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Mudd's Women (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The Enterprise rescues a con man named Harry Mudd who is trafficking in mail-order brides.

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

The USS Enterprise chases an unregistered starship, a small class J cargo vessel. Fleeing, the ship approaches an asteroid belt with a Shiller rating of three-five. The small ship's peril increases further when its desperate speed causes its engines to overheat.

Act OneEdit

Mudd's women

Harry Mudd's "cargo"

As the cargo ship drifts into the asteroid belt, the Enterprise is forced to extend its shields around the ship, and this extreme power expenditure destroys three of the ship's crucial lithium crystal circuits. Montgomery Scott manages to beam the ship's master and three lovely women off just before an asteroid destroys the vessel with a dead-center hit.

Scott and McCoy, 2266

"Amen to that, Scotty."

The ship's master, speaking with a broad Irish brogue, identifies himself as Leo Francis Walsh. He claims he avoided the Enterprise out of fear that it was a hostile vessel. In the transporter room, Scott and McCoy are immediately transfixed by the three women, as are all the male crew members, as the women saunter through the ship's corridors. Walsh, a charismatic figure but clearly a con man, plays up the women's effect in a manner suggestive of a pimp, but notes that Spock, being half-Vulcan, is immune to their charms. Walsh and his women are led by Spock to Captain Kirk's quarters after the captain demands that Walsh be there whether he can walk or not. Kirk is enraged by the irresponsible actions of Walsh, who explains that the women, Eve McHuron, Magda Kovacs, and Ruth Bonaventure, are not so much crew as cargo.

Act TwoEdit

Still insisting his name is Walsh, the cargo ship captain tries to blame Kirk for the accident. Kirk has him confined to quarters pending a hearing. Meanwhile, all ship's power is being channeled through a single lithium crystal circuit and the crystal has a hairline fracture at its base. The bypass circuits were also burned out in the rescue attempt. Repairs are needed, and that means a visit to the nearest source of crystals, the mining colony on Rigel XII.

Tin plated pot

Mudd's inquiry

Before the ship's hearing, Walsh meets with the women and coaches them on their testimony, advising them not to lie, but mysteriously ordering them not to submit to a medical exam. At the inquiry, Kirk learns that the women are to be wives for settlers on Ophiucus III; each voluntarily left a situation in which her marriage prospects were slim or non-existent. Leo Walsh's real identity, Harcourt Fenton Mudd, also comes out, and his Irish brogue promptly disappears. He has a long history of convictions for smuggling, transport of stolen goods, and purchasing of a space vessel with counterfeit currency, and has been sentenced to psychiatric treatment, the effectiveness of which is in dispute. His ship's master's license has also been revoked. Kirk decides to hand Harry Mudd over to legal authorities as soon as possible. Toward the end of the hearing, the final lithium crystal fails and when Mudd overhears Kirk's orders to contact the miners on Rigel XII, he begins to plan how the situation can work to his advantage: the women can work their charms on the "lonely, isolated, overworked, rich lithium miners," and get a much better deal for themselves. Mudd himself dreams of taking over the Enterprise with all his new fortune and loudly announces that the next orders Kirk will be taking will be from Mudd himself. Strangely, he delivers this whole speech in front of Vinci and another security guard.

Act ThreeEdit

Rigel XII remastered

USS Enterprise entering orbit of Rigel XII

Using their allure, the women learn about the miners; there are three of them, one for each woman. The mystery of the women deepens when Ruth sets off an alert on McCoy's medical scanner in sickbay. McCoy wonders whether they're actually as beautiful as they seem, or whether there's something else responsible for their allure. Eve visits Kirk's quarters, whom Kirk views lying on his bed. Eve claims she's feeling harassed by the men on board, but is unable to go through with her flirtation, blurting out that Mudd put her up to it. She flees to Mudd's quarters and tells him she's feeling ill, saying "It's time." Magda manages to obtain a communicator from Lieutenant Farrell; Mudd uses it to contact the miners before Kirk, and hammers out a deal. But back in Mudd's quarters, the women begin physically breaking down, turning terribly old and haggard. Just in time, Mudd finds a pillbox he had hidden in his mattress, and gives one pill to each of them, immediately restoring their good looks.

As Eve is turning the crystalline "Venus pill" over in her hand, Spock is examining a burned out lithium crystal. The miners come on board the Enterprise, but when Kirk offers them an equitable price he learns they really want to barter. They want to look at Mudd's women, and maybe trade for them. On top of which, they want Mudd released and the charges dropped. Shocked and annoyed, Kirk refuses the offer, but Mudd figures Kirk will have no choice soon enough, as the ship's functions are starting to shut down without the crystals and the Enterprise will begin to spiral down toward Rigel XII. As Mudd notes to Kirk, he has no choice; he must acquiesce to the miners' demands.

Act FourEdit

Rigel XII surface remastered

The inhospitable surface of Rigel XII

Kirk, Spock, and Mudd beam down to the forbidding surface of Rigel XII, where the women are now living it up with Ben Childress and the other miners, Herm Gossett and Benton. Childress keeps Kirk waiting for the crystals, and the miners start fighting over Ruth and Magda. Eve, already conscience-stricken about the deception, runs out into a storm. Childress goes out to find her, and the two go missing as the Enterprise, still without the crystals, begins to run out of energy. Back aboard ship, Kirk snaps at Scotty, but apologizes, and Scotty tells him the ship has approximately five hours of power left.

Childress finds Eve and brings her back to his quarters, and the Enterprise locates them through the heat of a cook stove in his hut; Eve is cooking for Childress. Kirk and Mudd prepare to beam down. Childress and Eve, both prickly characters, begin to warm up to each other as Eve proves more resourceful than Childress expected. But soon Eve's looks begin to fade again and Childress comments on this. As they start fighting, Kirk and Mudd arrive, and explain about the Venus drug, which Childress had heard of but thought was only a legend. He and the other miners are dismayed to learn that Mudd has sold them a bill of goods: the women's natural beauty and allure has been enhanced by the Venus drug. Two of the miners have already married Mudd's women, the ceremonies having been performed through subspace radio. The chief miner is angry, and Eve berates him for being more interested in the pill than in a real woman. She takes the pill and turns beautiful again. Childress isn't happy because her beauty is a fake, but Kirk reveals that he switched the pill with a placebo, colored gelatin. Eve's beauty is the result of her own self-confidence. Childress is happy about this, and asks her to stay and talk. Kirk and Mudd beam back up, and Kirk turns down Mudd's request to let him go.

Log entries Edit

  • "Captain's log, stardate 1328.8. The USS Enterprise is in pursuit of an unidentified vessel."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 1329.1. We've taken aboard from unregistered transport vessel its captain and... and three unusual females. These women have a mysterious magnetic effect on the male members of my crew including myself. Explanation unknown at present!"
  • "Captain's log, stardate 1329.2. On board the USS Enterprise, a ship's hearing is being convened against the transport vessel's captain. I'm becoming concerned about the almost hypnotic effect produced by the women."
  • "Captain's log, stardate 1330.1. Position 14 hours out of Rigel XII. We're on auxiliary impulse engines, fuel low, barely sufficient to achieve orbit over the planet. Lithium replacements are now imperative! The effect of Mudd's women on my crew continues to grow, still totally unexplained. Harry Mudd is confined to his quarters under guard."
  • "Captain's log, transporting down to surface of planet Rigel XII to acquire replacement lithium crystals; expect further difficulty from miners."
  • "Captain's log, have transported aboard the Enterprise to implement search with infrared scanners and sensing system. Magnetic storms on the planet's surface are cutting down speed and efficiency of our equipment. Search now in progress for three hours eighteen minutes."
  • "Captain's log, I've expended all but 43 minutes of power; ship's condition critical. Search now in progress seven hours thirty one minutes. Magnetic storms are easing."

Memorable quotes Edit

"Aye."
"Amen to that, Scotty."

- Scott and McCoy, after Mudd's women walk out of the transporter room


"But men will always be men no matter where they are."

- Mudd, to his ladies


"Is this your crew, captain?"
"Well, no, captain. This is me cargo."

- Kirk and Mudd, on the ladies
Ruth in sickbay

Ruth Bonaventure in sickbay


"Captain James Kirk, the next orders you're taking will be given by Harcourt Fenton Mudd!"

- Mudd


"Blast that tin-plated pot!"

- Mudd, after the computer contradicts him during the interrogation


"I wonder what makes it do that!"

- McCoy, after Ruth sets off some unusual readings on the biofunction monitor


"I read once that a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I never met a paragon."
"Neither have I."

- Eve and Kirk, in his quarters


"You'll find out that ship's captains are already married, girl, to their vessels."

- Mudd to Eve, on Kirk


"Take it. It's not a cheat. It's a miracle for some man who can appreciate it and who needs it."

- Mudd to Eve, on the Venus drug


"Oh! The sound of male ego. You travel halfway across the galaxy, and it's still the same song."

- Eve, to Childress


"Is this the kind of wife you want, Ben? Not someone to help you, not a wife to cook and sew and cry and need, but this kind. Selfish, vain, useless. Is this what you really want?"

- Eve to Childress, after taking the pill


"There's only one kind of woman."
"Or man, for that matter."
"You either believe in yourself, or you don't."

- Kirk and Mudd, after revealing Eve swallowed a fake pill


"Don't you think you could possibly by accident arrange to leave me behind here, on this planet? That would be punishment enough..."
"I can't do that, Harry. But I will appear as a character witness at your trial... if you think that'll help."
"They'll throw away the key..."

- Mudd and Kirk


"Ever try considering the patent medicine business?"
"Why should I work your side of the street?"

- McCoy and Kirk


"The fact that my internal arrangement differs from yours, doctor, pleases me no end."

- Spock to McCoy, on the location of the Vulcan heart

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

  • The origins of this story can be found in Gene Roddenberry's early 1964 series outline, Star Trek is..., as a story proposal entitled "The Women". That synopsis reads, "Duplicating a page from the 'Old West'; hanky-panky aboard with a cargo of women destined for a far-off colony."
  • This story outline was a candidate for being the first Star Trek pilot, alongside "The Cage" (which was eventually chosen) and "The Perfect World" (which became "The Return of the Archons"). (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One) In the revised story outline for this episode (dated 23 July 1964), there were five women, rather than three.
  • This story was later also one of the candidates for Star Trek's second pilot episode. The other candidates were "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (which became the second pilot) and "The Omega Glory" (filmed near the end of the second season). (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 65-66; The Star Trek Compendium, p 17)
  • NBC did not choose this episode as the second pilot mostly because they were worried about the central theme of "selling women throughout the galaxy" and the guest stars being "an intergalactic pimp" and "three space hookers". (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 65-66)
  • Teleplay writer Stephen Kandel recalled of this episode, "Gene had the idea of using a personal enhancer-allure drug, and I provided the character [of Harry Mudd]. We spent an afternoon talking about it, and out of the conversation evolved the story idea and then, of course, I wrote the story. Gene went over it in great, meticulous and obsessive detail, and then I wrote the script." (Starlog issue #117, p. 44)
  • In a story memo excerpted in The Making of Star Trek, associate producer Robert H. Justman wrote, "On page 55 we see Benton riding a digging machine toward his cabin. Let's eliminate this device right now."
  • A lengthy monologue in which Harry Mudd attempted to persuade Uhura into taking the Venus drug was also excluded from the episode. The scene's removal was because it was deemed too wordy and long. (Starlog #127, p. 33)
  • Roger C. Carmel was extremely disappointed by the deletion of this monologue, later describing it as "wonderful". He explained, "I remember being very disappointed because I felt the monologue was very effective and very much to the point of the show's philosophy." He nevertheless liked this episode, just as much as he liked the second season outing "I, Mudd". (Starlog #127, p. 33)

Cast and characters Edit

Costumes Edit

  • The velour uniforms used in this episode had shrunk since they were first used in "The Corbomite Maneuver". According to Bob Justman and Herbert F. Solow's book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, the velour uniforms shrank every time they were cleaned. The actors' union requirements specified that the costumes had to be cleaned daily.
  • Despite the introduction of the red operations division tunic in the previous episode, Uhura is seen in a gold command division uniform both here and in "The Corbomite Maneuver".

Makeup Edit

  • Although Karen Steele and Maggie Thrett were given makeup and facial appliances to make them appear ugly as the Venus drug wore off in Harry Mudd's quarters, Susan Denberg appears not to have been similarly made up; her hair was simply disheveled.

Sets and props Edit

  • Kirk's quarters have a window in this episode and a few others to follow. These may not be his normal quarters because Spock directs the turbolift to take him, Mudd and the women to Deck 12. The window will disappear in subsequent episodes. Kirk's quarters are later situated on Deck 5.
  • The quarters used by Mudd and his ladies is the set for Kirk's quarters, with all of the furnishings removed.
  • This marks the first appearance of the sound stage cyclorama used for different planets throughout the series, which was lighted with different colored filters, to give an appearance of many unique-colored atmospheres. Associate producer Robert Justman came up with this idea after realizing that reusing the same cloudy background from the two pilots, over and over again, would result in all planets looking the same. [1] Justman personally decided the backdrop colors for each episode. Problems often arise when the colored gels either faded or burned up after a short while in front of a hot light, and the burning gels made an unbearable odor on the set. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 117) The backdrop lighting used in this episode for Rigel XII, with tornadic streaks in it, was also utilized in "The Enemy Within".
  • The elliptical shaped playing cards on which Eve plays solitaire in Ben Childress' home, can be seen in the Enterprise recreation room in later episodes ("Charlie X" and "The Conscience of the King").

Production Edit

  • Harlan Ellison visited the set during the filming of this episode. Ellison was writing his first draft teleplay for "The City on the Edge of Forever" at the time in an office at the Desilu lot. Associate producer John D.F. Black couldn't find Ellison in his office and was angered when he finally found him on Stage 10, posing for photographs and eating lunch with the cast and crew. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One)
  • Jerry Finnerman was encouraged to be creative in choosing dramatic lighting and camera angles. Bob Justman recalled that he said to Finnerman, "We're all in outer space, Jerry, and we're in color. NBC claims to be the first full-color network, so let's prove it for them. When you light the sets, throw wild colors in – magenta, red, green, any color you can find – especially behind the actors when they're in a close shot. Be dramatic. In fact, go overboard. Backlight the women and make them more beautiful. Take some chances. Nobody can tell you that's not the way the future will look. How can they? They ain't been there yet." Bob Justman was very pleased with the final results in this episode. He stated, "Guest stars Karen Steele, Maggie Thrett and Susan Denberg, good-looking in real life, looked even more radiantly lovely and ravishing as they worked their magic upon Captain Kirk and crew – after Jerry worked his magic upon the three actresses." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 113)
  • The production of this episode went a day over schedule. According to Bob Justman and Herbert Solow, this was due to the intricate camera setups used by director Harvey Hart, which had good results but were too time-consuming. Hart also made things difficult for the editors by "camera cutting" the show, leaving few choices of shot available. Due to these factors, Hart was not invited back to the show. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p 203)
  • In an inventive bit of editing, the close-up shot of Eve's hand closing in on the Venus drug is followed by a similar close-up of Spock's hand cradling a cracked lithium crystal.
  • After Harry Mudd's trial, as Eve is pleading with Kirk to help the women get to their destination, an off stage voice ( ostensibly the director's ) can be heard on the soundtrack to say "Lights!" as a cue for the studio technicians to dim the lighting, signaling the failure of the last lithium crystal.

Continuity Edit

  • Mudd says to Spock, "You're part Vulcanian, aren't you?" Mudd was somehow able to distinguish this in Spock, apparently on sight. It is possible that, in the early days of TOS, Spock was meant to look more Human than most full-blooded "Vulcanians," which would explain Mudd's ability to recognize his hybrid status on sight. In later episodes, and throughout the films and later series, Spock is considered to look like any full-blooded Vulcan. It is also possible that the episode's writers meant the viewer to conclude that Mudd had some pre-existing familiarity with both Spock's heritage and his inclusion in the Enterprise's command crew.
  • This and TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" are the only episodes where the crystals that power the Enterprise's engines are called "lithium". Throughout the rest of the series, the crystals are called "dilithium."
  • Spock's description of the crystals as "beautiful" is a rare expression of his aesthetic sense. Later, in "Assignment: Earth", he refers to Isis the cat as a "lovely animal."
  • This episode's final scene aboard the bridge is the series' first suggestion that Vulcans have a different arrangement of internal organs than Humans. Specifically, McCoy places the Vulcan heart at roughly the place of the Human spleen. This is later made more explicit in TOS: "The Omega Glory".
  • At one point, Scotty refers to the Enterprise as weighing "almost a million gross tons" in observing the tenuousness of "...almost a million gross tons (of starship) depending on a crystal the size of my fist...". In the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual, author Franz Joseph establishes the weight of a Constitution-class starship as 190,000 tons – just as Gene Roddenberry did in his very first proposal for the series, Star Trek is....

Reception Edit

  • Upon its initial airing, this episode was generally well received. Stephen Kandel later noted, "We got a lot of favorable response." (Starlog issue #117, p. 44) Roger C. Carmel likewise said about the episode, "It was a pretty big success and they got a lot of positive reaction from it." (Starlog #127, p. 33)
  • Regarding the script, Herb Solow commented, "It was very well written, it was fun, and it featured three beautiful women-hookers selling their bodies throughout the galaxy. It later became a standout and much-loved episode in the series." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp. 65-66)
  • NBC Program Manager Jerry Stanley recalled that "One of the problems we had was in trying to talk [Roddenberry] out of some of his sexual fantasies that would come to life in the scripts. Some of the scenes he would describe were totally unacceptable". William Shatner noted "that NBC allowed "Mudd's Women" to be produced at all is still a minor miracle". (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, pp. 143-144)
  • However, in A Star Trek Catalog, editor Gerry Turnbull criticizes the episode as "uneven," noting that it "swings wildly between tragedy and comedy".
  • Author Paula M. Block pointed to this episode as one of the most prominent examples of sexism in The Original Series, criticizing the "How to Marry a Millionaire mindset" shown. She commented, "Take Eve, the most rational of the three women. After spending most of her life cleaning up after a bunch of unappreciative male siblings, all she wants is the opportunity to connect with a good man. Even after learning that she doesn't need the Venus drug to appear desirable, Eve can't foresee a future that doesn't involve snaring a man. The thought of serving aboard a starship never occurs to her – except perhaps as the captain's wife. So she consigns herself to life on barren Rigel XII, cleaning up for another unappreciative male (miner Ben Childress) and listening to the winds blow day and night." (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, pp. 039, 126)

Production timeline Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Guest star Edit

Co-starring Edit

Featuring Edit

And

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-insEdit

References Edit

2263; amen; asteroid; asteroid belt; battery; bearing; Bootes III; bypass circuit; captain's log, USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), 2266; communications man; converter assembly; cook stove; countess; deflector shield; desktop monitor; diamond; distress signal; double-jack; drug; duchess; earpiece; Earth; ego; USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) library computer; flight plan; gelatin; gold; Halium experimental station; Human philosophy; hypnotism; infrared scanner; J class starship; lithium crystal; lithium crystal circuit; magnetism; magnetic storm; master; Master's License; mattress; measurement; medical scanner; mile; Milky Way Galaxy; miner; mineral; mining; Mudd's women; Ophiucus III; orbit; patent medicine; pelagic planet; perspiration rate; pill; police record; pound; raffle; registration beam; Rigel system; Rigel XII; Saturnius harem girl; sea rancher; Shiller rating; sensing system; sensor probe; solitaire; starship; subspace communication; subspace radio marriage; ton; transporter; unnamed asteroid belts; unnamed class J starships; Venus drug; viewer; Vulcanian; Walsh, Leo; witness

Unreferenced materialEdit

Charley Shorr

External links Edit


Previous episode produced:
"The Corbomite Maneuver"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 1
Next episode produced:
"The Enemy Within"
Previous episode aired:
"The Enemy Within"
Next episode aired:
"What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"Obsession"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"Assignment: Earth"

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