Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jeff Conaway [1950-2011]

Jeff Conaway who played Kenickie from one of my favorite childhood films, Grease [1978], and starred as Bobby in the popular ensemble TV Series Taxi passed away at 60.

To science fiction fans Conaway was certainly best known for his role as Zack Allan, eventual Security Chief, on J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 [1993-1998]. He certainly wasn't a genre regular, but portrayed the role with such enthusiasm he defined the part and became a welcomed character by the creators of the show.

He struggled with drug addiction for decades until his passing. It's another sad loss to all people who knew and loved him.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farscape S1 Ep7: PK Tech Girl

We now continue with the outlandish science fiction world of Farscape and outlander John Crichton's adventures within and without.

Farscape The Illustrated Companion discusses the stylistic fusion that was the fabric of Farscape. It generally captures the spirit of the show. Matt Carroll recalls PK Tech Girl as a "stylistic milestone" in the series. "We always talked euphemistically about that Farscape lay somewhere between Star Wars and Alien." He added, "It wasn't the complete fantasy that Star Wars is- and it wasn't as dark and grim as Alien." There are certainly elements of both of these films, and there are many others the series pays tribute too. You'll see.

In the end, Farscape is an entirely unique animal filled with a spirit of adventure and humor that is exclusively Farscape. There is certainly the occasional homage, like the gritty Nostromo look of Alien found in PK Tech Girl, but the series never becomes an imitation and remains deliciously Farscape. This is what I loved most about Farscape. It often takes conventions or ideas and deconstructs them or offers a new spin within its own special mythology. This show transports the viewer to an entirely believable universe. I was completely immersed in it and by God I believed it was out there.

Things are beginning to get more interesting within the Farscape universe as we enter the science fiction atmosphere of Farscape, Season One, Episode 7, PK Tech Girl.

The entry opens with an impressive animatronic close-up of Rygel's eye and in that brief moment the eyes tell us everything. Fear. Rygel expresses fear as Moya comes upon a Peace Keeper vessel called the Zelbinion. The crew of Moya are torn on whether to investigate the ship or pass it by. Zhaan and Crichton vote for moving along. D'Argo believes data spools aboard the crippled girl could pinpoint a way home for all aboard Moya. Aeryn Sun is intrigued. Her inclination, as a warrior, leads her to back D'Argo. Rygel immediately confirms Pilot's data scan. The Zelbinion is a dead vessel. Rygel is clearly concerned. Crichton certainly can't make heads or tails of the craft's importance. D'Argo informs him the Zelbinion was the most feared vessel in the Peace Keeper armada. Sun explains that it has been missing for 100 cycles.

Moya docks and Crichton, Sun and D'Argo go aboard. The mood, complete with flashlights and silence reminds me of the best of science fiction films like Alien [1979], Sunshine [2007] and Event Horizon [1997] to name a few. It really captures a spooky, desolate, tomb-like vibe. These kinds of scenes are often the essence of the fan boy's dream capturing the eerie stuff of nightmares. The creaking sound effects genuinely add to the haunting atmosphere. Sun explains to Crichton he may have enjoyed many years around rivers and trees, but she enjoyed the confines of walls like the ones found in the halls of the Zelbinion. Crichton's reply: "I'm sure it looks better with carpeting." The timing of humor on Farscape is often perfect and never takes us out of the moment. That's no easy feat. Although it's dark, the sequence captures the entry's mood including Crichton's classic pop culture references.

It's clear the Zelbinion is not the once thought impregnable, invincible war craft it was believed to be. On Moya, there is indeed unease by Rygel. He shares the sad facts of his past with Zhaan that he was once taken and tortured aboard the Zelbinion. On the Peace Keeper vessel, as the crew prepares to leave, Crichton notes some electrical activity on the ship's consoles. Sun believes activity is the result of a life form. Enter PK Tech Girl. Enter a very cute PK Tech Girl. The girl immediately recognizes Sun and the prisoners of Moya. In turn, Sun immediately recognizes the girl as a Peace Keeper Tech from Crais' vessel.

The girl's name is Gilina Renaez. Sun falls back on her command status and the Peace Keeper way for a review stance of Gilina. The abrasive Sun rears her ugly head and Crichton is none too pleased to see that side of his new comrade again. There is clearly a distinct class difference between the soldier class and the tech class in the Peace Keeper world. This is very much a mirror to our own law enforcement and military hierarchies. Crichton wishes to see Sun "lighten up." Sun makes a valid point taking the hard line against one of Crais' own. The tech's duty would be to lie and this is a grave concern for the stationary crew of Moya. "Point taken" relents Crichton. "This is my world John... don't interfere," warns Sun. Rygel is nearly cowering in unease over the memories of the Zelbinion. This is a humorous, but genuinely cutting moment as Zhaan speaks of life's truths to Rygel.

Meanwhile, the sympathetic Crichton attempts the 'you get more with sugar' method.' It may also be that Crichton empathizes with Gilina likening her situation of being alone to that of his own lost-in-space scenario. Not only does she look like a good, old-fashioned American girl, but she appears legitimately frightened. He understands.

Gilina explains how Crais came upon the Zelbinion. The tech team went aboard to review. Two days after arriving a vessel appeared with great power and destroyed everyone. She was the lone survivor. D'Argo intervenes indicating a scavenger race of aliens has also been aboard the Zelbinion called the Sheyang. The data spools were removed. Gilina doesn't hold any punches and makes it clear she considers Sun a traitor. Elsewhere aboard the ship, Rygel faces his demons in the form of a cruel and evil soldier called Durka.

Sun and team investigate around the craft. Gilina speaks with Crichton in disbelief he is not Sebacean. "Human-it's kinda like Sebacean, but we haven't conquered other worlds yet so we just kick the crap out of each other," explains Crichton. How clever right? Gilina thanks Crichton for defending her from Sun. "I try to save a life a day- usually it's my own." Is Farscape not woven with some of the funniest, seemingly off-the-cuff, refreshingly natural dialogue you ever did hear? The exchange is followed by a moody piece that really illustrates just how entrenched the Peace Keeper indoctrination is in a Sebacean. Sun is heavily influenced by her old ways while inside the Zelbinion. There is an unstoppable power about the Peace Keeper life and Sun is certainly feeling its pull. Cultural indoctrination certainly has that affect.

The subtle sounds of Guy Gross generally heightens the tension. Weasel, Spanky, Sparky, Fluffy. There is no limit to the nicknames Crichton heaps upon his Hynerian friend. Rygel is terrified by the ghost of his former torturer Captain Selto Durka. There is a terrific, sinister flavor to PK Tech Girl as the crew moves through the Zelbinion. The crew of Moya stumbles upon charred remains. It is one of Gilina's former colleagues. The man is a victim of Sheyang incineration, a trademark technique used by the Sheyang. Sun is puzzled why the deceased officer would be on the Zelbinion guiding Gilina and company to do essentially grunt's work. Gilina indicates Sun's unit was demoted following her defection. Reinstatement of such demotions can only be reinstated upon Sun's death. Good times. It has been anything but a picnic for Gilina and company since Sun's departure.

Aboard Moya, Pilot and Zhaan pick up a Sheyang ship entering their airspace. On the Zelbinion, Sun absolutely flips into pit bull mode when she learns of the Sheyang ship's arrival. Sun is all over Gilina suspecting some kind of conspiracy. Crichton calls Sun off Gilina, but also backs Sun by definitively telling Gilina that Sun is no traitor. Crichton serves up some good old-fashioned American diplomacy. Gilina knows the Sheyang had filled their ship to capacity with Zelbinion supplies and goods and they planned to return for the DS [defense shield].

The Sheyang vessel has Moya in its sites targeting her with a plasma conductor. Zhaan suggests signalling the Sheyang of their impending departure. D'Argo, now back aboard Moya, makes it clear the Sheyang respect only strength and will flee only then. If weakness is demonstrated, they will attack without mercy. Zhaan reminds the audience of course that Moya has no offensive capability. By the way, isn't that such a refreshing conundrum for a vessel on the run? It's a bit like the prisoners of Alien 3, weaponless against a powerful enemy.

Inside the Zelbinion, Gilina hopes to restore the defensive grid. It will take 8 arns [hours] to repair. Crichton and Gilina clearly demonstrate a slight physical attraction given their intellectual and scientific interests, but of course. With this in common, they are drawn to one another for other obvious reasons.

The latest episode presents an exciting new race of creatures in the Sheyang fully realized by the clever and meticulously detailed work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop. The creatures look part fish/ duck/ lizard or mutant-sized Howard The Duck complete with classic aviator caps. The alien ship prepares to fire upon Moya. D'Argo whispers to Zhaan so as not worry or concern the physical safety of the living vessel that is Moya. Still, they may need to retreat to the Zelbinion if Moya is badly damaged as a result of attack. Pilot appears on screen indicating he and Moya are quite fearful of fire. Does your heart just break for them people? Moya and Pilot are sitting ducks. D'Argo is enraged with frustration in his inability to battle and take out the Sheyang vessel. In his unintelligible, clearly profane tirade Zhaan transmits his angry image to the Sheyang in the hopes of frightening their would be attackers. Zhaan's plan works as the Sheyang power down their weapons buying Moya some time.

On the Zelbinion, Crichton believes he can shorten the stalling tactics to four hours if he aids Gilina with half the workload.

On Moya, D'Argo is uncomfortable with the ruse Zhaan intends to present to the Sheyang. Luxans do not lie in battle. Zhaan emphasizes the plan is to mislead them and that their lives clearly depend on it. Despite his discomfort, D'Argo understands the fragile reality of their situation.

On the Zelbinion, Crichton and Gilina are getting all hot and bothered as they make repairs to the DS. Gilina doubts her ability to repair it. She tells Crichton she didn't want to be executed for failure to try. Crichton reassures they aren't killers. Gilina points to Crichton's killing of Crais' brother. Exasperated, once again, he explains to her the accidental nature of that incident.

Meanwhile, D'Argo and the Sheyang converse over salvage rights to the Zelbinion. One of the Sheyang pilots does not believe D'Argo's claims that he has Luxans aboard the Zelbinion. The two boast their way to a temporary Mexican standoff or stalemate giving Moya more time, but the noose is clearly tightening. D'Argo worries the fourth non-substantive conversation could result in their imminent destruction.

The burst of steam is fitting. On the Zelbinion, the re-writing continues. Gilina zaps her eye and the floodgates open to a little hunk-a-chunka Crichton affection. There's always time for a little love in the best of science fiction programming amidst the heat of battle and the heat of human contact [Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and now Farscape]. Gilina willingly embraces the human as the two waste valuable time desiring one another. The two break from their mutual heat for one another and get back to work lest they want a hot shot of plasma conductor.

Elsewhere on Moya, Rygel hides in terror remembering the torturous ways of Durka. Rygel cowers in fear and once again Hardy's vocal portrayal of the Dominar once again walks the line of annoying and sympathetic. It's flawless in its brilliance really. Zhaan implores Rygel to find Durka's corpse aboard the Zelbinion so he may set himself free of the demons. It's nice to see Rygel so self-absorbed in his own personal problems, while the fate of Moya and her crew hangs in the balance. Good ol' Rygel.

On board the Sheyang vessel, mutiny is brewing as one alien disagrees with another over tactics. The leader has never known a Luxan to be on a ship without defensive or offensive capabilities. He is concerned about the situation. The underling attacks his superior knocking him unconscious. Once in charge he requests the plasma generators be activated and the leviathan be destroyed. Inside the Zelbinion Crichton, Gilina and Sun work quickly to activate the DS by linking a host of cables. The shield is activated enveloping Moya inside along with the Zelbinion. It's a terrific effects sequence.

The weapon has no affect and Moya is safe for now. Pilot reports there are gaps within the defense grid as the equipment is not fully functional. The beauty of the adventure is nothing ever goes according to plan on Farscape. Gilina indicates there are two DS packages and they have only one activated, thus the defensive holes. Crichton suggests bringing the second DS aboard Moya. Gilina indicates her oath to never compromise Peace Keeper technology, but her attraction to the Kirk-like Crichton allows her to break her sworn oath. Laws are made to be broken. The Sheyang leader regains consciousness and scolds the protege Sheyang pilot. The failed pilot must now fly through the gaps of the defense shield to land on the Zelbinion. The elder leader tells the younger they may one day sing songs of his early demise.

On the Zelbinion, Gilina and Crichton grow closer as they work. Gilina falls back into Crichton's arms and its game over. Crichton continues to earn his Kirkian stripes bagging babes left and right across the galaxy. Intergalactic French kissing commences. Sun interrupts and is mildly jerked off by the incident making every effort to suppress her own creeping jealousies. Crichton, likewise, harboring his own attractions toward Sun, feels required to apologize and explain himself. There is clearly a connection between them they have yet to acknowledge. Here is one of the wonderful scenes that builds upon the Sun/Crichton relationship that Sun finds "interesting."

This is a wonderful illustration of the character-driven series. There is so much explored between these people and there is a slow burn to its development. These relationships are rarely given a chance to evolve properly in the short span of a single science fiction film. Elsewhere on the Zelbinion, Rygel believes he has found the corpse of Durka. Rygel enjoys a bit of a revelatory catharsis informing Durka's rotted body "you lose," while he enjoys the satisfaction of hocking a giant plop of red phlegm on his face. Nice.

The Sheyang have launched roughly twelve fighter pods toward Moya with their plans to breach the Zelbinion hull. Gilina passes on a bit of good news. If the two DS units activate, in the same spatial area, they must be kept separate. The polarity will draw them toward one another, but if the units touch everything in the room will be vaporized. Again, good times on Farscape. The Sheyang mutineer informs all pilots to aim for the gaps in the defense grid, which is still near impossible as they are constantly moving and shifting. The two units are activated inside the Zelbinion and draw toward each other powerfully like magnets. D'Argo notifies the others that a Sheyang vessel has breached the shield and may now aboard the Zelbinion. Sun is on the move with her big mama gun. Damn! I love that gun! It's very Aliens like in style. I love this little Sun moment. She shines!

Clearly the Sheyang have a thing for firepower literally. Sun is forced to handle the Sheyang firebreather carefully to find Crichton and Gilina. This is classic Crichton.

Sun saves the day, because she kicks ass. Back aboard Moya, the crew, with Gilina present, determines what is best to do about the PK Tech Girl. Some feel they have successfully evaded Crais thus far and she should remain behind, while others are uncertain she can be trusted not to inform the Peace Keepers of their whereabouts. Sun expects she will remain quiet given the operating Peace Keeper tenet that alien contamination by a potential enemy results in death or banishment. Meanwhile on the Sheyang space vessel the creatures discover the Zelbinion has sent a signal to the nearest Peace Keeper carrier and it is enroute at top speed. One last transmission between the Sheyang captain and D'Argo reveals the Sheyang now know the Luxan had "nothing," but that he "used it well." He vows to kill his "clever" opponent someday. I love this brief moment between Gilina and Sun. Sun is changing, walls are crumbling, but the battle between who she was and who she is capable of becoming is indeed a war of personal will within her. That's a great aspect to her character and one to watch in the coming entries. This is lovely stuff.

There is some real affection between Crichton and Gilina. She wishes to go, but Crichton assures her she cannot live the kind of vagrant, on-the-run life they are leading. He can't stay or when the Peace Keepers arrive he would clearly be killed. This is a telling scene of the future.

The boy does alright. Crichton visits Sun in the closing moments. Once again, the creators pile on with genuine emotion, nothing gratuitous, just part of the journey. The moments are also important, because ultimately the best in science fiction centers on the characters and how they change and interact. Farscape is abundant in this arena.

I've been taking my time with Farscape, absorbing each episode twice. There is much to enjoy and I'm finding I enjoy them that much more the second time around. PK Tech Girl is a delicious piece with wonderful cinematography that will transport you to another place. This is a solid piece of science fiction entertainment and really captures the best a fan boy like myself enjoys mixing a bit of the conventional with it a touch of the Farscape weird or as Crichton references, Farscape's own "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly."

PK Tech Girl: B
Writer: Nan Hagan. Director: Tony Tilse.

Pop Culture Reference: Crichton: "I had a poster of Clint Eastwood. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly."

Special Guest: Alyssa-Jane Cook. Gilina. Cook's character was originally slated to die according to David Kemper, but the script was re-written to bring her back and generate another angle to the complex relationships within Crichton's world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SciFiNow: The Best & Worst Episodes Of Wonder Woman

A thing of absolute beauty.

Another sensational summer of superhero films is in the air, so why not take a look back at one of the sexiest, one of the hottest, one of the super best of all female heroes, the true original, the one, the only Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. The 1970s was clearly chock full of some classic science fiction television. The Incredible Hulk, The Six Million Dollar Man, UFO, Space:1999, Battlestar Galactica and Wonder Woman. What a decade!

Wonder Woman is truly begging for a revisit. Why? The voluptuous allure of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman of course. Next to Lindsay Wagner, the Bionic Woman, Lynda Carter was the IT super babe of the 1970s making Wonder Woman appointment TV for my exploding, genetic, coming-of-age, mutant transformation. Who didn't love watching that Hot For Teacher-attired, bodacious Lynda Carter twirl around into an exploding package of vibrant blue, red and gold tights and glitter. YES!

Why those box sets sitting on my shelf have yet to pull me for a sit down I'm still trying to understand. They tease me so. I'm constantly taunted by that red, white and blue body to end all bodies.

Needless to say, until the time comes when I can fully devour all 59 episodes of Lynda Carter I thought I would bring you the Best and Worst of Wonder Woman's three seasons of television according to the always wonderful, but often hit and miss subjective calculations of SciFiNow [Issue #6]. I went into the archives for this one friends.

The Best:

1. Fausta: The Nazi Wonder Woman [Season One].
2. Light-Fingered Lady [Season Two].
3. The Boy Who Knew Her Secret Part 1 & 2 [Season Three].
4. The Feminum Mystique Part 1 & 2 [Season One].
5. The Girl From Ilandia [Season Two].

The Worst:

1. The Pied Piper [Season Two].
2. The Deadly Sting [Season Three].
3. Spaced Out [Season Three].
4. A Date With Doomsday [Season Three].
5. The Man Who Could Not Die [Season Three].

"The good guys aren't what they used to be. Should we shoot her, rope her up or take her to dinner?"
Ah yes, Wonder Woman, "all the world is waiting for you." Well, at least I am.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wonder Woman In Chains

Tears For Fears gave us a classic single with Oleta Adams called Woman In Chains from The Seeds Of Love [1989]. Well, Wonder Woman in chains wasn't uncommon. She was normally roped up, cuffed or chained. What were those male studio executives trying to say? Fortunately, Lynda Carter wasn't having any of it.

"When she gives you this face, you just know that you'll be eating all of your meals through a straw for the next few months."

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

"It all seems so clear to me. Why is it so confusing for others?"

I guess this will be my last post based on all of the concrete scientific evidence floating around out there. It's been real. Yes, it's time for the latest doomsday predictions.

No longer are people referring to the Rapture as a hit song by Blondie from the recording Autoamerican [1980].

Tomorrow, it's the end of the world as we know it people. May 21, 2011. It's been nice knowing you. Call it a day. "Game over man!" Sayonara. It was a good run.

Have any of these people actually seen Millennium? You're eleven years too late. But seriously, some believe these folks cultists who will be joining the rank and file behind the likes of the Hale-Bopp Comet jumpers. Get your Nikes ready. Others do follow the legitimacy of such predictions found in the Bible. Still others believe, the good book indicates we will not know, so why the predictions?

These people always look so perfectly normal too. Well, some look normal. Some look incredibly bored. They need work. Some are dressed to the nines. If it's all coming to an end would you worry about nice clothes and dress like you're heading to Starbucks for a cup o' grande? I'm not so sure. Heck, Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski looked pretty ordinary too.

Where does it all go wrong in the wiring? There was no mention of any of this at my local church. The message was fairly positive. The pastor, certainly not Jeremiah Wright, made every effort to have us look within ourselves. What could we do better? How could we be better? No, there was definitely no mention of the end of the world. I'm quite sure of it. Let me think... no, definitely not.

Are there entrepreneurs making money off this thing? If so, isn't that a bit counterproductive and pointless to just giving up? Why make money on such an event unless they know soemthing we don't.

I mean if the end of the world is coming. Who cares? Why let people know? The end is coming. It won't matter anyway. Stay at home and quietly enjoy those final hours with a coffee and your dog.

Listen friends, it's been a real pleasure. We'll see you on the other side.

Let's see, what will I do in those final hours? Hmmm. Hug my kids. Pet the dog. Drink a vodka and tonic. Watch another episode of The X-Files. Wow, that's fitting. In fact, if the end of the world doesn't come until real late tomorrow night I might catch several episodes of The X-Files. Fingers crossed I have time left.

And one more thing before we go, the eating and spitting David Sunflower Seeds never quite delivers the "happy" it promises. Still, I plan on buying more next week.

Listen, I expect to be on those baseball fields tomorrow folks doing the good work of the big man. I have much to do. I want to listen The X-Files Volume One Limited Edition 4 CD music set from La La Land Records. I have yet to read Not Bad For A Human. I'm also eager to purchase Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray come July. Hell people, I'm way too young to die damn it!

I do know one thing. I won't be cleaning up those End Of The World signs. Let's face it, not being a believer with concrete dates does have its advantages.

Chances are, if it's Sunday and you are reading this, you're still alive. Congratulations! You are a survivor! We shall regroup at Graceland.

May 26 Update: The End of The World has been moved to October 21, 2011. Have a nice few months.

June 16 Update: The tiny southern French hamlet of Bugarach has drawn scrutiny from a government sect watchdog over droves of visitors who believe it is the only place in the world that will survive a December 21, 2012 Apocalypse when many believe the world will end according to an ancient Mayan prophecy.

So is October 21, 2011 out?

Space:1999 & UFO: The Documentaries

It's a FAB FRIDAY with Barbara Bain on the set of Space:1999 Year Two from the fabulous world of Gerry Anderson. So grab yourself a fag!

I finally took time out to watch the lengthy Space:1999 documentary that I purchased from Fanderson. It wasn't remarkably illuminating with all of the information that we've learned about Space:1999 along the way and at our disposal across the web. Nevertheless, it was certainly interesting to see interviews with all of the cast members including the late Barry Morse and Johnny Byrne. It's a tremendous time capsule to both UFO and Space:1999 spending time on both Year One and Year Two of the latter series with good attention to detail and the move away from UFO. There are three distinct segments highlighting the stories for each year of both series.

There are plenty of unexpected shots and the occasional behind-the-scenes footage that keep things entertaining with these amazing cast members including contributions from the late Ed Bishop. Gerry Anderson, himself, offers some of the best, candid, behind-the-scenes information. He's quite an honest, soft-spoken gentleman.

The fan film, Message From Moonbase Alpha, featuring Zienia Merton is serviceable as a final farewell to the Space:1999 series, but certainly not essential viewing.

Played together, the documentaries capture a fascinating period in the history of science fiction television, the stunning work and vision of Gerry Anderson and the sudden, unexpected transformation of UFO to Space:1999 with a detailed, visual eye and sturdy analysis as narrated by Shane Rimmer [Thunderbirds].

One question, were there any FAB non-smokers in the 1970s?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Star Trek TOS S1 Ep7: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Sherry Williams. Holy ya-yas! How do you not absolutely lose it over Sherry? Is she not a perfect specimen? The physique! That ribcage! She is simply off the charts sexy! Yes, Star Trek: The Original Series was moving in the right direction quite nicely.

"We all know what happened afterward to Star Trek. ... Syndication not only launched Star Trek into mythic levels in our popular culture, but signaled the beginning of the end for network domination of television." -Paul Levinson, How Star Trek Liberated Television, Boarding The Enterprise-

David Gerrold [The Trouble With Tribbles] said it best in his Foreword: The Trouble With Trek from a book of essays called Boarding The Enterprise. "It was supposed to be just another television show. Really. Not even the folks who were making it had any idea that it might become something more. Not at the beginning- and not for a long time afterward, either." Gerrold puts it quite eloquently and as an insider he knows. Ultimately, this little show that became something of an iconic epic through syndication made stars even of its guests and and the latest is no exception, even if those guests were forever immortalized through a single entry of Star Trek: The Original Series alone. Who knew?

And now for the continuing sexual escapades, adventures and morality plays of Captain James T. Kirk, Spock & Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Seriously, there was always the potential for hot babes when Star Trek: The Original Series was going to air. It was a pretty hot and racy show for its time. It had to be one of its strengths next to the science fiction excitement complete with ideas. Substantive scriptwriting with a point combined with some of the most sultry women in space offered viewers a smashing combination and was a true hallmark of Season One. With Sherry Williams on board it's safe to say Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One, Episode 7, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, will continue to fulfill the promise of Roddenberry's vision and what a vision for talent this series had.

Captain's Log Stardate 2712.4. EXO-III. The entry begins with Kirk sharing a conversation with Nurse Christine Chapel. The crew of the Enterprise is en route to EXO-III. The temperature on the planet's surface is 100 degrees below 0 [sounds a lot like The Great Ice Planet Adventure.]. The sun has been fading away from the planet for a half million years.

The vibrant uniform colors and the camera angles make Star Trek: The Original Series a smorgasbord of eye candy fun. The intention of the Enterprise crew is to find Dr. Roger Korby. Communications with him ceased five years ago. Dr. Korby wrote about immunization techniques and other vital medical areas. It was required reading in Starfleet Academy. Uhura picks up a signal from Korby.

Uhura looks mighty fine in a red skirt and those legs just don't quit. She is the complete package. Could Spock be thinking the same?
Dr. Roger Korby is alive and well underground on EXO-III. Korby requests Kirk beam down alone. He'll be bringing one other. Korby was formerly engaged to Nurse Chapel and she is excited to see him as he is her. The two beam down to the planet below.

Kirk and Chapel arrive, but there is no greeting party. Uncertain of what to expect, Kirk requests Spock beam down two red shirts pronto. Poor fellows. One will stand guard while the other accompanies Kirk and Chapel. A bright light shines upon Kirk and Chapel and they are greeted by Brown, Dr. Korby's assistant. A scream is heard from behind them. One of the accompanying red shirts has just met an unfortunate, untimely demise. He really should have stayed on the Enterprise or changed his shirt color. A large figure creeps away through a doorway. His demise was clearly no accident.

Nurse Chapel is excited to see the doctor's assistant, Brown, and recognizes him, but she is curious that he does not recognize her until moments later. Kirk is distressed over the alleged accidental death. He communicates with the entry security officer Rayburn to ensure he still has a pulse. He does for now. After checking out, Rayburn dies, the victim of the large hands of a large bald figure. Dr. Korby, the Louis Pasteur of archaeological medicine, has been learning much on EXO-III regarding the civilization that once inhabited the planet. Star Trek is filled with terrific science fiction ideas and this episode is one such example.

Enter the radiant, half-naked beauty that is Andrea [played by Sherry Jackson]. She is strikingly hot. She rivals the hotness of Mudd's Women times warp factor 5. Nurse Chapel is slightly jealous by her presence to say the least . After all she has been looking for her fiance for some time so why would Andrea be here? Roger arrives on the scene and he and Chapel's eyes meet. They are aglow for each other. They kiss passionately. He has missed her and her him. So much for Spock [see Episode 4, The Naked Time].

I love when Andrea says "you must be Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise." Hubba-bubba. You almost half expect Kirk to say, "and you must be freaking amazing." I mean, for crying out loud, Kirk is speechless and cannot respond. Kirk reaches out to Rayburn to find communications have been severed. He has lost contact. In his worry he looks up to find Korby's assistant has him at gunpoint. Andrea stands positively perky in her petite, green/blue, little cloth outfit. Good Lord! I don't know what little girls like this are made of, but damn if it isn't the highest quality stuff.

Korby gives orders to Andrea who is about to pull out a weapon on Kirk. Kirk reverses the tables and grabs her weapon and Andrea. Nothing wrong with grabbing Andrea. Holy Toledo. It hurts to look at her. Honestly, a shower may be in order. Kirk quickly fires upon Korby's assistant and blows a fiery hole inside his belly. Chapel screams as the man is clearly some sort of android, a composition of computer boards and wiring. Kirk is held in the powerful grips of the Frankenstein-ike creature man called Ruk.

Kirk reports in to Spock as the Enterprise orbits EXO-III. Spock suspects something isn't right with Kirk hinting of the intuitive nature each has for the other in their growing relationship. He's not wrong because Kirk isn't the one reporting in, but rather Ruk who has mastered the voice of Captain James T. Kirk among others. Ruk is an android too and fully capable of mimicking anything.

Ruk mimics Andrea and Dr. Korby. He precedes to mimic Christine Chapek and Dr. Korby is none too pleased. He orders him to never harm Chapel. Kirk pipes in "or disobey an order from her." Kirk is clearly setting up his ace in the hole in the form of a very powerful Christine should things get ugly. She will be able to order Ruk to stand down I suspect in the event things get nasty. It's such a simple idea, but employing these simple concepts offer us effective and vintage Star Trek. Ruk's ability to voice various characters is a terrific sci-fi technique without expenditure of great resources. It give the impression of really complex special effects when it so strikingly minimalist, but super-freaky.

Dr. Korby asks for Kirk to listen to him for 24 hours. Kirk inquires if he must be a prisoner to comply. Kirk wants to know where Rayburn has gone. Ruk is programmed to protect Korby's experiments and death may result for that protection. Ruk was left behind by the Old Ones. He has been around for centuries. The now destroyed Brown was built utilizing the records left behind by the Old Ones. Kirk attempts an escape, but is thrown down. Ruk reminds me of Richard Kiel.

Elsewhere, Andrea visits Chapel with her smoking hot android body created by Korby. He really did do a bang up job with her. Okay, truth be told, she is an actress and the good Lord has created a true gem. Chapel looks her up and down. She too is impressed by her amazing figure and the workmanship of craft that graces her body. Chapel requests to know of Kirk's whereabouts. Andrea wonders how Chapel could love Korby without trusting him. Andrea notes Chapel appears irritated when Andrea uses the name Roger. Korby orders Andrea to call him by Dr. Korby from now on. Andrea confirms to Kirk she is an android. Yes, I'd be pretty stunned too. "Remarkable isn't she?" Yes doctor she is indeed. Chapel is slightly disturbed and lashes out at Korby with her jealousy. He indicates he could not love a machine. Excuse me, butif she looks remotely close to Andrea, I'm thinking exceptions are in order. I could make the exception. How about you?

I'd take a kiss and slap too. Sign me up. Kirk listens to Korby who talks of the unemotional involvement of his creations. Kirk is held in check by Ruk. The pre-Blade Runner, pre-Sean Young test a la Sherry Jackson is in full effect.

Korby takes Christine to the android making facility. A mummified figure lays opposite Captain Kirk as a table rapidly spins [a fairly questionable scientific device]. Chapel asks Roger what has happened to him. He has changed. Andrea stands in the room behind them twirling a variety of large computer knobs. [I promise I won't make a crude knob joke here.] Ruk is assisting her knob twirling. Can you blame it? Through some kind of strange amalgamation process the mummified figure has transformed into a perfect copy of Kirk. A split screen is implemented to achieve the effect. It's a deconstruction of The Enemy Within. Korby asks Chapel which one is the real Kirk to which she replies she does not know. So begins the synaptic fusion process. Korby indicates the android will be so precise it could literally replace the Captain. Oh boy. The real naked Kirk, and he really is naked, is none too happy about this development. Overhearing Korby's discussion with Chapel he quickly begins reciting lines that are antithetical to Kirk's normal behavior. "Mind your own business Mr. Spock, I'm sick of your half-breed interference do you hear?." That should get Spock's attention should the replica version of Kirk get beamed aboard the Enterprise. That Kirk is a very innovative and clever fellow. The fuzzy photo lens is often implemented on close-ups of the female crew members. Nurse Chapel is featured with the effect in this episode.

Kirk joins Chapel for dining. Andrea has prepared the table for two. Kirk feels for Chapel. He suspects she is torn between loyalty to her commander and her fiance Korby. She indicates she is not. Kirk asks if she would handle a direct order to betray him. She asks Kirk not to ask her to have to make that choice. Chapel tells Kirk to eat. And then there is the catch.

Kirk is intrigued by his exact replica complete with his own handy dandy green/blue garb. He asks about Sam. His android coutnerpart indicates he is the only one who refers to his brother George Samuel Kirk as Sam. Sam saw James T. Kirk off on his five year mission. Korby indicates the android is actually only half of what he could potentially achieve. Korby hopes to accomplish a process called consciousness transference, the soul, into an android. Could this require something more complex than the revolving table trick? It would be eternal life- immortality. Kirk indicates these were the same kinds of promises made by Hitler and Genghis Khan towards achieving perfection. Korby insists life could be improved. A world without disease, deformities, jealousy, hate could evolve. It could be paradise. All Korby asks for is travel to a new colony with proper resources. Kirk is busy untying the rope underneath his chair while he listens to the ramblings of a mad man. Korby indicates he created android Kirk to impress him not replace him. Kirk says with a grin, "I'm impressed." Kirk leaps into action as only Kirk can grabbing Korby with a rope around his throat. Ruk is kept at bay as Kirk escapes.

There's something familiar about the object in Kirk's hands. Could this be his secret weapon to luring women?
Ruk is given orders to "protect" and off he goes after Kirk into the catacombs. Chapel follows in pursuit issuing orders to Ruk not to harm Kirk. Ruk goes into full deception mode implementing the voice of Nurse Chapel to lure Kirk out of hiding. Kirk acknowledges the voice leading Ruk into a hand-to-hand battle with our fearless Captain. A clear example why many find fault with a Captain leading teams into potentially dangerous and hostile situations never to return. Kirk hangs onto a ledge with his life in the balance. Suddenly without warning Ruk reaches down and saves Kirk.
Meanwhile aboard the Enterprise, replicant Kirk has arrived. Spock is surprised by his arrival. He is further surprised by Kirk's response. Spock is definitely put on alert by the replica Kirk's reaction thanks as always to the quick-witted, sure-footed thinking of one Captain Kirk's leadership even if he is always one step away from death.

Kirk is now in a holding room. Andrea visits Kirk and orders her to kiss him. She accepts. We so need to acquire our very own androids. He really gets her in a lip lock and her reaction is near overload. This is clearly the affect Kirk has on women. This is why we love him. He represents male desire and our unrestrained libidos. Kirk flies into full-on Captain seduction mode teaching her what it means to feel. Right. Ruk enters and Kirk asks if he disapproves of Chapel's orders to save Kirk. "What happened to the Old Ones?" asks Kirk. The Old Ones began to turn off the androids when they became fearful. Kirk's complex brain energy continues to toy with Ruk's wiring. Ruk indicates it became necessary to destroy them. "You can't protect someone who is trying to destroy you." BINGO! I think he hit the right button with Ruk. As Ruk moves to kill Korby, Korby disintegrates Ruk.

Kirk takes on Korby only to discover and reveal that he too is an android. Roger is not Roger after all. Roger that. Just as Chapel mentioned earlier, he has changed. He has changed indeed, because it is not Korby. The concept and question of machine over man is at the heart of our tale.

Korby orders Andrea to deal with the landing party. I love this little android to android exchange. It does not go well for android Kirk. You really should have kissed her.

Do Andreas dream of electric sheep? Perhaps Andrea and Korby did have an electric thing going.
Andrea kills the android Kirk thinking she killed the real Kirk. Nothing like a female android scorned. The whole concept of discovering what it means to be human is in play of course. "Is this your perfect world?" asks Kirk. Kirk asks Korby to prove he is really Dr. Korby. Korby hands his phaser to Kirk. Andrea kisses and loves the machine Korby and in that embrace, Korby pulls her phaser killing them, disintegrating them both. The love machines perish.

I found myself reminded of Sean Young in Blade Runner based upon Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? [1968] by Phillip K. Dick. And that's what I think is in play in these final moments of the show. What makes us human? What is the nature of the human condition? What allows us to feel, pain or pleasure? Can machines learn to love? Of course, What Are Little Girls Made Of? pre-dates that classic Dick publication. Chapel breaks down in tears. I suppose she is mourning the loss of her real Dr. Korby since that wasn't him, but it's all catching up to her emotionally.

Spock wonders where is Dr. Korby? Kirk responds, "Dr. Korby was never here." Nurse Chapel will remain with the ship and her mission. You have to love the humor that is injected into the series for many of its closings. This is one of those special moments between Kirk and Spock that fans love. I know I lived for them as a kid.

And like the oft-cited science fiction questions that crop up in works like Star Trek: TOS and Phillip K. Dick's books we are left to wonder what it means to be human and whether we have the right to determine what love is. What Are Little Girls Made Of? is a fine example of the classic sci-fi morality play of Star Trek: The Original Series.

What Are Little Girls Made Of?: B-/ A [for Sherry Jackson]. Writer: Robert Bloch. Director: James Goldstone.

Dead Crewman: 2 [Red Shirts: Matthews and Rayburn]/ Dead Crewman To Date: 10
Babe Alert: 1/ Babe Alert Total To Date: 9

Actor Footnote: Michael Strong [Dr. Roger Korby Android] [1924-1980]. American. He passed away from cancer.

Actor Footnote: Ted Cassidy [Ruk] [1932-1979]. American. He played the part of Lurch in The Addams Family [1964-1966], and Injun Joe in The New Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn [1968-1969]. He also appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man [1974-1978] as Bigfoot and provided the narration over the opening sequence to The Incredible Hulk [1977-1982]. He passed away from complications following open heart surgery. Cassidy, like actor Richard Kiel [Jaws in 007], was born with larger than normal physical features as a result of a syndrome called acromegaly. It's the result of an overactive pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces excessive hormone. Signs and syptoms often associated include enlarged brow, jaw and skull as well as excessive growth. It is often connected to gigantism.

Smoking Red Hot Babe Alert: Sherry Jackson [1942-present] American. She appeared in The Space Croppers on Lost in Space [1967]. She had a major role on The Danny Thomas Show [1953-1958] for six years . She is on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. She also appeared in Playboy magazine for a film appearance in 1967. I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to see her nude. Shwwwing! I'm sorry. There's just something about Sherry.

Writer Footnote: Robert Bloch [1917-1994]. American. The eerie science fiction/ horror writer behind the novel Psycho brings a strange element to Star Trek: TOS. Bloch would also bring his unique touch to Catspaw and Wolf In The Fold in the second season of ST: TOS. Allen Steele wrote in his entry All Our Tomorrows in Boarding The Enterprise, Bloch "made it possible for fantasy to mix freely with science fiction." This is why Bloch gave a unique feel to his own Star Trek input. He passed away from cancer at 77.