Star Trek: Mudd's Women

Spock: "I'm happy the affair is over. A most annoying, emotional episode."

I'm tempted to do a two-line review, on the order of "Don't bother watching this one because it's really awful. The end." But I guess I'll give it more than that.

This episode was like one of those Warner Brothers cartoons from the forties. The three women had futuristic hairstyles and slunk around in sequined dresses, and the men all acted like their eyeballs were boinging out of their sockets and their tongues were unfurling all the way to the floor. It helped a little (not much) that the goo-goo-ga-ga was chemically induced. The director, probably feeling desperate for anything in the way of decent material, tried to make it more arty by using a lot of disconnected close-ups with blurred lenses. Unfortunately, he also decided that having the women look "ugly" basically meant messing up their hair and filming them without makeup.

The dialogue was dull and uninspired, and the story made no sense. The lithium crystals going kaput seemed to happen for no reason other than forcing the Enterprise to visit the mining colony. And why an entire planet with only three men on it? They were supposed to be rich mine owners, too, who were cornering the market on invaluable lithium crystals. Wouldn't rich mine owners have employees on the planet actually doing the mining while they were living the high life on a pleasure planet?

Eve was the only one of the women with a conscience, so of course, the head miner didn't want her. (The other two women were stereotypical selfish, vain, brainless, sexpot harpies.) And then we got the "beauty comes from within" moral at the end, which was so ridiculous that it was actually painful.

To be honest, this episode doesn't have a single redeeming characteristic. I never saw it more than once or twice. Like many fans, I got very familiar with the original Star Trek when it was in re-runs, airing five nights a week. My family watched the episodes over and over, even the bad ones. This one was so bad that we'd change the channel.

Ben says...

So it would be hard to disagree with anything Billie said about this episode: it is fundamentally pretty terrible. But it's worth noting that this is an episode where the great technological breakthroughs that we are enjoying now and may someday enjoy were on full display. I speak, of course, of the lowly Jell-O shot. With the remarkable foresight of science fiction that foresaw the popularity and importance of cell phones, computer disks, and prosthetic pointy ears, this episode featured the Jell-O shot prominently as the source of female beauty and sexual appeal. What is remarkable is that Jell-O shots had only been around ten years, having been invented by famed satirist and musician Tom Lehrer around 1956, and yet their powerful influence on our future was already evident. Indeed, prior to this invention, Spring Break was typified by the quiet contemplation of the re-birth of the natural world, and very rarely featured coeds fondling each other for the amusement of drunken frat boys.

Of course, Star Trek always looked forward to a better world and in the future, Jell-O shots will actually make the drinker more attractive. Clearly, technology has advanced considerably with this revolutionary change from the drinker merely believing everyone looked better. It is this bold vision which rescues this episode from complete forgetability.

Back to Billie for bits and pieces:

— Stardate 1329.8. A little later in the episode, it was 1329.2. Oops. And the lithium mines were on Rigel 12.

— The "lie detector" scene was mildly amusing. We heard the computer's voice for the first time. It's uncredited, but I'm fairly certain it was Majel Barrett.

— Circular playing cards? We actually already saw standard rectangular ones in "Charlie X."

— Uhura was wearing a gold uniform. Did someone suddenly realize that she was command instead of security?

— Mudd asked Spock if he was "part Vulcanian." Vulcanian?

— This episode might have been just a tad more interesting if one of the men had taken the Venus drug. We got a description of what it would do to men (make them more muscular, more masculine), but no demo.

One out of four Jell-O shots,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Remco said...

Wow, I remember watching this episode last year. (or was it the year before?) I almost lost hope that I could endure TOS for 3 seasons.

This is stupid crap, and not worth watching at all. There is literally nothing that is of any interest in this offensive episode. Mudd will come back once in a later episode, but he's just really awful. I did hate him a little less in the second season's "I, Mudd", but I'd say it's worth the confusion about his (thin) character to skip this episode.

My recommendation: don't watch this episode.

GreenHornet said...

You really can't do better than the Spock quote Billie uses as aperitif to lead off her review -- excellent choice. And Ben's 'Jell-O shot' shots are also pretty darn tasty!

But yes, otherwise a rather bitter swig. Recommendation: to wash out the taste, go take another long cool drink from Firefly's "Our Mrs Reynolds" episode. Ha!

Mark Greig said...

Star Trek, in all its incarnations, could produce some brilliant television, the equal of anything on that pops up on HBO. Even Voyager (a show I grew to loathe with a burning passion) and Enterprise (a show I grew to be fairly indifferent towards) could occasional surprise us all with some blister episodes (‘Timeless’ and ‘In a Mirror Darkly’ being personal favourites).

But far too often when Trek goes bad, so very bad, it tends to churn out truly abysmal episodes like this one. It doesn’t even have the good sense to be hilariously dire (unlike a certain 3rd season episode that rhymes with Brock’s Train) so we could at least take some small pleasure out of watching it.

What’s worst, as Remco has already pointed out, someone decided it would be a good idea to inflict a sequel on an unsuspecting audience the following season.

Didn't we suffer enough as it is.

Mr.Evil said...

Actually, I think the sequel episode is good. This one is awful, though. It was also the first episode of Star Trek I saw (or maybe it was other bad episode, "The Naked Time"?). Imagine the shock I felt when it turned out that other episodes are much better!

Billie Doux said...

I agree that the sequel episode is nowhere near as bad. It was rather funny.

Are you sure you meant "The Naked Time"? It's considered to be one of the best episodes, not the worst.

Ori said...

I remember that one!
Watched it last year on a TOS marathon I had with my dad. I remember thinking it was hilarious, but the ending was so terrible it wasn't funny anymore.

Mark Greig said...

'I, Mudd' might be better than 'Mudd's Women' (it’s been a while, I just got the 2nd season on DVD so I’ll give it another try) but personally I just can't stand the character of Mudd. IMHO, any episode with him in it is a disaster and best avoided (even the one from the animated series).