Star Trek gives us its first "space pirate", complete with buccaneers clothes and a lovable personality that's a precursor to Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, in this memorable episode that takes female trafficking, performance enhancing drugs, and a western inspired frontier planet and mixes them all together for a fun story with a poor conclusion.
Guest star Roger C. Carmel brings a child like quality to con man Mudd, and the female guest stars bring the sex appeal (and then some). It's actually surprising that a network show in the sixties could get away with such overt sexuality and drug use, not to mention the banter about Mudd being a "jackass". As the story winds its way through the first few acts, it's easy for any red blooded male of appropriate age to feel the same way as the Enterprise crew, thanks to the ladies, William Theiss's creative (and revealing) costumes, and Jerry Finnerman's cinematography.
Meanwhile, director Harvey Hart proves capable and gives the episode a nice pace, though his slowness behind the camera, causing the shoot to run past its deadline, doomed him to be a one-time director. (In an audio goof, you can actually hear his voice saying "lights" to cue the studio technicians following the failure of the last lithium crystal.
Following the previously produced episodes that use a makeshift planet setting as needed, this episode introduces the permanent planet set the series would continue to use throughout its run. With its cyclorama sky capable of reflecting any color, it proves quite versatile and effective at setting the mood, beginning here as barren wasteland.
The problem arrives when Kirk pulls a fast one to escape his dilemma. The idea of him tricking his way out of a problem is fine and will become Star Trek staple; but in this case, the big reveal is a non sequitur. The supposed true magic behind the women's appeal doesn't make any sense with how the women are presented. It's as if the make-up artist and the cinematographer are setting up a drug withdrawal story but the script writer wants to cheat his way out of it. The climax also veers into an odd sequence where two characters, well played by guest stars Karen Steele and Gene Dynarski, play house and get into an odd debate about whether women should look good or be good at cooking and sewing. (To be fair, in 1966 it was progress to admit that women could be valued as more than a trophy wives, and this is more or less what the script is trying to do. But in trying to make the point that women should be appreciated for their housework, the meaning comes across today as
But Carmel's performance somewhat supersedes the disappointing end, with Harry Mudd so well received, he becomes the first Star Trek character to inspire a sequel episode ("I, Mudd"). (William Shatner deserves credit for Mudd's popularity as well, giving the con man the perfect adversary and expertly setting up Carmel's best lines; with a firm handle on the captain's personality, it's one of Shatner's best performances early in the Still, with a better ending, perhaps bringing a resolution to the performance enhancing drugs rather than sweeping them under the rug, "Mudd's Women" could have been even more special.
Remastered: Along with updated shots of the Enterprise, the CGI wizards get to work on Mudd's ship, an asteroid field, and a planet, correcting the latter's color to match the established surface and throwing in a more detailed establishing shot of the mining colony.
Good episode. This starts off with Kirk trying to communicate with a vessel and they attempt to flee him and wind up in an asteroid belt. Kirk uses his ships power to create a protective barrier around their ship which causes him to overload his own energy crystals. Kirk manages to beam all the crew aboard before their ship is destroyed. The crew consists of a man named Harry Mudd who seems to be a man who sells women to men on lonely planets. He has with him 3 very attractive girls. But the catch is that they really are ugly but Mudd has some illegal drugs which enhances their beauty. Kirk and the Enterprise stop by a mining planet to get new crystals and Mudd introduces his women to the 3 miners. In the end one of Mudds women takes what she believes to be one of the illegal pills but really is just a placebo and still turns attractive. The 3 women stay with the miners and Harry Mudd goes with Kirk to attend trial on the charge of ignoring a communication from a starship.
I left this episode on my remastered box set till last as its not one of the best episodes in my opinion. I will say that Harry Mudd is a great character and I'm glad he returned for another episode. The women though great to look at are portrayed as pretty one dimensional characters with stereotypical womens needs! The end is quite silly in that the main lead female becomes beautiful after not taking the Venus drug. Though in defence of the writer it could be argued that she had taken so much of it over the years that it's still in her system so she temporarily becomes beautiful. I think the Venus drug could be a metaphor for alcohol in that members of the opposite sex can appear to be alluring until we meet them sober the next morning! Lol
The Enterprise encounters a shady smuggler who is willing to up the ante to maintain his business.
There are some real strengths to this installment, I especially like the idea that it explores the lives of people in space who don't connect to Starfleet and what they do. Harry Mudd is best served here, as deceptive and droll but also as dead serious when it comes to his livelihood. I also like the spare but effective scenes on the planet, the howl of the winds and the sullen attitudes of the Lithium miners work well to paint a picture.
Unfortunately, this episode falls into the same trap that many others do - while "Star Trek" was good at examining issues like racism, sexism, the march of technology, and counter-culture - it rarely rose above the issues themselves and suggested new ways of addressing them. In this case, the 23rd century seemed to have plenty of room for woman serving aboard stars ships, but the plot here assigns little value to woman even when the sham of the "Venus drug" is exposed. There is almost a deliberate attempt to portray Mudd's woman as "returning to beautiful" rather than having the male characters think about their attitudes in any depth.
Which is all fine, TV is not often "cutting edge" in these matters, it just seems like a little more thought to the script would have made the story more effective.
The Enterprise picks up colourful galactic conman Harry Mudd and his beautiful female "cargo". But in the rescue, the ship's lithium crystals are damaged; replacements lie on a mining planet where Mudd hopes to sell his women. Not one of my favourites...
Although not bottom-of-the-barrel, this is generally one of my lesser favourite episodes.
It is mostly a comedy, but beyond the flamboyant Mudd himself (more of him in a moment), it's not really laugh-out-loud material, and not a patch on some of 'Star Trek's other more light-hearted episodes.
The presentation of the women, who survive on their looks, is very dated, and works against the episode. The theme of the mail-order brides could have been cutting edge and ahead of its time, but sadly things don't rise much beyond the basic and predictable.
The best thing about the episode is undoubtedly Roger C. Carmel as the roguish intergalactic conman Harcourt Fenton "Harry" Mudd. The character was popular enough to return in the second season episode "I, Mudd", as well as 'The Animated Series' episode "Mudd's Passion".
The plot of Mudd having his women on drugs has darker implications than the episode presents; it is seen on-screen as merely to make his "cargo" look better and raise a higher price; and Mudd is presented more as a scoundrel than the drug-peddling pimp that he might have been.
I also wasn't convinced in the whole "believe in yourself" resolution of the story.
Other than that, the plot is pretty simplistic, and, in places, very slightly dull. It could have done with a separate b-plot to beef things up a bit (these didn't really become common until 'The Next Generation').
Don't get me wrong, this isn't bottom-of-the-barrel, and it does very much end up as a colourful, kitsch example of the 1960 (well, it's set in the future, but you get what I mean). But this episode just sadly doesn't do that much for me.
The Enterprise comes across a spacecraft moments away from destruction and is successful in rescuing it’s captain Harry Mudd and his ‘cargo’ –as he so elegantly puts it-. The cargo happens to be three beautiful women who make more than a few heads turn when they come aboard. The women it seems are more mysterious than they appear and before long play a major role in the Enterprise gaining lithium crystals to repair it’s (once again) broken engines.
Let’s just get this out in the open here; ‘Mudd’s women’ is an ugly episode. It may feature beautiful direction, costumes and the ladies themselves but when you get down to its morals and proposals, it’s nothing of the sort. You see, the episode in itself isn’t a bad episode in that it has technical aspects correct. What lets it down is the plot and how disrespectfully it treks on the backs of the gender it degrades. Now I’m sure Gene didn’t make for ‘Mudd’s Women’ to be this way and things were different in the 60’s, but 40 years down the line, it just doesn’t work.
Throughout the episode the women –two of them particularly- are pranced around the set using nothing but their looks to get them places. Even the senior officers are drooling over them like dogs, and to be honest seeing McCoy staring at them in the manner that he does, really makes me feel weird. It’s perverse to say the least, and not something I had come to expect from the advanced race of 2200 humankind. However I do feel it necessary to go over the fact that it was more than likely the writers intent to portray such a view of the women to get across the wider theme of the episode which comes into play later, even if it is a little degrading in itself.
The plot itself revolves around Harry Mudd transporting such women (who have been stranded on barren planets devoid of any possible husbands) to planets full of lonely men for trade or money. Yes, it is essentially prostitution with a little more involved than sex and a little less involved with the women’s financial needs. The idea itself isn’t too bad on the surface… if Harry wasn’t using it to his own advantage. Oh yea and there’s also the fact that the women are actually old and ‘ugly’ until they take a special pill of sorts that makes them beautiful again. It’s these aspects of the business that one of the women eventually ‘can’t stand anymore’ and decides to sabotage it, a little. You know; the best a woman can do. Or; the best the script thinks a woman can do.
So eventually the women are used (as manipulated by Mudd) as a trade off for lithium crystal replacements for the ship’s engines. The men come aboard and ask to ‘see them first, of course!’. Why of course! You wouldn’t want an ugly girl now would you? After all, you are paying good money! Ahhhh, how horribly wrong in every sense. When I watch on, it feels like we are in the year 1565, not 2265. I mean, do the women have a choice here at all? After all, Mudd seems only to be serving their need for a good husband right? Yet it appears that they’ll take what they get because that’s a woman’s place in the matter. ‘Oh but they are rich’ Harry explains. The women rejoice and episode continues to employ its stereotypes in the far reaches of space.
Now before you go and accuse me of being oversensitive or a little too close to a feminist viewpoint, I would also like to argue my point of the men in ‘Mudd’s Women’ too. Not only do we see a professional doctor ogling the women as they walk by but near enough every man -with the slight exception of Kirk and Spock- starts falling over their tongues as if they had nothing better to do than be exploited by the women themselves. Throughout the episode, men are portrayed as bumbling fools who can’t control thoughts from the wrong end of their body and want nothing but sex from an attractive women/object. This was why I was glad Kirk seemed to restrain himself for the most part –surprising considering his record- and take control of the situation, teaming up with Spock to logically see through he situation.
‘Mudd’s Women’ features a couple of moments where redeemable dialogue is implemented but they are very far and few between. This is a shame because the cast seemed to do a decent job of what they had to work with. Among them was the conversation between Kirk and McCoy on the bridge regarding whether or not the women were ‘really beautiful’ or if they just acted beautiful. As far as the plot goes, it’s rather contrived and the possibility of the doctor concocting something up with his crotch is beyond me but nevertheless it makes for interesting thought and certainly becomes literal by the end of the episode. This is again, when McCoy steps in for another line that just about sums up his original theory; ‘You either believe in yourself or you don’t’ he says. In a way, it ties up the episode well and gives it a decent ray of light to shine through the musky air that it created with. However, the fact that it is centred around one of the stupidest twists and moral-tie-up-dialogue-at-the-end (where the women are somehow liberally set free because the men now realise they don’t need beauty if the women can at least do housework well) is kind of an anti-climax and leaves the episode hanging dry.
As I said earlier however, all is not lost and if it weren’t for the other qualities of the episode, it would more than likely be getting a lot less than 5/10. In its favour though is the strong direction in the episode specifically with the cameras which showed a lot of great close-ups of crew and group shots and centred in on the action. Furthermore, the normal cast all give a decent performance and the guests themselves, all portray their characters well even if they are quite shallow and stereotypical in all respects. As a whole ‘Mudd’s Women’ isn’t bad on the surface, it’s just what lurks underneath that’s dry and shows morals which are far too half-baked; An entertaining hour if you really try to suspend yourself, but will probably get under your skin if you have certain reservations.
Although I had no problem at all admiring the beautiful women in this episode, it just wasn't very interesting outside the sexual persuasion of the women. I adored Harry Mudd in his comeback episode, "I Mudd". Now that was one of my favorites, in fact. But, here the only real giggle I got was his scene in the briefing room. "Only heaven's own facts... which I've just given you" or something like that. I also didn't buy Eve turning into a beauty all by herself when she took the placebo. "Boooo".
I had a hard time with this episode. The build-up took to long and the payoff was predictable. Maybe for the time, Mudd's character was humorous and fun to dislike. Now, he's just irritating. I had a difficult time with the women too. I can accept they were beautiful for the time. But I could see what was coming a mile away. Everyone on board is under some sort of spell when they're around, which isn't really explained at the end. We find out they're taking the "Venus" drug which makes one more of what they are. So decent women become beautiful and shapely, men become tougher. It doesn't explain why the whole crew, including ever-stoic Spoke, can barely function when the women are onboard.
OK episode, but probably only considered a "classic" for those who like Mudd in your eye.
This episode featured one of the few recurring "villains" in STAR TREK, the loveable rogue Harry Mudd. In this he's in the politically incorrect business of ferrying "ugly" women around the universe, making them beautiful by feeding them girl-steroids and selling them to sex-starved miners. Does that make Mudd tv's first pimp?
That plotline would never pass muster in these more gender sensitive times, but it's telling that even in 1966, Roddenberry and his team were sensitive enough to include a plot twist that Eve becomes beautiful when she *thinks* she's taken a dose of the drug, sending the message that you're as beautiful as you think you are.
My only (personal) casting niggle is that of the three girls, the Ruth (Maggie Thrett), was the only one who was genuinely sexy - the other two were pretty, sure, but didn't have that purely hormonal attractiveness that the dark girl had. (BTW - The third actress, Susan Denberg, would go on to star with Peter Cushing as one of the prettiest of Frankenstein's creations in "Frankenstein Created Woman" for Hammer Studios.)
I don\'t know why I like this so much. yes times have changed ; it\'s sexist & most men\'s wet dream with the glamour girls struting around the ship ; that music those twinkles in thier eyes. However the girls are pretty and have some spunk especially the one with some morals who just wants to be loved for who she is not what she looks like and settle down with a good man.harry\'s a larikin and quite funny ; Kirk for once behaves himself while the rest of the male crew go gaga ;the effects of not taking the Venus drug and the desperation of the women.even though the ending was pat \"it\'s how you feel inside that makes you beautiful\" I thought it was a good fun ep; glamour ; drama ; comedy ; action & a moral to the story. What more do you need. those eyes those twinkly eyes. ps Kirk always looks like he is smirking.
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