Stardate 1329.8. The Enterprise picks up a sneaky conman, Harry Mudd (Roger C. Carmel, Breezy), who is travelling with three beautiful women who have the ability to seduce any man they meet. After Captain Kirk accuses Mudd of breaking intergalactic laws, the swindler devises a plan to take over the Enterprise.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“I’m happy the affair is over. A most annoying emotional episode.”
Mudd’s Women remains one of the most well-known episodes of the iconic TV series, and yet it is one of my least favorite episodes. There is very little tension and the basic premise of the story isn’t very interesting and/or engaging. Moreover, the awfully sexist storyline has dated the episode quite a bit.
Penned by Stephen Kandel and based on a story by producer Gene Roddenberry, Mudd’s Women has a weak and pointless narrative. Kandel was a prolific TV writer (he wrote for all kinds of shows, including Mannix, Wonder Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man and Cannon), but this isn’t one of his best scripts.
Apparently, producer Roddenberry was inspired by old westerns that revolved around the real-life practice of bringing women to pioneers in remote areas of the country (e.g. William “Wild Bill” Wellman’s Westward the Women). The idea doesn’t work in the context of the series, which takes place in a supposedly advanced culture. Above all, the episode fails to explore the moral implications of the situation.
Mudd’s Women also sends conflicting messages. The women are initially rejected after their beauty is exposed as fake, but the men change their minds after the women’s beauty is restored. It would have made more sense if the men had accepted the women as they were. Anyhow, it’s a little silly and uninteresting. Plus the idea of making yourself look beautiful by sheer force of will is ridiculous, even for sci-fi TV series.
This marks the first of two appearances by swindler extraordinaire Harry Mudd, entertainingly played by character actor Roger C. Carmel, one of the show’s most popular characters. I never cared for him, though. Mudd is a semi-comical villain who doesn’t have the gravitas to create any tension. Mudd is a lovable buffoon that Kirk and his crew handle with ease. Many Trekkies find him amusing, but I don’t.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Mudd’s Women would have benefited from greater clarity and more attention to small details. Or perhaps the episode’s premise was flawed beyond repair, I don’t know. In my opinion, it’s one of Season One’s weakest episodes. Spock is right, this is indeed “a most annoying emotional episode.” Color, 50 minutes, Not Rated.