There's nothing new about our characters here, but the episode's sheer charm and goofiness is sufficient fuel. And Roger C. Carmel is a welcome centerpiece.
Though it's played strictly for laughs, the episode introduces concepts which will fuel later Trek, such as the android confused by human behavior and the collective of machines working together to form one large mind. It doesn't set out to have any profound impact on the series at all, but it most certainly does.
That said, it's impossible not to notice that all of our characters return to type. Kirk, who can routinely wax eloquent about his love for his ship and crew, is here reduced to a whiner, simply repeating over and over that he wants his ship, while doing essentially nothing to bring it about. The Kirk we know from even a few episodes back (The Apple) would more likely have been wringing his hands with worry. But then we could have no comedy, and that's the real reason for this episode.
It does allow everyone to get very creative, and the sets on the planet are marvelously loopy, as are the extremely impractical -- though beautiful -- costumes on the androids (with the notable exception of Norman, whose anatomy is regrettably on display in an unusually bland gray tunic). Additionally, the musical score is lovely and loopy and full of little touches which highlight the absurdity of the situation.
The script errs somewhat by being overreaching. 200,000 androids? Surely they must have known they could only show a few, and seeing the same ones over and over (albeit disguised with different numbers) makes us wonder if the androids haven't perpetuated a bit of a charade. That might have been a more satisfying outcome (still perfectly compatible with the solution used by our heroes). And we never really believe that the entire crew has been transported down because we never see so much as a single anonymous crew member. Though it would have added modestly to the cost, several scenes would have been greatly enhanced with a few Enterprise extras roaming through the background.
While it does not quite soar to the heights of some of the other comedic episodes, and cannot nearly match the best dramatic ones, the daffy illogic with which the androids are subdued, as well as the larger-than-life presence of Carmel, makes this episode enjoyable and memorable.
Rating: Middle Upper (3)