he is only interested in the original run – and at Christmas, Daniel spotted his uncle’s latest addition to the line of Star Trek spaceship ornaments. It captured his imagination and curiosity, so I said we’d watch a little of it at some point. After all, the kid should make up his own mind.
So I picked a run of
seven eight episodes, which are available to stream at CBS All Access. I picked the only one I’ve ever seen that I like, one that Marie remembers enjoying, the one that everybody in the world seems to like and which I’ve never seen, and four which seemed to have interesting guest stars. Hence Robert Bloch’s “What are Little Girls Made Of?”, which has Ted Cassidy as an android wearing one of my late Aunt Lera’s old blouses. Also, Kirk tries clobbering the android with a great big penis. If you haven’t seen the image, you can certainly Google it. I think the costume and prop guys at Paramount were seeing what they could get away with. On the strength of this episode, murder.
So I didn’t pick a very good introduction. Of the famous regulars, only Kirk, Spock, and Uhura are in this episode. Majel Barrett’s recurring character of Nurse Chapel is a principal character, because her genius scientist fiancé, who has been missing for years, has resurfaced with a remarkable discovery. Much of the story is set in an underground complex that he has found, and where he has learned to build lifelike androids. The story hits on several familiar themes from the sci-fi of the age – can machines be programmed to love, do emotions make us inferior or superior, that sort of thing – and it’s a little interesting as a historical curiosity about how TV treated these themes in the 1960s. Sherry Jackson plays one of the androids. Is Captain Kirk so incredibly manly that he can smooch a robot into becoming irrational, emotional, and jealous? Of course he is.
The kid wasn’t completely taken. He thought it was pretty good, but he got a little restless and naturally he got tired of the smooching. After all, he’s seen these themes in more modern television already and you can’t expect eight year-olds to be really interested about how people fifty-five years ago saw them. He did get worried when the Ted Cassidy android started hunting Kirk, and he really does love the design of the Enterprise. Marie actually bought him a very small plastic model of the ship which snapped almost instantly despite his care. I went to eBay and got him a sturdier die-cast version from one of the eighties movies which can stand up to a little battering, but seeing the quasi-original version onscreen – these are the remastered episodes, with wholly unnecessary CGI replacements of the perfectly fine visual effects from the time it was made – made him want a great big Enterprise. He can save up his allowance for such a thing.