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Star Trek TOS - Season 1 - Episode 06

Star Trek TOS - 1x06 - Mudd's Women

Originally Aired: 1966-10-13

Synopsis:
The Enterprise rescues con artist Harry Mudd and his "beautiful" female cargo. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 1.11

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 574 25 23 17 25 22 30 15 14 3 8

Filler Quotient: 3, bad filler, totally skippable.
- Technically Mudd will recur, but all episodes which feature him suck, so they can all be considered bad filler.

Problems
- Visual continuity is a bit off in this episode because it was one of the earliest episodes to be produced despite it being aired so much later. As such, it's easy to notice some obvious out of place details, such as Uhura's uniform being the wrong color.
- If the pills were placebos, then why did the appearances of the women so dramatically change after taking them?
- Kirk's middle initial is established as T in this episode, which is retconned from it having previously been established as R in Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the ship's power source is lithium based.

Remarkable Scenes
- Mudd: "You'll find out that ships' captains are already married, girl, to their vessels. You'd find that out the first time you came between him and the ship."
- Mudd's customers fighting over the women.

My Review
Mudd's Women does much to assault the credibility of Star Trek's progressive future which was supposed depict, among other things, a world without sexism. It makes sense that even in the universe of Star Trek that there are groups of people or cultural idiosyncrasies that constitute a throwback, but the way that the plot of this episode treats the whole thing as if it were normative and widespread is offensive.

What's worse is even setting that aside, this episode's plot logic doesn't make much sense. If Mudd's magic pills were placebos, then why did the appearances of the women so dramatically change after taking them? And why didn't any of the security personnel assigned to monitor Mudd report any of the numerous things they overheard to the captain? Add to that Mudd's acting. The less said about it the better. This is easily the worst episode so far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Steve on 2010-02-16 at 1:32am:
    My biggest problem with this episode is that there is no explanation of how Kirk figures out about the Venus drug. Did he interrogate Mudd? When? He beamed down awfully quick to have made the discovery and made the placebos.
  • From Devlonas on 2010-11-20 at 9:18pm:
    Mudd's magic pills were not placebos - they were sparkly. Only the pills that Eve took at the end were placebos (no sparkles!). It made the point, and did so in spades, that you don't need a magic pill to be beautiful (although I guess having a magic pill can't hurt).

    My sticking point with this episode is - If Dilithium (Lithium) Crystals are so valuable, why is there only a three-man operation to mine an entire planet? Seems like a great opportunity for a larger colony to me
  • From Jem Hadar on 2010-12-05 at 8:32am:
    These new reviews are incredible, keep them up!
  • From CAlexander on 2011-04-15 at 11:56am:
    - This episode's old-fashioned sexism makes it painful to watch.
    - Harry Mudd is amusing in small doses. I just wish he came in small doses.
    - The police record for Harry Mudd lists him as 6'1". Aside from the unfortunate non-use of the metric system, he looks taller than that; he towers over everyone else he stands next to. That rascal have been slumping when they measured him! (IMDB lists Roger Carmel as 6'3").
    - The moral of the story seems very confused. I guess the moral is "physical beauty is essential for gathering husbands, so it is a good idea to take drugs, but once you get a husband you won't need the drugs and you should send your drug dealer to prison so you don't have to pay him."
  • From Mike Meares on 2012-02-20 at 3:00pm:
    Kuddos on your comments on the last review Kethinov! A great point you made about how your reviews are made. And how you "try to write carefully balanced reviews and highlight both the good and the bad in each episode." I really liked that response!

    However, I now find myself at odds with your review of "Mudd's Women."

    You start your review with the claim that "Mudd's Women does much to assault the credibility of Star Trek's progressive future which was supposed depict, among other things, a world without sexism." And "the way that the plot of this episode treats the whole thing as if it were normative and widespread is offensive."

    Really? I don't get that at all from this episode.

    However, I do agree with the criticism that the issue of sexism is a problem with Star Trek overall ( more on this later ), and in some episodes in particular. And there is sexism in Mudd's Women but I don't feel it is to the degree you aledge to.

    I do think Devlonas has already pointed out that the "pills" were not placebos until the very end. That is pretty clear from watching the episode. But your main point is still correct, when Eve swallows the placebo at the end of the episode how does she change her appearence so dramatically? That is a question that needs answering.

    And I too had some questions about the security personnel and what they overheard. But Harry and the girls did do a lot of whispering. Perhaps the security guys were effected by the drug the women were taking as the other male members of the crew?

    As to the acting by Harry Mudd ( or rather Roger C. Carmel ), which I thoughly enjoyed, I didn't think it was a weakness. Harry Mudd was a great character and I always loved seeing him on Star Trek. Roger is a highlight for me in this episode!

    As to the moral of the show, I feel it is summed up near the end by Kirk and Mudd when they explain that only one kind of man or woman can change their appearence, if they want to, are the ones who believe in themselves.

    For me it is a lot more offensive to have a Captain who goes around sleeping with every woman he sees! That is sexist! To me having a whole race of women who depend on a man to exist ( Spock's Brain ) is sexism in the highest order! To me having women crew members on board the Enterprise wear short skirts is sexist! To me giving up producing and writing for Star Trek in it's third season to produce a degrading movie about women ( Pretty Maids All In A Row ) is very sexist!

    But I digress....... lol.

    Was this a great episode? No! But it was entertaining, although a bit average for Star Trek.






  • From Strider on 2012-07-16 at 11:40am:
    I'm not at all blind to the sexism in Star Trek in general or in this episode specifically. It's interesting to watch as a cultural study--not that the 23rd century still struggles with these issues, but that the 1960's did.

    But it seems completely realistic to me that the 23rd century would still have mail-order brides. It didn't seem like sex-trafficking to me, just matching women who wanted a new life with men who wanted a wife but had very little chance to meet one. Not that Harry Mudd is anyone's example of ethical business practices--he did, after all, try to make the women more attractive than they really were. But besides the "strange effect" they had on men, all the pills really seemed to do was style their hair and apply makeup. If you're going to marry a rich lithium miner, you can probably get someone to do that for you.

    But the highlight of this episode for me was Spock. Some of Spock's best facial expressions of the whole series are included in this episode. When the women appear on the transporter platform, they cut to his face first, and it's obvious that he notices their attractiveness, and is just as poleaxed as the other men in his own quiet Vulcan way. Spock's just better at hiding it, is all. Mudd declares him impervious to the women's influence, but Spock didn't say that--he just didn't argue it. Then all throughout the episode, he's got these half smiles and raised eyebrows...like he's extremely amused (for Spock), but aware that the joke's on him as well. He never seems to be laughing AT the other crewmen, just ABOUT the situation.

    And it was nice to have Kirk able to keep his mind on the job rather than on the beautiful women in front of him! Very captainy of him--and he and Spock were a great team in this.

    Strider
  • From mandeponium on 2012-09-01 at 12:11pm:
    To quote Spock in this one, "I'm happy the affair is over. A most annoying, emotional episode."
  • From Alan Feldman on 2012-09-08 at 2:49pm:
    I like the Mudd character and was also glad to see him in "I, Mudd".

    Re Mike Meares' post:

    Kirk didn't sleep with anyone in this episode. In fact, he doesn't sleep with anyone in the vast majority of episodes.

    I don't see "Spock's Brain" as sexist in that manner. They needed a brain, not a man. It just happened to be a man's brain. And it was the women who controlled the men!

    Re the short skirts: from TV Guide, August 24, 1996, p. 26:

    TVG: Anyone offended by the micro-skirts? The sausage-casing blouses? Grace Lee Whitney: Oh, no! Everyone thinks we got rooked into it, but that's what we wanted to wear. I was very instrumental in getting us those mini-skirts -- which, by the way, were skorts. . . . I told the costumer, "Hey, I look just like the men. What a shame to waste my legs. You know, I've got great legs." And then I got this image of space babes with the tight waists, cinched belts, short skirts, and lots of legs and boots and boobs, and great big "Barbarella" hair. So I got that look together and showed it to Gene. He just about fell off his chair. . . .

    Hey, that's Grace Lee Whitney speaking, not me. Don't have that edition of TV Guide? Check

    http://books.google.com/books?id=mqjORRNpo-cC&lpg=PA39&ots=aJmVwm3IBm&dq=tv%20guide%20grace%20lee%20whitney%20%22space%20babes%22&pg=PA39#v=onepage&q=tv%20guide%20grace%20lee%20whitney%20%22space%20babes%22&f=false

    That's the closest to this I could find on the Web. But I do have a copy of this edition of TV Guide, and took my quotes from that.

    According to wikipedia, Roddenberry wrote two episodes for season 3: "The Savage Curtain" and "Turnabout Intruder". I don't know if he produced any.

    AEF
  • From Zerothis on 2012-09-21 at 9:06pm:
    I was under the impression that real pills confiscated from Mudd and the placebos were provided after. Eve's last scene was the only place that placebos were used.
  • From Schreck on 2013-05-23 at 3:02pm:
    Terrible episode that is easily the worst of the first season and my brother’s least favorite in the original series…it just misses all the marks here…I give it a 5.25 and my brother a 4.5
  • From Alan Feldman on 2017-04-07 at 11:54pm:
    MUDD'S WOMEN

    A few things to add:

    How is it that a starship has trouble keeping up with Mudd's small ship? Really? I seriously doubt that Mudd's ship could go warp 8.

    Bones' and Scotty's reactions to the women were nauseating (for lack of better word), esp. in the transporter room. C'mon guys. Get a hold of yourselves!

    When Ruth steps in front of Bones' medical scanner, it bleeps and flashes. We then see Bones for a second or two and then go immediately back to the scanner, and Ruth is gone! Back to Bones for a second or two, and back to the scanner with Ruth in front of it again. Doubtful she could have moved that fast. And this sequence happens twice.

    Ruth says the men are young. Hardly! Yet again, women getting together with men twice their age.

    When Childress told Kirk he'd get the crystals later, why didn't Kirk just beam the women back to the ship and hold them hostage until the crystals were delivered? Or they could have made use of their phasers.

    Spock has a (circular) slide rule!

    Ben Childress's quarters is 11 miles from the mining place. 11 miles? That's quite a long, difficult walk, esp. on that wasteland of a planet!

    When Kirk and Mudd say there's only one type of man or woman, Kirk mentions two types.

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