Star Trek: The Original Series episode 6 review

Our look at the first ever season of Star Trek on Blu-ray makes its way to Mudd's Women...

Episode: 06Title: Mudd’s WomenStar Date: 1329.1Writer: Stephen Kandel (based on a story by Gene Roddenberry)First Shown: 13th October 1966

The Enterprise is chasing a stolen cargo ship, and when they eventually catch up with it they’re forced to sacrifice lithium crystals (not yet di-lithium, it seems) to stop it being destroyed before they can rescue those onboard.

But when they are beamed aboard, the arrival of Harry Mudd and three stunning women that accompany him causes shockwaves on the Enterprise. Mudd is a consummate conman, and is trading the beautiful women to lonely miners, who don’t know that the women are only beautiful because of the Venus drug he’s given them. The Enterprise needs new crystals, mined on Rigel XII, but the miners won’t provide them unless the women are handed over. It’s easy to summarise this one as a challenges-of-command episode, where Kirk has to balance the survival of the Enterprise against his duty to stop Mudd exploiting just about everyone.

The entire proceedings are given a much needed lift by the unique character of Harcourt Fenton “Harry” Mudd, played with foot thick slices of ham by Roger C. Carmel. He was a very popular character actor who appeared on almost all the big TV shows of this period including Batman, Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Dick Van Dyke Show, and even The Munsters – to mention but a few. His appearance in this story was so successful he was asked back for a second outing in the episode I, Mudd in the second season, and he’s generally accepted to be one of the most memorable original series guests. The character even made it into the animated series, voiced again by Carmel.

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Compared with many episodes in season one the remastering of this one is extensive, due to it having a number of significant effects sequences to replace. In the opening chase Mudd’s ship goes into an asteroid field, before being struck by one. While most of this action is seen only on the viewscreen, it’s all been recreated so that the ship looks much better during its evasive flight path, and final destruction.

For Trek fans this was actually the second production, and as such there are minor changes that a developing show experiences. One I noticed was that Uhura is in gold and not red, something that I think only ever happens in this story. On the bridge Sulu is partnered at the helm by Lt. John Farrell, who only appeared in this and in the previously screened The Enemy Within.

The writer Stephen Kandel was one of American TV’s most prolific. He was first credited in 1956, and wrote for all manner of shows including Canon, Hawaii 5-0, Mission Impossible, Wonder Woman, Harry O and even contributed fourteen episodes of MacGyver in the late 80s. His only other Trek contributions were the aforementioned second appearance of Harry Mudd, and two of the animated series stories including the one with Mudd in it. Direction was by equally veteran Harvey Hart, who went on to specialise in cop shows and Columbo TV specials. This was his only Trek credit, however.

The only other nugget of trivia I can offer on Mudd’s Women is that one of the alluring ladies is played by Susan Denberg, who just two months before she was fluttering her eyes on the Enterprise had been more provocatively posing across the centrefold of Playboy. No wonder she turned a few heads here.

And that provides a curious link to the next original Star Trek episode, What Are Little Girls Made Of?