In a utopian society….are there still conmen? Of course there are, let me introduce to you, Harry Mudd. Originally broadcast on October 13, 1966 this is Mudd’s Women.
Captain’s Log Stardate 1329.8
After rescuing a small ship, Kirk and crew encounter a man identifying himself as Leo Francis Walsh, and three beautiful women (Eve, Magda and Ruth). It is soon discovered that Walsh is transporting these women to a settlement to be ‘mail order brides’ for some of the settlers on Ophiucus III. Kirk soon discovers that Walsh is actually known criminal Harcourt Fenton Mudd and informs him that he will be handed over to the authorities. With the ships ‘Lithium crystals’ becoming critical, Enterprise is forced to detour to Rigel XII to get more. Mudd, seeing an oppertunity, conspires to change his fate using his women to steal a communicator. He then contacts the miners on Rigel XII convincing them to contact Enterprise and insist on the release of Mudd. Kirk agrees and visit Rigel XII where they introduce the women to the Miners. It is soon discovered that the women had been using enhancement drugs called Venus Pills in order to look beautiful, and the Miners are furious, but it is too late as two of the miners have already married their mail order brides. McCoy gives one of the women a new Venus Pill and she turns back to a beautiful woman but the Miners are upset as the beauty is only an illusion. McCoy reveals that the pill he provided was nothing but a placebo and their beauty is now, in fact, real. Mudd is taken into custody aboard the Enterprise despite his protests.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This one is humorous at times, although a little silly and a lot misogynistic. I mean, sure, the concept of mail order brides is not a new one, and in fact still goes on to this very day but this is one of those episodes that just oozes with overt sexism and the complete objectifying of beauty itself. In fact, I find it really strange how a completely coed ship like the Enterprise would have people like Scotty and McCoy ogling the women who appeared on the ship as if they had never seen a women before in their life. Sure, this can be explained by the use of the ‘Venus Pill’ that makes these women artificially beautiful, but still, it was a little strange. The one plus though, Kirk fully notes in his logs that these women that Mudd brings aboard do have a strange effect on the make members of the crew and is determined to investigate the cause.
While the episode itself is…rather problematic, I do have to make note of the character of Harcourt Fenton Mudd and his portrayal by Roger C Carmel. Carmel was a very well known comedian of the time and would later go on to do voicework in animated series such as Ducktales, Transformers and even Gummi Bears. I have always loved the character of Harcourt Fenton Mudd and his tendency to court trouble. This is not the last time we see Mudd and his future appearances are quite memorable.
Overall, this is probably one of the worst examples of the original Star Trek series. Unironically it was written by series creator Gene Roddenberry who has been exposed as a pretty misogynistic person himself despite the utopian society he imagined. If anything, this is episode is a good example of an attempt to take advantage of the late 60’s sexual revolution with the sex and drugs but no ‘rock n roll’. The thing I think that really bothers me is the rather forced and silly twist making the women appear beautiful simply because they ‘believed in themselves’ through the use of a placebo pill. The irony is, the women really dont look all that different, they just look like they don’t have makeup on…so is the Venus Pill like an instant makeup pill? Sounds like something a Ferengi would come up with.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We never see the Venus Pills again, or find out what happened to the Miners and their new brides.
- At this time Enterprise runs off of lithium crystals as opposed to Dilithium as it is later established.
- We learn that Vulcans don’t have their hearts in the same place as humans.
- Uhura still wears the gold uniform and not the red she is known for.
- Marriage by subspace radio is a thing in the future.
- Red Shirts Killed: 0:0
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Enemy Within
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Late To The Game 12/8/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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