Director: Harvey Hart
Writer: Stephen Kandel
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Roger C. Carmel, Karen Steele, DeForest Kelley, Maggie Thrett, Susan Denberg, James Doohan, George Takei, Jim Goodwin, Nichelle Nichols, Gene Dynarski, Jon Kowal, Seamon Glass, and Jerry Foxworth
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 10/13/1966
Production #: 6149-04
After intercepting a cargo vessel, Captain Kirk confronts an eccentric man by the name of Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel)—known simply as “Harry” to his acquaintances. Accompanying Harry are three women—Eve (Karen Steele), Ruth (Maggie Thrett), and Magda (Susan Denberg)—who have a mysterious effect on the male crew members.
Arguably the weakest entry in season one’s lineup of episodes, “Mudd’s Women” is marred by languid pacing and forgettable character exchanges. Nevertheless, Stephen Kandel’s narrative should be commended for its poignant, if not terribly profound, life lesson.
Though incongruent with the serious tone of this episode, the antics of Harry Mudd may amuse fans of the late Roger C. Carmel—a talented character actor known for his guest roles in a variety of 1960s television shows. (That being said, Carmel’s abilities are better utilized in “I, Mudd” from season two, a comedic offering now regarded as a favorite among many Star Trek enthusiasts.)
Despite setting the stage for a compelling conflict, “Mudd’s Women” fails to generate an acceptable amount of narrative tension. Notably, Kirk’s immediate problem (i.e., a lithium crystal shortage) is conveyed primarily through expository dialogue, which may prevent viewers from sympathizing with the urgency felt by the Enterprise captain and crew.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Having revealed the secret of her beauty to lithium miner Ben Childress (Gene Dynarski), Eve swallows a replica of the Venus Drug and regains her youthful, attractive appearance after doing so—a placebo effect that Kirk attributes to Eve’s newfound self-assurance. Emotionally satisfying though it may be, Eve’s extraordinary physical change is never explained from a scientific perspective.
A lackluster episode, “Mudd’s Women” deserves criticism for its uninspired subject matter and hackneyed execution. For the above reasons, all but the most dedicated of Star Trek fans may wish to avoid this installment.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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