Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Botany Bay, Jan 28, 2014.
Aw. I like "I, Mudd." The absurd ending is wonderful.
A 6. It isn't bad, but it has some things that keep it about average. It's TOS and characters and a universe I really like. I also like the lighting and moody atmosphere.
The women's transformation, particularly Eve, is something that can't be taken too literally even though that is the tendency for viewers when watching film or television. Beyond perhaps affecting a person's complexion and a few other things the Venus drug could well be causing the taker to put out powerful pheromones that affects the perception of others. That's the only explanation that really works for me. Later we will see Enterprise women who are easily as beautiful or more so than Mudd's three so for the Enterprise men to be so taken with Mudd's women (when under the drug's influence) suggests there's something else going on. In real life when we become infatuated or focused on someone we tend to see them to largely the exclusion of others, at least in the beginning. And we know there are definite biochemical changes happening to both men and women when we're "in love." So it could well be the Venus drug affects more than just the user.
In somewhat similar fashion is the Salt Vampire actually changing it's form or does it somehow affect the perceptions of others? How else to explain that different people can see different things at the same time? Kirk, McCoy and Darnell each saw "Nancy Crater" as someone different all at the same time. Later the creature learns to be more consistent in its appearance around Kirk and McCoy and others so it can influence what others are seeing so as not to cause confusion.
The idea of the dolled up women being "wiving settlers" isn't that far out as today there are any number of means for men of western countries to communicate with women from other countries interested in finding a mate abroad. And often these women (and men) can be made to seem more than what they actually are.
Harry Mudd establishes that TOS' future isn't perfect and ideal since there is obviously still crime only now taken to an interstellar scale. This episode also shows the role of Enterprise's role as policeman as well as explorer and soldier.
It's a rather small scale story and Harry Mudd isn't particularly villianous or the situation all that dire. There are really no big stakes here.
Not horrible, not even bad, but just not exceptional either.
Its not my favourite episode.
I thought its ridiculous how the guys on the Enterprise go ga-ga over the girls when as someone points out there are many attractive girls on the Enterprise. But I sometimes see men in RL act that way over new girls.
I have a sympathy for 'mail-order brides'. Over the years I have mellowed and think if they can live a better life by putting up with some creepy old guy for the rest of their lives then good on them.
Its just not a happy uplifting story.
It rather sucked. And here are these women desperate for these not-so-optimal (both in looks and personality) miners.
Were job prospects that bad in that part of the galaxy? I'd rather clean the toilets in some backwater bar than shack up with one of those losers.
A common conceit for science fiction space operas of the early days of television was to recycle stock western plots and tropes, and transfer them to the setting of outer space. As ground breaking as Star Trek was as a series, it was certainly not going to be immune to this phenomenon, especially in the early days of the program. And so “Mudd’s Women” gives us standard western trope number 127 - the “wiving settlers” story.
This particular epiosde’s biggest contribution to the canon is of course, the introduction of one of classic Trek’s most iconic non-regular characters - Roger Carmel’s Harcourt Fenton Mudd, intergalactic rogue and confidence swindler. In both of the original series stories he appears in, Carmel’s character transcends the story.
Not to denigrate “Mudd’s Women” - it is a solid and competent entry if far short of being a classic. Good material, some light character moments and a positive message at the end. Guest star Karen Steele does a good job as Eve. Perhaps the episode’s biggest shortcoming is the lack of any real action, with the “oh no, Eve is lost in the storm” crisis failing to adequately fill this area. First instance of Trek using soft lighting to make women look more feminine - a trick which will be used several times more in the first half of this season.
Owing to my overall impression that TOS was absolutely amazing across the board, I rate this episode somewhere just below average, given how that other "average" episodes come off better IMO. I give it a solid 4....but that relatively low rating is based more on how often TOS cranked out colorful dramatic gems than any great failure in any one particular area.
Harry Mudd explained that the Venus drug gives the user more of what he or she already has - their sexual qualities are enhanced. We never saw what the drug did to men, but Harry said it would make them more masculine, and presumably the women would react to them similarly to how the men reacted to the three women. It's not only a matter of how they look - it's pheromones, and every other sort of biochemical stimulus involved in sexual attraction.
What I found ridiculous was that at the end, Eve was able to physically transform herself via a placebo, and not the real drug.
About the Salt Vampire: It had to have been at slightly empathic, if not somewhat telepathic. Otherwise, how could it have transformed itself into the "perfect man" that Uhura would have found attractive - one that speaks Swahili, no less?
^^^Re the Salt Vampire also appearing in three different guises at the same time at the top of the episode.
In real life (as I understand it) when we are "in love" there are biochemical changes going on. I believe we do undergo a limited degree of changes in complexion, muscle tone, flushing in the cheeks and lips and other areas, as well as changes in the eyes and hair. If true then the venus drug does essnitially the same but to much greater effect. Certainly when aroused and stimulated parts of our body do become flushed as blood rushes to those areas which, of course, affects complexion.
As I suggested what we see on television could be taken as a heavy handed way of illustrating the idea of what could actually be happening. And if traces of the drug are already in someone's system then taking another dose could result in a faster or short reaction time to take effect.
Of course this is all just rationalization because there's a limit to how much they actually thought this through. Certainly we know in real life many people considered average in looks can be made much more appealing with a makeover in grooming and posture and attire. The Venus drug is basically doing this without having to go to a salon. But if Eve and the others had been taking this drug for some time and had become used to what they're supposed to feel like after taking the drug then Eve adopting the familiar behaviour (without thinking) after taking the placebo could account for a measure of how she comes across to the men present.
Again in real life a lot of a person's appeal can come from how they carry themselves. A lot of celebrities are really just average in appearance, but much of what they are comes from knowing how to carry themselves (with confidence) and how they groom and dress.
Another aspect of real life not to be overlooked is how often some very physically attractive people don't actually think of themselves as particularly attractive. Many people experience this where some small flaw they see in themselves looms much larger in their imagination then it does to others (if others even notice at all). Eve and the other women could have been of just average appearance yet in their own minds they thought themselves ugly when measured against what they each thought was genuinely beautiful.
We also don't really know much about the Venus drug. Are they any deliterious side effects particularly after repeated and long term use---maybe the real reason why it's illegal? How does it affect you when the "positive" effect starts to wear off? Does it leave you as you were or maybe even less than what you were?
There's an excellent fanfic series that explores the use and effect of various recreational drugs in TOS. One of the authors is a member of this forum, and passed along the link to the website where these stories are posted.
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