Star Trek: Mudd's Women   Rewatch 
August 30, 2014 4:34 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The Enterprise is damaged chasing down a cargo ship and the crew picks up untrustworthy entrepreneur Harry Mudd accompanied by three beautiful women. In order to repair the damage, the crew desperately needs to find "lithium" crystals but are hindered by the beauty of the women.

This episode was one of three considered to be the pilot after The Cage was deemed too cerebral for audiences. The episode originally aired on October 13, 1966. Be warned about this episode as stated on

The story is pure western, with Mudd’s mission to “wive settlers” and his “cargo” of beautiful space babes seeming rather incongruous with the technological and social advances shown on the series. It doesn’t help that the women are thinly characterized, with only Karen Steele’s Eve showing any intelligence or independence. Male viewers tend to remember Carmel’s appealing scoundrel and enjoy the eye candy of the women, but this has to be a tough episode for a modern female audience to swallow.

Memory Alpha Link.

The episode can be viewed on YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
posted by Benway (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This episode was one of three considered to be the pilot

To be clear, the story treatment was given consideration, both for the first and second pilots, but it had not yet been produced. Not sure what to say about this one, so just some drive-by points:

* I'm amused the electrical power underpinning the deflector shields seems to be routed through household fuses located near the bride, judging by the sound effects.
* Is this the first time the transporter locks on to someone and materializes them after their vessel has broken up? Eventually an overused trope.
* The guys all look like they've been in space for ages ... with no women around whatsoever.
* The failure of the "lithium" crystal would inspire the Galaxy Quest storyline.
* Interesting (structural) transition of Starfleet role to domestic police duties and introduction of Federation legal culture. Not sure why navigator is on panel.
* Very amusing that the TOS-era trope of soft camera focus for the women even extends to the shots behind a screen. Admittedly here they have the excuse of the changed appearance.
* Shatner's skills as an actor are often lampooned but at e.g. about 23:50 (the "paragon" exchange) he really comes through with a reaction shot that lends the discussion real depth.
* So basically the Venus Drug does to you what the other person drinking more does today?
* I don't think the upshot -- for Eve and Childress anyway -- is quite as anti-feminist as it may seem. There was a running concern in Trek and Twilight Zone about beauty and artificiality that has its poignancy even if things like the "wives for sale" summary seem to make it purely economic. I don't think it rises to the level of a social critique that it aims for, but in a way Eve seems to have a little of the authenticity of an addict.

Most of my annoyance at this episode is about the small stakes and the unbelievable idiocy of a Starship like NCC-1701 getting nearly stranded at the mere exertion of extending its deflector shields.
posted by dhartung at 11:41 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

This whole rewatch is reminding me why I never get very far when I decide to rewatch The Original Series.

With Mudd's Women specifically, I never get past the episode description.
posted by isthmus at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2014

With Mudd's Women specifically, I never get past the episode description.

I am finding it fascinating.

Looking at television from 1966 brings up all kinds of questions about the Vietnam era television world. Roddenberry thought about exploring instead of the current politics of the day, and brought that to the small screen.

So basically the Venus Drug does to you what the other person drinking more does today?

I thought it acted like a pheromone. The women take the pill, and suddenly change, which seemed like a perception issue with the men. It may be how the soft focus was shot, but it seemed dream-like in some instances.
posted by Benway at 5:19 PM on August 31, 2014

We're doing a re-watch and enjoying the MST3K treatment. I LOVED Star Trek as a kid and never questioned the role of women in that era. I mean the fact that women were in the future at all was HUGE, so what if we were still bartered for goods or money?

You have to love Roger C. Carmel's Harry Mudd. He and Shatner should chew the scenery together. The Venus Drug, who knows what it is? The corny-assed ending is just the cherry on the shit sundae.

We love the relationships in Star Trek, but the actual plots...whoo-boy, what stinkers.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:22 AM on September 1, 2014

I always thought it was pretty clear that the drug was some sort of placebo, since the lady at the end could take advantage of its effects with no dose.
posted by hanzoschmanzo at 6:06 PM on September 2, 2014

A week behind, hurray!

Not the strongest episode, but I really like the character of Mudd as a scoundrel. Just a few random thoughts...I found it interesting that during the period of when the women were on the Enterprise, affecting the crew, there virtually no female crew visible. Uhura kind of disappears and then reappears after the women are on the mining planet. I guess because the presence of female crew would have undermined the impact of the women?

Apparently miners in the future are all balding, gruff men.

The Venus Drug, it set off the scanners in the medical bay, no? Further mysteries!

I thought it interesting that the difference between Venus Drug and no Venus Drug was messed up hair, no make up, and having the women hold their faces at awkward angles.

I'll have to keep thinking on the show!
posted by Atreides at 5:56 PM on September 7, 2014

People say that toddlers can watch the same video dozens of times because their brains aren't fully wired. What does this say about me as a teenager? I can't understand how I could have watched this episode more than once.

I do wonder about the Lithium miners, though. Three people on a planet, listlessly mining a handful of crystals? And Eve came from a planet with just her family on it? How does that economy work? Can everyone have their own planet? In a galaxy like that, does Mudd even need a scam mail-order bride scheme?

Why can't the Enterprise's sensors detect the crystals and commandeer them, as I imagine should have been possible for a damaged Federation Starship? As the series progresses, I am increasingly dissatisfied with the sensors.
posted by acrasis at 1:04 PM on October 16, 2020

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